Under normal circumstances, I have my anxiety more or less under control. But as we all know, the pandemic we’re living through and the quarantine and shelter-in-place orders we’re under are as about as far from normal circumstances as things can get without involving a war on domestic soil, an alien invasion, or dinosaurs.
Under normal circumstances, I already use CBD to help with my anxiety. Under the current circumstances, CBD has become more critical for me than ever.
I’ve always been prone to anxiety. I remember sleepless nights at nine years old, paralyzed by worries about everything from losing my parents to getting bullied in school to the monster that I was convinced lived in the book-stuffed Lane chest at the foot of my bed. Chronic anxiety is not so much an illness to be cured as it is a condition to be managed. I’ve got a whole arsenal of ways to manage its various manifestations.
For the constant low-level mental background noise of my everyday overthinking and overanalyzing, I have techniques to talk myself down, learned through years of cognitive behavioral therapy. For the louder voices of my fears for the future and my general existential dread, I have daily gratitude journaling and a list of all the times the things I was afraid of did not happen. Working out and practicing yoga provide daily breaks from the nervous chatter in my head.
Using CBD for my anxiety
And for the sudden, intense spikes in anxiety—those times when my chest tightens, leaving me short of breath, while my heart plummets into the vat of ice water that forms where my stomach used to be—I have CBD. I’m so glad I have CBD.
Even more glad now than I was before, because there are so many new thoughts to trigger those spikes now. What if my son catches The Virus? What if my brother or my mom or anyone else I love catches it? What about my friends who suspect that they have it? What if I catch it? What if my son injures himself at home and we have to go to the emergency room and we catch it there? What if I get attacked for being Asian? Will things ever get back to normal? What if things never get back to normal?
Those anxiety spikes can quickly toss me off the edge into a deep panic spiral, and they tend to come on too quickly for me to pull myself out. What does help is CBD. I’ve been using fckCBD’s products for several months, and I’ve developed a system that gets me through the anxiety spikes before they become spirals.
One dose quickly takes the edge off of the physical sensations, letting me breathe. Sometimes that’s all I need to snap out of it. A double dose downshifts my anxiety significantly and usually allows me to move on to other coping strategies. When things feel very intense, a triple dose is like a fire extinguisher dousing the inferno of my overwrought nerves.
Taking CBD before bed
I tend to get additional anxiety spikes when I’m trying to sleep at night, too. I’ve taken to having one or two doses right before bed as a preemptive measure. I’ve been falling asleep much more easily and sleeping much more completely since I started.
Not everyone is a believer, I know. Since I started sharing my use of CBD on my social media, I’ve gotten more than a few comments and private messages criticizing my use of it as part of my overall wellness strategy. To some, it’s just hype (despite very promising research into its potential for treating anxiety disorders), the latest snake oil, reliant on placebo effect for positive reviews.
I’m not a doctor, and I’m not a scientist. I work in the beauty industry and run a skincare blog. But I am also a person who has suffered from diagnosed Generalized Anxiety Disorder for almost my entire life, and I am a person who has tried just about everything, ranging from teas and tinctures to prescription pharmaceuticals, to treat it. I’ve wanted everything I tried to work, and believed that everything I tried might work.
It takes more than just CBD
In the end, after decades of struggling with GAD, I’ve finally figured out how to manage it enough to live well and enjoy my life. CBD is a key component of my overall mental health and wellness routine. It’s not a magic bullet that takes the worries away for good—there is no such thing. It’s not something I use in isolation, without other lifestyle adjustments—that’s not the idea.
What it is for me, is a powerful supporting tool that often blunts my panic spirals enough to allow me to reach for my behavioral coping methods, one part of a greater whole that has allowed me to stop feeling like my entire life is on fire all the time. Even now, when all of our lives actually are on fire.
That’s something we need more than ever these days.
Jude Chao is a skincare and Korean beauty expert known for tying skincare to self-care and mental health. She has been featured in W, Fashionista, and NYMag's The Cut and The Strategist. She blogs about beauty, productivity, and mental health at her blog Fifty Shades of Snail and on Instagram at @fiddysnails.