1 year PAWS - It's been a year since I quit

Postby 9monthquit » Sat Jun 26, 2021 5:39 pm

Hi Uncommonforum,

I hope you are all doing well. I want to write this post as I have gone through intense PAWS over the past year, and uncommon forum has been a massive crutch for me during this tough time. I feel I need to give back with my story and experience, especially for anyone that is going through the same.

Before I start this, please note that I had no anxiety / panic / depression / etc. before my use. I was completely normal, happy, and motivated.

My marijuana use spanned 3 years. At first, it was just a casual substance to use and have fun on the weekends with friends. During my first year, I used about 1-2 times a week (Fridays & Saturdays) This continued on till about half way through my 2nd year. Towards the end of my 2nd year, I started using multiple times a week, sometimes on my own too. I knew it was starting to get a little out of hand, but I kept telling myself I'd quit or that I'm not dependent (yeah, that's usually not the case.)

Anyways, I ended up stopping use for a few months as I left on vacation, and that's when I noticed something was off. It was the first time I'd noticed things didn't feel right - mostly around 2 months in. I got angry over small things spontaneously, and very occasionally had depressed mood. I didn't think much of it, and when I returned, I proceeded to chronically use for a whole year. This was my 3rd year of use, and the most intense too. I used pretty much everyday, sometimes multiple times a day.

My 3rd year of use was actually pretty great. I had a good time, but deep inside, I felt a lot of guilt and just like before, kept telling myself I'd quit. Fast forward about 75% of my 3rd year, I started getting my marijuana from a dispensary. High THC. I started experiencing little bits of anxiety and paranoia every time I smoked. This didn't escalate much until I started consuming edibles. That's when the anxiety got really intense, I think the weed was stressing me out more than acting as a relaxing tool. Then, around this time a year ago, I had a mini anxiety / panic attack after consuming, and that's when I quit cold turkey. That is also when the PAWS started.

My PAWS has been difficult. Everyone here can relate. I had depression, anxiety, anhedonia, brain fog, dp/dr, ocd symptoms, lack of sleep. The list goes on. I'm very confident that for the first 6 months of PAWS, I didn't have a single night of sleep where I hadn't woken up at least once. I also want to add something that plagued me a lot during my depression waves, and that is suicidal thoughts. I had a lot of them. In fact, they weren't just part of my depression, but also my OCD symptoms (spontaneous, unwanted suicidal thoughts) I think for the first 7 months of PAWS, I had a suicidal thought at least once a day. If not suicidal, then existential thoughts (like purpose of life, etc. etc.) But again, all just symptoms of PAWS-induced depression and OCD.

Fast forward to month 8 of PAWS. Whoa. Something has happened, I don't know what it is, but something clicked in my head. Suddenly, I had more positive days than negative. I felt some sense of normal, though never completely. I knew with enough triggers, I could still slip into a PAWS wave. But month 8 gave me immense hope. However, this lasted about 2-3 weeks, and once again I was back into the mix of a few good days, and more bad days.

Post month 8, things were not the same as before. PAWS existed, but the intensity was maybe 80-90%. Sometimes 60-70%. And then, out of nowhere, a wave that was 100% of the intensity from early months. Very, very unpredictable. Right now, as I write, I've had a great past week. Prior to that, I suffered a really, really intense PAWS wave (yes, EVEN at month 12!) The suicidal thoughts were still relatively prominent during the wave, however not as intense as they used to be. But I came out of it, and so can those of you reading this.

Now that the negative is out of the way, I'd like to shine light on all the great things that have happened in the last 12 months. Besides the fact that I have been sober from any possible mind altering substance (no caffeine and negligible sugar), I have developed amazing new habits. I do intense exercise several times a week, and have reached about 7 months of daily meditation (20 minutes each day.) While there were gaps in the middle of my meditation due to moving around etc., the total of 7 months is a number I'm proud of. It might not work for everyone, but I want to share that meditation has been an ABSOLUTE game changer for me. Initially, it didn't do too much. But as I got better at it, better at gently bringing back my attention to my breathing, I started to find real peace during my sessions. In fact, it has started translating to benefits outside meditation, where I gently bring my focus back to the present, when I'm drowning in PAWS thoughts.

Besides this, I have so much more time on my hands. When I was smoking chronically, I was slowly starting to stop doing the things I love, and just sat around eating junk food and playing video games / watching TV for absurd amounts of time. After quitting, I started focusing on doing what I love, and scored an amazing job! In terms of a career perspective, I've reached great stability. I still play video games and watch TV every day, just not all day. Oh, and did I mention, they feel much more authentic, entertaining, and rewarding now? When you consume entertainment at limited amounts, you realize it's true value!

