8 months cannabis withdrawal

Postby NateTGreat » Tue Feb 10, 2015 11:27 pm

Hello everyone,

I felt the need to post my progress today. Next week will mark 8 full months abstinence from cannabis. Also, I have not used alcohol, tobacco or other drugs during this time. I wish that I could report a full recovery, but I do not feel that is the case yet. I must admit that my recovery seemed to take a turn for the better about a month ago. I was and still am getting physical symptoms to some degree or another; mainly dizzy spells, anxiety surges, head pressure, head and neck aches, buzzing or static head, and brain fog plus dp/dr. The main improvement was that my mood seemed to stabilize. Meaning that I felt a wave of calm or acceptance finally sweep over me. I simply just tried to live and be at peace, regardless of how I was feeling physically.

For me, the worst part of the day is always the morning. I seem to get up way earlier than I need to, and then feel spaced out, groggy and dizzy until a few hours later. Though my sleep has improved, that is also still plagued with spells of insomnia. On a good night I'm usually getting about 7 hrs of sleep but with at least 3-4 interruptions. Not once in this withdrawal process have I slept completely through the night. I truly hope I will someday. I also still have the occasional night panic attack, in which I awake about an hour after falling off. I feel like I'm going to faint and under extreme duress. These attacks happen about once a month now, and come out of nowhere. They are not pleasant, but certainly not the severity or frequency I experienced the first two months.

So, in a nutshell that is where I am at. I must say that I believed my mood to have gotten much better, though today I'm not so sure. As my symptoms improved over the past few weeks, I've been really using my energy to exercise at the gym to a much fuller capacity. I am now wondering if I've pushed myself a little too soon as these past few days have been plagued with fatigue, depression, and head buzzing/pressure. I don't feel extremely depressed, but I'm definitely not enjoying things. Everything seems grey, boring, and meaningless again. I definitely notice that these mood swings come in waves. I know that seems to be the case for many, but still wonder if I am bi polar or something. Also, this fatigue that I feel has not come on for a couple months now, and I wonder why it's returned. I felt pretty normal for most of last week only to return to the 'bottom' of the wave again. I believe that I am making progress, but am losing my grip on making it through to the end of this PAWS. I seriously question what this is all worth if I'm so damn unhappy now. Though my head is much more clear, my physical body much more in shape, and my spirit in a much more peaceful place, my mind seems to still be plaguing me with anxiety, depression, and physical symptoms of dizziness and weird cranial static and pressure.

I'm still fearful of touching weed, but I just want to feel normal and happy again, and contemplate what or when I will get that true peace and happiness back. Right now it just seems fake and manufactured happiness I portend.

Thanks for listening. I pray that all may see the light at the end of the tunnel and never have to look back at these PAWS again.
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#1

Postby Broken stoner » Wed Feb 11, 2015 7:55 pm

Congratulations on 8 months nate, the anxiety sucks I know what you mean, the best advice I can give you is to try to not fear it as I've told so many others but as for me I changed my thought patterns towards it an I quit having panic attacks at around 4 months I just live in a distorted world, convince yourself anxiety is your friend trying to help you, it's nothing to fear when you over come it you will be amazed I still have social anxiety an all kinda of spaced out feelings but you can do it. Ask yourself 1000 times if you have to what will happen is I have a panic attack nothing happens, you just feel like sh** for a few days. Train yourself truely challenge yourself to overcome, I never believe the anxiety just goes away after so long I believe it's something you have to grab tight an learn to cope with.
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#2

Postby johnrlivingston » Mon Feb 23, 2015 4:33 pm

NateTGreat wrote:I'm still fearful of touching weed, but I just want to feel normal and happy again, and contemplate what or when I will get that true peace and happiness back. Right now it just seems fake and manufactured happiness I portend.


Nate...

