Is there light at the end of the tunnel? - Weed PAWS

Postby PAWnorama » Fri Sep 03, 2021 3:49 pm

Hello everyone,

first of all I would like to say thank you to everyone who posted in this forum. It has been a tremendous help this last week and managed to set things into perspective.

I've been smoking weed most of my adult life (17-27) with a break during my semester abroad and always felt good doing it. It became a daily habit after I moved out of my parent's house up until I decided to take a break abroad because I knew noone who could sell to me and I wasn't looking for it. I wish I would have stopped for good then and there...

After I came back into my usual surroundings I quickly relapsed and with the ongoing Corona lockdown it grew to an unprecendented amount. I would wake up, casually roll myself a big one and have it on the balcony with a mug of espresso. I was functioning pretty well, getting good grades and working out. I would continue to smoke during the day and even pack prerolled joints for whenever I went to my parent's place.

Fast forward to almost 3 months ago when I had a serious paranoid episode. At first it all seemed normal and logical to me but after realizing there was something not quite right, I quit the next day.

Since then life has been rather difficult in contrast to the high times before (pun intended). The first couple of weeks have been dominated by the sheer fear of going insane. I was beside myself, constantly on google reading about different mental illnesses. I've seen a lot of changes in myself after quitting like anxiety and depression and it all contributed to me slowly going mad. This continued even after I thought all the THC should have been out of my body and greatly enhanced my fears because I couln't explain it. The last time abstinent had been nothing like this and I couldn't make the connection.

Nevertheless, things actually started to improve for a little while before I had a panic attack after a heavy night of drinking and two nights of not sleeping properly. Funnily enough I met a psychologist in the bar and spoke to her about my fears and she reassured me there was little to worry about (I think in this field, you can never be 100% certain). The next day anxiety of never beeing normal again hit me so hard I went to the hospital to speak with a psychiatrist (who also calmed me down about mental illnesses) and was given some sleeping pills.

Then I've stumbled across this forum and it all started to make a lot more sense. Reading about other experiences really calmed me down and although it will probably take a while, there is solace in knowing I'm not alone and things will get brighter given time. So again big thank you to all contributors :)

Apart from the anxiety and fatigue (although I see myself on the lighter side of things after reading some of the posts here) what has actually been troubling me the most has been persistent earworms. Constantly every day since around my one month mark of beeing sober. They disappear when I concentrate on other stuff or watch TV but as soon as my mind is wandering there is (most of the time) the last song I heard on repeat. Has anyone else experienced this? Will it ever go away? It is so distressing to hear the same lines of song in my head for hours on repeat...
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#1

Postby iHatePaws94 » Fri Sep 03, 2021 9:15 pm

Just want to say great job taking the leap and quitting. I've heard the same story from a lot people who have PAWs. Everything was great until one day out of nowhere they get paranoid thoughts and things are never the same again with weed. So you definitely made the right choice quitting as soon as you experienced that. A similar thing happened to me where one night I had a very intense panic attack and from that point on weed was very psychedelic and terrifying. I continued smoking for two years regardless and that led to a complete mental breakdown. Eventually, I knew that my only option was to quit. The fact that you quit the day after you realized something was wrong should be very encouraging. You definitely prevented causing further damage to your brain and neurochemistry. But yeah I was a very severe case where I was bed ridden for months and was hallucinating and my vision would fade in and out. It was a terrifying experience. But at 8.5 month I'm feeling much better. I have days where I feel like my normal self again. I still have severe waves where I feel completely insane but they're becoming less frequent. I expect to be dealing with this for at least another year but I am starting to enjoy life again. Just hang in there man it gets better. You're still really early into recovery. Just have patience and trust that your brain will heal.

But yeah it's almost universal with PAWs to feel like you're going insane. You will likely get some really strange symptoms. Some days will be tolerable and some will be absolutely miserable. Just try not to freak out at your symptoms. I've had the earworms and intrusive thoughts too. Also, don't worry if you have a long period of time feeling good and then the symptoms return with a vengeance. That is also a normal experience with PAWs. It's also normal to feel like you permanently messed yourself up. Just read success stories on here when you feel like that. Many of us have felt that we have some kind of serious illness and go to the ER only for all the tests to come back great.

