Then the extreme disassociation began, and I became what I believe most clinicians would refer to as "a complete fucking nightmare."Initially I was aware that I was losing my grip. But as I became more tangled up in the delusions, I lost any sense of self-awareness and terror fully consumed me. I was afraid of all the panicking going on around me, and I was afraid of what people were going to do to me. To this day, my best friend reports that I was speaking nonsense, but reciting the alphabet backwards and forwards appeared to relax me a little, for reasons still unknown to me.At some point amidst the screeching, as I retreated to my bedroom and my bewildered friends evacuated the area, my parents were—rather humiliatingly—called in to help. Surveying the scene, they bundled me into the car and drove me to the local hospital.
What I do remember is the sheer alarm in the psychiatrist's voice.
The relationship between weed and psychosis is well-documented in medical literature, with consistent findings that the ingestion of weed is strongly correlated with the onset of psychotic symptoms. Professor David Castle, Chair of Psychiatry at the University of Melbourne and a prominent researcher in cannabis, says there is "no doubt" that cannabis can cause psychosis. But he is also quick to assert that any healthy individual can develop what we recognise as psychotic symptoms (hallucinations or delusions), given the right amount of a stimulus.
For people like me, on the other hand, the causal nature is easy to determine. If I had continued to smoke weed, there is a real likelihood that I would have toppled off the deep end into chronic mental illness. "It would be like if you have a very strong family history of diabetes," Castle explains. "You would be foolish to overindulge in sugar."The terror of experiencing another psychotic episode like that one has kept me at arm's length from weed ever since. But I believe I was incredibly lucky: for one, I received immediate and professional intervention for my genetic vulnerabilities. Others do not have that luxury.I am also lucky to have been born into such a stoic British family, because I have literally never been forced to speak about the incident with my parents ever since.