In this week’s Mental Health Mondays, writer Marissa talks about the Ohio Medical Marijuana Program’s only mental health qualifying condition for cannabis: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). For those who struggle with PTSD, journaling can be helpful. Make sure to check out the writing prompt at the end of this article.
How Schools Get it Wrong: Teaching Physical Activity, Diet over Regulating Emotions
In school we were taught how important physical activity is. We have gym class from kindergarten all the way up to 12th grade. I remember my senior year, my gym time was Zumba and CPR at Tri-C.
We were told how important eating a healthy diet is. Getting all the main food groups. What was once the food pyramid is now the food plate: ½ your plate vegetables, ¼ a starch and ¼ a protein. Simple, right?
What is not taught in school or even in most households, is how important it is to regulate our emotions. What it looks like to take a breather before reacting to something (or someone). How we can create mental wellness within our own lives. And how we alone are responsible for doing all of this.
My reason for starting Mental Health Mondays is to spread awareness not only about qualified conditions that cannabis can help, such as PTSD/anxiety. My hope for this article series is to spread general understanding, enlightenment and autonomy of our own individual mental health. And to potentially help us feel more connected in the process.
PTSD and CPTSD: What’s the Difference?
Ohio’s only current mental health qualifying condition for getting a medical cannabis card is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a condition that can affect any person of any age. Complex PTSD (CPTSD) is a close relative disorder, with the main difference between the two being the “complexity” or layers. PTSD can occur after a single traumatic event, like a car crash. We associate PTSD with veterans, survivors and anyone who experienced symptoms from a single event.
CPTSD relates to reoccuring trauma. It’s a pattern or cycle; a combination of events that seem to pack on top of one another. Almost like bricks. Maybe one or two bricks doesn’t feel extreme; it’s manageable. When you have 100 bricks glued together with stress and anxiety hormones, this might be more difficult to navigate alone.
Sharing Stories: A Judgment-Free Space
Through this series, I will interview medical cannabis patients who have other diagnosed mental health disorders, not just PTSD. Sharing stories, life, experience, knowledge from all walks can help us all better learn and grow.
Some articles will consist of just general knowledge about disorders like major depression and bipolar 1 and 2. Whether it be a deep dive into PTSD treatment and how cannabis can help. Pieces of advice on how to add mental wellness and mindfulness into your everyday routines. Even how breathing and meditation can reset your entire nervous system. (Seriously, how cool are our bodies?!)
This is an open, judgment free space for the conversation to stay honest, unfurled, and authentic.
Mental Health, Mental Illness and Mental Wellness
Mental health, mental illness and mental wellness are terms we all can come to better understand. Even if you are not personally experiencing or riddled with these large emotions, recognizing signs in other’s can be a power. I have found in my career, when you can relate to how someone feels, it has a long lasting impact on all parties involved.
Mental health is a term used to reference your state of mind or being.
Terms that are similar but not necessarily interchangeable are:
- Mental Wellness: the act of adding positive mental health to your routine
- Mental Illness: usually associated with a mental health diagnosis. This can only be done by a licensed professional.
Mental illness is just like physical illness. There is something to be done for it. From small steps like going for a walk, talking to a friend or vaping your favorite strain of cannabis. Large steps can look like mindfulness techniques, psychotherapy, behavioral therapy or medication.
What do I have? (If anything.)
When sifting through all of this information, most of us want to start from square one: What do I have? (If anything.) A stepping stone to better mental health can be talking to a therapist and getting a mental health evaluation. This is done normally by a psychologist, psychiatrist or an evaluator specifically trained to listen for keywords and sentences during your evaluation.
For example, when asking you about potential depression, your evaluator might ask about harmful thoughts, ideas or behaviors. If you communicate you sometimes have harmful feelings when when you’re sad, this might indicate to the evaluator you could have some depression and potential emotional dysregulation. Typically, they would then take that information and diagnose you. If diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, the evaluator might recommend bi-weekly therapy with a psychologist, emotion skills therapy like CBT/DBT, or a psychiatrist for a chat about medication.
Finding the Right Tools to Help
A kind reminder: Everyone is different. What is normal for the spider is chaos to the fly. Just like when finding cannabis products that work for you, finding the right combination of tools and skills to help elevate your mental health can be tricky. Low and slow, starting with what works best for you and your body is the best route. Sometimes even just reading an article or talking to a friend about what mental health means to you, can go a long way.
Each article, I will leave with a small writing prompt. These will be a few questions to ask yourself. My own therapy sessions often have me with more questions than answers. Writing out ideas and reading them back days later can put things into perspective and creates more tolerance.
Next week, we will hone our attention on PTSD, talk a bit about what “part’s work” is in PTSD/trauma therapy, hear from some MMJ patients about their journeys, and what cannabis cultivars can make a significant impact on your daily routine.
Mental Health Writing Prompt for the Week of May 8th:
- How can I best put my mental health at the forefront of my daily life?
- Is my work/life balance helping or hindering my mental health?
- Do I have a safe outlet or network where I can express my thoughts, feelings and ideas openly/judgment free? Why or why not is it a safe space for me?
- How am I showing up for myself this week?
- What am I doing to better prepare “future me” for success?
Have an amazing week!
Great article about the importance of mental wellness and the Ohio Medical Marijuana Program’s only mental health qualifying condition for cannabis. The writing prompt at the end is a helpful tool for those struggling with PTSD.
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