The sigh of relief when you reach your destination and all irrational fears go out of the window. Every journey I make fills me with Dred, the buildup to leaving the house that at times feels like a ton of bricks on my chest. Just smile and wave I tell myself, it won’t be that bad today. That is me trying to build myself with inner confidence to attack the day as a ‘normal’ person.
The issue with an anxiety disorder is that it is invisible, no one can see that your suffering or that you may find it difficult to complete specific tasks. No two experiences are the same and everyone has their own different triggers. I felt that I had a good grip on my anxiety and that was certainly the case for a while. I had completed a course of CBT therapy and the tools I had learnt allowed me to start expanding my comfort zones and managing my reactions when placed in challenging circumstances. Then I messed up! I decided to start smoking weed again, which initially started as a recreational habit. I would have a little here and there, then it became a little every day, then I would start to buy my own and within the space of 3-4 months I was fully back into my addiction. It took me a while before I even realised that I had relapsed and that this habit had now taken its toll on my life. I started to decline social events more often as I was too high to be bothered to go. I became content with being by myself getting high and just chilling out. Now this may seem like a dream to some however, the problem with smoking was that it was affecting my social confidence, I began to feel uncomfortable standing alone in a queue in the supermarket, the general anxiety had begun to creep back in. On top of that I was eating a lot of sugary foods which was wreaking havoc on my digestion which in turn, also had an impact on my IBS which was linked to my anxiety.
After recognising the negative impact it was having on my life, I decided to go cold turkey and quit. I had been sober for 3 years so I knew I had it in me to stop and I haven’t regretted it since. My experience smoking weed has been an interesting one and it has made me realise that for some people weed can be a dangerous substance to consume. Especially when you are a young teenager. I sometimes wonder to myself, would I have developed an anxiety disorder if I did not smoke weed. I understand that not everyone goes through this same experience however, in my particular case when you mix childhood trauma with poverty and intense weed consumption, you can get a really bad outcome. I came to understand that it is not just about smoking weed, it is about self medicating in any format. It becomes a process of brushing your symptoms under the carpet to be dealt with another day. But this coping mechanism can become very unhealthy and will only contribute to toxic behaviour patterns in the long run. Addiction is a form of self harm and it doesn’t have to be a substance that you are addicted to.
I see so many young men who are suffering with a form of undiagnosed mental health issue and suffering alone in silence believing that the problems they are experiencing is just part and parcel of life. Suffering with a mental health disorder can be very isolating at times and it is always best to try and reach out to others to discuss how you are feeling. Personally, it has helped me to rationalise my thoughts and to understand that I am not going crazy, this is a part of me that I have to accept and learn to live with and manage. It can be very draining at times which is why I tend to write about my experiences as I know that someone out there can relate. If you feel the same way or have been through similar experiences, drop a comment below to share your story. Or if you would like to see any similar posts about different aspects of mental health… let me know.
And we must plod along lol xx