I waited until I was in my 20s to try pot. Truth be told, it’s surprising I ever did. I’ve always had a rule-abiding streak a mile wide. I don't disapprove of illicit activities, but my parents did a darn good job of instilling a healthy dose of fear in me when it comes to authority. I didn't even drink until I was out of my parents' house.
That being said, I was feeling rebellious and bored one night after a long, dull week at my office and my husband, who thought it was ludicrous I'd never smoked, was more than willing to help me out. Within an hour he had a joint ready to go and, sitting in my living room, I took a hit.
It didn’t make me cough or gag, giggle or tell pointless stories. I didn’t feel much of anything after the first hit. Or the second. Or the third. So I sat patiently for 20 minutes and waited for something to happen. But nothing did, so I tried just a little more before giving up on the experience altogether.
That’s when it hit me. All. At. Once. It was as if a full blown panic attack set in immediately. I didn’t feel paranoid or scared or much of anything at all, I just couldn’t breathe. I told my husband I didn’t feel well so he talked to me while I tried to adapt to the fact my chest was tightening and my brain seemed to be shutting down. He stepped away for a second while I tried to get a handle on my suddenly scattered thoughts and I stumbled off to my bed.
That’s when I started hallucinating. To this day, everyone says that I was just experiencing a bad case of paranoia, but I felt what was happening in my senses. On my bed, the world would appear and then go dark for seemingly long stretches of time. I was feeling, hearing and seeing every unpleasant thing that had ever happened to me in scenes. Thankfully I’ve had a pretty calm life so the visions, or whatever you’d like to call them, weren’t too traumatic. But they felt real.
I was reliving the time I hemorrhaged after egg donation minute by minute. I could feel the pain in my abdomen and the light-headedness I’d experienced on my way to the hospital. Then, my temperature seemed to rise as the scenery around me changed to a Cambodian landscape where I had a 104 degree fever. That scene cut away to a series of emotional conversations I’ve had with various people. Over and over, every terrible thing that I could possibly remember flashed through my brain.
But they weren’t just a memories. I could feel and hear each experience as if it were real again. I could see, in detail, the things that had happened reforming around me. I could smell the appropriate smells for each scenario. It was as if I was on some demented ride at Disney that took me through all the least pleasant scenes of my life, room by room. I was buckled in, with no choice but to ride it out.
So I did. On my bed, in the dark, I tried to breathe deeply and cry it out. Eventually I found a release in sleep. When I woke up in the morning, I tried to shake it off, chalking it up to a dumb decision.
I probably should never have tried it in the first place. I’ve always had ridiculously extreme reactions to drugs and medication. You should’ve seen me try to walk into the dentist’s office for my wisdom teeth removal after taking just an eighth of a dose of Valium at my doctor’s orders. It was as if the crazy circus temporarily moved into my brain and set up shop for the day.
I got myself a coffee on the way to work and didn’t think another bit about my pot-smoking experience. That is, until I was standing in front of a group of people giving a presentation an hour later. All of a sudden it was as if someone pressed a button and my brain collapsed. My thoughts felt like they were spilling out of my ears. I kept on with the presentation, but I couldn’t focus. For an hour, I muscled through it, trying to will my mind to pull itself together.
As soon as I got out of the office, my chest tightened and the same panic as the night before set in. I was so upset I considered calling my dad, as a full grown woman, and crying for help. Instead, I got on the bus and went on my way.
My stop was just five minutes from where I was but I found myself about 20 blocks farther than planned with no recollection of the ride.
For days I caught myself losing focus at random times and having intense flashbacks. The whole experience was downright bizarre. I wasn’t the only one smoking, and nobody else had a strange reaction. The pot seemed to be clean, with no other drugs mixed in.
More frustrating than the actual experience is that even after I got ahold of reality again, most people refuse to believe that weed alone could make a girl lose it like that. After all, it’s supposed to be a miracle drug -- I wholeheartedly support marijuana use for so many ailments. However, what happened to me did happen.
And it makes me wonder -- is there anyone else out there who has had a similar experience? Or am I just the unlucky one in a billion?