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Extreme panic/anxiety reactions to marijuana - Discussion
First of all, I wanted to say hi and thank you guys for having this community set up.
Secondly, I'm looking for others who have had or know people who have had extreme or bizarre reactions to marijuana, and the subsequent problems that develop as a result. I've read anecdotal stories about people having bizarre and severe reactions to marijuana, but I've never actually talked with someone who went through it. My goal is to find someone, or multiple people, with similar stories so we can collectively pool our knowledge, focus on a solution, and help others whom this happens to.
About a year and a half ago, I had a very extreme reaction to marijuana. I was an occasional smoker, maybe smoking 10-20 times ever. This one time was through a bong, and being inexperienced (and sleep deprived) I inhaled way too much and had an acute anxiety reaction/panic attack. I can succinctly describe it as feeling as if I was going mad. I had no control over my thoughts and had a feeling of impending doom. I was debilitated for about 4 or 5 hours. The only thing that got me through it was repeating "It's just temporary, it will wear off." It was a nightmare, absolutely the most horrific thing I've ever experienced. I was aware of the entire thing, I didn't black out or fall asleep.
In the aftermath, I currently experience many symptoms. I will list them below.
- Dissociation (most distressing, experienced as an altered perception of reality, as if everything is unreal or dreamy, looking through a fog)
- Generalized anxiety (this manifests itself mainly in the form of irrational phobias of germs and mind altering substances, among other things. I'm very scared of putting myself in another vulnerable state of mind, similar to the first incidence).
- OCD (Obsessive thoughts and behaviors)
- Strange and vivid dreams
- Brain fog (disorganized thoughts, partially impaired memory, longer brain processing times)
- Sensitivity to light
- General malaise
I have many theories on what may be causing these symptoms. Some of them may seem silly, but I don't want to discount any possibilities.
Theory #1 - The most plausible, in my eyes, is that an anxiety disorder developed as a result of the traumatizing event. The amygdala, the mechanism in charge of the fight or flight response, has been reset at a high anxiety level and is creating all sorts of strange sensations via confused nerves and chemical imbalances. Instead of happening over a long period of time in which the anxiety levels slowly rise (which may be happening to some of you out there), a single traumatic experience may have the potential to spark the disorder and this is what occurred that night.
Theory #2 - I read somewhere on a rehab group about someone who experienced something very similar, and he claims to have fully recovered. He says that we experienced a premature "Kundalini awakening", a spiritual awakening. This is called "Kundalini syndrome", Wikipedia has a whole article on it. The symptoms are very similar. He took up meditation and Chakra/yogic energy balancing exercises and returned to normalcy. Not quite sure I'm on board with this one, but I'm not ruling out any possibilities.
Theory #3 - I received this advice upon talking to a very experienced herbalist. He claims to have extensive experience treating people with similar reactions to marijuana. He describes human personalities as being compound, not singular. These are referred to as ego states, or developmental stages. He cites the commonly heard phrase "One part of me wants to do this, the other wants to do that." He believes that a very young, ego state was activated. This ego state is undefended and experiences a high level of anxiety when activated. Don't know much beyond this except that there exists something called ego-state therapy.
Theory #4 - Something physiologically changed in my brain and it is no longer functioning properly. I have seen multiple doctors and they all refute this as a possibility. The symptoms don't really match those of schizophrenia or those suffering from psychosis, but I don't really know the details of all the different variations of those conditions and thus can't discard them as possibilities.
Thanks for reading this far if you have. I know that was a mouthful. I tried to be as concise and relevant as possible. Please share your stories if you have any that may be relevant.
Suffering from this condition has made me realize just how fragile and important our mental health is. To be clear, I take full responsibility for my actions and accept the consequences of choosing to use marijuana. However, no one should have to suffer through what I've suffered through. In addition to finding the solution for myself, I want to help anyone else who suffers through this strange and unnerving condition.
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