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I was in vacations in Amsterdam with my girlfriend that I haven't seen for the last 3 months. All we wanted was too have fun. Coffee shops selling joints are all over the place and smoking weed is commonplace and legal. All these factors made the consumption of cannabis very appealing to us. My girlfriend smokes pot regularly. I don't. Nevertheless, this fateful night I was ready for a good high. We ordered one the weeds shown on the menu and my girlfriend asked for a pure blunt. Being in a cheerful mood I didn't see any objections to that. We start smoking; I tried my best to inhale the maximum because I really wanted to get high. After a few minutes of laugh, things switched dramatically. I started to freak out. I lost consciousness of the background surrounding; all that I was left with was the voice of my girlfriend trying to be reassuring. The waiter came to me with a spoon of honey he put in my mouth. I have to mention here that at the time I didn't anything AT ALL about panic attacks, I barely knew it existed. At first things worsen quite rapidly. My girlfriend took me outside to breathe fresh air. I was unable to walk at that time so I sat down against the wall of the coffee shop. I started to fell paralyzed, especially my hands. It becomes very hard to move my fingers. I had the feeling that I had screwed my mind permanently. I work as the scientist which means that my brain is what I used for a living. Losing it, was the worst things that could happen to me. A recurring feeling during the attack was my incredibly fast and powerful heart beat. It was like having a hot spot in the chest ready to explode. Breathing was very chaotic. After a while, I was able to take a walk with my girlfriend in Amsterdam. Panic attacks were coming back and forth during several hours. My girlfriend who was high at the beginning sobered up pretty quickly and was desesperately trying to calm me down. I was alternating between relaxed and euphoric moments and very anxious crisis. Then came the depression. I cried a bunch of times feeling to much pressure on me. I was always asking why this happened to me, what was wrong me, why do I deserve that. I was convinced that I was going through the worst time of my life. Thoughts of suicide came through my mind a bunch of times. A lot of things around me, like the numerous canals of Amsterdam were seen as a means to kill myself or hurt myself. At same time I was finding it miraculous that I was to survive. My "calm" periods were lasting longer and longer but I was always relapsing eventually. Since I didn't know anything about panic attacks, I was hard for me to believe my girlfriend who was repeatedly saying that panic attack are quite common for inexperienced people smoking strong weed. I become sometimes irritable and mad at my girlfriend because she had got me into this. Another strange thing that I remember was that things seemed to repeat themselves. Same place, same words from my girlfriend, same sensation... and I had this eerie feeling that I knew beforehand what will come next, especially what my girlfriend was going to say. We walked for hours in Amsterdam. I had no notion of time at all. It just seemed to last forever.
It is not before we were able to go to bed that I was able to calm a little bit. Unfortunately we were not able to stay in bed late since we were staying at some friend's place and we had to leave with them in the morning at 8 o’clock. I should mention that we smoked around 11 pm the night before. After 9 hours I was still feeling very weird but I was a little bit soothed by our short sleep (which didn't really feel like sleeping). We went back to the city center to have breakfast. It didn't take long for things to go down again. I felt very depressed and was easily crying. I was still unable to make long sentences (I forgot to mention that during the night my talking was very basic and mostly unintelligible, it was like a two-year old repeating again and again the same thing like: 'I am screwed up', 'I am going to die', 'What happened'...). I was also sometimes speaking in French (my mother tongue) to my girlfriend who doesn't speak French.)
Back to the morning when I was still very anxious and prone to shed in tears. All I wanted was to stay in bed but we didn't have any place to stay. So we started to look for a hotel room. It took ages to find a room where I could finally lay down. I was really miserable, waiting for a room to be ready for us (it was before check-out time) and all the hotels were full. I now realize that I attracted the attention of a lot of people and this since it started but I couldn't care less. I am usually very shy and easily embarrassed but during the crisis this was the least of my worries. Having the room was the great relief. I spend the all day in bed half-sleeping or just staring at the wall. I was so glad that my girlfriend was with me. Without her I think I wouldn't have survive this experience or it would have been a lot more painful.
At the time of my writing almost for day have passed. I am still having anxiety attack in the night during my sleep. It wakes me up and keeps me tired. I have also a fear of falling asleep which is really strange and never happened before. I feel dizzy all day and reality seems different to me. I feel a general disconnection with my world and those around me. It's not as clear-cut as it used to be. It feels like my brain had slowed down and stimuli take more time to reach me. My environment (university, lab) seems a little bit more aggressive and threatening. It feels like I am floating around in a sad mood like a ghost. My hope is that one day I will be back to normal, that's I won't be afraid anymore to go sleep.
I would certainly appreciate any advice and (reassuring) comments about my experience. I try all the time to convince myself that this is only temporary. Things HAVE TO get back to normal otherwise I can not look at the future with a smile.

