6 Months Clean - There is Hope

Postby lefttheleaf » Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:10 am

Hi guys,

Me again...

I have posted on and off over the last 3-4 months (after having found this website in what was my darkest hour).
I am today - 6 months clean of weed. I wasn't sure if i was going to continue to update but i decided i would - to try and help.

Today seems like a good day to provide an update and more importantly another semi successful recovery story for the members of the forum who are still currently in the midst of what was for me - the worst experience of my life - and I have had some dark times...

I was a very heavy smoker - anywhere between a quarter to a half ounce a day of good buds - the latter being what i once considered a 'good day' - at home all day; waking up at 5am to get high and make beats (i am a hip hop producer) all day until i smoked so much i passed out.

At the time i never really felt that weed affected me negatively - but in hindsight i was very emotionally unstable and got upset and or angry quite quickly, and i wasnt able to cope with any stress at all - at the time i would blame 'my anxiety' and would tell myself and others around me that i needed to smoke to feel better. I would feel better when i smoked but its clear now it was a cycle. One fed the other.

Whilst smoking i didnt have any any real bouts of paranoia or anxiety apart from the odd moment here and there - on the former it was when out in a busy public place i would at times become more aware of my surroudings and feel more on edge. BUT THEN one day i had the most horrendous anxiety attack - it came on when i was smoking some Girl Scout Cookies (which i relied on heavily for anxiety relief). I was cowering in bed like a little ferret and could barely breath - my gf basically hugged and stroked me for hours until i came round from it. Stupidly i smoked again....same result. So the next day i quit - cold turkey. In hindsight my decline began around 2 months before this - I became a lot more depressed, I was not coping well at work or in life, my relationships were deteriorating and I had lost a lot of confidence - yet I thought I was 'happy'.

I had what i now see was depression throughout my weed use and a fair amount of my late 20s. i am now 30. I now realise that once you choose to smoke cannabis you can basically say goodbye to your emotional development if you use the drug daily and/or as a crutch to deal with life. Instead of developing emotionally I would either be too high to care when and if something happened, or within 15 minutes I would have blocked it all out.

I was severely unhappy and i used what is a wonderful plant (I say this as I feel cannabis is generally a safe and enjoyable experience if used correctly - I say experience as i feel it should be just that - a special moment for you, not something you use daily, but that's just my thoughts of course) as a mechanism to hide from the world, reality, and life in general. This all played a huge role in what came next.


The first 2 weeks following cessation of smoking i was a total mess. Severe paranoid, and severe anxiety - i barely ate, couldn't sleep, i had hot and cold sweats, and i couldnt look people in the eye. I lost all my confidence. I had horrendous thoughts and intrusive thoughts came flying in and out of my mind at such a rapid rate i began to question my sanity, and my reality. I slowly over the next couple of weeks began to eat again and started to function (ish). I did however become very scared and upset about what was happening to me and at this time i was not aware of PAWS. I spoke to a number of drug advisors etc and no one could help me with my experience.

Over the next month my levels of anxiety and paranoia reached horrific highs - to the point where suicide became a daily and hourly contemplation. If it wasnt for my partner and my dog i can surely say now that i am not sure i would be here. I don't say that easily either - i had dealt with suicidal thoughts in my life previously, and these new ones were fresh, and very intense - i couldn't see light at the end of the tunnel and at this point was too scared to go back to smoking because of my levels of anxiety.

By the end of month 2 i was convinced that i had schizophrenia. Ironically to the ill informed - alot of the negative symptoms of this horrible affliction also cross over to PAWS - so the cocktail of debilitating anxiety and worry mixed with free reign on Google meant for around a month i lived with what i was then thinking was what is called 'the predome' phase i believe. At this point life became almost unbearable. I began thinking i was hearing voices, and also seeing things. However in hingsight i now understand that this was my brain in hyper alert and i was obsessing over this and was by this point totally irrational and in a real mess. The key thing here for me now though is that i was worrying i was hearing voices and seeing things as opposed to it actually happening.

