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Distressing set of new symptoms which I am finding very difficult to cope with


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Hi all, I’m new to this forum, I’ve had HPPD for two years but I’m currently experiencing a very distressing set of symptoms which I’m wondering whether anybody might know of.

I want to preface this by apologising for any sentences or paragraphs that might not be great reads, I’m currently 3 months into a chronic anxiety and panic episode and my thoughts are, quite frankly, all over the place. I’ll separate the post into two parts, the symptoms which are bothering me now and my back story.

I will be immensely grateful towards anybody who takes the time to read this and share their opinions.

New Symptoms, Onset November 2020:

A few months ago I developed a sensitivity to any perceived motion. I was playing a video game and it was almost as though I could feel the characters moving around the screen, but in my mind. The sensation that this gave me was like a pseudo-physical pressure in the forefront of my mind/face.

1a. Whenever I look at any kind of motion, be it; someone waving their hands, a car driving past me, scroll bars and cursors moving across a screen, birds flying in the sky, waves crashing on the beach or the camera panning across a landscape on TV, I get this uncomfortable sensation in my mind. It feels foreign and like something I need to escape from. 

1b. Now, objects, furnishings or people that are in my immediate awareness, generate the same feeling. It is a feeling as though that my surroundings, which are immediately in my minds awareness, are physically opposing to my brain, sort of as though everything which I perceive is a part of my consciousness.

1c. To give more specific examples; table or counter top corners, sharp knives or other obtrusive kitchen utensils, the edge of walls or doorframes, somebody’s elbow or nose, door handles and knobs, taps, free-standing sinks, plates and glasses, so on and so forth. Anything which I immediately perceive, I can feel the hardness and shape in my mind. It is a feeling like no other I have experienced before. 

1d. As well as this, whenever I look at an object, it *feels* alive and like it is opposing on my sense of self? It’s like my brain is registering my surroundings in a weird way and it’s super distressing. This feeling usually accompanies a physical sensation in my forehead. For instance, I can’t even look at a chair without it looking sinister and *feeling* it’s presence, both in the space around me and in my mind. It is as though my brain thinks that my surroundings are a part of me, I can’t shake it and it is frighteningly chronic. 

1e. When I walk under a doorway or low beam, I feel it brush across my head. Similarly, if I walk past a wall or bannister, I feel the same, but in relation to whatever body part is directly opposite it, e.g; my arms or legs. If I am lying in bed, my mind seems to focus on the lampshade hanging from the ceiling. The sensation I feel in my mind becomes so intense that it feels as though it is a part of and inside me.

2. These sensations seem to be occurring in the form of intrusive thoughts too. When I look at a pillar for example, I imagine it falling and crushing me. The thought is so intense that I genuinely feel it happening throughout my entire body.

These sensations have traumatised me to the point that I get them even if I merely think about or picture objects. For instance, if I think about a chair I will get a pressure in my mind, almost as though it is touching me. Once this starts I struggle to make it stop and it’s as though I can physically feel anything that I think of.

Is it possible for my thoughts to be so intense that I physically feel them? I do have OCD so I wonder whether this is more to do with that, and having obsessed over and fearing this new symptom for the last couple months.

3a. Unrelated to visual stimuli, but related to this sensation, I have begun to experience the same sensations when I perceive any auditory input. In particular, noises which are abrupt, grating and motion-based.

3b. Road and traffic noise, industrial machinery, loud  voices or footsteps make me feel very vulnerable and sensitive. I have been sensitive to noise in the past but this feels remarkably different, as though something in my brain, which was not active before, is registering auditory input in a new fashion. I can feel it within my mind, much in the same as the sensation from sight. If I hear loud footsteps outside, I will feel them in my mind.

4. I have also developed a another sensitivity in that most things that I touch feel off and strange, causing me a great deal of anxiety and discomfort.  Along with all of these strange feelings of things being alive, I’m convinced that it is because my brain thinks it is touching a part of itself.

5. As well as this, I receive uncomfortable sensations in my mind when I am reading certain text. In particular, words which carry negative connotations (or at least to me) such as ‘death, schizophrenia, anxiety, slice’ etc. I am also taken aback by text written in caps lock, it feels overwhelming.

