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Five-year anniversary

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Hello everyone, 

Just wanted to post another update about my recovery... 

May 8 was my official five-year anniversary of getting HPPD. I can't even begin to describe how transformative and painful the last five years of my life have been. I almost can't even believe I'm still alive. HPPD is unlike anything I've ever experienced or anything I could even imagine experiencing. It's truly an otherworldly disorder I wouldn't wish on any living creature, even the most despicable of humans. This is especially true for those who have HPPD in conjunction with severe depersonalization, derealization or Alice in Wonderland Syndrome. It is one thing to suffer visual impairment but to actually feel like you're living in a dream and not be capable of identifying reality from fiction is another mindf*^k altogether. I feel so, so much sorrow for those of you enduring such mental diseases. They are truly the worst thing I've ever endured and I can't imagine mental suffering feeling any worse. The fact we do not have proper representation, understanding and attention in the medical world is beyond an injustice. I hope we can someday get to the point where our suffering is not only validated professionally but also addressed and perhaps even mitigated medicinally. 

Anyway, I don't have much to say that I haven't already said before. The last five years of my life have changed me in ways I never could have imagined and will have lasting effects on everything I do for the rest of my life. I do consider myself fully recovered from HPPD since it no longer prevents me from doing anything I want, however some of my symptoms are still very mild and I imagine will be present in some form for a long time, mostly just lowgrade visual snow and streamers at night or when I'm really tired or have had way too much caffeine. But in my day-to-day life HPPD isn't an issue. It's hardly noticeable and even when present it isn't strong enough to elicit any sort of anxiety or distress. It's very similar to a scar -- there but no longer the source of any pain. 

I remember when I first got HPPD praying for a cure, praying for help, praying for anything -- which was strange as I considered myself an atheist at the time. Why was I praying? To what god? And what form did I expect a savior to arrive? The truth is that HPPD was so painful and I was so lost and bereft of answers that praying was the only thing left to do. Less than a year after getting HPPD I became suicidal and as my one-year anniversary approached I nearly went through with killing myself after I felt I exhausted all my options and didn't see anywhere else to turn. 

Of course now I'm praying for a different reason -- now I'm praying to whatever higher power there is out of pure gratitude for still being alive. Every day I wake up I feel I'm playing with house money. Everything I see and feel is like a miracle. Life itself feels like the greatest gift imaginable. Nobody should have to endure the most severe forms of this condition and yet somehow I managed to hang in there for well over a thousand days, battling from sunrise to sundown just to make it through the day. But I'm so thankful I did. I don't feel like I deserve this life I have, almost as if I suffer from survivor's guilt, but yet I'm so appreciative at the same time. 

I'm still battling additional health issues but my life is good right now, better than it ever was even when I was "healthy" before. I've been living with my partner in a little cabin in the woods during the lockdown and I feel so lucky to experience life with her. I'm just completing a volunteer program to help plant trees throughout the city. I'm in good shape both physically and mentally -- the best I've ever felt. I'm seeing a therapist and resolving the childhood trauma that I feel got me HPPD in the first place. And best of all I'm taking steps to going back to grad school in the next year or so. I'm truly accomplishing all my dreams and this is just something I never thought I'd be able to do even a few years ago. 

If anyone is curious how I got to where I'm at after slaving away in the pits of HPPD hell for years I suggest reading some of my past posts. Everything you need to know about my healing process is there. Also if anyone needs to talk or just wants to reach out please feel free to message me. I don't check this site nearly as much as I used to but I'll try and get back to you when I can. I do think having people to talk to who understand your experience is one of the most important aspects of dealing with this condition. I hope that at some point in the future we can organize some kind of conference or just a meetup at various locations around the world so people don't feel as alone -- perhaps even video or phone calls if the pandemic extends indefinitely. 

Lastly, I'd urge people in the initial stages of HPPD to maintain optimism and perseverance above all else. There are many pessimistic posts on this site and rightfully so given the nature of this condition, however it's important for our survival (quite literally) that we value the experiences of those who've recovered and learn from them so that we can perhaps begin to create a template for how to cope and heal from this condition moving forward. People like me and many others on this site are proof this is something that can be overcome, however it's also the hardest thing you'll ever do and it takes years of fortitude in the face of extreme distress and darkness. It's just so important to realize there is a light at the end of the tunnel and but also that it takes a monumental amount of work to get there.

On this same subject, I just wanna point out one of the most crucial aspects of healing isn't what you do but also what you don't do. Sure exercise, meditation, therapy, eating healthy, socializing, yoga, spirituality, nature, sunlight and natural medication are vital to the recovery process but just as important are all the things you don't do: drugs (most importantly), fast food, toxins, sedentary lifestyle, isolation, darkness and so on. We're constantly bombarded by poisons every day in the modern world and it's just so important to avoid those things if you want to give your body and mind a chance to heal. If you're eating healthy and exercising but also taking drugs and isolating then you're negating any positive inputs you're attempting to incorporate into your lifestyle. Healing from HPPD is truly as much about shedding past toxic behaviors, belief systems and lifestyle choices as it is implementing new ones. 

Given how good I feel I may not post for my six-year anniversary but I will nevertheless read this site from time to time, especially for news. That said, if I keep continuing to recover I'll post an update a year from now. In the meantime I pray everyone gets the help they need and takes the necessary steps to address the underlying issues that result in HPPD. I know it may not seem like it but life is worth living. It always is. If you just stick with it you will eventually see the payoff. Sometimes it just takes a lot longer than we'd like to believe. 

Take care, 

-- K.B. 

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