Anyways, I'm so honored to be able to share my journey with you all. I'm still not done yet. In fact, just last night, I had anxiety as I laid in bed. I even felt depressed when I woke up this morning. And that's okay. What's important is that we recognize these things, and accept them for what they are, realizing this is only temporary. I know I am getting closer and closer to reaching 100% normalcy. I will continue to share my journey on here, and update how things are going. I hope those of you reading this will share your journey here too, as we're all in this together. Thank you.
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#1

Postby MMJnomo » Sat Jun 26, 2021 10:09 pm

Thank you so much for this post. I am struggling so much right now with weed paws at 5 months and your post truly brought me joy when I read it. I am very happy for you. I look forward to reading your updates in the future. I have been in a very intense wave since June 2nd, and I thought I was doing a little better yesterday and today, and then I suddenly got hit with intense dizziness and DP about 2 hours ago right out of nowhere. I woke up this morning and felt like I was coming out of this wave and then it hit again.
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#2

Postby 9monthquit » Sat Jun 26, 2021 11:45 pm

Thank you for reading. I'm glad this brought you joy, month 5 in my PAWS was very difficult too, especially since symptoms come and go much more spontaneously. You should be proud you have made it this far, and are still soldiering through. Just like you describe, PAWS is very unpredictable. Your journey will definitely start to get easier in just another month or two, so hang in there!
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#3

Postby MMJnomo » Sun Jun 27, 2021 12:58 am

Thank you so much for your very supportive reply. I appreciate it so much!
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#4

Postby itWasntWorthIt » Sun Jun 27, 2021 1:25 am

Thanks so much, I'm going through PAWS for the past 8 months, I'm unable to work right now because of brain-fog,
I want to ask you if your brain-fog has lifted now?
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#5

Postby 9monthquit » Sun Jun 27, 2021 2:59 pm

Congratulations on 8 months. I still have brain fog time to time. While it has reduced, by no means is it completely gone. I find that drinking plenty of water throughout the day actually helps a lot with my brain fog. Hope you feel better!
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#6

Postby Cali-Detroit » Sun Jun 27, 2021 7:40 pm

I'm approaching one year in about a week here.
I was a daily user for over 20 years.

I'm with you on the exercise and all the rest, but was curious about meditation. It's never really worked for me, but after hearing you say it took awhile , I'm reconsidering it. I've literally tried it a dozen times or more, and this odd thing happens where after a few weeks, I actually feel worse and more unsettled.

Any thoughts?
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#7

Postby Winzu » Mon Jun 28, 2021 8:49 am

Great to hear your story. I think we will be fully recovered within the next 6 months to a year. Keep us updated though!
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#8

Postby 9monthquit » Mon Jun 28, 2021 9:46 pm

@Cali-Detroit Congrats on the 1 year! Yes, meditation definitely took a little bit (like a month?) to start helping. And sometimes it didn't help. Sometimes it got worse. To be honest, I noticed things got worse less often when I was meditating than when I wasn't. I cannot even say for sure it's the meditation that made it worse or just the spontaneous behavior of PAWS. But when I'm consistently meditating everyday, at around the same time, for the same period, I feel less worse. Hope this helps.

@Winzu I believe so too. I'll definitely keep on posting any changes I witness.
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#9

Postby IenSmith » Tue Jun 29, 2021 6:16 am

Thanks so much!
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#10

Postby 9monthquit » Sat Jul 10, 2021 6:50 pm

Progress update

Well I recently just came off a week and a bit of feeling pretty normal. Unfortunately, I've dipped back into a "partial wave." It's kind of weird, I feel normal a lot of the times, but out of nowhere I just get hit with a sudden deep depression / anxiety. It might last 10 seconds or a few minutes, and sometimes maybe an hour. But then I go back to feeling normal and hopeful again and am able to work pretty well. Sometimes I feel like my brain is almost realizing it needs to keep a chemical balance now... like it goes to sleep and then suddenly realizes "oh wait, I gotta produce these chemicals now that the weed isn't there." That's maybe why I dip into a typical PAWS wave mood, and then come back out of it. Or, maybe this is just stuff that is happening to me before a big PAWS wave (I've noticed sometimes I'll feel normal after a wave, then slowly start getting PAWS symptoms like I am now, and then a week of an intense PAWS wave) Who knows, we'll see. It does seem easier though, no doubt.

