3,5 months weed-free after a bad trip

Postby neuroplastic » Sun Feb 11, 2018 2:52 pm

Hey there, fellow quitters! I’m struggling with long withdrawal from weed… and here is my story so far.

I’ve been smoking weed (mixed with tobacco in joints) daily since i’m 19. Today I’m 25. I could smoke anywhere between 2 and 10 joints per day. I have also been a (really soft) psychedelic enthusiast, limited to shrooms and MDMA on rare occasions.
Back in October 2017, I got back home from this techno party where I had taken a reasonable amount of MDMA. In good stoners, my friends and I started to smoke *big time* to come down. I felt great so far (though seriously hammered), then a strong, deep and weird feeling of uncomfort took possession of my brains, completely out of the blue.
I had never been exposed to such an intensity of “feeling down”. I went outside, tried to calm myself by looking at the stars and had a cigarette, which did calm me down for a few minutes…until I hit another intense low, this time even worse, so I decided to go for a long walk in the middle of the night. I spent around 2 hours on a mood rollercoaster until I could finally get some sleep.

I woke up the next morning, a bit scared of what happened the night before, but labelled it as a strong bad trip (and decided that it was my last experience with MDMA). I kept smoking my daily weed for a few days.
Ten days after this, after a full day of smoking weed, having finished my (not so) little “good night” jay, I was gently falling asleep, when I noticed strange patterns in my thoughts, enough to take me down the terrible path of anxiety. Heart started to race, my vision was “pulsing” and I vomited multiple times, but the worst was the terrible sensation of psychological distress. I naturally thought of calling for help, but part of me was clear enough to understand that I had to go through another panic attack and I would just have to wait for it to pass. The physical symptoms calmed down, but not the psychological distress (the deep feeling of discomfort and anxiety). It was an absolutely traumatising bad trip. I put my shoes on and went for a long walk through the city.
I eventually calmed down a few hours later and managed to get some sleep, but had lived the scariest and most unpleasant moment of my life.
I woke up the next morning, feeling anxious with very little energy. I threw my weed away and all the gear, I decided to quit cold turkey after 5 years of daily use.
The next days were pretty complicated, I experienced flu-like symptoms, didn’t eat for a week and lost 7kg (I was in a very normal shape). I am still sure today that these symptoms were mainly the aftermath of the bad trip as I had quit weed for few weeks a few times without any strong effects. These were the physical reactions from being exposed to a near-lethal dose of anxiety.
I paid a visit to my physician, describing what happened. Part of my symptoms were magnified due to a food poising from eggs and truffles (no, not magic truffles :p ). MD prescribed me Alprazolam (a benzo) and Etifoxine, in case anxiety would strike again. I still have these meds today and haven’t touched any of them, though they helped me just by sitting in my pocket, just in case (knowing I had them in case it would go wild helped me get through every wave of anxiety).

Month one :

Surprisingly, I started an intense graduate program abroad around 1 week after I stopped, there must be some psychological correlation with these changes, and I think I will remember this time of my life as “the moment it all changed”.

So, the first month. It all started with a good phase, punctuated by regular anxiety waves, at a rhythm of one or two per week, each one lasting few hours. 2 of them I would classify as panic attacks. At this point I had planned a road trip with friends for a week end. I had two glasses of wine, thinking that it would go easy on me… alcohol got me very anxious, but a good old Coca Cola quickly lifted the anxiety. Anyway the point is, these are “classified” in my brain as good memories. This is an interesting point, even though I felt anxious and close to insanity, I managed to have some fun and the thing is that the emotional quality (pleasure for instance) of memories didn’t change because of my symptoms, giving the pleasant feeling that whatever I might go through, I would live (even without true pleasure in the present moment) and not lose my time.
But some days I would just lose it. **** that was hard. I had never experienced losing control of my mental health like that. I even scared myself when I ended up with the conclusion that death would be a relief. I had never thought of suicide before, but the fact that I did at the moment really stressed me out. I convinced myself that these were “normal” thoughts given my mental state, and that I shouldn’t pay attention to it. But you know how these frightening thoughts can stick around…
I started being really concerned after 3 weeks, with a classic “I won’t ever be normal again”, “I fried my brains, I’m done” thought pattern. Each day became worse and worse. Even though my sleep has been ok since I quit (thank God for that…), I would wake up very stressed, with my first thoughts directed at this “something on my mind”, a feeling of distress, and a deep concern for my mental health. I couldn’t believe what was happening to me. Sometimes I would wake up and feel ok for a few seconds, truly believing that the shitty symptoms were just a nightmare… and that I had my good old life back.
At the end of month #1, I decided to reach for help. I started a psychotherapy. I used to have a solid mind and I would never have thought of consulting a psychologist in my life, nor did I believe in the work they were doing. I decided to go for a psychanalytic (Freudian) approach, and took care of myself with the cognitive/behavioral changes in order to anchor me into reality.
At this point, I was putting everything on the badtrip(s) aftermath.