It was only this past month that that feeling went away for me (for the most part). Granted, I'm a couple months behind you, but we all progress at a different pace, and I only smoked heavily for 3 years. Before this month, despite my positive outlook, I harbored many doubts. I still do at times - but I realize after those times have passed that my perspective was altered by my chemical low. On my good days - days which are more & more frequent and longer lasting - I see things the way they are. It's on those days that i realize the improvements I've made so far promise more in the future.

Can you honestly say you feel fake hapiness every waking moment and day? Is it possible you do, indeed, experience true joy and hapiness on occassion? I can't speak for you, but personally, I know I do. Now - next week may change that. I might have another depressive spell and from within that mindset I might forget the happy times I"ve known in recovery. But that doesn't erase them.

Hang in there man. If you're like me that feeling of faking a happy life will lift - at least long enough to grant you a window into your future if you keep forging ahead. I'd be surprised if you haven't looked through that window already a time or two when you're not in a 'down cycle'.
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#3

Postby NateTGreat » Mon Feb 23, 2015 4:53 pm

Great thanks for replying, John. It means a lot to hear from your perspective. I am very glad to hear that you are noticing much improvement in your well being. Congratulations to you!

Indeed I agree that not 100% of my days are spent faking happiness. In fact, most of this month has shown me immense improvements and renewed confidence in my health. I had honestly believed that I had made it through it all and the worst was over. I had started enjoying things I used to do, I had renewed energy to confront tasks that were put on hold, and I felt an inner peace like had hadn't felt in a long time.

Unfortunately, all that came to a halt Saturday night when I awoke an hour after falling alseep gasping for air and feeling like I was going to faint. It almost felt like someone was turning down the light switch on my consciousness. I started to shake with chills and the room began to spin. I realised I was having a nocturnal panic attack. Thankfully I was able to recognize it and stay calm. I was out of it an back to sleep in 15 minutes. However, all of yesterday I felt drained physically and emotionally. I had entered a chemical low again and am trying to climb back out. Today I awoke with a throbbing neck and head ache; a classic symptom of my withdrawal. Granted my mood is better today, but it is just scary knowing that things can drop so low again after I had felt so much better for a few weeks. Just the waves of PAWS I guess.

Without doubt, I know I am improving, but slowly and inconsistently. Thankfully, it seems that the stretches of good days are out numbering the bad, so that is a huge achievement. I hope the stretch of bad days I'm in now ends quickly.

God bless all!
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#4

Postby johnrlivingston » Mon Feb 23, 2015 5:43 pm

NateTGreat wrote:Unfortunately, all that came to a halt Saturday night when I awoke an hour after falling alseep gasping for air and feeling like I was going to faint. It almost felt like someone was turning down the light switch on my consciousness. I started to shake with chills and the room began to spin. I realised I was having a nocturnal panic attack. Thankfully I was able to recognize it and stay calm. I was out of it an back to sleep in 15 minutes. However, all of yesterday I felt drained physically and emotionally. I had entered a chemical low again and am trying to climb back out. Today I awoke with a throbbing neck and head ache; a classic symptom of my withdrawal. Granted my mood is better today, but it is just scary knowing that things can drop so low again after I had felt so much better for a few weeks. Just the waves of PAWS I guess.


Man, it gave me chills reading that. My 'waves' are very similar. One moment you're feeling better than you can remember, the next you're right back to square one, experiencing all the crap you thought was well behind you. I'm still amazed at the power these experiences have in their ability to change your perception and mood. That's what makes them so difficult. If it was just the physical stuff without the mood changes, you'd be able to easily just say "Oh well, I'm going to feel lousy for a while, but it will pass." But our minds go back into panic mode, essentially erasing all memories of success. When the waves comes, it feels like we've been this way forever. I don't have a single memory of being happy until the wave passes. And that usually happens just as abruptly. One moment I'm hopeless, the next I'm laughing over the fear I was feeling (fear I can't remember the feeling of - just know that I felt it).

