CBD, Anxiety, & Me: Thoughts After 3 Months on a CBD Tincture

Health, Lifestyle

How Taking CBD Cured My Anxiety

What I used to think about CBD

I’m probably one of the last people to hop on the CBD bandwagon – if not THE last one. Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen CBD–cannabidiol, a compound derived from cannabis plants–become so popular for a variety of different reasons. I heard everything from it cures anxiety, relieves pain and helps you sleep. Then there were bigger claims like it fights cancer, prevents seizures, and lowers risk of diabetes. But I didn’t buy any of it. I knew so many people who were completely head-over-heels in love with CBD and raved about it all the time. However, most of them were also very well-known for… puffing the magic dragon… I’m not sure how I’m supposed to word this in a blog. Anyways, they smoke a lot of weed. You know the type: gets super defensive about weed, munching on something all the time, scatterbrained, listens to The Grateful Dead on repeat, burns incense, wears drug rugs, has at least one Bob Marley poster hanging up in their room. You get the idea.

So I didn’t buy it because I’m not a smoker, and I was never enamored with the stoner culture. I’m not going to be convinced about how magical CBD is from someone who can’t go a few hours without smoking weed. I don’t really trust them to educate me because I always wondered, is this new health supplement really as great as they say? Or has everything marijuana just become a major part of their self-identity? So I debated it many times over the last few years, and I always approached the CBD conversations with skepticism (and if I’m being honest here, a lot of judgment).

Then, I started to see a shift. Instead of just smokers using CBD, it started to become popular among many different types of people. Athletes used it, professionals used it, children used it, mothers used it, wellness advocates used it – and CBD started to become seen as a health supplement rather than a conversation in a college dorm room. Fast forward to the last few months and my boyfriend and I are both working for health and fitness companies that invite other companies to sell CBD Oil to athletes at events and competitions.

Today, I regularly meet people who use CBD for an array of reasons. People who are active professionals with 9-5 jobs. I’ve learned of so many success stories particularly with anxiety, so I finally decided that I would give it a try. I’ve now been on CBD for three months and feel much better, but also incredibly guilty for never giving this natural medicine a try. I was quick to judge these products because of the stoner culture that used to surround them and quick to get annoyed when someone would rave to me about why I should be using it. Especially because it seemed too simple. How could taking a few drops of CBD oil be enough to relieve anxiety? Wouldn’t I need to meditate every day, take prescriptions, and see a therapist if I wanted that to happen? No.

So what is CBD?

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert about this. There are so many people and online influencers out there who pretend that they’re CBD experts but they’re not. So I started looking into it for more information. From what I’ve come across, the most informative and easy to understand content was a video by health and nutrition expert, Thomas DeLauer. He explained exactly how CBD affects the receptors in the brain to make us feel good, relax us, help those suffering from cancer, and more. It really helped me comprehend why and how it works so I could finally understand all those big claims that are made and the science behind it. If you’d like to see if yourself, check it out here.

So you may or may not already know this, but for the sake of educating someone who may not, CBD is the non-psychoactive component of cannabis (there’s no THC). Yes, we all know this. Moving on.

According to DeLauer, there are two different CBD receptors in the body and brain, CBD 1 and CBD 2. CBD 1 is found mostly in the brain and affects mood, emotion, mood, pain, etc. CBD 2 is found mostly in the body and affects things like inflammation and the immune system. THC is what activates both receptors, but CBD oil doesn’t. Instead, CBD influences the body to use more of its naturally occurring endocannabinoids, enhancing how the receptors utilize them. It’s the utilization and activation of vanilloid, serotonin, and adenosine receptors that give people the result they’re looking for from CBD.

