Guilt and HPPD
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I’m a newbie. I found this forum a couple of months ago when I googled ‘can lsd change your peripheral vision?’
What a ride that was!
After a week of intense anxiety, I retook control of my narrative and all symptoms generally subsided. So I assumed it wasn’t HPPD.
On Sunday, I had a quarter tab and now I’m quite certain it is.
I’m quite self-aware and I write for a living, so I may be able to put into words some of the things people struggle to describe. If so, I hope it’s useful.
I think (/hope) that my case is mild but I guess we’ll see.
I’ll start with my history, then the episode that led me to this forum, and lastly the most recent episode.
I’m 39. I never had drugs before the age of 37. I’ve had probably a lot of mdma, a fair amount of ketamine, a little bit of cocaine, weed four times, acid four times, and mushrooms once.
I have adult ADD, which became apparent at the age of 35.
I have a history of generalised anxiety, and a couple of periods moderate depression, initially managed by Lyrica (Pregabalin) and Wellbutrin (Bupropion - which was chosen because it acts on Dopamine rather than Serotonin - ADD). But it was actually mindfulness and journaling that really managed these conditions.
I have ALWAYS had quite vivid dreams, often lucid.
I have ALWAYS had hypnagogic closed eye visuals - waves of colour moving in concentric ‘circles’ inwards to the centre or outwards from the centre. Usually green, sometimes mixed with purple and blue. In a really dark room I can still perceive these with my eyes open.
I have ALWAYS had hypnagogic auditory hallucinations. Like I’m processing everything I’ve heard that day. Sometimes it’s voices I absolutely recognise (family mostly) but saying things I don’t think I’ve ever heard them say.
I’ve ALWAYS had trouble falling and staying asleep. I have often also been aware of levels of consciousness in the process of falling asleep. And it does feel like falling (like a physical sensation in the brain) from one level to the next. Sometimes, if I pay too much attention, it actually wakes me up.
The first episode
During the month-long run up to Mardi Gras here in Sydney, I had a weekend where I took two half-tabs of acid over the course of a day (along with a mix of mdma and ket at various times during that day).
Nothing curious happened that weekend. But two weeks later, mdma behaved quite differently. I was getting the geometric visuals that I had previously experienced from lsd, but I hadn’t had any lsd. That same evening, in a fairly dark room, I began to hallucinate that each person who’s face I focused on was wearing Harry Potter-style gold wire-rimmed glasses. Which I knew was not the case and when I concentrated, the glasses disappeared.
During the following week, I would sometimes catch the faintest echo of geometric patterns over uniform white backgrounds, such as walls in my apartment. Tessellating hexagons. When I closed my eyes I could see millions of microscopic red and green dots against the black background. This is what I believe translates into visual snow when the eyes are open (especially in dark rooms). In the corner of my eye I would catch a momentary movement of something dark, that turned out not to be there. Any small dark speck, like a crumb, or a stone, would momentarily appear to my peripheral vision as a tiny insect, until I looked at it directly.
That is why I googled and found out about HPPD.
I didn’t have ANY anxiety... until I read about HPPD. But for 48 hours it spiralled. Dark rooms at night were menacing, which made me unconsciously resistant to going to bed/sleep.
Given my history with anxiety, I immediately returned to journaling and mindfulness. It took away the power that this concept of HPPD had over me, and everything seemed to return to normal by the Friday.
And it didn’t recur after a weekend with just mdma.
So I chalked it all up to anxiety and moved on.
The most recent episode
So, on Sunday I had a quarter tab. Wasn’t even enough to have a noticeable effect on the day.
Monday was fine until nighttime. My sleep was restless and filled with dreams, lucid dreams, and non-REM dreams where the dream continues even in a state of being half-awake.
It was the closest I came to experiencing Inception.
In one dream I experienced the physical sensation of dizziness. Quite clearly. Usually dreams are conceptual and abstract. This was just like being awake.
In another dream, I could read actual text (which I’ve always been told is impossible, as the language/meaning processing centres in the brain are not active while dreaming). I was sorting an email inbox alphabetically, and scrolling down to the word Seneca. I consciously spelled it out in the dream.
Daytime on Tuesday was fine. Nighttime was awful. In one dream, I was in a car chase on the street where I grew up. We sped up to get away from a police car and turned a sharp corner. I experienced the centrifugal force just as though I was awake. I chose to wake up at that point.
Today I have had a low-level dizziness all day. A strange dizziness that is difficult to describe, but I’ll give it a go.
