Citation: iSkank. "Nostalgic Panic on Bong Hits: An Experience with Cannabis (exp87624)". Erowid.org. Jul 15, 2017. erowid.org/exp/87624
A few months ago, I had a bit of a freak out (to put it mildly).† I have wanted to write down exactly what happened both in my mind and in the real world, but didnít know how to put it.† Well, Iím swallowing my pride and doing it.† Itís probably not going to be completely coherent, but it is, at least, honest and a very accurate representation of what I perceived to be happening.† Despite my fears and perceptions, the people involved handled the situation brilliantly and I could not have got through it without them.
It started at Tomís, while Taya and I were watching The Wonderland Experience with Tom in his bedroom.† At least, I would guess thatís when it started.† I donít really have a sense of beginnings with these things, itís more of a gradual change.† There are a lot of uncertainties with this kind of experience, but Iím pretty sure the frame of mind I was in was a familiar one.† I have been smoking weed for a while now, and I know the risks.† I wonít go too far into details, but suffice to say, Iíve done my research.† Every experience with the drug is different - I have experienced extreme creativity, elation, philosophy and sadness.† All very different frames of mind, but all common in some way.† There is always a point in the evening when I feel a certain detachment from my universe.† This happens from day to day all the time, but when smoking weed I feel less sensitive to my surroundings, and I can analyse this experience more closely.†
The best way to describe it to someone that doesnít know is this:
When I'm reading a book and my mind trails off - not necessarily away from the story, but doesnít literally read the words on the page.† Suddenly I find myself right at the bottom of a page I donít remember reading, but I know my eyes have scanned the words.† My brain has the words in it somewhere, but I have no real recollection of them.† I visit this frame of mind quite often when stoned.† It can often mean that I donít grasp whatís going on in a film weíre watching, or understand what someone might have said to me, but as itís only an intermittent thing, and not all night, itís not a big problem, and can often lead to interesting adventures around my mind.† Itís sort of like I'm sitting in the back of my head, watching my life play out on a cinema screen.† Thinking about whatís happening, and leaving my body to react instinctively.†
Sometimes, when Iíve had particularly trippy weed and there are no real distractions around me, I feel like Iíve gone up another level altogether, and Iím watching my subconscious mind playing with my conscious thoughts while I sit in another cinema in my sub-subconscious.† This sub-sub conscious cinema is very interesting and exciting.† I can introduce a conscious thought, like a picnic in the park, and watch my subconscious flip through files so-to-speak - memories, ideasÖoften, for some reason, I will see vintage cartoons detailing aspects of the thought.† Cartoons I donít remember seeing in real life, but that my subconscious uses to analyse a thought.† If I try hard enough I can see this happening during the daytime, when not under the influence.† I have come to the conclusion that this is how my brain works.† That makes sense to me, and it seems incredible that I can see these inner workings taking place.
Now, this is all well and good, but one evening, after watching aforementioned Wonderland Experience, a disturbing situation arose.† We had had a few shotties and I was feeling contentedly high.† I sort of remember the beginning and the end of the film, but have very little recollection of what went on in-between.† It is likely that I had a bit of a trip into my sub (or sub-sub) conscious during this time, and came back to reality after that.†
Except I didnít seem to fully return to the real world.† I remember someone putting Family Guy on, and sitting while Taya and Tom laughed and chatted.† I was slowly becoming aware of an unintentional detachment from the room.† Try as I might, I couldnít grasp the storyline on Family Guy.† It wasnít that it was moving too fast, I just couldnít connect jokes to punchlines or anything.† This is not an unfamiliar experience, but it felt a little unnerving because I had a small niggling feeling of claustrophobia, and the sensation that the longer I sat there, the deeper I was falling.† Then I felt like I had been quiet for too long and that I should say something to bring me back to reality.
Usually at this point, something would come to mind and I would say it, but all I could focus on was the question of what I would say.† I became fixated over the line between my positive and negative thoughts.† I need to say something/what if I canít think of anything? I need to watch the TV/Why canít I understand it? I need to get back to reality/what if I stay like this forever?† This fixation quickly evolved into panic, and I was becoming aware that my heart was beating quickly.† This sometimes happens when smoking weed, but due to me being already paranoid, I became extremely worried.† The fixation of positives and negatives evolved into a logical thought process: what if state of mind followed a long line, with happiness at the top, death at the bottom and whatever was happening to me, right in the middle.† I got more and more worked up about this and decided I was having a panic attack.† I couldnít help but think about the line of mental wellbeing I had conjured up:
Obsession / Fear
Madness (Alzheimers, Autism, Aspergers etc.)
I truly believe what followed was an episode of utter madness (though I now see madness to be another state of mind that, depending on how far down the rabbit hole one is, one may have the ability to control the outcome).† Tom asked if I was OK.† Apparently I was Ďfidgetingí.† I knew that I had felt like I didnít know how I should sit, like sitting was alien to me.† Like being in my own body was alien to me, so naturally I was trying to get comfortable, and this appeared very strange to an outsider.† I suppose it would have appeared similar to a baby in a high chair.† Uncomfortable, but unaware of how to move his body properly to get comfortable.†
Anyway, when Tom quite rightly asked if I was OK, it acted like a catalyst.† It made it not in my head.
when Tom quite rightly asked if I was OK, it acted like a catalyst.† It made it not in my head.