These receptors play a role because CBD increases the activity of the receptors which trigger secondary responses in the body. For one thing, it activates a secondary response of excretory catecholamines (adrenaline, noradrenaline, and epinephrine), which is what gives you a heightened sense of awareness while still feeling calm. Secondly, CBD also activates dopamine and causes the body to naturally and effectively utilize that particular neurotransmitter, which makes us feel better. Thirdly, CBD activates glutamate which (in the right amounts) can trigger energy in the right places. Finally, the serotonin receptors: CBD oil activates 5-HT1A which allows the body to create more serotonin and use it more efficiently. All of these things give us that lovely sensation that CBD companies spend tons of money marketing to us: you’ll feel calm, yet awake. So that’s the long-winded version of what CBD is, as far as how it helps someone struggling with anxiety, like myself. Thank you, Thomas DeLeaur for explaining all of that in a way that makes sense for someone like me who just barely passed science class in school.

Why I tried CBD

I heard several stories from friends who suffered from terrible anxiety and were able to relax and function normally after taking CBD. That they no longer suffered from anxiety attacks, or have moments when their heart races uncontrollably, or feel overwhelmed even when nothing stressful is happening. On top of that, my boyfriend and I also work at well-known health and fitness companies, and we’re constantly surrounded by people who are in incredible shape and participate in competitions on the weekends–and many of them take CBD. So after hearing about CBD for years, I finally decided to take a leap of faith. The worst that could happen was I wouldn’t like it, and move on with my life. When I started using CBD, I started with the brand, Elixinol. Elixinol is a high-quality, naturally processed CBD brand with 100% Organic Industrial Hemp from the U.S., Europe, and Australia. I use it in the morning before work and at night before I fall asleep. It comes in a one-ounce bottle and glass dropper with measurements on it for a .5 milliliter (ml) or 1 ml dose. I fill it up, usually to about .75 ml and I put the CBD underneath my tongue for about a minute to allow it to absorb into my bloodstream and then I swallow.

Side Note: I got this one from my boyfriend because he bought it for himself and realized that there was coconut oil in it which he’s allergic to. So if you’re allergic to coconut oil too, you really have to read CBD labels because tons of brands use coconut oil as a carrier oil.

After using Elixinol for over a month, I then tried out Charlotte’s Web CBD after hearing testimonials from so many people that swear by Charlotte’s Web and found the most success with that brand. If you’ve never heard of the story behind Charlotte’s Web, I highly suggest looking into it. The company was started because of a little girl name Charlotte Fiji who suffered from Dravet Syndrome — a very rare form of epilepsy. Her story is one that is completely heartbreaking and has shown people all of over the world how healing CBD can be. If you want to read the full story check it out here.

After using Elixinol and Charlotte’s Web both for a month and a half each, I can finally say that I am a firm believer in using CBD.

My thoughts after 3 months on CBD

Less Anxiety – Within the first day of being on CBD, I immediately felt better. I noticed that my mental state had become much more peaceful than it was before. The way that I could describe it is like taking an actual chill pill. Normally throughout the day, I have negative emotions, as we all do. I get anxious, angry, and sad, and it regularly ruins my day and makes me feel crappy both mentally and physically. If you’ve had anxiety then you’ll know what I’m talking about.

You know that feeling when you start to have anxiety? It’s not just a mental feeling, but you feel it physically too. Your heart races, you sweat, you feel wired, you don’t feel like you’re in control of your body or mind, and your whole body feels agitated and uncomfortable. When I take CBD, I still feel my regular emotions throughout the day, like sadness or anger, but when I do it’s not nearly as heavy as it normally is. Those feelings don’t spread throughout my whole body and make me feel like I can’t breathe or my heart will come out of my chest. Instead, I feel an emotion, but without all of those physical reactions that usually amplify the feelings of anxiety and make it so much worse.

The first time that I really noticed this was when I was stuck in traffic on the highway one day and someone cut me off. Normally this would have made me feel anxious throughout my whole body. I would have felt the adrenaline coursing through me, and I wouldn’t calm down until I reached my destination and got out of the car. But now, I feel slightly anxious in my mind without all of the adrenaline and nerves. Instead, whenever I experienced an emotion like this, I would think to myself, “Oh, I’m feeling a little stressed out right now. That’s fine, it’ll pass.” Or “Looks like there’s some anxiety showing up again.”