A dizziness that feels like it is affecting your balance. You feel like you’re staggering slightly to the right, but you’re actually walking dead straight. Only really happened when I was moving.
A dizziness that feels like six pints of lager drunk, but with absolute mental clarity.
A dizziness that feels like the moment before vomiting, when your blood pressure drops, mixed with the feeling of an adrenaline rush concentrated in a horizontal plane through the middle of your head, starting dead centre and spreading outwards.
And a dizziness that feels like the absolute fatigue of sleep deprivation, and you have the physical sensation in your head at the point that you start microsleeping.
It’s now 1:30am and I’m typing this out because I had a night terror, and what I think is a form of DP/DR. I felt a sort of paralysis in my arms, but also a field of energy that started just outside the skin of my arms up to my elbows, and I perceived it for maybe 3-5 cm surrounding the arms. This was probably in the halfway state between awake and asleep. Shortly afterwards I became aware that I was breathing very fast and shallow, like a panic attack, but I knew I wasn’t awake yet. I knew and was aware that my boyfriend was sleeping behind me. I was aware that he had stirred. But I was trapped. I yelled out ‘Help!’ but apparently this was just in my head.
He woke me; cuddled me; calmed me.
I can’t go back to sleep though.
This is probably what I would have written in my journal, but it may be useful to others. And others may have insights that will help me.
If you’re still reading, thank you, and I hope your experience with HPPD is improving.
Hi Everyone! It's very rare for me to use online forums however due to this disorder being so rare I thought it'd be the best way to meet new people who have experienced similar things.
My name is Neve, I am 18 years old and currently a University student in England. I've never been that adventurous with drugs and up until university I had only ever touched weed, even then it only being a round 5 times (first time being 15 years old).
When I started university, naturally, I became more exposed to drugs and tried LSD for the first time and again a week later. Both trips I really enjoyed and got the typical experience (enhanced colours, sensations, patterns and sound etc..) It wasn't until I experienced 'flashbacks' on a random Tuesday night. My flatmates were smoking weed however I didn't due to feeling ill. I'm not sure if it was me being ill or the secondary smoke or the combination however I began to experience the same visuals and sensations as I did on my second trip (which was a lot more intense). I was convinced I had accidentally took acid or something..
One of the main things I noticed was colours changing/morphing into new ones, floral patterns and materials looking like they had layers; almost as if things were floating and breathing. At first I thought it was quite cool and I viewed it merely as a pleasant visual that would last a few hours. It has been almost 3 months since that experience and nothing has changed.
It would be interesting to see how having HPPD has affected peoples lives. I try and just go with it, however, recently I have been struggling with it. I have never suffered with mental health issues (not that intense anyway) yet since starting university, my anxiety has been at its peak. Whenever I feel stressed or tired, my visuals enhance thus increasing my anxiety often resulting in panic attacks. After lots of research reading articles, watching documentaries etc, it seems incurable and something that I may just have to live with. Again, it would be really nice to meet people and learn about each others experience with Hallucinogenics.
By Bigg. Pappa
I got hppd a few yers ago. I'm totally fine now. But I thought about it for a while and came to a conclusion that hppd might be the disease of neurotics , ipohondriacs , depressives. Not to be condenscesing or anything , I myself was prone to anxiety and depression. And its ofc not what u are but what u do with it , in this case. But just how many of us would describe ourselves of a neurotic predicament? Not to say that hppd is fake. But I strongly suspect that there is a huge link to having a certain type of a personality. That I conclude from what I myself was prior to working on myself , on the info on the net , and also on the posts on this website. Many are ofc totally rational and sober minded, but cmon , just how many reek of neuroticism and ipohondria? Once again, I totally was in that boat myself, and who would blame a person for neurotisism who just got his world turned upside down. But I still think there is a very definite neurotic/ipohondraic 'flavour' that imbues much of the hppd-sufferers communities.
So it would be interesting to know how many of you would consider themselves of a neurotic/ depressive/ ipohondriac predicament prior to getting hppd.
This might be a long one, but here goes. I've been looking at this site since the end of November, and I think I've found what's been affecting me.
