I have scenario-specific issues with emotional regulation and have found it hard to do specific activities at times such as going to class and shopping due to my nerves. But one of my largest triggers for multiple years has been driving, especially long-distance driving. There’s this existential fear that brews inside of me and can be hard to control. The fact that I have other neurodivergences has never helped. In high school, it wasn’t as much of an issue but quickly developed in severity when college started.
My college campus is around 4 hours away from my hometown, which is absolutely a doable drive, but can be extremely triggering and exhausting with my issues. Some of the times driving down home or back to campus have been some of my worst experiences as a driver. The thought of it filled me with dread and every time I stepped into my car to drive home felt like playing Russian Roulette: it was either a perfectly decent drive or hours filled with panic. It became mythologized in my mind, like it was some intangible monster. These episodes along with other related ones began to pile up and a need to find a way to deal with the issue grew. I knew my triggers and was aware of how to work around certain things, but needed something that would come in handy when a trigger was unavoidable, or an episode had already started.
Within discussions of neurodivergences and living with them, a good chunk of the discourse oftentimes revolves around medication- over-medication, natural/organic remedies, the metaphysical, etc. A rising option is Cannabidiol (CBD). It’s natural, generally easy to access, and can be used to help with both mental and physical issues. As for the research, “… the systemic administration of CBD had caused a decrease in neurons associated with fear (c-Fos positive neurons) and a direct infusion of CBD in the amygdala neurons has led to decreased anxiety-related behaviors” (Oberbarnscheidt and Miller 6) in animal studies. In humans, a study based on a public speaking test was conducted and “…reduction in anxiety, cognitive impairment as well as discomfort in speech performance.” (Oberbarnscheidt and Miller 6) were observed. While CBD certainly can’t be called a “cure” for anything, there’s scientific evidence that it could work great for certain people and in tandem with other treatments (both medical and natural). The first time I tried it was in late 2021 when I was home with my family for winter break.
Funnily enough, despite the popular idea that CBD is a very “Gen Z” or “millennial” thing, my parents were the people who first brought it into my life. One night we were talking, and I confided in them about my struggles with driving and that there needed to be something out there that could help me. That was when they mentioned the CBD drops that they kept around for our pets and my mother’s chronic pain and let me know that they would be there for me if I wanted to try them. So, a few days before the drive, I took a few drops to see how they affected me and my body. Across 15 minutes, an aura of relaxation pieced itself together across my body and mind. It wasn’t a “high”- “CBD drug effects are different from THC and do not seem to produce intoxicating effects where performance or cognition is impaired” (Shapiro); The tension carried in my body started to quietly release and the thoughts that usually race in my mind slowed down and started to make a bit more sense. It was that something that could finally help.
I took a few drops of the CBD before I went back up to campus and found that it helped immensely. Many of the things that would raise my nerves when driving- intense traffic, driving next to or behind large trucks, driving in unknown areas- were minimized and became more manageable. Without the CBD, the drive still would have been done, but it would have been far more emotionally taxing. That happened a little more than a year ago. Since then, I have been able to deal with a lot of personal issues and gotten over some fears, but still own CBD and use it as needed.
Throughout this post, there have been many references to CBD drops. They are a general type of CBD product with some having trace amounts of THC and some being just the CBD. “CBD oil is most often a blend of CBD extract and an inert carrier oil like medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) coconut oil.” (Timmons). The syringe that most have (including those sold by Muddy Boot Botanicals) make it easy to dose, the bottles are great if you’re more “on-the-go”, and they are relatively mess-free. I’ve found drops to be an ideal product for my needs. Additionally, as CBD is no longer an illegal controlled substance and shouldn’t cause impairment on its own, the risk of using CBD when driving is relatively low. Though, full-spectrum CBD products do contain trace amounts of THC. The presence of THC in these products can occasionally be intoxicating and would show up on a drug test. For best practices, see how a non-full-spectrum CBD product affects you before attempting to drive, check your local laws, and remember that it can be dangerous to operate heavy machinery.
About the Author
Taylor Wikoff is a student at the University of Central Florida. See Taylor’s portfolio and learn more at https://wikoffportfolio.wordpress.com/blog/.