Cheers

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User avatar
Legend
345 posts
Are you sure that you smoked weed? It sounds more like LSD experiance, or chemical threated canabis??
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It definitely was weed. A powerful kind and we smoked it pure which given my experience was absolutely foolish.
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Stop being a p***y, and also note that no one has ever died from LSD... and a pure blunt probably just means that there was no hash or kief in it or some other form of marijuana. I would LOVE to smoke some weed from amsterdam.... good god..

You will be completely fine the rest of your life, and you could relive this experience a thousand times if you want to. Your smart, your mind is powerful, and you took your experience the way you did. Next time you get high, take it a different path. Maybe a happy, fun path where you can enjoy it? WOW
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Hey, Rems. I understand you posted your story a few months ago and i hope you've managed to sort sh*t out since then. I recreationally smoke weed and have done for a few years now. I had a pretty similar reaction to weed, in Amsterdam earlier this year. I'd been twice before and really enjoyed myself. The culture shock that I know many people experience when visiting (the social incongruity with the rest of the world) I felt had been diluted by my love of the city. So my friend and I got really drunk one night/morning and decided to go to Amsterdam at about 5 am. We ended up there about 3 hours later and smoked one joint between us that we, for more monetary purposes, bought from this really shadey coffeeshop (of which I cannot remember the name).

I felt fine for about 20 minutes as i usually would, just completely over-excited that one minute we were at Uni, the next waking about Amsterdam. We were walking through Dam Square and suddenly it hit me. I started to panic, but for this short time i kept it inside not revealing to my friend how f*****g scared i was. There was a massive fairground in the square playing this really loud music with sh*t loads of people screaming which really spun me out so i insisted that we walk really fast and go sit down somewhere which we did. Anyway, my friend turned to me, her face was completely grey, as i'm sure mine was, and i knew then that she was feeling exactly the same as me.

My heart was racing, there was this imbalance between pain and feeling completely numb, as in mentally i was screaming yet my body was this immobile mess. I felt like i was part of some horrific dream where you are desperately trying to get somewhere, like running and just not being able to move. It was when i sat down, in McDonalds- thus filled with even more screaming children- that everything went blank and i was dead. I thoroughly believed i had died and i was physically existing in hell. I can honestly say i have never been so terrified in my life. My friend was going mental at this point insisting that she go and sit in the fire extinguisher cupboard but i found myself getting excruciatingly impatient with her. We found that looking at each other set us off so we we sat in silence for a while churning over thoughts of death an fear. All i wanted to do was go home. After an hour of living inside of my own head i found the ability to communicate with her and assured her that we could get a flight home that afternoon (we had been in the city about 2 hours at this point) so I- still not having recovered in the slightest- had to guide her to the train station and then to the airport. It took ages. Obviously, we couldn't get a flight back.

The airport was surprisingly serene the -whiteness of the walls felt like a space of contemplation - and it made me feel slightly calmer but my impatience and confusion was still manifest. Waves of calmness and anxiety undulated but my impatience was overiding it all. I just wanted to wake up. So we had to make our way back into the city. The train station was a f*****g maze and i had to drag my body around for what seemed like hours, up and down platforms to find the right one, again i felt like i was stuck in this never ending dream/ perpetual nightmare.

My concept of time was also screwed. I hadn't slept in about 48 hours, i was drunk/hung over/stoned and having the most intense panic attack of my life and of course my phone had run out of battery. Luckily when we eventually got back into the city, (after having sat on trains heading to Rotterdam) we managed to find a hostel, even with little money we had to settle with paying more just because i was so extremely impatient and thoroughly believed sleeping would be the cure to the way i was feeling.

It took me a while to sleep. After craving sleep for so long I wasn’t even sure if I could trust myself to fall aleep and wake up again. But I woke up the next day feeling slightly less but ultimately similar to the day before. The only thing that maintained the tiny minutiae of sanity i had left was the thought of getting home, which of course i did. This was however after having walked the streets of Amsterdam in the endeavor to find its more tranquil areas (a rather sparing quality of the city).

