16 months

Postby PAWSsurvivor » Sat Dec 26, 2020 3:58 pm

Hey everyone,

I feel like I need to write about where I'm at, Here I am at 16 months of PAWS / Anxiety.

I'm happy to report I seem to be following the healing pattern. I feel like about 85-90% of the person I was before my Summer experimenting with Cannabis.

These days my main symptoms are general elevated anxiety, racing thoughts, an emotional flatness and a fuzzy numbed out feeling I always carry with me in my head. Occasionally I'll get a large body tingle here and there. The only thing that truly bothers me still is how my head feels and my euphoric/emotional flatness, but I'm trying to just accept it so that it dissipates and eventually leaves me.

All of the above are very manageable. Day to day now I can carry out all tasks as long as I keep a good head on my shoulders and sleep and eat healthy. I can exercise, socialize, work, etc. In fact Christmas has been a good test. So far I've met all my social and work commitments. It hasn't always been easy, but it's nice to say I'm an independent adult again. And my family notices the improvements.

I'm marking my success, because my anxiety therapy has reminded me that I need to acknowledge the good as it happens. I should add that I feel better in many ways. My vision is so much better, about 100%, and the fog is essentially non-existant. Also I've slept well for 4 months now.

Some things that are helping me. These days I've been following the DARE protocol for anxiety, as it seems that whatever is happening in our cessation to Cannabis is very much the same as a high level anxiety condition. It's helped me alot and I encourage anyone struggling to check it out. I use the app daily. The DARE meditation, followed by my own chant meditations (AUM) for 10-20 minutes, and a 5-10 minute journal write about the day, drawing things that make me feel happy and safe, and positive affirmations, help me to get ready for the day. Also the nightguard I got for what seems like TMJ, seems to have helped with my teeth grinding while i sleep. Of course good nutrition basics are important. I try to avoid processed sugars, and no caffeine and alcohol. Also the Youtube series "Therapy in a Nutshell" has been helpful. I walk outside as much as I can for some calming time outdoors, and I lift weights as well a few times a week.

I'l finish using my emotional brain. I'm anxious and nervous, but also optimistic that this will all end, as it seems to for everyone. 16 months is a long time, but most need even longer to earn their freedom. I know we will all get there given enough time and good habits. Our brains and bodies are very intelligent and genuinely want to heal themselves. We just have to stay out of the way and let it happen. One year ago I'd say I was feeling around a 2-3 out of 10, and now I'm 8.5-9. So that's pretty good progress. In fact today I woke up optimistic that in 2021, i'll be able to perhaps thrive rather than just survive. As the saying goes "this too shall pass".

Wish you all well!
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#1

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Sat Dec 26, 2020 7:03 pm

For readers that might come across this thread, consider the difference between:

(1) anxiety caused by actual symptoms due to abusing a chemical substance and,
(2) anxiety caused by repeatedly telling yourself that you screwed up your body, i.e. self-induced mental anxiety.

The OP experimented for a few months...a "summer" of cannabis. This is not a case of long-term use or abuse. The chemicals are long gone from his system. Whatever physical, neurological, and/or biochemical "damage" was done to his body, that damage healed a long time ago. Probably a few months after he stopped using.

Given the mental state of our OP, it didn't have to be cannabis as a "cause". He could have smoked cigarettes for a summer and 16 months later would still be experiencing anxiety, believing that the one summer of heavy cigarettes had done irreparable damage to his lungs, heart, etc. And to some extent, there would be a certain truth to the story. A summer of cigarettes would most likely leave a mark. But anxiety 16 months later? Nope. The chemicals would be long gone and the body would have healed.

The OP is physically healthy, but will still be posting about PAWS in another 6 months, another 12 months, and another 18 months. Why? Because until our OP gets some new thing to blame, every headache, every sniffle, every sleepless night will be contributed to using marijuana one summer.

The OP's story is something for us all to consider. How much fear or anxiety do we bring upon ourselves simply because we create our own nightmare? We weave a plausible "cause" and then the truth no longer matters. We create our own anxiety because we believe it true.
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#2

Postby PAWSsurvivor » Sat Dec 26, 2020 8:11 pm

Ouch Richard. I think you are a bit trigger happy on my posts. Especially when I'm trying to express myself on how I've improved. It seems my posts are especially inviting for this back and forth.

There's a reason I called it PAWS / Anxiety. As in / Anxiety Condition. This is what I wrote in my original post, perhaps you missed it:

"These days I've been following the DARE protocol for anxiety, as it seems that whatever is happening in our cessation to Cannabis is very much the same as a high level anxiety condition."

