A very good friend of mine - let's call him Brian - suffers from extremely severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I found this out from him one night while he, myself, and a few other friends were, let's say, "engaging in a chemically-aided friendship strengthening session." Due to the flood of the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin that had been wrung from his neurons into his synapses by our good friend Molly (also known by her chemical abbreviation MDMA,) Brian felt comfortable enough amongst our circle of friends to divulge this information, which up until that moment had been his deepest, darkest secret.
Ever since then, he had been much more open and honest with me about how his OCD was affecting him in his daily life, and how it drove him completely bonkers, and even sometimes lead him to repetitive suicidal thoughts. As I've stated previously, Brian is a very good friend of mine, so naturally this information caused me a certain amount of worry. I didn't want my friend to be feeling this way, but what could I do?
Brian had no medical insurance, so seeing a doctor, psychologist or therapist was pretty much out of the question. Luckily, I have a few relatives and acquantances in the medical field, and was able to come up with ideas to help him out.
There aren't really any medications out there that treat OCD itself, the only thing prescribed in these instances are anxiety meds, of which he had already tried several varieties in the past when he could afford it. These meds only help when you get anxious because of your OCD. They can't stop you from thinking that way in the first place.
The best ideas I got for him were support groups (mainly on the internet, communities and such,) and a book called The OCD Workbook, which I immediately purchased for him from Amazon as soon as I read about it. He's still been slowly working through it, and he's said it's been very easy to identify with and seems to actually be helping.
All the while, though, there was just something about Brians behavioral patterns when viewed from a "distance," if you will, that I just couldn't quite put my finger on, until one day:
It was another chemically-aided friendship strengthening session, I think Brian was maybe a little more far-gone than his mind and body were accustomed to, and his OCD was acting up like nothing I had EVER witnessed before. At first I thought he was just a little twitchy, but then I started to identify little tics that he was doing, and on top of all this, he could NOT stop talking for the life of him, and he knew it too. Eventually, he almost broke down, told us that his OCD was killing him right then and what was going on in his mind. Among all his physical tics, he was engaged in mental ones as well. He said his mind would randomly grab a sentence that someone uttered, latch onto it, and dissect it.
Count the words, syllables, score it - words with apostrophe's counted as double, he had a whole system, and he was getting GOOD at it, which is what bothered him the most.
It was obvious that the MDMA was worsening these symptoms.
We calmed him down, changed locations, got our minds on other things, and it was then that I realized:
We didn't have any weed that night! Brian always seemed fine when he had a stash of cannabis at his disposal!
Thus began my research. Today, I did more research, which is what drove me to write this blog.
There's not a whole hell of a lot of info out there regarding the use of medical marijuana as treatment for OCD, but there is some - some supportive, some not-so-supportive
From the Handbook of Psychotropic Herbs (2001):
"OCD is marked by an insurmountable preoccupation with fixed ideas, no matter how preposterous, that withstand the patient's best efforts to submerge them through the application of logic. Cannabis, as no other substance yet discovered, allows a person to forget, and to laugh, even at one's own obsessions and compulsions. For OCD, it sounds like just what the doctor ordered."
Among various other references and forum posts (this is already a long blog so I won't paste a bunch of text or link drop,) and my personal experiences with cannabis and how it affects my own mind.
I've decided (with Brian, of course) that when he comes to visit after Christmas, we're going to perform a little experiment, in a safe, controlled environment - try out small amounts of different strains of cannabis - sativas, and indicas - and really try to pay attention to what it does to both of our minds.
I live in PA, and just recently (December 2) the PA house of representatives held its first-ever hearing on a bill that would legalize medical marijuana. Obviously, I am in support, and I hope it goes through, not just for Brian's sake, and the other people whose OCD might be eased (or worsened??) by marijuana use, but for the many other sufferers of other problems whose only relief might be found through smoking.
Marijuana REALLY DOES help people, and in some cases it helps when NOTHING ELSE does. Who are the state and federal governments to tell people that they're gonna fucking go to JAIL if they get caught just because they wanted to feel better?
Would you tell someone with cancer that their chemo is now illegal? Someone with heart disease that they're gonna get thrown in a cell if they take that pill? Would you lock up a diabetic if you caught sticking that insulin needle in their arm?
Anyway, if anyone out there in the ebaums community has any experience with cannabis as treatment or even as a trigger for more severe OC behavior, share it with me, please! I'd love to hear any more stories or thoughts.