I have drug-resistant Paranoid Schizophrenia
, and I hallucinate with all five (and more) senses. Drug/Treatment-Resistant
means that medications like antipsychotics don't stop my hallucinations. In fact, in my case they actually make them worse.
I'm self-aware and high-functioning, but I have psychotic episodes that will last a long time if not treated, the longest being 5 years. When I have psychotic episodes, I tend to switch to Catatonic Schizophrenia
, which isn't quite what it sounds like, and if you'd like more information, please click on the link.
I've been on more medications than I can count over the years, but the last time I compiled a list, it was over 40. At times I was on as many as 9 different medications at one time, none of which helped much, and most of which made me worse in some way and caused intolerable side effects such as brain and nerve damage, hypersomnolence, and many others.
So I went in search of alternative treatments, the first of which being something I've been on for 8 years now, which is Wellbutrin/bupropion. It's an SNRI (not an SSRI), and after doing a lot of research and for various reasons (which I'll probably go into more detail about at a later date), I decided it would work, and it did once I found a psych doc willing to prescribe it to me. Keep in mind this is a medication doctors WILL NOT normally prescribe schizophrenics! Yet it has worked wonders on me.
However, it didn't stop me from having breakthrough psychotic episodes -- about 1-2 per year. So about a year ago I started my search again.
For a few months now, I've been using THC gummies/edibles as a treatment for my schizophrenia. THC is a natural antipsychotic, antianxiolytic, and has many good properties. Read This Article
to see some studies about it.
I've tried everything from 2.5mg all the way up to 120mg of THC per dose. For reference, the average joint is anywhere from 10-50mg (they may say there's more THC in there, but only 10-50mg is actually ingested).
In that time I've learned some things about how THC effects schizophrenia, anxiety, paranoia, psychosis, hallucinations, and daily life.
First of all and most important to me, there's no obvious nerve damage and so far there hasn't been evidence of brain damage even in studies where ridiculously high amounts of THC was used, including 1000-1200mg of THC per dose given daily.
Second, it's the only thing that has stopped my hallucinations. Within 1.5 hours, even at my worst, THC stops all hallucinations. It brings my paranoia level down to almost none. My cognitive function is greatly improved, as is my concentration and memory. My auditory processing improves, and my social skills improve slightly as well.
My sleep patterns improve, and instead of sleeping anywhere from 1-5 hours a night or not sleeping at all for days at a time, my sleep pattern regulates somewhat and I get a regular 5-6 hours at roughly the same time every night.
My clumsiness improves, my facial expressions improve (schizophrenics tend to lack facial expressions and gestures), and my ability to tolerate noises and humans improves greatly, especially children.
The only problem I'm seeing so far is that I can't stay high 24/7. I own a business, and it takes a lot of my time and mental energy, so I've been taking about 30mg of THC on Saturday night (the first night of my weekend) only. I'm not able to drive or work on this dosage, but it only lasts for about 18 hours, so by the time I need to get errands and household chores done on Monday, I'm completely sober again.
This brings up another issue. Something I didn't expect, but really should have. I've had schizophrenia since I was 2 years old, and I became accustomed to hallucinations very early on. I'm self-aware, and most of the time I can tell the difference between a hallucination and reality. The times I can't, friends and family are awesome enough to let me ask and they'll calmly inform me whether what I'm seeing/hearing/tasting/smelling/feeling is real or not.
But in the 18 or so hours I don't have hallucinations due to the THC in my body, I get used to a lack of hallucinations way too quickly. That means that when it wears off, I have a hard time acclimating to the hallucinations coming back. I'm more jumpy, I "forget" to ignore the noises/voices, and it takes me a day or two to get used to it again. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a concern.
In the six months I've been using THC on and off, I haven't had a psychotic episode, and it has twice stopped one from coming on. I had all the symptoms of one coming on (noticed by me, my family, my friends) and yet after one dose, it backed off to normal levels. Previously I had to use 8-week courses of antipsychotics to "reset" my brain and stop the psychotic episode.
The medical community doesn't want to look at THC as an alternative treatment. They won't even consider the fact that antipsychotics aren't the best treatment for schizophrenia. They use medications that cause brain and nerve damage just because they don't know what else to do with us, and they feel the damage is worth the risk.
That means research into alternative treatments suffers, and that means medications aren't being produced that take advantage of these findings. Instead schizophrenics are being heavily medicated until they're drooling. On the other hand, many schizophrenics refuse to take any medication at all because the only things offered to them are more horrible to them than the disease itself, so they're left suffering through whatever symptoms they have to deal with on a daily basis.
Hallucinations don't upset me. I've lived with them all my life. My goal isn't to rid myself of them, and I couldn't care less if someone feels it's not "acceptable" and I should be medicated so they don't have to be exposed to it. My concern is cutting down on psychotic episodes and making my life more stable and easier to manage.
What I've found so far is working, and I hope one day soon the medical community takes the stick out of their ass and does something about making THC or the properties of it into a medical treatment somehow, especially one that doesn't get people high so they can work and play the way they want to.