I was so surprised by how calm and rational I felt. I started to identify unpleasant emotions, and then let them go without feeding into them. This has actually been something that I’ve been trying to train my mind to do in meditation, but I haven’t been able to do it alone. But now, on CBD, I can. I watch the negative thought show up and pass by just like seeing someone pass by me on the sidewalk. Not that I’m disconnected from my emotions or have become emotionless, but rather they don’t overwhelm me and affect me physically in the way that they used to.

I also want to add that even though CBD calmed me down, the effects are not at all like a prescription drug that people use to treat anxiety. When someone takes a pill meant for anxiety, it immediately hits them and they have a noticeable reaction. They go from having a panic attack to feeling very happy, relaxed, and basically like they’re floating on a cloud away from all of their problems. Which is why I was afraid to try CBD at first because I didn’t want an effect like that. But CBD doesn’t hit you like a prescription does. It’s very slow so after a while, I’ll notice that I feel calm. Taking CBD oil reminds me of taking an ibuprofen when something is hurting. I don’t notice it kick in immediately – it happens so slowly that I didn’t even realize it was starting to work until 30 minutes later when I notice that my headache is gone. Which is why you may not even notice the effects of CBD and realize that it’s working because it doesn’t hit you like a Xanax. Days might go by and you’ll suddenly have an “ah-ha” moment in traffic like me.

Focus –The other thing that I noticed after being on CBD was that it also helped me get out of my own head and focus on what was in front of me. My mind normally races so much that it’s hard to really pay attention when I’m reading, working, or writing. Now, instead of seeing something that I have to get done and letting it overwhelm me and stress me out, CBD has helped me put my feelings aside and focus on one thing at a time. I have no idea how it does this, but it does. Why did I not get on board with this when I was still in school?!

Take-Away

I feel so guilty for judging people who took CBD as a supplement and assuming that people just used it because they thought it was cool. Maybe some people do. But I’ll admit it… I messed up. Sorry! I now take CBD oil with my other supplements morning and night and it has made each day brighter and more manageable. Now that I’ve seen what a difference it can make, I’m experimenting with some other CBD products and see which ones are the best for me. But as of now, Elixinol and Charlotte’s Web are the two that I keep going back to.

If you’re dealing with anxiety, depression, anger, or maybe you just have a hard time focusing, I think you should consider doing some research on CBD, talking to your doctor, and trying a supplement like this. Everyone is different, but this could be a simple lifestyle change that could make a huge difference in your mental state and your day-to-day experience.

Have you taken CBD oil? What has your experience been? Have you noticed any positive (or negative) changes? What brands do you use? What brands do you dislike? If you don’t understand CBD or may be against it, what are your thoughts? Please let me know in the comments! I love hearing the new perspectives! And, if you like what you read, be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol and type in your email to subscribe! 

Photo by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Love Finds You When You’re Not Looking

Lifestyle

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I’m writing this blog post today because it’s June 12th, my one year anniversary. This day last year, Matt and I became boyfriend and girlfriend at the top of the Saint Augustine Lighthouse. With it being our anniversary, it has made me reflective about what it was like when I was dating around and trying to find “the one.”

Before I met Matt, I spent over a year casually dating and searching for that one person I wanted to be with. It seemed like everyone I knew was in a committed, long-term relationship, and I was their one “single friend.” And my friends loved nothing more than to give me advice about dating and tell me how I was doing it wrong. They always told me the second I stopped looking for someone, I was going to meet the love of my life. I thought that they were insane and that was the most ridiculous clique I’d ever heard.

Every time someone told me that, it irritated me to my core. Why does everyone make it seem like some magic trick where you stop looking and Voila, you’ve found your soulmate?! I didn’t want to be the single friend and I didn’t want to listen to people spewing cliques at me whenever they had the chance. So I worked even harder to find someone. I went out to bars to meet other singles, I Tindered, I had friends set me up, and I kept an eye out wherever I went thinking, “Maybe this is the day I’ll meet him.

Because of that, I went on one horrible, cringe-worthy first date after another. Then, something would happen. I would meet someone that I was interested in and infatuated with and we would casually date for about two months. But it would always end the same way. Every single time, just as we had gotten through the get-to-know-you part of dating, they would hit me the excuses about why they didn’t want to date. I heard it all…

“I really like you, but I’m just not looking for anything serious right now.”