Month two : the rollercoaster

It started ok for a few days, I was feeling hope that I would get better. But it deceivingly stroke again, I would experience extreme feelings of psychological discomfort (these are really the worst… ), sticky thoughts, generalised anxiety, physical stress, with these symptoms coming in waves every 10 minutes for a full week. I would refrain from looking at any info on the internet, I was scared to death that I would discover some crazy syndrome and I wouldn’t be able to deal with the stress. Stupid thought patterns that looped me into the worst week of my life. By the end of week 6, I was a wreck. I would go to class every morning with tears ready to flood my eyes (not being able to go full-on crying), just thinking about how difficult the week had been, how I could possibly deserve what was happening to me. Last time I cried was maybe 15 years ago.

This was week n°6 , and I believe this was the peak of my withdrawal.

After these very difficult days, I decided to do some research. It was only after a few days on the web that I discovered post acute withdrawal (which I really never heard of). It really helped me to put a name on what’s happening to me, and I can’t believe how many people are experiencing it ! I can’t thank enough each and every person that shared his/her experience on this forum, it’s a blessing to see all those similar stories. It is very anxiolytic to read these on the rough days, and it gives hope for the light at the end of the tunnel.


Month three was full of hope as I started to enjoy time with friends, going to the restaurant, even a beer. I started a study on my own self, rating my days in % every day since mid-month two. It sure goes up and down every few days, from 40% on the shitty days to 90% on the best, but the general trend is a slow, very slow upward curve.

Today I am 3,5 months in. I think it is important to make behavioral changes to keep up with life, and attending class was a key factor in these changes for me. It was both entertaining and stimulating. I’m obviously not performing 100% but it helps to connect with the reality of things. The waves of psychological discomfort are clearly diminishing, the period between headaches is getting longer (I used to have them every 4-5 days in the beginning, I now have once or twice a month). I am currently on my way out of a pretty bad few days after I quit cigarettes too, with anxiety, slight derealisation and rumination of thoughts, but not as bad as when it started. I can control the anxiety and not end up panicking, but it’s never pleasant to experience these symptoms. Quitting cigs definitely increased my overall symptoms but I feel I can cope with it for now. If it gets too bad, I’ll go easy on me and quit for good when I’m out of the woods.

It’s a very scary and unpleasant experience to lose control of your mind for a prolonged period of time, such as this one. In fact when I quit weed years ago (during 3 months) for a urine test, I never experienced any PAWS. I tapered it off back in the days, and I was mentally prepared to do so. What a chance I had !

Anyway, my advice so far :
- eat healthy and balanced diet
- exercise
- take a few supplements such as omega 3 / Magnesium / Zinc
- read inspiring books, inspiring stories (survival stories helped me put my problems in perspective)
- read about neuroplasticity and its applications… we’re in the middle of it and it gives good
hope that our brain is more than a torturing machine.

Onwards to month 4…

Peace & keep hope
neuroplastic
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#1

Postby neuroplastic » Fri Feb 16, 2018 3:09 pm

Now 2 weeks off tobacco ! My lungs are thanking me. Quitting cigarettes however precipitated a wave of symptoms. I believe there is some kind of synergy between the lingering weed withdrawal and acute tobacco withdrawal. Anxiety, big-time intrusive thoughts (usually lasts between few hours to 48hrs), they make me concerned once again for my mental health in the future... but it's hard to think straight when the bad symptoms hit, and I still think I needed to quit cigarettes. Tobacco is just not worth it :P I feel like it's easing now. I hope I'm heading towards a series of good days, I need them.
Still, I would be grateful for any thoughts on this mental rumination. I'm not sure wether it's caused by anxiety or if they trigger anxiety. Probably both.

Cheers
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#2

Postby tokes » Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:38 pm

How many months in are you now? How is quitting cigarettes going?

Do you think cigarettes are a factor in triggering or exacerbating the feelings of anxiety and panic?

