Using cannabis to wean off Lexapro

Tyler HurstBlog1 Comment

Featured image is me from June 11, 2016 (my first full day without psych medication) and today (I weigh ten lbs less, while also jettisoning 5% of my body fat).

From 2000 until mid 2016, I was prescribed 16 different medications designed to treat the following diagnosed disorders in my head: clinical depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, and clinical depression with anxiety. I saw a series of different doctors, rarely did I have the same doctor prescribe me more than two meds until I moved on.

In mid 2009, I tried to stop taking both Adderall and Lexapro cold turkey, but the withdrawal symptoms from Lexapro (Adderall withdrawals feel similar to smoking, a seven-year habit of mine I’d ended 18 months prior, so I knew what I was in for) became too severe.

In 2013, I started to have rage blackouts. I studied how and why they were happening, and started to use cannabis intentionally to ward off some of that anger. It worked, most of the time, but I’d miss dosages because I’d hate myself too much or not have enough money to get the correct kind and amount.

In late 2015, I started to have what I understand as repressed memories and emotional flashbacks. I’d be in negative situations full of verbal and physical violence, and I’d get just as mad as I was then, but in an adult’s body sans my higher reasoning skills.

I often blacked out at times during these disassociative (usually depersonalization, where I’d yell and scream, but sometimes derealization, where I’d have to hurt myself in some way to make sure my world wasn’t evaporating) episodes, adding to my fear and confusion in the moment. In early 2016, after multiple devastating arguments with my family and wife, I started to question if my psych medication was working for me.

In April of that year, I was given 99 grams of organically grown cannabis from living soil to sample as a judge of sorts for Willamette Week’s first Cultivation Classic. I sampled 3-5 strains a day, and then made infused coconut oil with the vaped leftovers.

In May, I started to have visual memories that associated with my previous highly emotional reactions. Near daily, I’d have some sort of negative feeling in the present, and then was able to connect that memory with at least two other negative experiences, usually from back when I was 4-6 years old and again in my later teen years and early 20s.

I lost 12 pounds that month, after losing three per in the previous two months, while reducing my exercise load and increasing my food intake.

In June, I knew it was time to get off Lexapro for good, as I felt the chemicals were limiting my emotional range, which prevented me from feeling and remembering all that my brain was trying to tell me. I also knew that it would take time for my brain to heal, as it had been depending on outside sources of chemicals for nearly half my life.

With a 60-mile round trip bike ride partially alongside a state highway on my schedule, I waited until that had been completed, and woke up June 10, 2016, without Lexapro in my system and no backup prescription.

The brain fog was immediate. The brain zaps took a day to start, then were constant. My emotional range expanded to the point of not being able to handle even off-screen TV violence, and I started to love shows like The Muppets that I’d watched as a kid.

A couple of days into my recovery, I met the Hermetic Botanicals team, who supplied me Mind Joules Nootropic and Calming Frequency with Hemp Infused Gummies. These helped me establish a sleep/wake pattern, as I typically couldn’t sleep more than 2-3 hours at a time without help.

In addition to that as a complement on tougher days and nights, I used infused coconut oil made from 84 grams worth of already vaped bud from my vaporizer. This mix, consisting of a half gram of the 99 competition strains and sample cannabis straight from near-legendary grower John Bodhi, was 10% CBD and 70% indica strains. I took the oil three times a day, with a dosage ratio of about 1.5:1:3 starting at 5mg (this eventually went up to 30:30:90).

For midday runs or when I could feel myself getting agitated, I used a 7:1 Earth mix from Luminous Botanicals. Its instant, when taken sublingually, relief helped me overcome two specific situations in which my body had frozen in fear during a morning flashback…like the Tin Man getting oiled.

In addition, I smoked/vaped/dabbed as much THCv as I could find, usually in the form of Durban Poison, Girl Scout Cookie, and Cherry Pie flower. The high THCv helped me stay in the present when my body reacted with spasms connected to emotional flashbacks, and allowed me to sort of lucid dream visual flashbacks as they happened.

Like surfing, this was a skill that felt like both art and science, as I never had pure THCv to work with so I could get a better handle on dosing. But oh man, did nights with THCv feel a lot better than all the other ones.

I couldn’t afford to replace all the hemp and CBD products I’d been using (it’s far easier/cheaper to obtain THC-laden cannabis than high CBD options, typically) and my recovery slowed down from the first few months.

