Sorry for the long post but as I was going through the first few months I couldn't do anything else but read these forums, so it might pass some time for ye on the beginning of your journey.
First off,I have been browsing these forums for the last 3 months and let me say that they are a god send and probably the only reason I am still clean and sane. I just want to give something back to the world for all the help I have received from reading posts from the likes of johnrlivingston, netty28661, lmcbride etc. Reading these posts and particularly the histories have brought some realizations to me that I think I would have never come to on my own. It's like all the dots joined up and I had a eureka moment. So for the history.
I started smoking when I was 20 (I'm now 44). My first joint was a hash joint, a friend of mine had gotten a few grams of hash and when I smoked it we got a taxi to town for a night out, in the taxi I started feeling bad, heart racing thinking I was going to die, got to the pub, went in and fell flat on my face passed out, woke up outside where my friend and the barman had lifted me out, I was pale white and could hardly stand, they got me a brandy and I knocked it back to try get some life back into me. After a while I was ok and went drinking for the night swearing to never touch it again. Looking back I think this was a warning to me from some higher power or spirit or the universe, whatever you want to call it, to not start this cannabis habit, a warning that like a fool I didn't heed.
Over the next few weeks my friend who was enjoying the hash kept pestering me to try it again, eventually I gave in saying I will only have one hit which became two then on and on until I was buying it as well. During the next 5 years I was smoking a few times a week and having fun out with the boys. Then my stoner friend who used to source all the hash left for the USA and I didn't really like dealing with the dealers as they were mostly scumbags so I decided to grow my own.
At first growing my own was great as I always had a supply and still only used it a few times a week. The only difference was that this stuff was seriously strong and in the beginning I didn't know what I was doing and was harvesting immature buds which is a bad thing, giving me a racing heart and the feeling that I was dying. I now know these were panic attacks. I fixed this by taking only one hit waiting half hour and then two etc. until I was smoking half joints of pure 21% THC bud (what an addict).
Anyway I move house down the country and got better at growing until I was growing perfect bud and still only using a few times a week. Then I got made redundant in my permanent easy secure job and got another job pretty quickly on six month contracts. At this point it's 2003 and I had started smoking every night in order to get a good night sleep ( didn't see the problem). Each six months I'd get another six month contract while some others would get made permanent in the job (couldn't connect the dots). I was smoking at night maybe 2 full pure bud joints thinking I was only a light smoker and didn't have a problem. I didn't even realize I was stoned during the day from the night before( but I was ok because I never smoked before evening time duh).
Anyway in 2008 they never renewed my contact ( wonder why duh) and in the height of the recession I couldn't get another as no one was taking on. So studied at home for degree in IT while minding the kids while the wife concentrated on her career. Got the degree in 2012 with honours all while stoned off my head every evening once my wife was home to take over child minding duties.
Anyway the big crunch came in 2013 when I landed my dream job in networking for a great company, only thing was that they had a 6 month on boarding process with intense training. The training was done outside the company for the first 4 months during which I happily continued to smoke every evening when I came home, reassuring myself that when the 4 months were up and we started in the real job I would be a good boy and quit to start my new life and anyway the training was easy.
And that's what I did I quit and started the next 2 months of on-boarding in the company in which everything I touched turned to sh@@. I couldn't figure out why I couldn't do simple things which were so easy a few weeks before. I became paranoid thinking my co-workers were out to get me and sabotaging my work (looking back these were really nice people trying to help me) I couldn't eat, always had a knot in my stomach, had constant headaches, I couldn't sleep at night and in the end I quit the job persuading myself that I would never be happy in a call centre ( this was not a call centre it was a high tech data networking centre and a job I had dreamed of for the last 10 years) There must be some credence to the saying that "if you want something too much when you get it you just might choke on it"
Fast forward to 4 months ago and I had enough when I couldn't afford to buy my kids something nice. I realized I had become a broke stoner dad and that was something I wasn't prepared to shrug off.
So today marks my 4 months off the weed and when I look back over the last 24 years it's like I'm looking at someone else's life. I see it all so clear now that it's like someone has lifted the vale from my eyes and I can see that the vast majority of the problems in my life were caused by my abuse of this plant. Lost friends (preferred to get wasted at home than go out to meet friends also didn't want to make new one's as it would interfere with my smoking) lost jobs ( had very bad attitude in work and couldn't communicate properly and couldn't get new jobs because in the interviews I probably looked like I was brain dead which I was), created a unhappy relationship with my beautiful loving wife who I left go to bed alone most nights toward the end so I could smoke myself into oblivion. You should begin to know your an addict when you forgo sex for a few more hits of a joint.
The last 4 months have been hell. The first 5 weeks were good just some sleep issues and headaches then at 5 weeks ( funnily around the same length of abstaining from weed that I lost it in the new job) the anxiety and depression came with a bang and thank god I found this forum this time round or I would have thought I was really going mad again. Once you know what's going on and what to expect it becomes a lot easier to handle although still hell. Today is the first day I have woken up without that sense of dread and that's why it my first post, I was just too screwed up to post.
The last 2.5 months were filed with lack of hope for the future thinking that I had fuc@ed up my life for good, that my brain would never be right again, that I would never work again, that I would never be able to cope with any stress in my life without analyzing it to death and worrying about it for days on end. Little things that would go wrong would send me in a tail spin.
The last few weeks has shown improvements as the anxiety and depression have been coming in waves with a few good days in between. I have noticed that these bad spells seem worst around the full moon ( the word lunatic comes to mind). My abuse of this plant has turned me into a lunatic.
So if there's anybody out there reading this who have been abusing it, take it from me it's not worth loosing 2 decades of your life to it. If your smoking it more than a few times a month then you're on a slippery path and once on that path and it becomes a daily thing your brain will deceive you and put a veil over your eyes so that you might not snap back out for a decade or two. Let's face it, if you started drinking every day you would know you had a problem but the attitude with weed and all the pro legalisation is that its fine to smoke everyday as long as it's after 4:20 As others have said on the forum cannabis is an insidious drug in that other drugs like alcohol and coke and heroin will bring you to rock bottom pretty quickly but with weed it can take decades for you to realize that it has robbed you of some of the best years of your life and while functional you were still only living as a shadow of the man you should have been.
My recovery does seem to have turned the corner and I am having a lot of really good days lately so I have no doubt that with a little more time I will be back to normal and probably even better than normal as I feel that as much as weed has taken from me these last few years, trying to kick it has caused me to consume so much knowledge, be it philosophical, spiritual or self development that some of it has stuck and I see the world in a much different light now.
So any long term smokers in the first 4 months of abstinence , IT REALLY DOES GET BETTER and if it can for me after 24 years of using and the last few every day then it can for everybody. I'm by no means back to normal yet but I know I will be.
For any that want to quit but can't I struggled for years but after taking up meditation I believe that it gave me the strength to do it. I stopped after 10 days of meditating on the words I AM SOBER for 20 minutes a day while listening to nice meditation music you can find on Youtube . Funny I had no intention of giving up drinking but stopped that too after that meditation. The one I used was the I am, that I am one on Youtube which is really nice music to meditate to. Give it a go