Or on the contrary, relieves the symptoms of it?

Thanks for the well written posts, very informative.

Hope all is well. Keep it up.
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#3

Postby neuroplastic » Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:05 am

Hi Tokes,

I’m a week past 4 months now.
The worst of tobacco quitting symptoms are gone, but it’s been very difficult to cope with it. Like weed, I quit cold turkey. I was close to smoking a pack everyday. It got better a week ago. But the first weeks just felt like I was thrown back to month 2 of quitting weed, which is not really reinsuring ! I experienced really intense intrusive thoughts and mental rumination, I was like 99% sure I would develop an obsessive disorder. But I am quite sure that these thought patterns are caused by anxiety.
I still have spells of anxiety everyday, pretty sure they are the remains of quitting tobacco because *daily* anxiety had left during month 3 of quitting weed. But let’s face it, every time a bit of anxiety showed up, I would just smoke a cigarette out of it. So maybe I just need to learn to calm myself without nicotine now.

I think that overall, cigarettes are indeed a factor for triggering general sense of anxiety, but I have to say that it was really really helping me in the worst of quitting weed. Every time I had a spell of anxiety/discomfort/depression it would help me focus back into reality and connect again with the sane part of my brains. It really helped in the beginning.
My advice, if you are planning to quit cigs, and are in the mean time going through weed withdrawal, is to be kind to yourself. Just quit when you feel like it.

I’m enjoying a really good week now, my only symptom being 30min to 1hr anxiety per day. Which is bearable when you’ve been through hell !

There is still hope :)

Cheers
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#4

Postby neuroplastic » Mon Mar 05, 2018 6:37 pm

Hi,

Feeling trapped in my brains these past two days. Intrusive thoughts are here again. I try not to focus on it, but it just feel like an inappropriate thought pops up and sticks around for a while. It makes me anxious and worried I will never be able to close this wound. I just hope that this is just another trick of withdrawal (having quit weed 4 months ago and cigs 1 month ago).
I felt something like this in the beginning of withdrawal, but there was nothing really tangible to worry about. Now there is content.
Which brings me to a question to whoever can relate : do you usually put specific thoughts on your spells of anxiety?

On a more positive note, I want to point out what improved over the past few weeks :

- No more panic attacks
- Less frequent, less intense spikes of discomfort
- Less frequent, less intense headaches
- Feelings of joy and serenity are coming back, for few hours on the good days, and few minutes even on bad days

And on a lighter note, I wanted to point a few "fun" facts I've noticed lately :

- I wake up every morning with a different song in my mind. It can be a really old, almost forgotten track, from a video game, or a song I don't even like. It can be quite cool (I had ACDC's Evil Walks few days ago :twisted: ), other times a bit more stressful.

- I haven't had "déjà vu" in months, and I was used to have them a lot back when I was smoking.

Cheers and stay strong
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#5

Postby neuroplastic » Sun Mar 25, 2018 3:56 pm

5 months. Feels like a lifetime.
My rather large panel of symptoms have narrowed in the past month or two, and as of today, only anxiety remains. I can still identify some cycles where I can feel alright for few days, only to creep back into the darkest places of my mind for a while. I get obsessional, I am hyperaware of everything which sometimes feels like being trapped in my own body and brain... nothing like I used to be. But I know deep inside that I am still there and will eventually come back.
I think that I am starting to deal with the reasons that pushed me to smoke weed these past years, and it takes a while to absorb the shock.
For anyone that might be interested : I went to a psychiatrist with very precise questions, and not only does he not believe in withdrawal syndrome for cannabis (let alone PAWS), but he said that the panick attacks that lead me to quit weed were deep rooted and triggered by a bit too much drugs. Lingering anxiety and symptoms weeks, months after quit are more of a "young adult" existential crisis that usually involves a lot of anxiety (which is fairly possible to be honest). According to him, it is quite classic to experience such disorders in adolescence and young adulthood.
I don't reject neither of the possibilities, be it PAWS or a true anxiety disorder, but I'll keep going without meds for now, and continue to work on the roots of my anxiety.
At the end of the day, living with such a negative emotional load really opened my eyes on what's important, and what I want in life.
All I want now, is just a little peace.
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#6

