It was during January 2023 when I smoked weed for the second time.
It didn’t feel too bad for the first 5-10 minutes, but soon after, all hell would break loose. My girlfriend and I got the marijuana from a smoke shop, so I didn’t think too much of the THC content; honestly, to this day, I don’t know how strong it was, but I know it wasn’t what I was expecting.
After the initial 10 minutes, I felt an extreme feeling of paranoia, and my mental psyche was starting to crack. I forget where I was and even who my girlfriend was at the time. I had lost the concept of time and couldn’t tell if I had only been high for a couple of minutes, hours, or even days. That’s when the panic and terror started to set in. I began to look for my girlfriend and couldn’t find her for brief periods. I walked in circles in my home, hoping to find anyone who could help me, when suddenly I started having hallucinations of my deployment in the Middle East. I thought I had been transported back to Afghanistan and was reliving all the horror and death I saw during my time there. I experienced auditory hallucinations and what I thought were demons tormenting me. The voices said that I had died and was in hell, and I would continue on this path for all eternity. I don’t know how long this lasted, maybe 30 minutes, but it felt like forever.
I was going up and down my stairs, and I physically felt like I was being attacked and thrown around. Then I remember laying on the couch with my girlfriend, and I couldn’t remember how I got there, but I felt like I was heading back to my personalized hell any second. My girlfriend was trying to help me understand that I just smoked weed and that everything would be okay, but I thought she was lying because she knew I was still in hell.
After trying to calm me down, my girlfriend let my dogs out on the patio for a bathroom break, but the dogs got into a fight in the dining room before she could let them outside. One dog weighed about 100 pounds, and the other weighed about 65 pounds. The larger dog latched on to the other one’s throat and was not letting go. I jumped on top of it and tried to pry the mouth open, but it just kept biting down harder. Then I heard the TV laughing at me. It was saying, “This was really funny because I’m in hell, and I never left.”
After that, I don’t remember a lot because I felt like I just got transported back to hell within that second. I started to see demons in my home, and the smell of blood was everywhere. I felt my body get thrashed and tossed around again and kept hearing the laughing and talking from these demons everywhere.
Then, all of a sudden, I was back in the dining room with a gun in my hand. I remember screaming for my girlfriend, and the TV started to laugh again at me; it was saying that I killed everyone. I started to cry and say that’s not true, but they told me to look around for myself if I didn’t believe them. That’s when I noticed the blood everywhere. I couldn’t even find my dogs, but I kept hearing the sound of bone crunching like someone was eating something. The TV laughed even harder, saying that the dogs were being eaten by the demons they had set forth and that I would be next. I started to run around my house with the gun in my hand, saying this couldn’t be true and started to think that maybe this wasn’t hell but a nightmare and all I had to do was wake up.
Then my phone rang, and it was the police department asking me to surrender myself and put my gun away. That’s when I noticed the flashing lights, and I headed towards my door with the gun drawn. Then I saw the red lasers on my chest. I thought this was my way out of this hell; if I started shooting at the police officers, then they would have to fire back and kill me so I could finally wake up from this nightmare.
As I started to raise my weapon again, this time with the intention of shooting, my phone rang again. This time, it was my girlfriend’s mom on the phone. She told me to follow the police officer’s directions, and that everything would be okay and that I just had to trust her. For whatever reason, I remember her voice bringing me peace and that she must be right. So I got rid of my gun and walked out on my driveway when they arrested me.
But just a few seconds later, I thought I was tricked because one of the arresting officers was one of the guys I deployed with while our LAV (Light Armored Vehicle) was also in the carport. I was convinced that I was still in hell, and they were making me do this all over again.
I continued to have these delusions even hours after being arrested. I kept hallucinating till I was released to the hospital. I thought this was some cruel joke because I was hallucinating that the people I served with in the military were actually working in the jail.
Later, I found out what truly happened that night. After I tried pulling the dogs apart and failed, I went and grabbed my gun and shot both of my dogs and my girlfriend. My girlfriend and one of my dogs survived, but my other dog did not.
I don’t remember grabbing the gun. I don’t remember shooting my dogs or my girlfriend. I don’t remember the sound of the gun discharging. I don’t even remember any smell from the gun after it was discharged.
I have been working with my therapist ever since to help process this event. I wish I could go back in time and tell myself never to smoke weed because it has completely ruined my life.
But with my support system and the undying love of my girlfriend and family, we are able to move forward. We continue to learn more about marijuana and its potential effects like about cannabis-induced psychosis, and especially how it affects people who have a history of PTSD.
Javonte Hill, Veteran and resident of Colorado