I don't care what it is, I'm treating it like an anxiety disorder like you have suggested in the past.

But speaking quite honestly, your dismissive unempathetic tone really outs you as someone not equipped to help people with mental health issues, be it bottom up anxiety, or top down anxiety, if you even know what those terms mean. With all the therapy I've undergone, books I've read etc, no therapist worth their salt has ever decided to tell a client that they will just keep falling into the same old pattern, like you just insinuated with me. Nor would they do it on a public space / forum. They give hope, care and optimism.

Where is yours? Shouldn't you generally care that I'm feeling better and have been doing better? My thoughts are you are more interested in publicly shaming / exampling me as some sort of textbook example, rather than helping the person right in front of you.

I agree with you. I have to treat this as an anxiety condition. And I'm working on my thought patterns everyday...did you perhaps read any of what I wrote about using DARE, and my journaling everyday? Every technique I'm using is useful for anxiety. Perhaps you should go take a quick look at the subject matter of that book. Yes, it could very well be that all the "Damage" is done and healed. But that doesn't mean a whole lot to my amygdala, which is likely stuck in a feedback loop from a traumatic withdrawl event, and perhaps is just pounding out too much adrenaline. I have to slowly convince it everything is ok.

Perhaps you should read DARE. The author, who has helped many people with anxiety says "we all heal at our own pace". Why would you denigrate my success in such a manner? I'm happy I'm getting better even if it's slow. The message of your content is valid enough, since I generally agree, but not the dismissive tone or the insinuation that I'll just follow the pattern you suggest of months of self torture and agonisation. Your approach of outing people this way is an awful one on a mental health forum. I'm glad I'm well enough to not let your exampling of me cause more mental health issues.

Meanwhile, I continue to exercise and live life without excuse. I take care of those I love, exercise (despite sniffles, which I don't blame on PAWS, it's just normal), do my therapeutic exercises, and live life, and I don't complain except in a supposed supportive space like this, because as you should know Richard, writing is a form of therapy.

And yes everyone, my story is not everyone else's, I genuinely believe most people don't have this problem, and if they do it's best to just treat it like anxiety so that it vanishes quicker. It doesn't have to be 2 years for all, and I hope to be better sooner than that. The important message is that it all does get better in time.


Wish you well people. PS. Richard I'm planning an 18 month update. Maybe you should mark it in the calendar.
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#3

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Sat Dec 26, 2020 9:04 pm

PAWSsurvivor wrote: With all the therapy I've undergone, books I've read etc, no therapist worth their salt has ever decided to tell a client that they will just keep falling into the same old pattern, like you just insinuated with me. Nor would they do it on a public space / forum. They give hope, care and optimism.


-1- I'm not a therapist nor have I ever claimed to be one.

-2- Second, as you pointed out this is a public forum. Yes it is a forum where people often discuss mental health, but that doesn't then require all advice to be something the OP wishes to hear. It also does not require that it be worded in a way so that the OP feels good, bad, or otherwise. The purpose of a "public" forum is that it is in fact public. It is helpful to others to read your story and then avoid your example. It is helpful to have a variety of opinions. We don't all need to agree.

-3- You have and will continue to fall into the same old pattern as evidenced by 16 months thus far of repeating the pattern. Again, evidence for others to use in order to hopefully avoid the mistake you are making and continuing to make. I'm not insinuating, I'm saying straight up that it will continue. Prove me wrong. Break it the pattern! That would be great. You could post about how you finally stopped believing the hogwash you have been feeding yourself.

-4- I'm glad that my advice has helped you. You may not "feel" like it qualifies as the correct therapeutic approach to give advice, you may "feel" like it is intended as shame, but that is on you not me. Just because my advice creates a slight bit of cognitive dissonance, maybe more than you wish to confront at a given moment doesn't mean the advice is bad. In fact, as evidenced by our conversations, it might be more helpful than the "comforting" advice provided by your therapist(s).

And my opinions are not intended as "tough love" or to be intentionally unsympathetic. It's only an opinion for the public to consider. I don't attack you, call you names, or make any claims to who you are as a person.

P.S. the "we all heal at our own pace" is more hogwash. It is another false belief that you choose to embrace. If you break your arm you heal at roughly the same rate as everyone else. But if someone makes you feel bad with words, then suddenly because it is a "mental wound" the rate of healing becomes some undefinable, subjective, nonsense that impacts everyone differently. Bull.