Postby TonyTheCat » Mon Apr 09, 2018 6:17 pm

Hello, neuroplastic, how are you doing now?
Haven't heard anything from you. You are 5,5 months away from weed what means the hardest part of the way is done. Please, post an update.
I bet your psychiatrist is not right. Too many obvious symptoms in too many people of different ages... It's funny, but official medicine still does not recognize the existence of MJ PAWS. What the hell is going on with all of us then? Did we invent this hell ourselves? Or is it all crises of different ages? bs. It's all the years of abusing and now we pay for them.
Good for you that you loan has been payed at 50% at least. Keep going man. Good luck. And pray for us, who is behind.
Tony
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#7

Postby neuroplastic » Thu Apr 19, 2018 4:35 pm

Hello Tony,
I know that medicine still does not acknowledges weed withdrawal (which is a clear denial of reality, yes), but even though some people do experience symptoms and eventually go 100% after a few months, there is a possibility that others may simply experience the onset of something else...
Anyway thanks for checking up.
I can't say I'm doing great, but I keep going. Anxiety is still here, and actually had a small panic attack last week, which didn't happen during the past few months. So it's still hard to see progress. However I can pretty much function normally now, maybe I just get used to living like this. Sometimes it really feels like I'm pretending to live and do things while my head is busy obsessing about stupid stuff, like a broken record stuck in a loop. Sometimes I feel that I can get over it, and I keep telling myself that I will.
Praying for all of us to see the light at some point.
Cheers
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#8

Postby Xrigorxmortis » Fri Apr 20, 2018 4:04 am

I personally hate weed and am 3-4 years sober from it and never even looked back! It was so easy for me to quit because of how bad the trip I had scared me. I really thought I was going to die that day. I won’t even be in the same room with someone who smokes weed out of fear of a contact buzz.
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#9

Postby Agnette » Tue May 22, 2018 6:49 pm

Hey everybody
I am new to this forum so here is my story:
I am 28 year old, I've smoked for 6 to 7 years every day, mostly in the evenings. I am 2 months clean now. I didn't enjoy weed in the last year, I used to have anxiety attacks wile I was high, but I kept doing it because it became a habit.

I smoked my last joint 2 months ago, it gave me a bad anxiety trip, and the next day I was feeling a full on depersonalisation.
It was horrible, but I knew what was happening to me, I knew what depersonalisation was, because I studied Psychology.
The depersonalisation/derealisation phase lasted for 1month and a half but it dissolved gradually. When you feel like you are on autopilot it's mostly gone, and you are on a good path. So if you are experiencing this, don't worry it's just an anxiety coping mechanism of your brain.

I also have anxiety attacks and depression in the morning and it's very uncomfortable, there are days when I can overcome them with exercises, a good diet and supplements (fish oil, magnesium/the fish oil really improved my memory and magnesium helps with the physiological anxiety symptoms like shakiness or accelerated heart rate).

The last version of DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) acknowledges weed withdrawal. Not all psychiatrists acknowledge this, it depends on how open minded and in touch with the latest studies they are. But this is not the case here in my country (Eastern Europe), all they do is put you on antidepressants, and why would you do that?

Weed is a natural antidepressant, and the withdrawal is not easy, why would you go through this with meds again? The brain needs to learn how to produce serotonin and dopamine on its own.

I think that cognitive behavioural therapy can help, I have an awesome therapist that helped me on my worsts days.
Even though I started my day with an anxiety attack and very dark thoughts I still have hope. I am a positive person, and when my depression and anxiety isn't active, I can enjoy life, go out, socialise, dance, be my old self. This is not very often, but I'm grateful for these moments of normality.

My advice is try to normalise your life, even when you feel uncomfortable because of the anxiety and/or depression, challenge your body and your brain with activities, and believe that this suffering will have a good outcome. We will become stronger persons!

I did a lot of research, and a lot of people going through this say that it can take from 6 months to 1 year to feel normal again.
Hang in there!
Be strong!
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#10

Postby neuroplastic » Wed May 30, 2018 2:37 pm

Welcome aboard Agnette. Interesting insight from you ! It is a long process, and it is important to keep this in mind. I am starting to realize what "long" means, after 7 months of struggling.

Well, here is to my 7 months update : definitely changing for the better. I feel all my normal emotions pretty much every day. Anxiety is still here, mostly before bedtime. Obsessive thinking is tapering off, although it clearly comes in cycles. I think, and I hope I am reaching an important milestone where I accept the way things are and simply make it through each day, one after another. It feels like I've been in this for a lifetime, but I'm only 7 months in, after all.
Will update again in few weeks.
Keep it up everyone

Cheers
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