I’ve dealt with nausea for most of my life. It would get so bad when I was a kid that I would ask to stay home. But I would rarely vomit. Looking back, and knowing what I know now, I’m pretty sure my nausea was — and continues to be — caused by my Anxiety and Depression.
What Anxiety does to my body
Before I even start to experience shortness of breath or a tight feeling in my chest, my stomach starts to feel … off. It doesn’t immediately feel like nausea is building up. It just feels like my entire abdomen is filled with butterflies. I’m sure many people know the feeling I’m talking about. Then my head starts to swim. Sometimes I’m able to ignore the nagging feeling of fear that builds up in my brain, but not always.
Sometimes this sick (read: nauseated) feeling lasts for days at a time. It’s gotten so bad in the past that my therapist thought I was pregnant because it had been going on for a week at one point. Turns out it was Anxiety because it quickly faded after my therapy session.
If it gets bad enough, the nauseated feeling will escalate and the rest of my body will start to respond to the stress as well: tight chest, tight throat, shortness of breath, and the feeling of a slow yet unbearable pressure pushing down on my body from — oddly enough — my ears. Just thinking about it gives me the chills. It’s not great.
If I don’t take care of the Anxiety in a timely manner, the contents of my intestines will — sorry in advance for the TMI — feel like they’re being liquified. Yes, I can feel it. It’s an uncomfortable acidic feeling that is located throughout my abdominal area.
Anxiety isn’t the only gastrointestinal problem I have
Not only do I have Anxiety and Depression, but I also have co-morbid Fibromyalgia as well as Endometriosis. Unfortunately, both of those disorders on their own are often correlated with a person having Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). All three (3) disorders are known for being related to and/or causing inflammation. Although the medical community isn’t quite sure what causes Endometriosis, they do know that Fibromyalgia and IBS are often found in people who have Anxiety, Depression, and other psychological disorders. There are some theories related to those claims, but that’s not the purpose of this article. My point is, though, that I have been diagnosed with three (3) different physical issues that contribute to and/or are caused by inflammation in one way or another.
My Doctor thinks I might also have Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome
Despite all of my other diagnosis, which my GI Doctor is aware of, he suggested that my nausea might be a result of Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome. If you’re not familiar with the syndrome, it is — in the simplest terms — the result of frequent cannabis consumption. People who have it often feel compelled to take scalding hot showers, which seem to relieve nausea in those affected.
When I told my GI Doctor about my nausea — which, TMI, also sometimes occurs when I am making a bowel movement — I also disclosed my cannabis use. Immediately he asked if taking a shower relieves my symptoms. I answered honestly with, “sometimes”. What I didn’t clarify at the moment was that, by “sometimes” I mean, “rarely”. It was a clarification I’ll make the next time I see him. I’ll also need to clarify that the shower usually helps me feel better mentally, but it doesn’t get rid of my nausea. However, because I didn’t clarify, he suggested that I have Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome and told me I should stop consuming cannabis immediately.
At first, I agreed that it would probably be a good idea to at least try to stop consuming cannabis to see if that relieved my nausea. Since then, I’ve had a lot of time to think research Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome on my own, and now I’m not so sure that’s the cause.
Is my GI Doctor right?
As I explained earlier, I have dealt with nausea for a large portion of my life. As I mentioned earlier, Anxiety and Depression cause me to experience nausea. I also have Borderline Personality Disorder, and when I have an emotional meltdown, my nausea moves past “I feel nauseated” to “I’m probably going to throw up”. It never happens. I’ve even gone into the bathroom in preparation, but nothing ever comes out.
I also mentioned earlier that I start to feel nauseated during certain gastrointestinal events (i.e., poop time). Sometimes I’ll feel sick during the “event”, but it seems to lessen once the “event” is complete.
Another common instance I experience nausea, which I haven’t mentioned here or to my GI Doctor, is when I stand up too quickly. But that’s more of an intense bout of vertigo, which is enough to make anyone feel nauseated. It’s more of a sea-sick feeling, and it’s not just nausea. I also feel like I’m about to pass out because my blood pressure isn’t high enough. I also start to feel nauseated if I wake up too early in the morning and/or I don’t get enough sleep.
All of the above-mentioned issues are ones I started to experience before I ever even tried cannabis. So, no, I don’t think my GI Doctor is right.
Am I just in denial because I am addicted to cannabis?
I have asked myself this question numerous times since I saw my GI Doctor last Wednesday. Hell, I’ve asked myself for years if I am addicted to cannabis. The answer is no; I am not addicted. I am, however, dependent on cannabis. I use it to manage my chronic pain. I use it to relax after a long and stressful day, much like people who drink a glass or two of wine. I also use it to bond and relax with friends who are also cannabis consumers. But I am not addicted. My use does not negatively impact my life.
There were times in 2017 — when I was still at my mental rock bottom — where I would get too high to care for myself or my animals. It was only ever temporary, of course. But it wasn’t fun. I’ve since fixed my mini bong (the down stem was broken for over a year and a half), and my consumption has dropped significantly as a result. To be specific, I smoke about one-seventh of a gram per day on average. Some days I smoke more, but then some days I don’t smoke at all.
So, no, I don’t think I’m in denial. I genuinely think there is something else wrong with my gastrointestinal system. Maybe it’s IBS. Maybe it’s my Fibro (which can also cause nausea). Or, maybe it’s a combination of the giant fluster-cuck that is my body. I have so many mental and physical issues, it’s hard to imagine that cannabis — of all things — is the root cause. Especially since I have dealt with nausea throughout my 28-years of life.
I am not opposed to changing my diet, as my GI Doctor recommended. I’m also taking medication that is prescribed for my other IBS symptoms. And, if those don’t work to get rid of my nausea, well then I will definitely try to cut out cannabis to see if that helps. However, I am the most knowledgable about my body. I know that an outside opinion can be helpful, and I do trust my doctor. I just don’t think he has enough information yet to make that determination. Especially since his only reason for diagnosing seemed to be that I (a) experience nausea; and, (b) showers sometimes help with the symptoms. Although my GI Doctor is intelligent and fantastic at their job, they simply have too little knowledge about my holistic health to make that determination.
On the other hand, if Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome is the cause of my nausea, it is still far more bearable than the insane side effects of the other medications I have taken to manage my chronic pain in the past.