If there's one thing this experience has taught me, it's how what makes us who we are essentially all boils down to chemistry. Motivation, joy, care for ourselves, care for others, the will to succeed, the desire to be better, the ability see a bright future, the ability to reach towards it - it's all chemical. I can say this now because only because I'm in an 'up phase'... becoming the person you want to be means tending to your chemistry.
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#5

Postby NateTGreat » Mon Feb 23, 2015 5:55 pm

Well said. I have always been very strong physically. Ill deal with the pain and suffering. But when out of nowhere im uttterly depressed, fatigued, or buzzing with anxiety, all memory of the better days fades being replaced by indefinite despair for my situation.

Tending to chemistry is key. Without our physical form and consciousness, what are we? Most healthy people take their well-being for granted everyday. If nothing more, this experience made me value every inch of my physical, mental, and spiritual form. I will never take my health or life for granted again.
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#6

Postby NateTGreat » Tue Mar 03, 2015 10:38 pm

Wanted to post an update. Having a rough day and mostly this past week. I'm right around 8.5 months clean and still not feeling good. Heavy sleepy behind the eyes feeling today. Irritable too, head pressure, depressed, slightly dizzy and derealized. It is nice that most of the severe anxiety is gone, but that quivering vibration is there under the surface when all is quiet. I'm seriously concerned still to this day after all I've been through and all I've read from everyone else's long term withdrawal symptoms. I guess I'm wondering if I triggered a bi polar issue. Yesterday I actually felt pretty decent and got a lot done. Then, last night I awoke slightly after falling to sleep and experienced something very strange. My vision was though I was looking through fast jittering shards of fiber glass. I thought it was the beginning of a panic attack again, but I had no other symptoms. I waited it out and went back to sleep 15 minutes later. Now today I feel amotivational and depressed with a headache and sleepiness behind the eyes, even after sleeping close to 7 hrs,

My current concerns (perhaps through the veil of depression) is that I have developed a serious condition that was triggered by cannabis and will never go away. I mean, it has been 8.5 months. I know others talk of anxiety and depression, but with the multitude of physical ailments I still experience, I'm curious how many others are/were feeling them this far into their quit. I still get dizzy spells from time to time that can last an hour to most of the day. Head pressure, head buzzing, and head and neck aches still come and go. Lightheaded spells almost to the point of fainting strike me out of nowhere. I also have serious depersonalization and derealization from time to time, all for no apparent reason. One of my other concerns is the periodic tingling limbs and numbness in my fingers and toes.

I have been to all the docs and even a pysch evaluation last week, and she didn't think I needed meds. She offered them to me, but stated that it was best to wait at least a year to see if it was all just my brain recovering from withdrawal. If things haven't improved more consistently after a year I am seriously considering getting on an anti depressant...Though, I really was hoping to avoid that.

Sorry for complaining. I feel that things have improved, but just wondered if long-term PAWS recoveries still experienced these alarming symptoms 8.5 months in. Panic attacks? Parasthesia and neuropathy in the limbs? Heavy depression to the point of fatigue and lightheadedness?

Thanks for listening everybody. It means a lot to be part of this forum. It really has been the biggest support mechanism for my recovery, and sanity. Peace.
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#7

Postby johnrlivingston » Tue Mar 03, 2015 11:32 pm

NateTGreat wrote: I know others talk of anxiety and depression, but with the multitude of physical ailments I still experience, I'm curious how many others are/were feeling them this far into their quit. I still get dizzy spells from time to time that can last an hour to most of the day. Head pressure, head buzzing, and head and neck aches still come and go. Lightheaded spells almost to the point of fainting strike me out of nowhere. I also have serious depersonalization and derealization from time to time, all for no apparent reason. One of my other concerns is the periodic tingling limbs and numbness in my fingers and toes.


~ 6 months here, Nate...

Yes on dizzy spells, head pressure, head/neck/shoulder tension, & numbness in hands & feet every so often.

I also have constant tinnitus (increases & decreases in severity usually in step w/ other symptoms), constant dry/irritated eyes (the last day I smoked was the last day I was able to wear contact lenses. The change was immediate), muscle spasms all over (come & go like tinnitus), muscle tension in other areas of body besides head/neck.