As for how long this experience will last for you it is impossible to say. Since you quit immediately after realizing something was wrong, you may get over this rather quickly. WORST CASE it can take over two years to fully heal but like I said that's only the most extreme cases. But even in those cases things typically ease up about a year in. Try not to worry about the timeline of this thing just focus on one day at a time and push on. You'll get there before you know it. I promise you there is an end to this. Just exercise, try your best to sleep well (I know that can be very difficult because of the PAWs), get fresh air, socialize (go to 12 step meetings), eat well (avoid processed foods, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, gluten, dairy), avoid stress as much as possible, and be kind to yourself. I wish you luck on your journey my friend.
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#2

Postby PAWnorama » Sat Sep 04, 2021 12:16 pm

Hi iHatePaws94,

thank you for your reply. I cannot state how much your words mean to me.

It is also great to hear that you are 8.5 months sober and going strong. I know that 3 months for me is really early days and will also take some time before this beast is slain. I just applaud myself for the timing because I have to write my thesis in the next six months, so stress avoidance might be the biggest issue ^^^

Can I ask you a bit more about the earworms? For me, like I said, it is the biggest issue. I will physically flinch if I hear some piece of music that I know will stay for me at least the rest of the day. I guess I've been always prone to earworms even before, but never in that frequency and intensity. I know everbody is different, but at what time did this symptom get better and maybe even abated completly? Although I've read in other forums about antidepressant withdrawal that some people experience this, I thought I was alone in experiencing this in cannabis withdrawal.

Thank you in advance and I wish you all the best from the depth of my heart.
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#3

Postby PAWnorama » Mon Oct 04, 2021 7:39 am

Hi,
I just wanted to give an update on 4 months and tell everyone how it has gotten slightly better over the last month. But the last few days have been absolutly horrible... I just hope that this is a really bad wave, because otherwise there is something seriously wrong with me. I don't even know anymore. I am full on anxiety spiraling "what if I go crazy"...
The earworms are still constant and just contribute to this scared situation. Although I've read in some benzo withdrawal forums that this is a common and know side effect for them, so there might be similarities.
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#4

Postby MMJnomo » Thu Oct 07, 2021 2:28 am

PAWnorama wrote:Hi,
I just wanted to give an update on 4 months and tell everyone how it has gotten slightly better over the last month. But the last few days have been absolutly horrible... I just hope that this is a really bad wave, because otherwise there is something seriously wrong with me. I don't even know anymore. I am full on anxiety spiraling "what if I go crazy"...
The earworms are still constant and just contribute to this scared situation. Although I've read in some benzo withdrawal forums that this is a common and know side effect for them, so there might be similarities.


Months 4-6 or 7 were exceedingly difficult for me. It sounds like you are having an awful wave. From what I have read, we feel like this because our brain is rebalancing and healing. Also, probably everyone who has been through PAWS has thought they were going crazy. We’ve been there and we understand. Hang on through this wave. It will end. Please update us.
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#5

Postby PAWnorama » Thu Oct 07, 2021 8:43 am

Thank you so much for your reply. Although I probbably read way to much, this forum keeps me from freaking out completly. Because the weird thing is, when I quitted the last time it was nothing like this...
What I started after my last post was out of desperation Wim Hof breathing and I felt the effect immediatly. I'm still not fine but things are tolerable again. The cold showers suck but somehow I think that I kind of deserve it for these years of abuse.
I will keep you updated, I will try to post after every month.
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#6

Postby PAWnorama » Thu Nov 04, 2021 9:24 am

Hi UF,
I wanted to give an update on my situation now close to 5 months sober (in two days). Things have not improved, earworm game still going strong...
In addition something weird happened a couple of nights ago which really triggered my anxiety. My girlfriend and I were taking care of her nephews for a night (little babies) and they were quite noisy in the night. So I wasn't able to sleep for a long time and around 3am I was sure that my girlfriend was talking to me asking questions but when I looked she was sound asleep. I just have to hope that this was some kind of hypnagogic hallucination and not some harbinger of schizophrenia because that induces crippling fear in me.
I just don't know anymore. I will have to leave this month behind me and focus on the next one for some relief. And if that doesn't happen the next one and so on.
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#7

