10 weeks marijuana free - anxiety hitting me hard

Postby Hikerdude » Tue Oct 25, 2016 11:07 pm

I was a daily smoker for 6 years - about a gram a day. 54 year old male. Also a daily drinker about 2 glasses a day. I used to always wake up early 3 or 4 and have a cup of coffee and a bowl then smoked off and on all day.
Started having what I thought were blood sugar crashes but in retrospect they were probably panic attacks. Quit 10 weeks ago after a really bad day hiking and it has been a very rough ride since. I had the normal withdrawal symptoms - insomnia, sweats, anxiety and panic attacks.

No drinking now, no pot and quit coffee but everyday plays out as the following - nighttime I sleep but wake up after 3 or 4 hours shaking, heart racing, etc. manage to get back to sleep for a bit then more shaking and repeat the cycle until dawn. Still have the crazy dreams. I get up and I'm just beat and worn out all day. I'll get waves of this shakiness and heart palpitations throughout the day. I find that if I try to nap the moment I feel I'm dozing off I suddenly feel that I'm not breathing and I get a rush of adrenaline. Also have developed GERD (reflux) from eating so much and that has affected my breathing which is no fun along with the anxiety as they feed on each other.

I've been on Ativan .5-1 mg a day for a few weeks now. They seem to take the edge off but nights are still bad. Have had blood work done and my blood sugar seems fine.

I'd like to know - when people speak of anxiety can you describe what you are feeling? For me I can feel this wave coming on and my legs tingle and it evolves to shaking and heart racing and major agitation and dizziness. Total adrenaline rush.

For folks who've gone 4+ months - when does it get better? Are you having daily deep anxiety still?

I'm probably going to go on an ssri as this happening every day is just wearing me out. Luckily I have a great support system and haven't had to work this fall so I hope I can somehow find a way out of this cycle
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Postby NoProblem » Wed Oct 26, 2016 1:59 am

Hey Hiker,

I can only speak from my experience, but I'm about 6 1/2 months off marijuana. My biggest issue lately has been anxiety and it's manifesting in the form of Panic Disorder (undiagnosed). One week into my quit, I was on a flight and had an anxiety attack (not a full on panic attack) that I tried really hard to keep under control. I was then stuck in a city 800 miles from home going through acute withdrawals, which is everything you explain. Insomnia, no appetite, shaking, dizzy, heart racing, heat flashes, sweating, immense fear, etc. These feelings continued for about 4 weeks and then began to gradually ween off.

What never left was my fear of another panic attack, even though I'm yet to even come close to having one. However, the feelings always seem to come whenever I have the thoughts, which is almost always. I still have anxiety being away from home, to the extent that I try to keep benzos on me at all times (even though I never take them). I was just on a mini-vacation in NYC this past weekend and if it wasn't for my as-needed Valium, I would have lost my mind. My anxiety was at an all-time high. I couldn't eat as my anxiety hurts my stomach. I was shaking, couldn't focus, my chest felt tight, it was hard to breathe, etc. All I wanted to do was come back home.

I'm highly considering a therapist route for some CBT and possibly seeing a psychiatrist for an SSRI as well. I understand from the stories of other people on this board that it takes 1-2 years to feel 'normal.' This is just brutal. My brain is afraid of everything and I hope that things will settle soon. Just know that you're definitely not alone in this. One thing I will recommend for you is to try and rely less and less on the lorazepam (ativan). Dependence on benzos can become a nightmare and withdrawals from those are extreme compared to what we are experiencing now. Only use them in the most severe cases where the anxiety is overpowering.

On a positive note, since quitting, my initial symptoms have drastically reduced. I get a good nights sleep about 4-5 times a week, im eating well (when I'm not irrationally anxious) and I'm out and about doing things, but panic is always on my mind. It has been a rollercoaster of emotions. One day/moment, I will feel like a million bucks, and the next, like a pile of sh**. I'm surrounded by irrational phobias and I hope to be my old-self one day.

Keep in touch!
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