Everything is getting better though. No comparison to 1st 4 months (hell for me). The improvements in the last 2 months have me very optimistic. Have taken nothing so far, and if the current trend holds, will probably be fine never taking anything. But... everyone's different.
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#8

Postby NateTGreat » Wed Mar 04, 2015 12:47 am

Thanks for the reply, John. It means a lot to know that you are experiencing many of the same things. I also get muscle twitching and spasms from time to time. I know that both of us will be through this eventually.

Without doubt, I know I am able to see progress for the better. I was just having a rough morning and felt a surge of sadness and needed to shout out, so thanks. I actually feel a lot better already. I brought up the anti depressant comment as I was frustrated and desperate at the time. Other than the 20mg total of Ativan I used in the first 3 months as needed, I have not touched another pharmaceutical. I really haven't used any drugs except for maybe a few Tylenol or ibuprofen. My goal is to be completely drug free for the rest of my life. I've made it this far, I don't really think things will get worse after a year of being clean!
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#9

Postby lynne66 » Wed Mar 04, 2015 6:41 pm

I feel like the first year without cannabis can be a very trying time for most long-term users. I am almost up on a year in a few days or so and it has not been a walk in the park, so I try to focus on the gains I have made - mostly in terms of focus and awareness, plus motivation.

I definitely have a bipolar condition, though I don't know if cannabis worsened it or SSRI antidepressants. Maybe both. It's hard for me to tell if I am still having symptoms of PAWS because I got his with really bad seasonal affective disorder this year. I don't know if I had lived anywhere else, though, if I wouldn't have been hit with depression as well. I definitely have days where I feel fuzzy and fatigued even when the sun is out.

I am sad to admit that I had to get back on an antidepressant specifically useful for SAD and while it has helped a little, it has mostly made me feel weird and off-kilter. I felt my depression was something I could manage better in sunnier conditions. Up until this winter, I even saw depression as part of PAWS, now I don't know. We'll see if it gets back under control or management when I move somewhere else and can get off these drugs. I am not happy on psych medicines at all but I became so severely depressed, I didn't know what else to do. And on top of it, I had to get on a mood stabilizer too which also sucks.

I would much have preferred to let my brain heal on its own as part of me getting off of cannabis was to see where I am - to establish a baseline of my mental health after a year. I believe I can still do that, but have to wait for sunnier times, which are coming up soon.

Hang in there. I think all the things you are going through are normal on some level. I think our dopamine systems also take a good while to heal. That whole reward system is hard to cope with when it's been getting pumped artificially with cannabis and then nothing. I am finding it is taking me a while to relearn and find spots of joy in life. I've been feeling pretty "serious" ever since I quit and it's hard for me to really lighten up.
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#10

Postby NateTGreat » Wed Mar 04, 2015 7:25 pm

Thanks for your words of encouragement, Lynne. I have been following your progress, and I hope that you can get through the SAD times as the warmer, sunnier season arrives.

My greatest concern with anti depressants was much like you stated. First off, will it actually make me feel better? Will there be side effects? Will it only prolong my brain from healing from PAWS? If I do go on it, when will I even know when to come off it? And finally, will there be withdrawal from the anti depressant?

From what I've found, there are many mixed interpretations regarding the use of anti depressants. The confusion surrounding their use is what has kept me from trying them. That, and I don't want to put any more mind-altering chemicals in my system if I absolutely don't have to. I'm all for quality of life, especially when all other options have been exercised. But I also believe that the societal norm is to instantly seek gratification, and that real healing to homeostasis never occurs, because pharmaceuticals overtake that healing process forever rendering someone dependent on a drug, and ultimately sick. My own personal opinion, scientifically unfounded as it may be, is that if given enough time and 'natural resources'(ie. proper nutrition, exercise, peace, sunlight, therapy, etc), the human body can recover to normalcy from many debilitating illnesses; addiction being one of them. Though drugs may offer a tool to get to that happy ending, they should not be continued indefinitely, and the scrutiny to even begin using them should be great. I often wonder if the frequency in which pharmeceutical meds are passed out like candy is actually doing more harm than good.

