Managing Agoraphobia and Debilitating Anxiety With Cannabis

Like when did the trauma begin? I guess at birth. I’ve never really felt right, always felt a sense of dread, really for as long as I can remember. I’m sure growing up with a mom and dad who couldn’t really be present, I mean they loved me but “presence” wasn't necessarily their thing, that couldn’t have helped.

“But that’s not trauma”, I’d think to myself. I didn’t have this single incident where I could point to and say “that's where it all began!” Because as I said, I think for me, it began at birth. Not to say that my nervous system hasn’t been rocked to the core a few times, but for me, it’s like I accumulated a bunch of “well fuck, this sucks” types of situations in my life that ultimately led to a life of crippling anxiety.

So really my trauma, on most days, it feels like me. It’s being anxious. Maybe because of some abandonment issues. It’s being overly sensitive. Perhaps I’ve got some self-esteem stuff, too. It’s me spending 25 hours a day ruminating about all the things. For me, my trauma feels like it’s coded into my very being.

How the fuck do you heal that?

Well, for me it all started with cannabis.

But, wait! Weed’s a drug, right? At least that's what I learned in organized addiction recovery. Yet sobriety was fairly new in my world at that point so, I referred to it as harm-reduction. Because truth be told, if I didn’t have my weed I’m not sure what my recovery and sobriety would look like.

My Unlikely Guide to Cannabis

I started dating this new man. Ironically, he was a stoner. Up until this point, I had smoked THREE whole times in my life, so I was kind of a novice and a bit judgy. I had always thought pot was much like heroin. As a product of the Reefer Madness generation, isn’t that what we were led to believe? That marijuana smokers were evil, criminals, and rapists?

And yet there I was dating a druggy for fuck sake. Yet he was completely normal (whatever that means). He was a decent member of society, gentle, educated, and best of all, he was a thoughtful human. Nothing about this man screamed “nuisance to society!”

Then one night I found myself suffering from a debilitating migraine for which his very nonchalant response was, “smoke a joint”. And that’s exactly what I did! Immediately my headache was lighter. I almost felt like I could sleep, which I hadn’t done much of other than during bouts of crippling depression. Oh wait, did I leave that part out?

At this point in my life, I was full-blown agoraphobic. I didn’t know it then, of course. I just felt like I was in a personal jail. All the time. I mean, I could look out of my window and see people living life around me. I just couldn’t leave the fucking house and my life felt hopeless.

“What’s agoraphobia?”, you ask. Affecting only 1-2% of Americans, more than half of whom are women, agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder that causes an intense fear of becoming overwhelmed or unable to escape or get help. It’s ruthless and isolating and according to John Hopkins University, an irrational fear most often in response to a traumatic event or series of events. There's extremely limited pharmacological support for those suffering from agoraphobia, so many looking to cannabis to manage their agoraphobia might be in luck as cannabis will likely be federally legal in the not too distant future.

But back to that joint. It was delicious. It was really tasty and very smelly and the best part of the whole experience? I slept all night! For the first time in so long, I slept through the entire night. Do you know what that means to someone battling insomnia? It was from that night forward that I felt an important connection to this plant; more importantly, I felt a connection to myself again.

I was able to use cannabis as a way to get out of my head and into my body’s mind, to really connect with how I was feeling inside. More importantly, I was able to not have such a distorted anxious thought process. I was able to leave my house and slowly relearn how to live life again.

First things first, I was able to go back to work part-time, this required me to really learn what my ideal therapeutic doses were. I was able to reconnect with old friends and hell, I even make lots of new ones. I just didn’t feel so scared anymore. If anything, I felt charged and excited about what was next, it really was like cannabis had opened up a part of my brain that hadn't been available to me previously.

Agoraphobia is no joke and I wouldn't wish it on anyone, but I felt it was my responsibility to share the ways in which cannabis has helped me overcome agoraphobia and its accompanying anxieties.

As the next few years unfolded I really did find a deeper sense of healing, which brings me to today. I wanted to become a guide, a guide for people to find their peace, so I became a certified cannabis nurse and trauma-trained and also certified ganja yoga teacher.

What do all these names mean? It means I help people facilitate peace in their bodies, peace in their minds, and peace in their spirits. Basically, I love you until you can learn to love yourself again.

Want to follow along with Terri's health and healing journey? Visit @_meditationinmovement_ on Instagram.

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