My nearly constant mental scab-picking goes like this: Did I leave the coffee maker on? I have to call my uncle back. I wonder if my daughter gets enough calcium? That joke I made in the meeting was so weird…
Anxiety has always been a dull roar in my brain, like the hum of a refrigerator that you don’t notice it’s been bothering you until it shuts off. It makes me lose focus, get frantic, and suffer through sleepless nights full of some of the dumbest ruminations known to the human brain.
Like everyone, I have had some real stress in my life—raising a daughter on my own, making ends meet, being the editor-in-chief of a national magazine, getting to daycare on time before they start charging $5 a minute. (Not to mention a global pandemic, climate change, a presidential election, civil rights riots, and wildfires burning down the West.)But my anxiety has never been about things that are actually worth worrying about. Nope—my brain is busy pacing around the same beaten track, worrying about the leftovers in the fridge that are going uneaten or the mattress on the bed that has gone unflipped.
There are, of course, a cornucopia of pills and practices designed to help people like me. I have tried melatonin, which worked about as well as taking an Advil before getting a root canal. I have tried meditation, which only incited the strong urge to go clean the kitchen, fold laundry, or do anything but sit still for one more minute. I have tried antidepressants, which eased the intensity of the anxiety, but eased the intensity of joy, too. I have tried sleeping pills, which worked a little too well. (Dear friends I texted while on Ambien: That was weird,I know.) Thus far, exercise, wine, and complaining were the only coping mechanisms that gave me any relief.(Dear friends who listen: Thank you.)
So when my old high school friend, who had just happened to buy an organic hemp farm in Boulder, sent me a care package of full-spectrum Miraflora CBD, I was extremely skeptical. Never having been much of a cannabis user of any kind, I had long been dismissive of the CBD craze, thinking that something that actually doesn’t really have any noticeable side effects (and that can be consumed with wine) sounded too good to be true. But I trusted him, so I decided to give it a try.
I started with the sleep soft gels, little golden gems that caught the light pleasingly in my hand, taking one 10 mg dose before bed. For three nights in a row, something amazing happened—I fell asleep. Not in the knock-down drag-out way of sleeping pills, but in the way I assume most people drift off when it’s bedtime and they’re tired. Something else amazing happened, too—my knee (which looks like one of Frankenstein’s early experiments as a result of ski injuries) did not scream at me at 3 in the morning, a nightly ritual it seems to enjoy.
I’ve been taking CBD now religiously for more than three months—dabbling with the tincture and the balm as well—and have officially retired my sleeping pills to the hall closet. (With perhaps a few exceptions, one of which was spurred by the most awkward COVID Zoom happy hour in history, but that’s another story.) I’m not saying that I’m cured by any means—I still find plenty of stupid things to obsess over. But at least I am now able to worry if our scratched frying pan is giving us cancer with a full night’s sleep in my pocket. I genuinely just feel better, which in turn makes me a happier person.
So to the other skeptics out there, I know the science is still developing and that the placebo effect is a thing. But as for me, I truly believe.
That reminds me—I never did send my friend a thank-you note…