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HPPD for 1,5 years


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Hello, i'm a 28 year old male who have been suffering from HPPD in various forms since one and half year back. I had been using weed heavily during the fall before i got HPPD. I had been smoking small amounts everyday for the last 4 months before I got HPPD, and done MDMA like once every second month. I'm quite sure though that it was the weed that triggered it.


I had also during this time been taking the atypical antidepressant bupropion, which raises dopamine and noradrenaline levels. This was because i had always been quite depressed and anxious, and was unsure if I would be able to function on the same level without any antidepressant. I had been on SSRI before, and bupropion made me feel great, had so much energy and didn't intefere with my drug preferences, or so I thought. I had never before had any problems what so ever with weed, no matter the dose. 


One night i was trying a new type of weed I had ordered, and got a really bad "trip". I got alot of anxiety, and had tremors all over the body, and I was lying shaking. After a couple of hours, it started to subside but I was still left with some residual anxiety, but could after an hour or two finally go to sleep. The next day, I was still feeling sort of "high", the dissociation that can be feelt when smoking weed, and still had the some of the visual effects, such as visual snow and some colors. I didn't think much about it, just thought it would wear off. And it did, after a few days.


Then I started to think that this might just be an interaction with the weed and my current medication, so I decided to stop using the anti-depressant. After a week, i tried to smoke again, and everything was alright until a couple of days later of started smoking again. I got the same whole body tremor and anxiety again, and the following the day, nothing was the same anymore.


I had increased after images, had shadowy lines when I looked at white walls, and had severe dp/dr, and strange color imprints on walls in darkness. Anxiety skyrocketed, and after a few weeks trying to deal with this, I went to the emergency psychiatric clinic in my city, and they thought I was about to have a post-cannabis psychosis. They gave me a few tablets of olanzapine (Zyprexa), which I took. They did nothing for my visual symptoms, but made my dp/dr much worse and made me feel like a zombie. So I stopped taking them and nothing was really changed.

I was gradually improving for the next couple of months, then I slipped back into more anxiety and actually more severe visually symptoms. If I stared at objects in a black room, it seemed like they would dissappear, as if they became engulfed by the darkness. I saw colors, like fine mist, swirling around, and patterns started to appear. It freaked me out, and eventually i relapsed into severe anxiety and depression and saw a psychatriast. They subscribed hydroxzine, an anti-histamine with anxiolytic qualities that helped some, and I also started to use citalopram, an SSRI.


The SSRI did nothing for me, only made me tired, increased my visual snow and my anxiety. So I lowered the dose on the SSRI and started with bupropion aswell. I was on low doses on both the anti-depressants. They both helped alot with mood, anxiety and taking my mind of it. I saw a psychiatrist which said that I wasn't psychotic and probably thought it was OCD/anxiety that made me focus on benign visual phenomena.


I started however at this point to shift my focus away from the visual symptoms and started to focus on hearing instead. I was so afraid of developing schizophrenia, it was really my worst fear. I could take anything related to HPPD I thought, but I couldn't handle the thought of getting schizo.


Then it felt as if I was maybe hearing things, as if it maybe was so that I heard people mumbling. If I focused on the fan, or some white noise, it seemed as if it could be something.. wrong. It drove me nuts and very stressed, as it felt as if my real fears of getting schizo was becomming real. I spoke to my psychatrist about it and she said that she didnt think I was getting schizo, and only was imagining things out of fear, that I was hypervigilant which distorted my perception - that I interpreted normal stimuli as threats.


I started to misshear what people said as other words, and thought sometimes that it sounded as if someone spoke my name.

I did however think that it was all in my head, that it was just fear manifesting itself as overanalyzing, and started to taper down on my antidepressants. My december 2013, one year after the onset of HPPD, I was only on a small dose of bupropion. By january, I quite bupropion aswell.

I do realize that all the issues that I've spoken about, related to auditory illusions and HPPD, is aggrevated by thinking about them, and noticing them.

The few things that have really helped have been excersise, meditation, and being busy.

I now manage a full time job, have friends and is able to mask all the issues i've spoken about, without being on any medication. I sometimes take hydroxzine, but it isn't really necessary.


Last night, i started to focus on the visual symptoms and they all came back, the engulfing blackness which swallowed objects, patterns and so on, but the lesson here is that it's the focus on these things which brings them forward. 


Thats the biggest lesson I've learned through this 1,5 years, is that you can excercise control over all these symptoms depending on how you accept them as a part of your life and how you shift your attention.


I always have slight dp/dr, movement in pheripheral vision and visual snow these days, but they don't really hinder me from doing anything. And the auditory thing is just as my psychatrist says, a question about interpetation and focus. If I meditate alot and accept them as for what they are - harmless stimuli that's really there which I missintepret, they eventually dissappears.

In the end, it's all in your mind, more or less.



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Thanks for sharing your story and welcome to the community :) It can guarantee you that what you´re experiencing with auditory illusions is a result of hyper-vigilance and anxiety, not schizophrenia. This particular fear is pretty common among ocd and anxiety sufferers, as it includes "losing it" and lack of control does seem to frighten anxious people more than others. I also had this terrible fear of actually "going crazy" and started looking for signs to confirm my concerns. Bad idea, but this all changed after I went to this burger joint with some friends. A young man there, at my age, was sitting by himself and talking/rapping. I walked up to him and offered to pay for some pancakes or somethin. We started talking a bit and it turned out he couldn´t work because he had bi-polar disorder, autism and schizophrenia. As I walked out of the joint, the rapping/mumbling resumed. To sort of generalize this experience, imagine you´re in the woods walking. There might be a bridge somewhere, but you can´t know for sure. Wouldn´t it be better to cross the bridge when you get to it, than worrying about it when you´re not even sure you´ll ever have to cross it? Life is an uncertain project, my visual stuff might disappear as I am typing this or stay with me my whole life. As you said it yourself, acceptance of this is key and I am sure that the auditory illusions will decrease in frequency over time. good luck buddy  

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Here I was thinking the times I thought I heard my name being spoken by a familiar voice not around was more connected to a phenomena that a lot of people experience. Almost like ghosts of people who aren't dead yet but I always had a feeling it was just in my head. But yeah, any kind of hyper vigilance or hyper awareness can cause anyone to think they hear something after the fact. You'll always be unsure though that you did hear something while a true sufferer of schizophrenia will be more certain that they did and are likely to have a full conversation with what they think is real. I on the other hand just talk to myself as if I'm practicing or just letting the spirits of the world or God know what is on my mind if it happens to help at all. 


I wouldn't completely ignore your senses though like I did once and find yourself in a bad situation wearing only your boxers. Be cautious and mindful by securing your house or wherever you live the best you can and just learn that you can only do so much but if you need to still get up from bed and double check the locks or find more to make you feel safe there is no problem with that as long as you learn to get outside once in awhile. I like to think that my black belt in tae kwon do and my usually rather quick thinking is enough to keep me confidant and unlikely to feel anxious in public. I just need to get skinnier again.


Good luck but it looks like you already have a pretty good handle on the situation!

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