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Bipolar Disorder by Anonymous

Julie Gardener

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Bipolar Disorder by Anonymous​

Twelve years ago my wife suddenly changed from a normally functioning, hardworking, loving woman, into a psychotic, uncontrollable wreck, all within about 2 months time. During the first phase, she became extremely religious, helping every misfortunate person she came across and staying up late into the night. Within a week, she became irritable, was sleeping 1 or 2 hours a night, sometimes not at all--and her moods became extremely erratic. One minute she'd be cursing and swearing, the next apologizing and praying. Then she bolted. For 2 months, no one could find her. She was hallucinating and severely deluded. People who did see her said she was dressed like an Indian, war paint and all. Her car had broken windows that she'd punched while driving and cursing down the road. Police had reports of her dancing in a cemetery. When they arrived, there were thousands of little stick crosses everywhere, but no sign of her. She was on the missing persons list for several weeks before she was finally arrested. Prison officials knew there was something wrong with her, but sought no treatment and never even looked into the missing persons network. We found out from her lawyer after she'd been in prison for a week.

When we finally got her home, she went straight to the psychiatric ward, where she was almost immediately diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Other relatives on her side of the family had also suffered severe psychotic episodes from this same disease. They put her on heavy doses of lithium and Haldol. When she was finally able to return home, her mood became listless. For 3 months, she lay on the couch, just staring at the TV. No matter what I tried, nothing would stimulate her interest. They gradually decreased her dosage, and she began to swing between 2 emotions: irritability and depression. One day I took a chance. We'd smoked pot in our teens, and when she was in a down mood, we'd go for a walk in the woods and smoke a joint. I bought a small bag, brought it home, and rolled a joint. I took her down to one of our old haunts: a small private stream that rolled over a series of natural falls. She didn't want to get out of the car, but did -- either to please me or to get it over with, I don't know which. We smoked. Her mood changed within minutes. She was smiling, interested, happy. It was an incredible change. Ever since, this has been the only effective medicine for combating depression and irritability. Nothing else works. Prozac, Zoloft...extremely limited in comparison to marihuana. It is not a replacement for lithium. But it is by far the best medicine to counteract the dullness, lethargy, and "zombie-like mood" that lithium induces. All of the other drugs that have been tried in combination with lithium over the years have unpleasant side effects, only work temporarily, and cause physical damage with long-term use. A reduction in lithium dosage results in swings of irritability and depression.

The laws against marihuana and the stigma have strained us both emotionally and financially. Access to marihuana is completely unpredictable, and when it's unavailable, she becomes increasingly irritable or depressed.

We always live with the threat of being arrested, which would probably cause me to lose my job, leaving us no means of support. I can tell you as a matter of fact, not emotion, that legalizing marihuana for this purpose would greatly relieve our stress, guilt, fear, and financial burden. I can't find any right now. She's been sleeping either 16 hours a day or not at all (in extreme agitation) for 2 weeks. I will continue to break the law, live just above the poverty line and in fear, because I know for a fact that this is the only thing that works. We've tried every therapy and drug conventional medicine has to offer. They're useless and more dangerous.

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