This whole thing happened about 8 months ago and even now i still feel sensitive to the potential of having another panic attack. I have slipped into mild attacks but have managed to pull myself out by mentally grasping onto what makes me feel safe, secure and ultimately happy.

It is an experience i often wish i could forget and sometimes when i would think or talk about it i could end up in tears and could even start shaking involuntarily at the thought. I think the best way to look at it now is in jest. I look at myself 8 months ago objectively and try and make myself laugh. I must have looked like such a wanker. But the fact is you now have a choice as to whether you inflict a situation like that upon yourself again. In other words, by remaining calm you will never feel like that again.

For anyone else who's had a similar experience, you understand how f*****g horrible it is. However, i love amsterdam and will be returning in a couple of weeks to face everything. But, conclusively, i would highly recommend not "going on a whim", it'll only f**k you up.
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I had a similar experience in Amsterdam in '93. I was 21, studying in London, from Pittsburgh, recreational pot smoker (parties, socially, about 4 times a month). I took a weekend trip to Amsterdam, smoked some weed with my other US student friends, and in a nutshell, I experienced more than just a panic attack.

I honestly beleived that my weed was tainted yet my friends didn't experience it. I instantly got a hot feeling in my diaphragm, lost all hearing, had extreme tunnel vision, and lost all feeling in my hands. I kept touching the edge of the table thinking it was all a dream because I couldn't feel. Then, I lost all control of my muscles and lost my balance. My friends took me to the bathroom to "sober up" and I started believing I was dying. I was convinced my friends had called an ambulance and that my parents were going to have to pick me up in a body bag in Amsterdam. Can we say that my brain was f***ing with me?

Then, my friends walked me through the streets back to our hostel and I started hallucinating that the horses from those horse drawn carriages were trampling me and that cars were riding up over the curbs and were going to crash into me. We got back to the hostel and I passed out. This all happened around 1pm.

I woke up at 11pm and was starving so I inhaled a pizza at some shop. I really don't remember it, it's like a dream, but I have pictures of me and my friends recall it. They said I didn't really talk at all. I vowed never to smoke again (which of course didn't happen). I went to bed again, woke up the next day, went to the Van Gogh museum and passed out on one of the benches. Very nice and classy. The security guard woke me up and I went to the bathroom and vomited.

Ever since then, I haven't been able to smoke non-menthol cigarettes because they remind me of that moment in time and turn my stomach. Very weird. Anyway, I just wanted to share my story and let you know that the same type of thing happened to me, and I'm not a newby smoker.
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True to that. Even experienced users can sometimes have panic attacks.

In my humble opinion, they can be treated in the same way people treat phobias: by exposing yourself to the element that caused the panic. And in MJ's case, seriously self-analyzing, coming up with your own questions and answers, and completely exposing the panic for what it is - a useless emotion. Granted, it was likely your body's way of saying you should have worked your way up, but there's always ways to survive and not end up in the hospital/jail/asylum.

Once of my friends had a very bad trip on psyclobin. Now his philosophy is: if you've been to the bottom, you've seen the worst there is, you've made it out, and now you know what to do next time.

I would suggest practicing meditation to get over the panic attacks. It really couldn't hurt...and it can be the best choice you've ever made.

Take it easy
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Hi Rems,

Can you give us an update? how's you life going?

Thanks!
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This is not the usual Amsterdam experience. Try theamsterdamdiaries for an alternative view.
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man u jus never got high before

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they probably spiked you because your a foreigner coming in to their city to smoke pot

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lmao, get a grip and a life ya rocket!

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I'm wondering how long it took for this effect to go away... My son had a similar experience when we visited A'dam in May of this year (2014). It has been two months and he still has severe generalized anxiety which started the night he had the cannabis. Even the meds he's been prescribed are only taking the edge off.
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You had a reaction that is otherwise known as "tripping balls", an overdose of the psychoactive ingredient THC. This theoretically, I think, happens to people who have a naturally robust endocannabanoid system, in other words, you would generally, likely have good mental health and feel naturally high on life without cannabis. Adding the exogenous THC to a brain that already has good functioning in this area could cause these kinds of extreme symptoms. You're going to be fine, just fine and its panic that you had, nothing truly harmful happens in your brain longterm from a brief episode of panic/anxiety. Its just a trick the mind is playing on you, don't be afraid, really truly you're fine. Read the science, it'll reassure you. Must be nice to be that happy all the time, lucky:)
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