Normal and I are Barely Acquainted 

This is the first time in a while that I feel something like approaching normal. I think I’ve learned an important lesson about mixing pharmacology.

A while back weed was made legal in California and while I’ve never really gotten into it, I’ve done it several times and had fun. My partner smokes on a regular basis and slowly over time I decided to start giving it a shot. Because I don’t drink or do pretty much anything I decided I could do with a ‘light vice’ in my life. At some point I was smoking about 3-4 nights a week. Not a ton, just a bit here and there.

This went on for about 1-2 months and was seemingly very helpful. I was sleeping better. It was helping my mood. It made a slow day go by a lot better. Then, the anxiety started. In the past 2 years of Wellbutrin / Antidepressants, I’ve experienced a good deal of anxiety. It’s often triggered by stressful situations. When I was with Alessia her anger and threats to pull away would have my anxiety through the roof. Since then I’ve just had days now and again where I feel very anxious. But other than breaking up with Alessia it’s been not too bad.

Suddenly in the last month or so I started feeling it whenever the slightest thing went wrong. Because this honestly is not completely out of the ordinary I did my best to cope, remain centered, and I would smoke a bit here and there to help as well. Slowly over weeks it got worse and worse.

It was massively triggered when I went through a lot of stress with Jessie. Her decision to start dating several people at once, jealously issues, the fact that she seemed distant and to pull away all had me in a state of panic. To be fair, this would make me feel this way anyway. But it was like 10 hours a day of blinding, chest-racing, something is terribly wrong panic.

I couldn’t stop talking about what was going on. I was word vomiting to my friends. Complaining. Inventing grievances. Re working the same issues 100 times over. It felt like my relationship was slipping away, that Jessie hated me, that Bonni hated me. That I was going to be alone and to ruin the only shot I’ve had in 3 years at “Love”. My best friend Matlock got mad at me for making everything about myself and for stressing him out with constant anxiety.

All I can say while this was going on I never really assumed that the meds were ‘at fault’ – I felt a certain way and I assumed that I was justified in feeling that way. So if I was anxious – there was something wrong. Because there were things wrong I fixated on those and made them 1000 times bigger in my head. Honestly I acted paranoid and kind of like a crazy person.

This went on for about 7-8 days getting worse by the day until I realized that I needed help. That I couldn’t keep living like this. Because my first instinct was that my relationship was causing this anxiety, that Jessie must the reason and that I’m just so afraid of losing her that I was going to lose her. I thought about ending things 100 times. I ended up taking space, distance and stepping away from the relationship. I thought that the only way I could keep things going was to match her distance and be barely in contact. This was kind of stupid but in retrospect it may have helped because it removed a factor from the equation.

I spoke to my psychiatrist and she gave me some light meds for anxiety. I tried them, they did NOTHING. Meanwhile I’m crying every morning and night and I’m miserable and scared. At this point I had realized that it was probably my medication at least in part. After a week i quit smoking weed. After 7-8 days I had to stop caffeine, and a few days later I hit a bottom.

I was sitting at home on a sunday. I slept in, I could barely get out of bed. I cried in the shower for 20 minutes straight. I watched TV for hours. It finally hit me all of a sudden that things are most definitely not right. I didn’t have a solution or an answer. I just thought back to what I did last time. I worked out every day. That helped a lot. So I decided to work out. I took a long walk up a huge hill. I was sweating and miserable and could barely breathe. My heart was pounding so much I thought I was going to faint or pass out. It took me 20 minutes to catch my breath. But I did it. When I got back home sweating and feeling like I’d run 10 miles instead of walked 2. I laid there in bed. Thoughts drifting.

I felt better for having done some exercise. I felt like some of my energy was burned off. I felt… clearer. I decided that I should go back to working out daily. That I should cut my meds in half-doses immediately.  The next day I took half my usual dose, and I worked out again. The next day I did the same thing. and again and again.

It’s been 2 weeks, 14 days. I did some reading a couple days ago and I found out that Weed and Wellbutrin are NOT at all compatible. That it can make all the symptoms worse, cause paranoia, psychotic behavior, extreme anxiety. I realized like a sledgehammer blow to the stomach. I did this to myself. I added in my own form of ‘medicine’ and as it built up over months I got worse and worse. Not realizing what was causing it, I would smoke more to ‘calm down’ or to sleep. Giving temporary relief but making the overall problem much worse.

Jessie and I didn’t sleep together for a month (which for us is crazy) and we had arguments and I kept asking her for things that I couldn’t define or explain. Finally last Saturday we had an actual good, normal day. We both worked out and hung out all day. We laughed, made love, watched a movie, joked around and stared into each others eyes. It was like coming out of a tunnel and looking behind me and thinking “what the actual fuck”? Now I can have coffee in the morning.

It’s taken weeks to calm down. I still feel wound up sometimes but it’s 10 percent panic instead of 90 percent panic. It’s the closest thing to normal that i know. I’m nothing but happy about working out for 14 days, I want to keep it going. I feel better about myself, I feel better about my relationship, and I just feel better. Apparently, I shouldn’t smoke pot. I should also know better than to just start taking a mood altering drug when I’m precariously balanced already.

Everything isn’t perfect. There’s still some distance between Jessie and I that I could do without. I’m still worried about finances, and life, and my job, and dating. But I’ve never been so happy to just be worried in a normal way about normal things. I’ll be watching myself closely in the coming weeks to make sure I keep moving in a positive direction.