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The 5 Year Rollercoaster


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I'm Mike, and this is a little about me and my 5 years with hppd. (or whatever you want to call it)


My first experience was when I was 14. I was a regular pothead and had just started getting into hash. The story starts in 2004.


Being a typical 14 year old kid, I decided to take the biggest hit I could in hopes of impressing my friends. As soon as a blew out the smoke, all I can remember is coughing. I coughed for what must have been 10 minutes, unable to even catch a breath.


Then the weird part happened; as soon as I opened my eyes, everything looked different. I felt like I was 20 feet above myself. It felt as if I was no longer controlling my body, instead I was watching it be controlled. I started freaking out, telling my friends to take me to the hospital and fighting this feeling with everything that I had. My sense of time was gone, I couldn't focus, I couldn't see. I was in hell. Then it passed.


A few hours later, everything just went back to normal. I apologized to my friends, said goodbye and went home.


Over the next couple of months I began to develop increasing anxiety. I would be sitting in class and would just feel like I wasn't there. I felt like I had lost some part of myself. Every time I smoked weed thereafter, I would enter into, what I know now as, a depersonalization/derealization state.


But things go on, and over the next 4 years, I moved past that part of my life. I had a girlfriend, a job, and a new set of friends to occupy my thoughts.


The beginning of the End.


After graduation I found a decent job in construction, it was stressful and required a lot of hard work, but the pay was good and the people were alright. As a quickly transitioned into my adult life, I grew more and more confident. I forgot about all of the weird stuff in highschool and began smoking weed again. Things were going fine until I decided to try ecstasy.


Shortly after I took my first pill, I began to get that weird depersonalization feeling again. Then I had some of the craziest anxiety I have ever felt in my life. All in all, my experience could be summed up as a 6 hour panic attack.


This is the part 5 years ago, where the hppd symptoms set in, and I never quite made it back.


The day following the ecstasy, I had an array of weird symptoms. I attempted a crossword, but could't get the lines to stay still. I drove my car, but felt like the world was fake and the images were 2d. I went to a family bbq, but the faces were flat and alien.


Everything quickly fell apart as my symptoms progressed. My vision became strobe like, meaning, every time I moved my head it was like capturing a still image. There were trails, and after images. It seemed like I had lost my depth perception and the world had became a hostile, 2d place. I had to quit my job and essentially my life. I became unable to even feed myself without struggling. The plate moved back and forth as I struggled to finish my dinner.


Too sum up this part in my life in two words, they would be: fear and loneliness. I was afraid, oh god, was I afraid. My mind raced as I though about the implications of what I had done. I constantly asked myself "Should I kill myself today?" I latched onto the community at dpselfhelp.com. I thought that if I just did enough research, if I just found that one thing, I would be okay. I would feel human.


Over the next 2 years I tried everything. I went to countless professionals. I tried counsellors, naturopaths, psychologists, psychiatrists, I even went to hypnotherapy. I cut all drugs; coffee, cigarettes, alcohol. My days consisted of running, yoga, herbal teas, strict bedtimes, and tears. I felt I was doing everything right but nothing worked. It wasn't fair.


Then begins the destructive phase.


After finally having enough, my girlfriend left me. Then, as if on cue, the job I had struggled through everyday decided to fire me. And because all bad things come in threes, the math course I was trying to complete, failed me.


Feeling rejected by the whole world I became angry. There was no place for someone like me here. I was useless and no one wanted me. I started drinking.


As I started down this path, I became more and more destructive. I was determined to destroy myself and take as much of the world with me as a could. In the end, I had a really bad car accident. The last thing I owned, exploded in my alcohol fueled rage. Ironically, I remained completely unharmed.


It was at this point I made my decision. I remember it clearly, After being released from the police station and into a cab, (my car in ruins somewhere) the cab driver asked me where I wanted to go. I decided to go home. I knew whatever I was looking for, I wouldn't find it on this path.


I tried to be healthy again, and in some ways I achieved it. As the anxiety lifted the depersonalization did as well. The vision symptoms remained, but I was better at ignoring them.


This brings us to present day.


I struggle with dizziness and some weird eye issues in certain lighting. Computer screens drive me crazy and I get bouts of anxiety and depersonalization. It's always there, but for the large part I'm happy. I'm able to go out for a coffee and attend classes most days without too much trouble. Nothing was easy and I feel like I've had to fight for every little thing I've gotten back. I've relearned how to live in an altered state.


If anyone has made it this far and is looking for a point to this story, there isn't one. It's my life and how I've managed to cope with everything that has happened. As a reader, I don't think it's possible to fully comprehend this struggle without living with it every single day. My official diagnosis now is Chronic Migraine, or Migraine Associated Vertigo. But the labels don't matter. If you're new to this area of mental health, know that it gets better. If you're old, then you already know.






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Hey Mike, welcome to the forum!

A well-written introduction, of which I'm sure many of us can relate to.
It would seem you've managed to cope with it well eventually.. 5 years must be tough, I've only had this for a year myself.
Though as you presumably know, minutes can seem hours, and hours days with this.

"As a reader, I don't think it's possible to fully comprehend this struggle without living with it every single day."
Yes, it would seem so indeed. After all, it is far beyond the scope of imagination of your average individual. I myself probably wouldn't have been able to be understanding of this, had someone come to me with this when I didn't have it. I'd probably give them the same well-intentioned, yet useless advice I nowadays get from my surroundings. I'm looking forward to your participation in the forums.

Wishing you the best,

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Welcome to the forum, Mike. A great first post, I must say :-)


I'm very interested in hearing about your dizziness. Can you describe it? Dizziness is one of my main symptoms, so I'm very interested in hearing from others suffering from it. My dizziness can be described variously as feeling as if I'm on a boat or being pushed. It happens whether standing, seated or lying down. 

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Thank you for the welcome guys.


StateOfRegret, the dizziness is probably my most prominent symptom at this point, and the one I am investigating most thoroughly. I usually describe it as a constant feeling of being off balance. It's most noticeable when I stand still or lie down. It is like a weird rocking sensation. However, like all of my symptoms it ebbs and flows, and some days I get the feeling of being pushed or marshmallow feet. On the bad days it effects my overall coordination, and I feel a delay in my reaction time.


As for tests, I've had most tests known to man. All have come up fairly normal as you would expect. My own theories range from: My eyes are so messed up they are sending bad signals to my brain possibly interfering with the balance centre; My body has some unrelated viral infection of some kind. I suggest visiting mvertigo.org, as they have a lot of information on dizziness. You may also find that people who are diagnosed "Chronic Migraine" have a lot of similar eye symptoms. In my experience with all of these issues, I think the drugs are a catalyst, but are by no means necessary to develop these symptoms.


As for what you can actually do about it?! I would suggest visiting a neurologist to rule out anything more sinister. Keep a diary of when your dizziness is better and when it is worse. You may find some sort of correlation in a food or activity. For me personally, computer screens and florescent lights make it worse. Are you taking any drugs currently? SSRIs could potentially make it worse. (I took SSRIs for 4 years) Do benzos make it better?

One common treatment for chronic dizziness is an anti-convulsant (neuro-stabilizer) such as Topamax. It supposedly hampers the firing of neurons and essentially calms the brain.



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