† Suddenly, my fear that something wasnít right was amplified because others noticed it.† My heart was beating too hard and too fast for me to keep it to myself now, so I decided I absolutely had to say something.† After deliberating how to do this for what I believe to be quite some time, I turned to Taya and said ďMy heartís beating really fastĒ, or words to that effect.† Iím not sure how I said this.† I tried to sound calm, but the concern I was feeling must have come through in my voice and Taya started to panic too.† It suddenly occurred to me that I had never witnessed someone panic openly about my health.† I looked at Taya and saw the same questions in her eyes as the ones I was thinking.† ďWhatís wrong with him?Ē, ďWhat if we have to go to hospital?Ē, ďWhat if itís serious?Ē† I said I was having a panic attack, and Tom suggested we go and make a cup of tea.† He was trying to sound calm so that I wouldnít panic any more, and that sort of helped, but I could see that it wasnít real calm, and my mind was telling me that if heís suggesting something new to do, then it must be because something bad is happening to me.†
As I stood up, the full weight of my state of mind hit me.† Even though I was doing and saying things, it felt like I was still in my subconscious cinema.† Rather than just doing things and saying things, it was like I was ordering my body to say and do things.† I could literally feel the delay in reaction and the messages coursing through my nervous system.† Like I was controlling an organic robot from inside.† I suddenly felt another wave of panic as I thought about my heart racing.† It felt like I was controlling how fast it was going.† The more I obsessed, the faster it would beat.† Naturally I thought back to the line of wellbeing.† I was right in the middle of it.† The fact that we were downstairs making a cup of tea was because I was right in the middle of it.†
I began to think that I had the power to decide how far down the line I wanted to go, and that the panic attack was the turning point that allowed me to do this.† It was such a strong feeling that it felt like a certainty.† Like if I concentrated enough, I would make my heart beat so fast it would just stop.† This naturally made me panic, so somehow I calmed myself down again.† Every time the wave of panic came over me, I could feel my muscles tense, my blood throbbing in my ears.† I stood and watched the kettle starting to boil, as the feeling of positive/negative thoughts returned and I began to feel like I had said everything before.† Like I couldnít think of anything but the handful of phrases swimming round my head.† And every time I said one of them, the reply from Tom appeared to be the same as last time (almost as if he was mocking me, though I knew even then that he wasnít).† I paced up and down the kitchen involuntarily, while Tom made Tea.† The atmosphere seemed stale, like it wasnít mine.† The feeling I normally got when I sensed another person in the room wasnít there.† I was just watching Tom make tea in a movie.† Through waves of tears and terror at feeling nothing I managed a conversation, but I am certain now that I perceived it very differently to the actual events:
Me: ďIs this what mad people feel like?† What if I stay like this?Ē
Tom: ďItís normal, donít worry.† Just let it wash over you.Ē
Me: ďWhat if I stay like this?† Iíve said that before.† Itís like Iím in a loop, every thing keeps repeating like in the moviesĒ
Tom: ďHa ha, yeah.† It happens sometimes when you smoke weed; itís normal donít worry.Ē
Me: ďIs this what mad people feel like? What if I stay like this? Iíve said that beforeĒ
Tom: ďJust let it wash over you.Ē
Me: ďItís like Groundhog day, everything keeps repeatingĒ
etc etc etc
I craved something new.† I knew in the back of my mind that I wasnít really experiencing things over and over.† But I was worried that I was perceiving it as such, and that inner turmoil between thinking I was looping, and knowing in my mind it wasnít real brought me back, over and over, to the original thought about my positive and negative thoughts happening in tandem and me not being able to see one without the other.†
I went into the living room and said, ďThis is new!Ē But it didnít feel new; and it didnít feel real either.† Everything still felt plastic.† I couldnít feel a connection to my environment and I kept fixating on that.† I just wanted to go to sleep, in the hopes that I would wake up and it would all be gone.† In a moment of what I thought to be clarity, I realised that I felt like I was looping the last four things I did/said/saw.† Taya came downstairs after presumably hearing me wailing, and I tried to hug her.† I canít remember what I said to her, or if I just cried but I know it was embarrassingly dramatic.† Things were still looping, and I was becoming increasingly saddened by the fact that I could feel her next to me, but only physically.† It was like the instinctive senses werenít working properly.† I couldnít sense her in the room, even though I was making physical contact.† I begged her to talk to me about something new, and after some deliberation she asked me what I wanted to get for our shopping the next day.† I couldnít think about it properly.† I think I said a couple of items - peppers, crisps - but it seemed like such an ordeal to think about the real world.† It seemed much more natural to analyse why I couldnít think straight.
It seemed much more natural to analyse why I couldnít think straight.
