By: Jennifer Walker Photos By: Eric Blackmon Declared by Time to be one of the most influential people on the Internet, Brittany Furlan Lee is more than just a popular social media influencer. She is the sum of all of her parts- comedically creative, socially ambitious, empathetically self-aware, animal lover, believer in anomalous things, the […]
By: Jennifer Walker
Photos By: Eric Blackmon
Declared by Time to be one of the most influential people on the Internet, Brittany Furlan Lee is more than just a popular social media influencer. She is the sum of all of her parts- comedically creative, socially ambitious, empathetically self-aware, animal lover, believer in anomalous things, the gorgeous wife of a rockstar and completely open about her experiences with debilitating anxiety. Her advocacy for CBD and the effects that cannabis has had on her health and mental wellness is so inspirational, we just had to take the opportunity to talk with her. Read on to find out how the once most followed Vine video star turned her comedic clips into an inspirational journey for a whole generation…
JENNIFER WALKER: So, let’s talk about weed.
BRITTANY FURLAN: Ha! Yes, let’s.
JW: First, where are you from originally?
BF: I’m from Philadelphia and I moved to California when I was 17, so I’ve been there a long time.
JW: When we were growing up, cannabis was taboo. It was kind of a hush-hush thing. What was your experience with cannabis growing up?
BF: It is so crazy how it used to be as opposed to how things are today. I remember my brother used to smoke weed and he would hide his stash in the air vents in our house. My dad would clean our rooms and the air vent would just fall off while he was dusting, and he’d find all of this paraphernalia. It was like the end of the world! He’d freak out…It actually scared me because the response to cannabis was so dramatic and frightening that I ended up not smoking weed until college. I was convinced that cannabis was a crazy drug…
JW: When you finally did feel comfortable experimenting with cannabis, what was your experience?
BF: When I was in college, I tried it. I smoked way too much and was convinced that my heart wasn’t beating and I was going to die! But my friends calmed me down and I realized I was just super high. Later when I moved to LA, I once smoked with Snoop Dogg at a party, and I thought to myself, ‘oh, this’ll be fine!’- but that was the strongest weed I’d ever tried. I remember feeling like I wasn’t even walking or driving my car, it was like my feet were rolling and my car was a hovering spaceship floating over the road. It definitely took some getting used to before I became comfortable with cannabis.
JW: I think that everyone sort of goes through that learning curve with cannabis- you experiment until you find the right combination of strain and quantity.
BF: It’s so true. I didn’t even really know about CBD at that point, I didn’t know that there was a way to combat anxiety by using CBD. I’d smoke weed when I was stressed, but then I’d be high and feel fucked up because I wasn’t a regular smoker, and I’d have to choose: do I want to feel anxiety? Or do I want to feel high? But I had things to do and didn’t want to walk around high all day. It was at this point that I was contacted by a few CBD/hemp companies to try CBD and I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. I tried some various products but really got nothing out of many of these products. I would have really bad panic attacks and some of the products I tried I didn’t feel like they did anything. But then, Terravita CBD reached out to me and I was hesitant to try it at first. They sent me their “Relax” tincture and told me to try it sublingually when I was feeling stressed. The very first time I tried it, within fifteen minutes, I forgot that I was even having anxiety. I felt so calm and good. I started with the 1,000mg and you can go all the way up to 4,000mg (which I use when I’m really stressed) and, wow! It’s so healing. This experience and this product changed my mind about CBD and cannabis. The fact that there’s a way to harness the healing effects from cannabis for anxiety, for pain, for insomnia… I mean, it’s great. My husband at one point was having a really hard time with insomnia and he tried the “Sleep” tincture and he was out like a light. He even takes the “Relax” throughout the day when he gets stressed out, and this is a guy (Tommy Lee) who’s done tons of hard drugs in his life and, if it works for him, it’s great stuff! Before I found the CBD product that worked for me, I was like everyone else. I was taking Valium and Xanax and Klonopin…it’s not rad to be on benzos all the time.
JW: We talk with a lot of people who have had to take drugs like Valium and Xanax for anxiety. After a while, being on these types of pills causes so many issues. We love to hear that CBD is helping you in more natural ways!
BF: Yes, I just know that in the past when I was relying on benzos and say, I skipped a day, my anxiety would be a thousand times worse. Your body gets addicted to it- so I had to break that cycle. CBD helped me do that. I’m very into homeopathic stuff, in general. I take magnesium glycinate before bed (most people who have anxiety tend to be deficient in magnesium). Most people who have anxiety have also dealt with their heart beating too fast and there’s an herb called Crataegus oxyacantha and it naturally slows your heart rate down. I’ve done a lot of research and try to keep it as natural as possible.
JW: Talk about Ashwagandha a bit, because I noticed that it’s an ingredient in the “Relax” tincture by Terravita that you were talking about…
BF: It’s such a crazy herb. That component mixed with CBD, I think is the key to my success with Terravita’s Relax tincture. Ashwagandha has been used for centuries to relax people. It’s incredible. You can get Ashwagandha on its own but it seems to be much more potent when combined with CBD. Most people battling anxiety want something to calm them down but not make them a zombie and Ashwagandha, when taken over time, actually gives you energy.
JW: I know that tinctures tend to work well for you. What other ways do you like to consume CBD?