P.S. P.S. Stop wasting your time reading about the amygdala. All you are doing is continuing to reinforce your existing beliefs. You are using this forum, the books you read, and the therapy to create your own mental prison.
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#4

Postby tokeless » Sat Dec 26, 2020 9:05 pm

Why can't you just move on? Do you have to feedback your symptoms like a tick list? You say you're 100% in this and then add a deficit... as for:
"With all the therapy I've undergone, books I've read etc, no therapist worth their salt has ever decided to tell a client that they will just keep falling into the same old pattern, like you just insinuated with me. Nor would they do it on a public space / forum. They give hope, care and optimism"

Many therapists will continue seeing you regardless because you are a funding stream that keeps on asking for help. I have worked in mental health for over 25 years and I have been quite blunt in my work because with emotionally unstable personality disorders, you can't keep pandering to their game playing. They crave therapy because it's about feeling important or needed. The need to keep yourself stuck in the moment feeds the need to sustain it. Just move on, stop analysing every thought, sensation and feeling because they are all transient and we all have them at times. You maybe should try and question your own beliefs rather than attacking people who offer advice with no agenda other than to give opinions. You don't have to accept them but that raises the question of why you post if you only want answers or feedback that supports your own.
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#5

Postby PAWSsurvivor » Sat Dec 26, 2020 9:28 pm

Well whatever you guys, there's plenty of PAWS / Anxiety threads out there, and you seem to target mine for some reason, possibly because there's stuff that I write that presses your buttons.

Richard I said I generally agree with you. What more do you want me to say?

And it is intended as shame, otherwise you wouldn't have insinuated that in 18 months I'll be doing the same thing.

Both of you seem to approach this from the angle of "Relax Dammit!". Well really how many people in life has that worked for? Anxiety takes time to resolve and no two people are the same.

Tokeless, I go see a therapist every few months, it's not like I'm at their door every day. Yes I've read books. Yes I know thats part of the pattern, I only read DARE now as it's helped many recover from anxiety. And again, I haven't missed any work due to this condition, or social commitments. It's been hard, but I've not stopped anything in my life.

Why do you both focus on me so much? CT and others have posted threads and yet you guys just focus on me for some reason? To paraphrase tokeless, why can't you both let go of your anger?


You both have good thoughts, but truly lack empathy.


I'm going to make a diagnosis for you both, that you both suffer from anger issues. I'll keep you in mind during my next Loving Kindness meditation.

And to make you both happy, I have better things to do than continue with this. Good day.
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#6

Postby tokeless » Sat Dec 26, 2020 9:37 pm

Victim language. You still didn't say why you post? Why do you read therapy books as well as seeing a therapist? Now you read DARE.... what answer would satisfy you?
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#7

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Sat Dec 26, 2020 9:46 pm

PAWSsurvivor wrote: And it is intended as shame, otherwise you wouldn't have insinuated that in 18 months I'll be doing the same thing.

why can't you both let go of your anger?

You both have good thoughts, but truly lack empathy.


Why are you shaming me? You accuse me of anger, you don't like my advice, you basically call me out in public in stating that my posts lack empathy. In other words, you are doing the same thing that you are accusing me of doing. You are trying to publicly shame me. You are pointing out all the flaws in my posts.

The difference between us...I don't mind your "shaming". I think you are entitled to your opinion of my advice. It is a public forum and you are welcome to criticize my approach. I don't take your comments the wrong way. I don't need to seek out mental therapy because you do not like everything I write.

Just my opinion, but I prefer my way of looking at things. That your "shaming" of me is an opinion that I can choose to reflect upon and incorporate into how I want to do things in the future is a good thing. You don't seem to look at it the same way. If someone says something you consider "angry" then it isn't about your need to possibly change, but it is the other person that has the issue.

And this keeps you trapped.

"Why are you angry, why do you lack empathy, why do you choose my posts to respond to?"

All of these are more ways to focus on others while ignoring and excusing the pattern you keep repeating. And as you add more months to the already lengthy "healing time" it just digs you deeper and deeper. It doesn't help you.

For 2021 make it a goal to stop going to therapy, stop journaling, stop digging your "therapy hole" deeper than it already is. Set goals that use your time to do things that do not require publicly declaring the state of your mental health.
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#8

Postby PAWSsurvivor » Sat Dec 26, 2020 11:57 pm

Pretty much at the point we will have to agree to disagree.

I think you do mind my "shaming" because you can't let it go. I definitely feel like defending myself on your subsequent post.

