Citation: Anonymous. "Myths and a Panic Attack: An Experience with Caffeine (exp48644)". Erowid.org. Aug 20, 2006. erowid.org/exp/48644
Let me start off by telling you that I never drink coffee (don't like the taste) or soda (water's cheaper!). I also eat pretty healthily so I don't have a lot of chocolate, even though I do like it.
However, one day early this year I was driving home to Wisconsin from Texas with a friend. It's a 16-hour drive, and with only the two of us to complete it, I decided it would be a good idea to drink lots of coffee and soda to stay awake, as well as treat myself to a normal-sized candy bar. I ended up drinking two large gas-station coffees (about 16 oz each), two large diet sodas from various fast food establishments (about 20 oz each), one can of caffeinated diet soda that we'd brought along with us, and the candy bar. I knew, of course, that caffeine was good for keeping me awake and that it could make me feel a little strung-out in high doses, but I was completely unaware of how all the caffeine would affect me, especially since I never ingest it on a regular basis.
We were getting close to home -- maybe about an hour away -- when we started talking about my experiences with acid a few years back. I had done it on a fairly regular basis (once ever two-three weeks) for a few months, and we were discussing its lasting effects. All of a sudden I started getting nervous about 'acid flashbacks' and what I'd heard about LSD never leaving the body or your spinal fluid. I'd also heard that yoga can release the LSD from spinal fluid into your blood, and I had done yoga for the first time on our trip to Texas.
I began to think I was seeing strange shapes in the dark on the highway. It was then that serious waves of panic began to sweep through my body and I was shaking and my palms began to sweat pretty badly (I'm sure other parts of my body were sweating as well). I was afraid of (you guessed it) dying or going crazy and I certainly FELT like I was going crazy right at that minute. I thought I was having some kind of acid relapse, brought on by the yoga (ridiculous! The last time I'd done acid had been almost 4 years previous). I began to question my friend's motives and the things she was saying, because the whole time I was feeling panicked, I was trying to have a normal conversation with her. I thought that if I told her about how I was feeling, it would make it worse.
That first wave of panic passed after about 15 minutes, and I thought it was all over. But it just kept coming back in waves and waves. I seriously thought that I was going insane. We finally got home and she dropped me off at my apartment. I went upstairs, thinking that if I could just get into bed and go to sleep, it would be okay. At this point, I didn't even realize it was the caffeine that was doing it to me. I lay down and tried to go to sleep but that panicky-tingly feeling siezed me again and I actually called my mother to tell her what was going on because I was so scared.
At this point I had an inkling that it was the caffeine had done it and I told my mother how much I'd had, and that I thought maybe I should go to the ER. She said, 'Of course it was the caffeine, watch TV until you feel tired.' This was at about midnight. I'd been up since 7 am. I sat awake, looking at the television but not really watching it, until 5 am, when I finally fell asleep.
Like I said, I've done acid and mushrooms before and experienced minor bad trips with both, which I could handle because I knew what I'd done. However, I was totally unprepared for this and unaware that I had even ingested what could be considered a mind-altering substance. Of course, I've since learned that acid staying in the system is a myth -- it was all a big panic attack brought on by the caffeine. It was definitely one of the scariest feelings of my life and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.
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