Stay positive, Lynne. It's good to know you are focusing on your progress and gains rather than the negative aspects. You are very strong and will make it through to a much brighter day.
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#11

Postby Davinci » Wed Mar 04, 2015 7:35 pm

NateTGreat wrote:My own personal opinion, scientifically unfounded as it may be, is that if given enough time and 'natural resources'(ie. proper nutrition, exercise, peace, sunlight, therapy, etc), the human body can recover to normalcy from many debilitating illnesses; addiction being one of them.


Im sorry, but thats nos accurate.

People who actually develop some kind of mental ilness dont get better my themselfs. Taking medicine for the rest of your life is not a good option I agree, but for A LOT of people they need daily medication just to get out of bed.

I was hoping that my problem was PAWS, but now I know it isnt. I clrearly develop a mental ilness and weed was like a catalyst for my depression.

The questions about the AD are normal for people who never used it. And none of us have the answer because each person has a unique neurochemistry. For eg, I already took 9 differents AD, and none of them gave me WD. I readed a lot of people saying terrible things about the AD i used, but their reaction was different from mine because we are unique.

The only way to answer your question is to take it yourself (if you opt for this). Salsa had the same issues that you have and hes is better now.
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#12

Postby JeremyH » Wed Mar 04, 2015 7:51 pm

Did you try any prescription drugs?
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#13

Postby lynne66 » Wed Mar 04, 2015 8:14 pm

As for me, I have a long-term condition that may require some mood stabilizer to prevent relapsing into depression, but AD's have never been that much help to me and yes, some of them have severe withdrawal effects. The one I am on now does not and it has helped me deal with SAD, but I see it as a short-term solution. Sun is really my best medicine and yoga and meditation. But some people really need medication - especially bipolar. I have gone off and on believing this. All I know is that without a mood stabilizer at least, my depressions have become deeper since I quit taking one years ago. So that may be all I need. Time will tell. I think once I get to a sunnier place, I will be able to manage what depression does happen for me as I was doing. It would come and go, but I was able to cope with it. What works for one person doesn't for another. Some people swear by meds, especially the bipolar types and others feel worse on them. I think I do to some degree, but I'm working out the long-term implications of my illness, which I had before cannabis and which runs heavily on both sides of my family.

In truth, they don't really know what causes mood disorders but it is known that once someone has a major depressive episode or a hypo to manic episode, it is more likely they will have another one in the future. We aren't talking mild depression, but more a major mood episode. I believe I've been suffering from so many over my life time because I've had so many, so it doesn't take all that much to trigger another one. I have to face my battles every day just about on some level, but I will never exactly win the war.

All the questions you bring up for yourself around meds are very good ones. In my case, I know summer will the time I can get off of them, but may keep the small amount of mood stabilizer to prevent a future relapse. I guess it all depends on if you have a chronic problem with mood disorder. Getting off cannabis is one way to find out where you stand and as for me, I am giving that one two years to see what happens with my mental health. At this point, I don't feel I have delayed my healing, just gave it a boost for now because life was getting intolerable for me. I am pretty low doses and doing a number of other natural things.

You can try Fish oil, NAC, 5-HTP. things like that too. Exercise and meditation is extremely helpful. Losing yourself in some creative or joyful activity is essential. I am still trying to find time and energy for those things.
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#14

Postby lynne66 » Wed Mar 04, 2015 8:24 pm

P.S. I think one of the biggest problems with depression is isolation - because it affects your energy levels and cognitive functions and you just feel weird around other people after a while. But I think the best thing is to get out of ourselves and try and have fun and just be around other people - the right people, of course. Otherwise, all this cannabis withdrawal can drive a person nuts thinking about it too. :)
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