BF: I like CBD infused body butters because they are very moisturizing as well as CBD salves which I use to alleviate my endometriosis symptoms. Terravita has a warming salve that I rub right on my tummy, using that with a heating pad on top of it works really well. There’s also a cooling salve my husband uses on his sciatica. I just don’t get people who won’t at least try CBD, because it really works.
JW: You feature your pets in a lot of your videos. Do you use pet CBD?
BF: I do! And actually, I did have a Yorkie who passed away from kidney failure and heart failure which there was no way to treat with conventional medicine, so my doctor recommended RSO to ease his pain as he was dying. I had also given him CBD when he was younger to calm him.
JW: You are considered to be a social media influencer, going way back to the days of Vine…
BF: Yes, I was the number one female on the Vine app for a couple years and I believe I was the first person on the Internet to have around ten million followers. At that time Instagram had just started and social media in general was so new. We did have Myspace and Facebook back then but Vine was really the app that started the trend of gaining followers. It was cool, I had the chance to collab with so many people. And, that’s actually how my husband first found me, he used to watch my Vine videos and he thought I was funny (we met in person on a dating app later on).
JW: I think your social media clips are hilarious but also, really informative when it comes to CBD and anxiety. Have you received any type of negative feedback since aligning yourself with CBD?
BF: I definitely get some people telling me I am pushing snake oil. And, I get older people who believe I should just take a doctor prescribed anti-anxiety medication like Xanax. I think the thing that makes people more accepting of my CBD use is that I had come out with my anxiety years prior to trying CBD. I have posted videos of myself actually having panic attacks. There were times that I was having a panic attack and I really thought I was dying. My body would start convulsing, my eyes would roll back in my head and my heart rate would go up to 155/160. It’s scary. I would wake up in the morning with the intention of going somewhere and just feel so sick and the minute I cancelled my plans, I would feel better. That’s how I knew it was anxiety and not something else medically wrong.
JW: Anxiety can also be very psychosomatic at times…
BF: My brain would literally psych itself out. I generally do not like leaving my house- my safe space. I don’t like travelling. I have been practicing exposure therapy though and with that I have to leave my house at least once a day. And, it’s not just CBD that has helped. I’ve done many things including EMDR, meditation, and I’ve been in therapy. I think it is a combination of all these things that has helped me.
JW: Anxiety and panic disorders are hard things to explain to people unless they have had personal experience or have seen it firsthand…
BF: I know. At first, my husband didn’t understand. We would be on vacation in a beautiful place and I would wake up in the middle of the night with my heart racing so fast that I couldn’t catch my breath. Then I would start panicking and wake my husband up and he would ask me why I was freaking out. It was hard for him to understand why I was panicking in a place where I should be able to relax. It wasn’t until recently, after going through the pandemic and also getting sober that he experienced anxiety himself, and was finally able to understand.
JW: You’ve recently come under fire on social media for comedic skits you had done and things you had said back when you were on Vine. How have you handled that, and what effect has it had on you mentally in terms of your anxiety?
BF: Back in 2013/2014 when I was on Vine, it was a little bit different. People would make fun of each other and I would dress up as different characters and make funny videos. It was similar to what you might see on Saturday Night Live. In my mind, when doing comedy, I believed that I had to dress up and imitate whatever character I was trying to portray. Many times, it was in a very stereotypical way. I didn’t realize there was anything wrong with it and then people started attacking me saying that I could not dress up or speak like people of different ethnicities. People were telling me that I was racist because I was perpetuating stereotypes. I love everyone and that was the last thing I wanted people to think of me! I mean, I make fun of myself more than anything. I immediately stopped doing any type of comedy like that and I left Vine. Since things are on the Internet forever and I am now on TikTok (even though I do not make any content like that anymore) I have had someone repost all of those old videos and tag me trying to get me kicked off the app. And once again, people started commenting the same things. I have apologized over and over and let people know that it was never my intention to make fun of other cultures in a derogatory way. It’s been hard because the Internet lives on and any content online is there forever. I’ve definitely felt the repercussions of it, I’ve lost jobs over it. I will continue to apologize because I do not want anyone to ever feel offended or attacked from something I have done.
JW: Your honesty and transparency about that experience is really important. Aside from any negative backlash, you seem to be a natural at acting. Anything in the works?
BF: Oh thanks! I’m in a new show on Amazon Prime called “Paradise City”. I’ve done a few movies. It’s just hard. There are so many people and it’s very competitive. Out here in California it is a lot about who you know. And, I got a lot of kick back when I first started acting because people would say, “Oh, that’s the girl from Vine. I can’t cast her in my movie because people will feel taken out of the movie when they realize that she’s the girl from Vine.”
JW: How is your social media following today?
BF: I am still on social media. I’m active on TikTok and Instagram where I have a pretty good following. But now, I am really trying to concentrate on my acting which is something I’ve always wanted to do.
JW: Thank you so much for all that you’re doing to get the word out there about CBD and also, destigmatizing panic disorder, PTSD and anxiety…
BF: Oh, for sure! Any time I can help people and use my platforms but also use humor and be honest about my experiences, it feels amazing. I have been open to trying so many different things for my anxiety, there really is a lot out there to learn and share.
Follow Brittany Furlan:
YouTube: “Worst Firsts with Brittany Furlan”, Brittany Furlan
Find TerraVita CBD products: terravitacbd.com