Around the end of month 3 (i think) i found this site and things started to make a little more sense to me - I also went to see my GP (for people not in the UK a GP is a General Practioner - and basically i first point of call medically - they then refer you onwards if needed). I went three times! Each time they told me that i was not Schizophrenic and that i had anxiety and depression. And here come the drugs.... I was prescribed an array of medicines. I decided to not take any of them as by this point i was beginning to become a little more rational and was able to at times get some clarity of thought back. I also felt that i was in this position due to messed up brain chemistry and i didn't want to compound that. I feel pretty let down by our NHS and find it incredibly ironic how mental health is something people post about on FB etc and yet there really is very little help....but that's another story.


In addition to the drugs i was also added to the NHS waiting list for CBT - i am still on that waiting list which is utterly shocking but like i said - that's a different story. Instead of waiting i went privately and met with a therapist who started to begin helping me. It wasnt a nice process - i once read that therapy is paying someone to tell you stuff that really you already know, and to be honest thats what it was for me. I tackled and had to accept alot of stuff i had blocked out for a long time - from family issues, identity issues, confidence issues, and anger problems. Needless to say i am still working on these but i now live my life with no expectation and my only plan is to try and be a better human today than i was yesterday. Sometimes i suceed and sometimes i dont.


I am conscious this is going on and on but i think its worth me writing this - so at this point the time line is 3 months approximately. Around the start of month 2 i also started meditating and exercising. I didnt get much from these during month two as i would meditate but my brain would be so loud and chatty that i didnt think it was doing anything - i would go to the gym and then be too scared to look at anyone and my surroundings would not feel real to me.

Then came the depersonalisation/derealisation and dissociative moments. I cant tell you exactly when this started but its by far one of the scariest parts of PAWS. I also cant quite explain how it feels - i guess its like trying to explain what being high is like or what being awake is like. Its just a different type of consciousness - and not a nice one. The way i have decided to explain how it feels to people is like playing a first person shooter game. That is how months 2, 3, 4, and 5 have felt for me almost every day - with lessening intensity during month 5.

I still deal with DP/DR daily and if i give it too much thought i 'lose my head' and get very anxious and worried by it as the negative thoughts about being chronically mentally ill come back quite quickly. One of the good things about the therapy sessions is that i now understand that i suffer from OCD and intrusive thoughts. I have had this for a long time but would block it out by smoking and i didn't understand what this was or what was happening.

The intrusive thoughts are pretty upsetting and during my worst days of believing i had Schizophrenia i would have horrible thoughts that things werent real around me or that people were following me - which i 100% knew wasnt true, but i still had the thought! This can be a very scary experience for someone and i am glad i can now see it for what it was - the one thing that kept me going through it is that i had INSIGHT and i knew something was wrong. If anyone out there is worrying about this same issue just remember that the fact you are worrying is a sign that you have a grip, however weak that might feel, on reality.


I am no expert on health or how cannabis affects us but having read about the changes in brain chemistry and the grey matter changes within the Hippocampus and how THC affects the Amygdala - it isnt surprising that we are suffering.

These two areas of the brain are directly linked to some of the most terrifying mental health conditions and with THC playing around in these locations nothing now surprises me. I have also been getting a lot of random memories pop back up into my mind and i experience a lot of deja vu type feelings which i can only put down to the hippocampus beginning to receive increased blood flow. Out of interest, has anyone else experienced this?


SO here i am. 6 months in. How do i feel?

I feel okay! And that is okay considering. I have good days, and i have bad days. By far the worst symptom for me now is the DR/DP - it persists and at times makes my days difficult. Things dont feel real to me at times and if i am not careful i find that i get onto negative thought patterns quite quickly - but that is something for me to deal with.


But compared to how i feel 4 or 5 months ago i feel great! And thats the thing here - dont get lost in your journey and dont forget where you have come from with this, and most importantly dont forget that you are one of the people who has chosen to make this change in your life - most people dont, and they hide away from the world. I was one of them and i am glad that isnt the case now.

Hiding away is easy - but you aren't actually living. A lot of my friends still smoke and they will say 'well lifes too short etc etc'. Life is short so why not get high? well - its a good point but are you actually living life when high? i now personally feel that you aren't. but that's me. and that's my choice, and i guess everyone reading this - that's your choice too. good for you!

Its a long road, I feel personally I am half way through this journey but i wanted to share my experience as i now believe that i have climbed the hill and its a slow easier gradient to walk down over the next few months. What i mean by this is that its been an extremely hard journey but i feel i have turned the corner.