Nearly five months later, in early November, I felt my brain start to turn back on again. I became aware of an emotional range and sensitivity I hadn’t known about previously, and started to feel like I was living in the “real” world.

After that, my recovery slowed until I started yoga in March 2017, tried ayahuasca in May, and then reconfigured my CBD:THC ratio this month to help better support my healing brain.

I have a lot more work to go, but goddamn, has it been one helluva positive experience over time.

To follow along, check out the Burning Bush podcast, which documents my recovery from May 2017 on, check out some reviews at AZ CannaFriends, and see some of my earlier cannabis work with Willamette Week.

Tyler HurstUsing cannabis to wean off Lexapro

One Comment on ““Using cannabis to wean off Lexapro”

  1. Meredith Verberkmoes

    I could learn so much from you. I take both CBD and THC in its various forms, have been on an obscene amount of psychiatric meds, and my experiences have some similarities with yours although depersonalization/derealization, rage blackouts, and the other things you said like the muppets, have not been in my arsenal of symptoms. I have bipolar type 2, ADHD, PTSD, and pre/menstrual dysphoric disorder (don’t date me). Many men have fallen for the trickery of my brain that is beyond my control, due to my seemingly infinite desirability. Anyway, I was also going to mention that John Bodhi is a friend of mine. Not from his job but from a social circle that I’m not to in touch with before. I’ve trimmed for him too, we’ve partied, went to Mexico with him and friends, and my most memorable experience with him was on a night where we were at a show where our musician friends were playing. I used to be a stoner in my early twenties but Cannabis, or I should say my mind, suddenly turned on me at one point and has ever since had a paradoxical effect on me. I’ve tried and retried over the years, worked on building up a tolerance, so on and so forth. So this night was one of those “retry” nights. If I’ve had a few drinks, and I don’t drink anymore but this was quite a few years ago, thc doesn’t give me anxiety, it makes me feel friggen awesome. So I had had a couple drinks, John had a tincture that he’d been working on, and I thought, I’ll try this. I’ve never ingested via tincture SPRAY, so maybe I’ll do fine. And I felt great ?. A few hours went by and I continued to feel fine so I had John spritz another dose in my mouth. I made sure to not take more than one spray every two hours because, well, two hours is the longest activation time I had ever heard of. So I felt normal, not even really buzzed from any alcohol, actually quite sober, so I drove home and went to bed (you know where this is going)…I woke up maybe eight hours later stoned absolutely out of my mind. Couldn’t really move, couldn’t really speak, it was terrible. I was the supervisor in my department of the DAC (I assume you’re familiar with either/both Eugene and Portland (Willamette), and I had a staff of thirty people that depended on me daily. Not only could I not go to work for four days, but I couldn’t even answer phone calls from employees who needed me for four/five days. I got super depressed after that and it took a couple of weeks to recover. I don’t blame John, my philosophy is that every individual is solely responsibility for what they decide to take. So anyway, the legendary part of him, I really relate to that. It’s somethinv I’ll never forget. But I know what you’re saying, he is incredibly good at what he does, and he makes shit happen as fast as he talks. So I just thought Id share my funny (now I think it’s hilarious) story with you ??. My greatest challenge in front of me right now is that I was a silly stupid person who for four days couldn’t remember to get my Paxil refilled…I’m on six meds and my memory is shot from the benzo I’ve been taking as prescribed for maybe seven years now, and I’ve recently started the Ashton method of withdrawal for this medical disaster where people’s bodies become there own internal torture chamber…but because im transitioning to Valium, a benzo that lets me avoid liquid titration and ridiculous things like science and math, I haven’t actually stepped down in dosage yet so I’m cool in only phase two. The whole entire point of everything I’ve written here equal in volume to War and Peace, is that I don’t know what the wth to do about fukn Paxil right now. The reason is that Ive felt better every day that I I very irresponsibly and inadvisably quit cold turkey I think one week ago now. I buy local organic products where I live. I’m taking an 8:1 cbd tincture that’s an indica dominate hybrid and a FECO, PHK is the strain, only about 5-7mg and with very little cbd, every night. I was doing searches on anything I could find about people with an SSRI cold turkey experience that was a success story as a result of supplementing cannabis. The temptation to keep going (cannabis turns off my tremors, brain zaps, and other withdrawal symptoms and I seem totally ok. I’m in for it, aren’t I. I’m frightened that I’ll be paying for it in three weeks or something but so encouraged and full of hope that I’ve gone this long withdrawal symptom free.

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