† To sit in my mind-cinema and think about what was happening in the real world rather than actually address it.
Tom brought me my cup of Tea, and we all went back upstairs.† I felt like Taya and Tom had decided I was out of it.† Someone may have said something to that effect, but I donít recall.† Interestingly, this seemed to tell me to calm down and not worry, even though I was still feeling disconnected.† I sat down again, back in the bedroom and Tom started doing something on the computer.† Possibly continuing the episode of Family Guy, but I canít remember.† I was still looping every last 4 things that happened.† Tom said I seemed like I was over the worst of it now; but I insisted everything still felt strange and that things were repeating.†
As soon as I had said it, I felt another wave of deja vu and of course another wave of panic.† Then Tom said, ďIt happens sometimes when you smoke weedĒ† I felt angry at Tom because I was sure he had said that last time I spoke about looping, and that he was just mocking me.† Another wave followed.† ďShall we do something else?Ē he asked, and we decided to play Halo 3.† Try as I might, I couldnít concentrate on the game, and kept going into autopilot.† All I could think about was that there was a single thought - the idea that positive and negative thoughts happen simultaneously all the time and that if you concentrate on them, you wonít be able to think of anything without seeing its positive/negative partner, the everything starts to look/feel/sound the same and you fall back into your subconscious and canít get out - that got me half way down my Line of Wellbeing to Panic Attack, and that once I was in that frame of mind, I could control my mental health by thinking about the possibility that I could control my mental health.† A very confusing thought, but again this is likely to make sense to anyone who has had a philosophical experience with Cannabis.
I wanted to go home, but I felt that if I expressed this desire out loud, it would address the fact that something was wrong again, which would start the whole attack all over again.† I felt my heart beat start to pound again, but this time I managed to ignore it.† ďI think I would like to call a Taxi,Ē I said ďProbably the best idea, all things considered.Ē† I had addressed the issue quite eloquently, and for this I felt a swell of pride.† It was the first time since the start of the evening that I had felt anything real or positive so I decided to go with it.
It went on like that for the rest of the night.† Flipping either side of the panic attack on the Line of Wellbeing.† Even waiting for the Taxi outside Tomís, I couldnít smile at Taya properly.† It was like I had forgotten how to express emotion.† I was still Ďtellingí my body to do stuff right up until I got into bed that night.† I was apprehensive about going to sleep now, as my mind would be free to wonder without any visual stimuli, but after two or three waves of small to moderate panic, I finally fell asleep.† It had been a very scary ordeal.† I had obviously unsettled Taya, and for that I felt terrible.† She pointed out to me the next morning that I couldnít recall my address to the Taxi driver.† It wasnít that I didnít know it, I just couldnít stop thinking about the situation.† I couldnít get out of my mind-cinema.
The next day, I felt a lot better.† I even felt vaguely normal.† But it would be a good couple of weeks before I completely recovered.† Reality kept sitting just out of reach.† I decided to call home, to hear my mumís voice.† Had I been completely compos mentis I would probably left it a few days before calling her, or at least not blurted out the entire nights events to her, sounding like a hopeless heroin junkie.† It was clear to both Taya and I for the two weeks after the event, that I still wasnít making decisions properly.†
I decided to stay away from weed for at least a couple of weeks.† And even when I do take it, itís only in very small doses, among people that understand my situation.† Even now, on a normal day and Iím staring into space, and someone asks me if Iím OK, I am taken aback for a moment and my heart rate raises slightly.
Tom explained the situation in a unique and helpful way, the next time I saw him.† He said that when I freaked out, I basically fell over a cliffís edge.† The next time I smoke, Iíll probably take a tumble down the cliff face again, but Iíll find a branch and climb back up - if Iím afraid itíll happen, it probably will - but my experience tells me it doesnít matter if it does.† Then, the next time, Iíll walk along, see the cliff and run away.† A few months down the line, Iíll be dancing on the edge, possibly bungee jumping off it.† And in a few years I wonít even see it as an issue.† Itíll be just something that happened a long time ago.† I like that metaphor.† It makes a lot of sense.†
I have tried weed since, and stopped after a couple of tokes because I could feel myself falling into the trap again.† I donít think the weed was having any effect on me at all (I hadnít had much at all), it was just the fear of it happening again that brought it back.† Once I realised that, I was OK.† I donít like going into my own world too much any more, but itís important to know that it doesnít matter if I do.† Itís sort of like quicksand.† If the only thing I concentrate on is getting the hell out of it, Iíll sink further.† But if I just let it happen, chances are Iíll be OK.† I know now that if I do have a panic attack, I have the power to pull myself out of it.† Itís just something that can happen to people; weed or not.
As terrifying as it was, I am actually glad of the experience.† For one thing, it taught me a lot about my own mind (something Tom assured me would happen to anyone who takes any drug regularly), and for another, I know now that panic attacks are just something that people can go through, whether it be triggered by a particular frame of mind, or thought; or just a chemical fuck up in their brain.† The main thing is I know I can come out of it now, no matter how fatal it seems.
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