Citation: Saturnus. "Latent Anxiety Trigger: An Experience with Cannabis (exp87497)". Erowid.org. Jan 29, 2012. erowid.org/exp/87497
I am writing this report to share my experiences with marijuana in retrospect. In particular, how my relationship with cannabis changed from positive to negative over a span of about 4 years.
I began smoking pot in high school at age 15 with only close friends and was immediately filled with adoration for the experience. Still, as an athlete and student I was motivated to smoke very infrequently (once every 6 months or so) in order to avoid habituation. It wasn't until age 17 that I really fell in love with weed and suddenly wanted to be stoned as much as possible. After coming across a free 8th of potent stuff completely by chance, I finally let myself dive into the world I had only previously got a glimpse of, and needless to say I liked what I saw.
I would find ways to stay at my empty house and smoke large quantities by myself. Still new to smoking, a bowl or two would literally hurl me into outer space, and I would sit in my room for hours listening to music and watching a slide show of surrealist art flow by with closed eyes. I would relish the feeling of being 'too high', as the higher I was the realer the images would become and the deeper I would 'feel' the music I loved as it came through my headphones. Upon smoking I would move into this secondary 'space'. To this day I can't describe this space with words, but instead I found myself able to rather seamlessly channel it into music. As a songwriter, this sudden flow of inspiration flung me into mental overdrive and a literal endless well of creative energy was the result.
For months I began smoking every day, multiple times on occasion. I didn't see it as much of a social thing besides with close friends, and I thus became more reclusive to my family and to some of my friends. I went nowhere and learned nothing at a great internship because I was too preoccupied with my new best friend. My 3-year relationship with my girlfriend began suffering as well.
Regardless, I continued like a moth to a flame down this road, needing to smoke more and more to be satisfied and gaining interest in trying harder drugs. As time went on however, an ugly side of the drug I had come to love began to rear its head. I began to experience anxiety when stoned. It wasn't much at first, but it would eventually grow into a very real force.
As the summer before my first year of college ended and I was smoking more than ever, I started becoming afraid inside my own house in broad daylight. A simple harmless noise would send me into a mild panic as my heart began to beat intensely and I began to imagine what awful things could be lurking in my house. Despite truly knowing everything was fine, the high was no longer a 'high'. My mood would turn sour and negative thoughts would prevail.
After going off to college, despite cutting back a bit on smoking, I began to develop a separation between myself and others while high. It became very hard to communicate, very hard to distinguish between the sarcasm and sincerity of others, hard to recognize humor, and hard to follow conversations. I began to spend less and less time involved in conversations and more and more time lost in a fog of self-doubt and insecurity. I could not give up smoking which I loved so much, but it was taking a considerable toll on my self-esteem to try and meet new people and interact with friends while high. Eventually, the social paranoia prevailed and I became unable to smoke with anyone. I noticed these anxious tendencies seeping into my sober life, and the line between sober and high became less distinguishable. Coupled with a drastic change in environment and company in going to college, as well as a messy break up with my girlfriend of 3 1/2 years, this caused me to completely lose who I was and fall into a deep circle of self-loathing and depression. At this time I still continued smoking, but would reach a completely neutral state of intoxication mentally upon doing so. I did however begin to discover some physical side-effects that I had never experienced before.
My eyes would become immediately red, no matter how much I had smoked. They would sting and burn as if reacting to an allergy rather than marijuana. My sinuses and chest would become very congested and my throat dry (much more so than normal). At times I would find it mildly difficult to swallow or breathe and my heart rate would increase dramatically. Still, I fought through it in order to reach that elevated level of musical appreciation that I used to. However, it was never quite the same.
Let me stop to say, in order to paint a picture, on the surface I am not someone you would expect to have these issues. I am an accomplished athlete and a good student, good-looking and seen as popular. I am generally very extroverted, regarded by my friends as funny, and I have a large extended group of friends consisting of people from college athletes and cheerleaders to active musicians to bookworms (who would never suspect I'd be writing this). I often read reports on this site and find I would benefit from understanding where the writer would place themselves socially.
After months of hard work and about a 6 month break from smoking I was able to regain my identity, self-esteem, self-respect, and peace of mind. I began meeting a lot of people, meeting girls, doing better in school and getting realigned with my family. My creative inspiration had never left, although now my music began reflecting a much happier and put together individual. Naturally, once I was back on my feet I started to believe that the negative effects I had experienced from smoking may finally subside. I decided to give it a try once again, but what I found was that it had actually gotten worse. One day after a wake and bake I was forced to lock myself in my room for fear of having to talk to anyone in my apartment. I stayed in bed for two hours, frozen in panic, heart beating a mile a minute, short of breath and fighting off a few mild delusions. Another time I smoked at night and was kept up for hours with a similar anxiety attack. I was unable to sleep, and every time I would start to drift off I'd be startled awake as if someone had shaken me.
For about a year after this I would smoke very very infrequently, being sure to pace myself when doing so. After this time and in the past year or so I have been able to smoke a small amount and have a reasonably ok time, not good or bad. I still appreciate the way that marijuana wakes up my mind and gets me thinking in new perspectives, but its effect has undoubtedly changed drastically. Every time I smoke now, I am overcome by negative thoughts. I question myself, my relationship with my girlfriend and friends, how other people think of me, my overall self-worth, etc. for no reason at all. Even while aware that these thoughts are simply the result of smoking and will subside, I cannot control them. I also can no longer enjoy listening to music while high. I now actually become extremely critical and displeased with some of my favorite music.
Recently, in the past two months I have experienced an elevated level of anxiety in my sober life, likely due to a few stressful circumstances that have come about. It has begun to effect some aspects of my life negatively. I went to my parents and found out that they both have experienced a measurable level of anxiety in their lives as well, meaning I likely have a predisposition to anxiety disorders. I currently have not smoked in about month, but lately my anxiety level has been at an all time high. There are days I spend hours worrying about one thing or the other for hours and am unable to stop myself.
I do not know whether smoking marijuana CAUSED me to have anxiety or simply TRIGGERED a latent anxiety problem that I received genetically from my parents. I do wish however that there was a way for me to enjoy smoking again in the way that I used to without having to suffer from it. I am curious to know if I would have developed this anxiety problem anyways if I had not taken up smoking. I also often wonder if there are others out there with the same problem and how they have gone about dealing with it, if they were able to reintroduce marijuana back into their life, or if they had to eliminate it's presence all together.
I hope my account might be useful to someone who has experienced this or something similar.
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