Schizoaffective w/ Suicidal Tendencies by Rita

Dear Dr. Grinspoon,

My name is Rita. I have battled mental illness for 35 years. I am diagnosed as Schizoaffective with suicidal tendencies. My first attempt was at the age of 15.

I used marijuana recreationally off and on for 31 years, starting at age 17.

I can't tell you how many times I have attempted suicide because I have memory problems too and I lost count. I can, however, tell you that in each case I was not usining marijuana at the time.

To the point... For 33 years I saw doctor after doctor. I faithfully tried every medication and regimen prescribed to me. Some of them worked for some symptoms but none for all. The 2 symptoms that kept occuring over the years were severe chronic insomnia and frequent espisodes of mania, and of course, the suicidal depressions.

Two years ago, at my wit's end, having tried every medication the psychatric community had to offer, I decided to try taking marijuana in a medicinal fashion (it's not yet legal in PA, where I live, but legislation is pending) in a last ditch effort to control my mania and insomnia. I had started paying attention and noticed that the mania and insomnia seemed to only be active during the periods in my life when I was not using marijuana.

I continued my anti-psychotic medications and added daily marijuana use. The mania and insomnia disappeared!

Last summer my counselor at the psychiatric clinic that I go to challenged me to stop using marijuana and pass a drug test. I accepted the challenge and did so. But during the month that I refrained from use, my symptoms returned with a vengeance. I entered a 10-day-long manic episode that was only ended by the intervention of my psychiatrist with a powerful combination of drugs to knock me out so that I would sleep. As soon as I passed the drug test and won the challenge, I returned to the use of daily marijuana and the symptoms, once again, disappeared.

As for the suicidal depressions, they are gone as well. But being that I have an intermittent history with them, I am not sure that 2 years is enough time to be sure that they are gone for good as long as I continue to medicate with marijuana. Only more time will tell on that front.

I hope that this testimonial will benefit your research.