And I still don't believe you have read the words I've written. You just want to respond to what you think you are reading. And you keep putting words in my mouth.

Yes I'm calling you out. Sure, call it shame. It's more precisely a response of how you acted towards me. I didn't write anything negative about you in my original post, but you came along and decided to talk about me in the third person like I'm some sort of textbook case without a unique story or identity. It warrants a response. Both you and Tokeless assume I see myself as a victim for myself because of what I've described as my condition. But thats what your mind wants you to believe. I don't believe I'm a victim. I believe I'm a strong person who has worked through a difficult condition, with very real physical issues. I haven't taken a single sick day, nor have I missed any obligations in my life. I don't know what you see me as. In fact at work I was told I was excelling this year. So I'm quite proud of myself for achieving that while I feel this way. There's plenty of other great positives from the last year. None of that has made this go away. Only time has.

Stop journaling is perhaps one of the worst pieces of advice. Yikes. Journaling is a very healthy activity.

Sure it's my goal to not go to therapy. I've gone twice in the last 6 months. So thats 1% of days in the past 6 months.

I use an app for daily meditation, I hope thats ok with you both and not some sort of self victimization thing. I mean the buddhists and yogis have been doing it for centuries.

I'm posting here online because I enjoy documenting this journey, as others advice has helped me. It's reassuring to look back and see how I've improved. And when people show up in a supportive way, it helps with feelings of loneliness. I live my day to day life without showcasing how I feel. But it's very hard especially after I go 30 or more days without having spoken to anyone about it, and having minimal improvement in my physical symptoms. Call it a release. It's hard to live with this all alone at times. And the more I understand my condition, the more it helps me to comfortable with it. I'm glad to have learned all that I have learned.

The answer that satisfies me is the one that solves my condition. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I now believe the issue is anxiety. I agree with you on that. The early withdrawal over months is traumatic, which creates the ongoing anxiety. I know you both want someone with this problem to simply move on and turn it off like a switch. However when you have a daily 24/7 ongoing headache for months straight, its not as easy as it sounds. That was me a year ago. Resolving trauma like this takes time. At least for me it does. I have a good friend who went through this decades ago when she withdrew from drugs, before google allowed hypochondriac searching on the internet. She said it took her two years to recover. She has no knowledge of the word PAWS, yet somehow it took her that same number of years to resolve. Without her convincing herself online of the problem.

Guess what, you have no proof of anxiety vs paws, and neither do I. Just two people with their points of view. Let the viewers decide. And I do hope viewers don't feel like they are doomed to 2 years. It could end much sooner or not happen at all. We are all different. Good thinking habits are useful for everyone.

As usual I'm just happy things are getting better.
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#9

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Sun Dec 27, 2020 5:08 pm

PAWSsurvivor wrote: Let the viewers decide.


Exactly.

It is a public forum where people can read different opinions and decide which path they wish to follow.

They can choose a path of fear, believing everyone heals at a different pace and so they must journal, meditate, and seek therapy for no less than 16 months. They can choose to create that world for themselves, creating crutch after crutch that they will rely on for an indefinite amount of time. They can applaud their progress with each new crutch they incorporate into their life, reinforcing and building a permanent system of “support”.

This is a path well traveled. People spend lifetimes on this journey.

Or the person can believe that wounds heal at roughly a similar pace and that crutches are only intended to be temporary. The person can create a different world for themselves, one that frees them from fear, that liberates them from journaling, affirmations, meditations, therapists, and the network of crutches that keep them enslaved.

This is also a path well traveled.

What makes the difference? Both are a system of beliefs, but the beliefs lead down different roads.

There is more we can say about each path, but it all boils down to the beliefs we hold. And as you point out, the viewers can decide which path they would rather follow.
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#10

Postby PAWSsurvivor » Sun Jan 03, 2021 9:10 pm

You bet they can decide.

If you feel that meditation, journaling, socializing, eating healthy, exercising, going to work everyday, not missing out on life, despite physical pain, are"temporary crutches", well that's your description not mine.

And as for therapists, I don't know what anyone would have against them. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has considerable evidence behind it. You go when you need to. That's it. For some it's every month, some it's once a year, or decade.

If people don't tell their stories, solutions are never found, and hope against suffering is kept in the dark. I'm exceedingly grateful for the recovery stories on Uncommon (Thank you HelenaDoc, GreatDane, Biggiesize and more) . I don't know if I would have survived the onslaught of withdrawl without them. It's truly brutal Richard. You have no idea, cause if you did you would have more sympathy. I hope our stories lend people to researching this condition one day. Or at least advising more caution when using Cannabis.