“I really like you, but I’m still in love with my ex-girlfriend.”

“I really like you, but I travel a lot.”

“I really like you, but I just need to focus on my career right now.”

“I really like you, but you’re cool and I don’t want to ruin the friendship.”

“You’re just too good for me, you deserve better.”

“We live a half an hour away, it would be hard to make it work.”

“I just think it’s not natural for humans to be monogamous.”

“I’m just want to have fun.”

“I just want to be friends.”

Or even worse, they would completely ghost me and disappear altogether. They didn’t want to come up with a little excuse as to why they weren’t interested. Instead, they wanted to ignore me until I got the hint. So, after casually dating a long line of giant d-bags and having it end the same way, my thoughts on dating had completely changed. I thought that it was actually impossible for me to find love.

How on earth was I going to find someone who loved to travel as much as I did? Who was supportive? Who would deal with me when I’m at my worst? Who would tell me I’m pretty when I roll out of bed in the morning looking like a troll? Who would spend the day hopping around to different cafes or donut shops with me? Who would treat me the way that girls are treated in romantic comedies? Who would buy me flowers for no reason at all? I couldn’t even get a text back! There was no way on earth I was going to find “the one.”

I told myself that some people are just not meant to be in romantic relationships. Some people might just be destined to be on their own. And I’m happier being by myself with no dates lined up than I am on some quest to find that person. So, I made a sweeping declaration. I declared that I was not going to be dating anymore. I was officially done and exhausted by the torturous casual dating experience. I said that I would not be dating again until I was graduated, had a job, had a place of my own, and was at least 25. From that moment on I was going to “focus on myself.” That night I met Matt.

If that’s not cosmic irony I don’t know what is. I must have yelled at countless people for telling me “The second you stop looking you’re going to meet the love of your life.” I hated that clique with all of my being. So of course, that’s the way that I met Matt. Just hours after my sweeping declaration when I was downtown and his friend had made a comment from across the room that got us talking.

A year later it still amazes me that I found someone so perfect after I had sworn off dating. That night I met the most kind, supportive, genuine person on the planet. And all it took was for me to stop trying so hard.

The reason why I’m writing this is that now I’m watching other girls go through the same thing that I was. Who are struggling to find that perfect person, and who keeping looking for him wherever they go. And all I want to tell them is the second you stop looking, you’re going to meet the love of your life. I know you too have probably heard this from friends or family before, but it’s worth listening too. It’s one of those cliques you hear over and over again that are worth having faith in. So turn off the Tinder, pull yourself out of that bar you don’t want to be in, and stop looking. He’ll come to you.

 

Why I Collaborate With Photographers

Lifestyle

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Every time one of my friends from school or work eventually follows me on social media, it takes about .2 seconds of them scrolling through my feed before they begin to notice my modeling photos. And what I’ve noticed through modeling with local photographers, is that everyone who doesn’t regularly collaborate and create content for the web is instantly confused by it. It doesn’t make sense to them that two people, who rarely know each other, would meet up on the weekends and take pictures. Friends and family ask me all the time, “How come they don’t pay you?” “Why would you take photos with a stranger?” “Isn’t it awkward?” “Why do you do it?” “What could you possibly be getting from that experience?” “Why? Why? Why?”

So I finally decided to write down a list of reasons for anyone who is perplexed. To anyone who thinks it’s strange for the models, photographers, videographers, and other content creators in the area to meet up and collaborate. At the end of the day, it’s just two people that are passionate about photography coming together and creating something they’re proud of. In a way, it’s similar to how you might network with people on LinkedIn and meet up to have coffee and pick each other’s brains… only you’re meeting up to network and make art!

Here are ten reasons why I love to work with local photographers in hopes that it will eliminate some of the fears, negative energy, or confusion around “collaborating with strangers.”