For people reading this and thinking 'good for you mate, but i still feel like sh!t' i feel for you - but take this story as a sign that it will get better for you. I cant promise it will be in 6 months, or even a year, but your brain will recover. Its what it does.

Some tips now based on what i think has helped me:

Meditation - i am around 4 months into meditating and it has allowed me to get a handle on my mental processes. I am a long way off considering myself anything more than 'just giving it a go' but it does work. Just try it - but its a practice, you need to do it daily. 20 mins in the morning and 20 mins in the afternoon is what i do

Working out with weights - this increases blood flow to the brain - you need this

Mindfulness - similar to meditation in how it will help. I highly suggest it.

A new hobby or interest, or one you stopped - hopefully itll work as a distraction

As silly as it sounds - dont spend too much time on here or reading the internet. In order to get through this you need to live your life and not get stuck in a cycle of panic and worry - like i did.

I hope this helps - I will try and continue updating as i go through the next few months, but i might not - i am just living my life now and i think thats the key thing for us all to do. Live and try and enjoy the fact you are alive.

Any questions - hit me up on here as i will get an email and will respond. I assure you

All the best
lefttheleaf
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#1

Postby Cthompson21 » Wed Feb 13, 2019 3:51 pm

Thank you for the reassurance and for sharing your story. At almost seven months I've had some setbacks with rx drugs that have triggered morning anxiety again but I can agree that I have improved as well. Way better than I was at months 1 to 5. All the best to you.
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#2

Postby Sherwood1999 » Thu Feb 14, 2019 7:26 pm

Hey Leaf,

First off congrats on making it this far. I think you’ve replied to my other posts in my time of need. I can totally relate to the intrusive thoughts and OCD. It sucks. I’ll get some image pop into my head and be very distressed by it and obsess over it.

I’m glad you mentioned mindfulness and meditation though. Simply trying to observe your thoughts without judgement is hard but if done correctly is such a calming feeling.

I can totally relate to the DPDR. It sucks. It’s hard and it’s very very creepy. That déjà vu feeling is actually a common symptom of DPDR for some people. My weird dpdr symptom is a constant tingling feeling that has lessened over the past month (thank god). I really don’t wanna jinx it but I think I’m starting to slowly feel better and more in tune with myself and my old life.

Good to hear your exercising and meditating too that’s all good stuff. I’m only @ 2 1/2 months so I’m quite behind you but I still can relate to the struggle. I pretty much only have bad days still but I’m finding more hours of clarity throughout the day.

Stay strong! Hope you get to 100% in the coming weeks/months.
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#3

Postby lefttheleaf » Thu Feb 14, 2019 8:29 pm

Hey dude
Yeah I recognise your username.
2.5 months is around the time I came out of what I call the utter mind fog and was able to more or less get a grip on reality - well to an extent.
For me I had the odd ‘good day’ from
4 or so months on. I’d have a few hours feeling okay and then I’d be back to feel terrible but it does get better. I can assure you of that mate.
I think I’ve always had OCD and intrusive thoughts and just used drugs and alcohol to shut my mind up and give me some quiet.
I really find meditation useful now - mainly just to be able to get control of my thoughts and feelings and give me that small moment in between something occurring and me reacting.
Are you also exercising and meditating?
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#4

Postby ashthewarrior7 » Sat Feb 16, 2019 11:20 am

lefttheleaf wrote: I have also been getting a lot of random memories pop back up into my mind and i experience a lot of deja vu type feelings which i can only put down to the hippocampus beginning to receive increased blood flow. Out of interest, has anyone else experienced this?


Yep. :)
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#5

Postby lefttheleaf » Sat Feb 16, 2019 12:45 pm

ashthewarrior7 wrote:
lefttheleaf wrote: I have also been getting a lot of random memories pop back up into my mind and i experience a lot of deja vu type feelings which i can only put down to the hippocampus beginning to receive increased blood flow. Out of interest, has anyone else experienced this?