I'm 22-years old; a college student living in student accommodation away from home during term. I've occasionally experimented with drugs since I was about 15 (in social groups, never alone), but it was only in the last year or so that I ever tried ecstasy or LSD – not something I've done often but I found them quite positive experiences. Both times I took acid were quite low doses, and generally njoyable experiences. The only thing I noticed was that I often get bad anxiety from smoking weed since the first time I tripped; before acid this never happened. The experiences were so positive that I became a little bit obsessed with psychedelia; the music, the art, all the hippy stuff basically. For weeks after my trips I felt more clear-minded, focused, happy and just generally appreciative of life – even when COVID lockdowns became a part of our lives last March.
After lockdown during the summer of last year I partied with friends for a couple of days straight; lots of alcohol, ketamine, and on the last day we all took a some of ecstasy. The afternoon of the day I came home I began experiencing what I think was serotonin syndrome; I got waves of panic, heart palpitations, agitation. It was very unpleasant, and it stuck in my mind long after I felt better.
My current predicament was triggered by a caffeine-induced panic attack at the end of last September; I saw a flash of light in my peripheral vision after drinking black coffee, which led to continuing anxiety, visual disturbances, panic attacks, and negative thought loops – all these symptoms seem to come in waves, there's days or weeks when they're far less apparent and times when they feel overwhelmingly intense. I even got an eye test and was prescribed glasses for slight nearsightedness, but they said there was absolutely nothing wrong with my eyes from what they could tell. I had an ECG and a blood test at the doctors too, and they said there didn't seem to be any health issues that they could see – which is good news.
Visual disturbances include visual snow (VS), prolonged after-images, floaters, blue sky ectopic phenomenon (a swirling or rapid movement effect on skies – especially on a bright blue day), as well as occasional perception of movement or lights in peripheral vision, “cracks” or vein/branch-like after-images in my field of vision just after blinking for a few minutes after I wake up, and flashes of light when the eyes are closed (when trying to sleep).
These visual disturbances often create a sense of anxiety, and distract me from everyday tasks. The anxiety tends to get worse if I'm hungover, at night, and especially when I’m trying to fall asleep. I’ve also been experiencing occasional high-pitched ringing sound in my ears (more the right ear than the left one), heart flutters/palpitations, a slight feeling of nausea (generally worse after eating), and a sudden sense of dizziness or disconnection which may trigger mental panic or turmoil. Episodes like this don’t happen frequently, but are usually accompanied by a hot feeling in my face and an over-sensitivity to noises and sensations around me, with even a relaxed living room feeling chaotic and overwhelming.
Unpleasant episodes like this tend to happen on days when I spend a lot of time ruminating about my condition. My mind often gravitates towards the idea that I may have a serious mental disorder – especially schizophrenia, despite not demonstrating the symptoms of this disorder (delusions, complex hallucinations, hearing voices, etc.). It’s more of a fear that I am experiencing what comes before a psychotic episode (prodromal period), and a feeling of helplessness and panic quickly grows out of this.
I spend a lot of time Googling symptoms of various mental illnesses as way to reassure myself that I’m not psychotic, but sometimes I think I’m subconsciously trying to confirm that I am – however labored the justification may be. I think a lot of this is mainly down to the visual issues, but also the general ‘out of sorts’ feelings I’ve had. When I’m feeling particularly out of sorts or anxious, my mind tends to feel jumbled and chaotic – a fuzzy psychedelic feeling in my mind’s eye where it’s difficult to clearly visualize things properly or think clearly. This feeling can be intense and distracting, and it often makes me feel lethargic or low on energy.
I also have trouble sleeping, or rather trouble going to sleep before 12 am. This isn’t a new thing; it has been a recurring issue for me for the last four or five years, but never as consistently problematic for my mental health (being due to anxiety or visual issues), and I was rarely ever kept awake when I wanted to sleep. These sleep problems often mean I wake up and fall asleep again multiple times every morning and struggle to fully get up before 11 am, and I think this effects my productivity for the rest of the day. I don’t feel well-rested when I wake up, so I think this messes with my mood throughout the day.
Today I had the worst panic attack of my life; in broad daylight on a pleasant day at home surrounded by my family. I haven't taken anything (even alcohol or cigarettes) since before Christmas, so that hasn't added to my problems thankfully. I began to fixate on the sense of movement in my peripheral vision and visual snow, which set off my anxiety in an extremely intense way and it has taken all day to calm myself down.
After talking with my parents we agreed it might be time to see a doctor; this isn't going to go away easily and I just want to rule out any other possibilities.
Apologies for the length of this post, I just had to get it all out. Thanks for taking the time to read this and I would appreciate any advice. I will post an update if my symptoms change, and I'll try to keep up to date on any future developments.