Smoking Was a Coping Mechanism Until I Had a Panic Attack

September 5, 2022

As Told to Memi 

I stumbled on a tweet two weeks ago about adulting and coping mechanisms, so I took a screenshot and posted it on my WhatsApp status. Of all the replies I got, Jerry’s* stood out because he’d gone from smoking every day to not smoking for a year. And he told me how it happened.

Source: Unsplash

The first time I tried weed was in 2016. I was home in Kaduna because I’d just graduated from university and was awaiting service. So when my friend suggested we run a printing business in Katsina, I was interested. 

We were supposed to help university freshers print and photocopy their documents, so easy money. Unfortunately for us, the school had made free printing provisions for students that year, so the business flopped. 

This made me really sad. That night my friends offered me weed, and I couldn’t turn it down. I needed something to take the edge off, and it did. I didn’t feel anything until time slowed down. I began to have memory lapses, and I remember praying not to run mad. 


Related: 15 Things That Will Happen The First Time You Smoke Weed   


I stayed away from weed until mid-2020. This time, I’d moved to Abuja and was a teacher at a school. But with the lockdown, everyone was home, so I decided to try weed again because I was bored. It made me feel happier, lighter and energised. 

By the end of the year, smoking weed had become routine. Even though I never bought it, it was always available. I lived with my brother, and we were never low on weed.

I was very unhappy with myself and my progress in life. I didn’t feel like I had an immediate solution, so I relied on weed as an escape. I’d wake up an hour earlier than I had to just so I could smoke before getting ready for my teaching job. For the longest time, I never went to school without being high. And because of how bubbly I would feel, my classes were always so interesting.

My girlfriend at the time hated that I’d become heavily reliant on weed, but I felt more eloquent, laid back and sexier when I was high, so I stayed lit. I just preferred to go through life in that state. I remember one day I went to the market, and I was so high, I could’ve sworn the Hausa guy was speaking Chinese. 

On August 28, 2021, something happened that made me completely uninterested in weed. I’m still unsure what triggered it, but I know I was watching a Chelsea vs Liverpool match one minute, and the next, I was hysterical and hyperventilating. 

The only thing I could think about was death. It was like I was losing my senses. I fell asleep thinking I’d die, only to wake up with a fever, worsening things. My brother had to give me sedatives to help me calm down. 


Related: 6 Nigerians Narrate Their Wildest Experiences When They Ate Weed Edibles 


After I went to the hospital, I got directed to a psychotherapist who confirmed I’d had a panic attack, and the weed in my system didn’t help. He went on to diagnose me with anxiety disorder. He prescribed some drugs that were supposed to make me feel better. But they did the opposite, so I stopped taking them. I decided to try meditation and yoga. Nothing worked. Eventually, I just stuck to praying. I felt like I was sinking, and it gave me something to hold on to. 

Within the six months that followed, I was scared of being alone at home but equally scared of leaving my house. Ultimately, I chose the latter because I still had a job and bills to pay. But imagine balancing a job with my mental health at minus 10. I’d quit my job in December 2021 and was taking up design gigs to make money. Also, I started exercising. I was in an all-around better space. 

Even though I’ve been sober for a year now, I still miss the “high”, just not so much. In April, I started a new job as a brand designer, which I actually enjoy. I no longer feel drained and exhausted all the time, so I guess life’s good.

*Subject’s name has been changed to protect his identity.


ALSO READ: 5 Nigerians Share Their Experiences With Quitting Cigarettes   

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