1) It gets me out of my comfort zone

Collaborating with photographers was originally something that I started doing to get out of my comfort zone. Having to be incredibly photogenic and continue to pose and act un-phased while crowds of people stare at you sounded like a nightmare. But I did it anyway because I knew that if I did something that made me nervous and scared, it would help me to grow and not be so worried about trying new things in the future. After doing it a few times, I can say that without a doubt, it makes you much more self-confident in all aspects of your life. After posing front of hundreds of people in a very public place, suddenly the things that seemed scary before don’t seem so intimidating.

2) It helps me meet people

When I started collaborating with photographers, I had just moved to Saint Augustine and I knew absolutely no one. I’m also an introvert, so it’s usually a challenge for me to meet new people and strike up conversation anyways. I knew that it would take a while to get to know people in the area, but I wanted to start meeting people and feel like a local. So I started reaching out to photographers that had a great portfolio who might be interested in shooting. Just by reaching out on social media and asking people to collaborate I met dozens of people and made friends all over the area that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. It’s expanded my network far beyond friends from school and my family.

3) The pictures, obviously!

Before I started modeling I hardly had interesting content to post. I remember looking at photos of all the “Instagram Models” who had amazing pictures to post of themselves every week. The only photos that I had were crappy selfies or something that I had to practically force a family member to take. Let’s face it, everyone likes having nice pictures of themselves that aren’t mirror-selfies…

4) It’s fun!

The first thing that I tell people when I’m met with aggressive questions about why I like to collaborate on my weekends, I tell them that it’s fun. I like to do it! Modeling on the weekend is much more fun than spending your day off eating Cheez-Its and binge-watching The Office on Netflix or going out to a bar. Since I started modeling I’ve shot at a Nasa rocket launch, the Saint Augustine Castillo de San Marco, created mock engagement photos, filmed cinema-graphs and YouTube videos on the beach, shot at a Jacksonville car show, and filmed for the Food Network. I’m so glad I got out of my little bubble and spent my free days doing that instead of laying around and being lazy.

5) It boosts my confidence

There was a time when I was terrified to model. I thought that it was something that only “prettier” girls or celebrities or rich people could do. I felt like it was something that was only meant for a certain kind of person, and I didn’t meet the criteria. But now, I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and actually did it. I’m now doing something that I once thought was impossible for me because I was holding myself back. When I remember that I got over those fears and insecurities and I now model all the time, it makes me feel proud and confident of how far I’ve come.

6) It’s a form of self-expression

I’m not a professional model. Nobody does my hair and makeup or plans out an outfit for me to wear or tells me how to pose. I don’t starve myself to be a size two and I don’t do any shoots that don’t want to and I’m not comfortable with. I’m not someone that models for work or fame. I collaborate with certain photographers and create images because I want to. I plan my own outfits and makeup, I come up with my own poses and concepts, and I scout locations. I use it to express myself in the same way that someone uses their hair or clothing to express themselves. Once the shoot has been finished and the photos are edited and ready to post, there’s such a sense of pride. Together, the photographer and I were able to capture a gorgeous moment that will never be replicated. And we do it simply because we want to express ourselves.

7) The photographers are inspiring

Every photographer that I shoot with is completely different. They all have their own unique style of shooting and editing and have an eye that’s unlike everyone else. Some people prefer to take their time and set up specific poses, others shoot very quickly and try to catch movement and candid moments. Some prefer lots of colors while others shoot black and white. Each person that I collaborate with has their own eye and unique aesthetic, and each one of them an inspiration. Being able to be a part of such a supportive community of local creatives helped me learn from them, gain a deeper appreciation for art, and stimulate my own creativity and curiosity. I don’t believe I’d be the same person I am today without each one of them being in my life.

8) It’s an adventure

Every photo shoot is completely unique and I never know exactly what we’ll end up doing. Sometimes we have a plan, but once we start taking photos our creativity pulls us in a completely different direction. There are also times when we encounter problems throughout shooting such as lighting, or our location being closed, too many people in the background, etc. There end up being a lot of problem-solving throughout each shoot to overcome the obstacles and create a gorgeous something stunning. At the end of the shoot, no matter what, we always end up creating something that we love. Most of the time, the photos that we didn’t mean to capture end up being the best ones.

Do you like to collaborate with other creatives? What are your thoughts? Comment below! 

Photographer: Allen Fajardo