Also along with the sudden severe depression / anxiety, I've been having vivid dreams and just general trouble sleeping. Not necessarily every night, but some nights I'll have even 2 different vivid dreams. Some nights I just wake up and it's hard to go back to sleep due to racing thoughts. It's weird, I didn't have sleep issues for a while and now they're suddenly back. Let's see how it goes. There is a slight amount of DP/DR too, but very rare and not intense at all. Easy to snap out of. No brain fog whatsoever (surprisingly)

All in all, I think with this update I'm currently in a place where I'm really believing I'll be PAWS free soon. I think in the next 6 months things will really improve, I think I might reach 90-95% normalcy. Right now, I'd say I'm at 85%. I think reaching 100% COMPLETELY PAWS free whatsoever will still take at least a year. Again that's what I think, but if that's not the case, you'll know in my update :D I hope the rest of you are doing well and dealing your PAWS in a healthy manner!
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#11

Postby Cali-Detroit » Sat Jul 10, 2021 7:03 pm

Hey keep up the good work! Sounds like your fighting the good fight.

Having just passed one year on July 7th, I can tell you 100% or "Hundo P" as the kids says, is probably out of the question. Everything you described is still happening, but it ebbs and flows.

I also smoked for 20 plus years daily, but based on the experience of others here, it's going to be a longer road.

I seriously was doubting wtf I'm even doing trying to live in this world sober. It's pretty raw with no drugs/booze/pills to smooth the edges. I'm doing all the positive thinking, vigorous exercise, reading, attempting mediation, etc.

Something to consider is the possibility of living an unfulfilled life and falling short of your potential on a daily basis, but being ok with it when you have a substance to mask the disappointment and pain. That's the analysis of myself I've considered anyway.

Now, perhaps in order to have a full and productive life that I am proud of, the amount of effort is much more than anything I was ever putting forth before, starting in my late teens.

It's may take 2 or 3 years to fully recover and get a true life balance in place. I don't know, but I do know others in this very place have been further down the road and have kindly shared their thoughts and experience. We're all unique obviously, but at least it's some sort of hope for the future.

Keep hope alive!
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#12

Postby 9monthquit » Sat Jul 10, 2021 9:07 pm

I'm so glad you replied. I'm fighting the good fight indeed, and so are you. I bet we're gonna be a hell of a lot better and stronger than we ever were once we're done with this episode of life.

I totally agree, "Hundo P" will certainly take a while to achieve. I've mentioned this in another post before, but I believe it's like losing weight. At first you lose a lot of weight fast, but that rate diminishes as you get fitter. It might take a year to get from 20% to 90%, and another year to get from 90% to 100%. The benefit of having this patience far outweighs anything else.

I agree - your road will certainly be longer. But hey, you're having to spend 2-3 years recovering after using for 20 years? It goes to show how powerful and brilliant your brain is at healing itself. A small fraction of the time to heal itself. And I have a strong feeling with your attitude and all the good things you are doing for yourself, you'll be out of this ASAP. Just be patient, and take it day by day!

I can see where you are coming from, but isn't it good for life to be raw? Maybe you don't need to smooth the edges, maybe the point is to ride out the bumps and improve yourself along the way. I like for life to be raw, it pushes me to explore new things I might enjoy. Also, I personally believe having sober memories are worth far more than hazy, intoxicated memories that you just remember as "being fun", but cannot reminisce in detail.

As for putting effort in, I think it is best to take things easy till recovery. You don't have to pressure yourself too much to become productive right away. Once you're back to a much better mental and physical state, you can unleash your inner beast and fly :D

Best of luck to you and hope you have an excellent recovery!
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#13

Postby 9monthquit » Sat Jul 31, 2021 11:29 pm

Progress update

My PAWS from early/mid July kind of hovered and went down a bit. And then, about a week ago, all hell went loose. Anxiety (racing thoughts, racing heart, heart palpitations), depression (including suicidal thoughts), brain fog, intrusive thoughts, dp/dr, vivid dreams / sleeplessness. I've been in a pretty deep depression many times and I can really feel the lump in the back of my throat. I feel hopeless and have the feeling you get before you cry, except almost all the time. I think I'm in a wave where my brain chemicals have gone completely crazy and are all over the place. To be honest, this is very disheartening for me as I thought I was getting much better and wouldn't have severe waves anymore. Boy was I wrong. I almost feel like I've been caught off guard. Really hoping this type of wave doesn't become the norm again...
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#14

Postby PowerOfMyMind » Sun Aug 01, 2021 5:30 pm

Im coming up to 1 year and had a couple of good weeks up until Thursday and started going down hill with heavy depression. This morning was dark, deep depression and suicidal thoughts, fatigue and completely hopeless. This afternoon i dragged myself out to my parents and felt a little better but it seems to start all over again as soon as i wake up. Praying i keep getting better with more good days than bad and the waves fade away. Its been the hardest year of my life by far. Good luck to everyone going through paws, i know we will all heal in time and get well again.
Sorry to hear you're still going through it 9month, keep fighting it and remember you will heal and getter better like we all will in time.
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