I've trained and run four-42 km marathons. I have two degrees. I have a Yoga Cert. I have a career where I make close to 100K a year. Plenty of friends and loved ones. All the accomplishments of my life were a walk in the park compared to this ongoing condition. The people here enduring this "syndrome and surviving and healing deserve medals. Not condescending responses.

And as I get better I'm going to share my story, so others know what to possibly expect, and to have some hope. Trying to Pay it forward. And I'll say it again and again and again, time of healing is not the same for everyone.

Quite frankly, you really have tried to strawman my original post and my character. You have misrepresented my position and circumstance with a lack of inquisitiveness and conversation. Please don't do it anymore. And I won't accept any more dismissive responses to my threads in the third person without a giving a response.

PS: My delayed response was because I was too busy living my life. Despite PAWS / Anxiety.
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#11

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Sun Jan 03, 2021 10:41 pm

Happy New Year.

PAWSsurvivor wrote:If you feel that meditation, journaling, socializing, eating healthy, exercising, going to work everyday, not missing out on life, despite physical pain, are"temporary crutches", well that's your description not mine.


Talk about a strawman, lol.

Yes, the readers can decide if they want to follow your "solution" by reading about your thus far 16-month journey with a promise to update everyone on how you are doing in another 2 months.

I frame it another way. I offer a different path. I want the readers to consider that your anxiety has little if anything to do with your 3-month experiment with marijuana. Instead, I encourage the readers to consider that your body fully healed a long time ago and that your anxiety is psychosomatic or a form of hypochondria. Long after your body 100% recovered, you continue to suffer from self-induced anxiety based on your strongly held belief of what you think the drug did to your body.

My path is one you reject. That is understandable. But it may help some readers in a similar situation.
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#12

Postby PAWSBOOK » Tue Jan 05, 2021 3:08 pm

This thread is there to help people with their addictions. Post-acute withdrawal is a fact and clear in this case. It is very unfortunate that you experienced PAWS for 16 months after only 3 months of use. In all spectrums there are extremes. I am happy you feel a lot better now.

Ignore these ignorant and hateful people. The fact that they have spent more than 12 years on this forum and are still continiously posting hateful replies shows that these are not people to take any advice from.
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#13

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Tue Jan 05, 2021 3:43 pm

PAWSBOOK wrote:This thread is there to help people with their addictions.


The OP is not addicted.

Post-acute withdrawal is a fact and clear in this case.


It is neither a fact nor clear in this case. After only 3-months of use, the OP's body has fully recovered. The OP has no lingering physical issues caused by the drug. Instead, the cause of the OP's physical issues are a result of stress and anxiety, self-induced as they choose to believe that their body has been irreparably damaged with no definitive timeline for recovery.

In other words, the challenge for the OP is to overcome the mental suffering, to overcome the fear. It isn't an addiction.

It is very unfortunate that you experienced PAWS for 16 months after only 3 months of use. In all spectrums there are extremes. I am happy you feel a lot better now.


That is the point. The OP hasn't been experiencing PAWS for 16 months. His body has fully recovered. Even you admit that it would be an "extreme" case. It is not helpful for people to continue reinforcing to the OP that indeed what he continues to experience is never-ending PAWS.
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#14

Postby tokeless » Tue Jan 05, 2021 4:19 pm

PAWSBOOK wrote:This thread is there to help people with their addictions. Post-acute withdrawal is a fact and clear in this case. It is very unfortunate that you experienced PAWS for 16 months after only 3 months of use. In all spectrums there are extremes. I am happy you feel a lot better now.

Ignore these ignorant and hateful people. The fact that they have spent more than 12 years on this forum and are still continiously posting hateful replies shows that these are not people to take any advice from.


Two points really.
1. You say PAWS is a fact and clear, yet many who experience them criticise their doctors for not knowing about it and thus not helping them with it. They tell them it's anxiety related and will pass in time. Why don't they know these facts like you do? Anxiety is a long term condition that can occur post substance misuse... blaming the drug for all their ills keeps them stuck.

2. If others, like myself have been posting for more than 12 years are just posting hateful replies, why would we bother to do that? I have a life that I live without PAWS and I used for 30 plus years... maybe I'm special eh? Also, you have a right to your opinion but there are many who have thanked me for my hateful statements and lack of understanding... don't speak for others I guess.
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