Yep. :)


Well that’s a relief.
What’s your experience with this if you don’t mind sharing?
It’s mad weird isn’t it
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#6

Postby ashthewarrior7 » Sun Feb 17, 2019 3:06 am

It's hard to explain, I initially thought the memories were random and would pop up for no reason but then I realized even the smallest trigger like a related song I heard an hour ago or visited a place with resemblence of that memory triggered it to pop up. It took me a while to realize this and the triggers are very subtle. Childhood memory of high school time mostly. dejavu thing is even harder to explain, usual dejavus would happen only for a second or two but these happen for longer and feel lesser that I dreamt it and more like I actually experienced it. Sometimes I could even say what would happen next (what I said didn't happen though, hahaha). But as you said, it's the brain rewiring.
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#7

Postby lefttheleaf » Sun Feb 17, 2019 7:52 am

ashthewarrior7 wrote:It's hard to explain, I initially thought the memories were random and would pop up for no reason but then I realized even the smallest trigger like a related song I heard an hour ago or visited a place with resemblence of that memory triggered it to pop up. It took me a while to realize this and the triggers are very subtle. Childhood memory of high school time mostly. dejavu thing is even harder to explain, usual dejavus would happen only for a second or two but these happen for longer and feel lesser that I dreamt it and more like I actually experienced it. Sometimes I could even say what would happen next (what I said didn't happen though, hahaha). But as you said, it's the brain rewiring.


Hi mate. That’s pretty much exactly what I’ve been experiencing. My partner thinks that the 5htp I was taking causes it too so I’ve stopped that to see if it helps it.
I found it distressing at first as I’d get anxious about it and why it was happening but now I just try and go with the flow.
How long did it last for you?
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#8

Postby ashthewarrior7 » Sun Feb 17, 2019 9:43 am

Not sure there, I just stopped paying attention to it. That's the key to be happy in PAWS. Just kept going. I'll post my whole journey soon.
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#9

Postby weedbaddrug » Thu Feb 21, 2019 3:03 pm

Hi,

In regards to this obsessive thinking, do you still have it ? Or like random memories popping up from triggers ? Does this get better ?

I believe it has to be from withdrawal as it only started after I quid however its scary - currently just starting 5 months off weed.
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#10

Postby weedbaddrug » Thu Feb 21, 2019 3:07 pm

Sherwood1999 wrote:Hey Leaf,

First off congrats on making it this far. I think you’ve replied to my other posts in my time of need. I can totally relate to the intrusive thoughts and OCD. It sucks. I’ll get some image pop into my head and be very distressed by it and obsess over it.

I.



I am 5 months now, still dealing with this first time in my life ? If this from the withdrawal ? Does it get better ?
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#11

Postby lefttheleaf » Thu Feb 21, 2019 4:48 pm

Whats happening dude?

I think that I did have it before smoking but I didn't realise but quitting and the issues I have felt and experienced since quitting has definitely made it worse.

Try not to worry and just focus on today and when tomorrow comes focus on that day, and so on and so forth.

Theres no quick fix I am afraid.

I still have bad days - having one today for example but the trajectory is upwards

Hope this helps
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#12

Postby weedbaddrug » Fri Feb 22, 2019 5:13 pm

lefttheleaf wrote:Whats happening dude?

I think that I did have it before smoking but I didn't realise but quitting and the issues I have felt and experienced since quitting has definitely made it worse.

Try not to worry and just focus on today and when tomorrow comes focus on that day, and so on and so forth.

Theres no quick fix I am afraid.

I still have bad days - having one today for example but the trajectory is upwards

Hope this helps


So you can see its slowly improving into positive?
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#13

Postby lefttheleaf » Fri Feb 22, 2019 6:55 pm

Well let me know what you’re dealing with and experiencing and I’ll let you know if I’ve been there etc. If you want bro
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#14

Postby weedbaddrug » Fri Feb 22, 2019 7:36 pm

Obsessive thoughts about people that did mistakes even though i am cool with them, they apologised. Have a convo with them i am fresh next few days, but got small triggers that sets me back. can’t help thinking negative and scared. I believe racing thoughts ? Also small triggers that make me think about past thinking i am traumatized. Never had this before.

Cold feet, waking up nighttime with these thoughts. And morning.

Also anxious that i will be with these stuck thoughts forever. I am finishing 4 months without. My mind tries i believe to blame others?
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