Postby PAWnorama » Tue Dec 07, 2021 2:02 pm

So yesterday was my 6 months abstinence marker. I didn't feel proud or accomplished in any way nor did a magic switch flip and the struggling lifted. What I can say is that if I look how I felt at month 3 and now, there is definately a difference. I guess that I'm just a bit frustrated because I expected to "heal" a lot sooner. There are people here writing about years and when I read their stories for the first time I was thinking to myself, that this won't be me and I can do it a lot faster. Apparently not. The next date to be let down by will be 8 months I guess.
I've managed to implement a routine in my day to day life. I write my thesis, work out and eat healthy. Wim Hof breathing in the morning. I believe all of these things are helping if not at least distracting. But in the relaxing hours when it's time to wind down, I get so easily hung up on why do I feel generally this bad. Also winter and corona isn't really helping.
The earworm situation also hasn't changed much.

In these posts I must be coming off as a sad sob, who just wallows in pity. And I guess that's true. So I want to say sorry and thank you to this forum for letting me vent and share.
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#8

Postby Brokethehabit » Tue Dec 07, 2021 3:52 pm

PAWnorama wrote:I guess that I'm just a bit frustrated because I expected to "heal" a lot sooner. There are people here writing about years and when I read their stories for the first time I was thinking to myself, that this won't be me and I can do it a lot faster. Apparently not.


100% familiar thoughts! Resentment leads to frustration, you blame yourself for being such an unlucky Jim/Jane for not healing sooner. The only consolation is the fact that you were so much worse off 3 months in.

6 months is just the worst of the worst being over. Stay strong it'll get better!
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#9

Postby PAWnorama » Sat Dec 11, 2021 10:43 am

Thank you for your reply :)
I also think/hope that the last six months were the worst part. Though I'm a little bit careful about the waves, which changed from anxiety waves earlier to depression waves, is that normal?
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#10

Postby Brokethehabit » Sat Dec 11, 2021 11:41 am

No idea. I had no depression at all. Instead it was general bodily malaise.
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#11

Postby PAWnorama » Thu Jan 06, 2022 12:37 pm

Hi everyone,

quick update on 7 months sober from weed. Things haven't changed but I kind of feel better, if that makes sense. Sleep has been a bit hard these last couple of nights, but not too bad. I noticed that if sleep was bad, the next day the earworms are a lot more prominent or I'm just too tired to deal with them in a "healthy" manner and get annoyed very easily.
One thing that has helped, although maybe not with PAWS but in generall, is Vitamin D supplements. I started taking them 2 weeks ago, because I noticed feeling a lot more down when it's a dark and cold day.
University and working out is just fine, though over christmas I ate like a truck. So healthy and normal eating is on the agenda for the future.

All the best
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#12

Postby PAWnorama » Fri Jan 07, 2022 1:56 pm

It's quite funny that after I wrote the update yesterday, I had the most debiliating nightmare and today I feel like an anxious mess. Is it maybe possible to suffer from anxiety and/or have anxiety symptoms without actually being aware of it?
Most of the time I'm fine and have no issues except for the earworms (which are also a product of anxiety, if you believe some online sites about anxiety). I feel like my rational mind knows that this just might be a wave and time will help, but the emotional side of me tells me to entertain the thought that this is permanent and I better get used to it. Seven months sobriety is not that far in but I also haven't stopped yesterday.
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#13

Postby tokeless » Fri Jan 07, 2022 8:33 pm

Is it maybe possible to suffer from anxiety and/or have anxiety symptoms without actually being aware of it?

I'd say it's PAWS for sure. Read Biohack's extensive research on the matter.
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#14

Postby biohack9 » Sat Jan 08, 2022 7:07 pm

tokeless wrote:Is it maybe possible to suffer from anxiety and/or have anxiety symptoms without actually being aware of it?

I'd say it's PAWS for sure. Read Biohack's extensive research on the matter.


It may be extensive research to the clueless that don't understand basic neurochemistry or know how to do a basic google query.
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