Even thinking about these sensations when I am not perceiving any stimuli can bring them on.

6. A general feeling of discomfort throughout my entire mind and body, everything feels wrong - like I’m tainted by some sort of darkness. 

7. Also when I look at a photo of someone or an animal etc, it’s like they are alive and staring right back at me. It’s quite disturbing.

I fear that I have acquired some sort of more extensive brain damage from persistently high levels of stress and fear due to my HPPD which has damaged me on a neurological level. This may have led to a cross-wiring of my sensory receiving neural pathways, causing sight and sound to trigger tactile and emotional sensations. Although I am unsure and perhaps this is my anxious brain ‘catastrophizing’ the situation. I am also confused as to why this symptom (if it is related to HPPD) has occurred now after abstaining from all substances for over two years.

My ability to carry out day to day activities has pretty much gone out the window, I can no longer drive and I struggle to be in a car as I feel everything in my mind as it rushes past me. Pass-times which I used to enjoy are now triggering, I can no longer watch TV, play video games, listen to certain music or podcasts, and at times I even struggle to read.

I am cautious to take medication as when I previously have taken antidepressants, they have given me more visual disturbances and tinnitus which have persisted to this day. Heck, I’ve even wondered whether they may be why I’m in this state. 

I have spoken to mental health professionals and my GPs, all of which think this is simply anxiety and that I have nothing to fear. It is said to be a severe case of hyper-vigilance, months of persistent depression, stress and anxiety has put my body into a relentless state of fight or flight, trying to alarm me of threats. My nerves and senses are misfiring in a chaotic attempt to protect me.

Does anybody have any advice? If these sensations persist for life, will I be able to live alongside them? I hate to be negative but I am immensely suicidal at the moment. I have been shaking uncontrollably in my room for the last month. I am beginning to feel as though I am losing myself.

Back Story:

To begin with, I first started experiencing HPPD around 2018/2019, following a traumatic experience in October 2018, which medically speaking was a suspected accidental overdose on MDMA and cocaine. Prior to this event I had been dabbling with these drugs sporadically in party like settings for the previous year or so. I had not experienced any symptoms of HPPD until after this happened.

Directly after the overdose I quit all drugs, drinking, smoking and caffeine due to health anxiety surrounding my heart. I’ve been sober from all of these substances for over 2 years now, I haven’t consumed any stimulants since onset. 

Following the event I was understandably quite traumatised, and quite quickly over the coming months I developed severe anxiety in regards to my health. Daily panic attacks ensued and I was convinced that I had done irreversible damage to my heart and would go into cardiac arrest at any given moment. However, I was given the all clear following blood tests and ECGs.

I did not begin to manifest any visual symptoms of HPPD until after a couple months of chronic stress and anxiety. Two or so months down the line, I began to notice the visual snow, intense CEVs, after images, glares and halos around light sources and trailing etc. To begin with, these symptoms quickly switched my health anxiety into mental health anxiety and I feared I was developing a number of mental health disorders. Whilst none of these have yet to come true, one which was for certain was the resurgence of my OCD which had lied dormant since early childhood. I presume that due to countless panic attacks, I began to feel as though I was losing my mind. I obsessed relentlessly over dissociative identity disorder, schizophrenia and psychopathy. At points it had gotten so bad that I was imagining things around me, and would have panic attacks that resembled that of psychotic episodes. I don’t doubt that the HPPD had a role to play in this due to a hyperactivity in the imagination and visual portions of the mind.

At my wits end, in March 2019, I sought out help from my GP and was prescribed an SSRI (citalopram/celexa). I was hesitant at first but the anxiety was unbearable so I bit the bullet. A week into taking the medication, I noticed that I had pronounced tinnitus and my visual trailing had worsened. Perhaps quite naively so, I assumed these were harmless side effects and proceeded to take the medication for a year. It is worth noting at this point I was not aware of HPPD, and thought my visuals were just due to anxiety. In hindsight I probably wouldn’t have taken the medication if I had known the potential risks.

The year that I was on the medication was ok, my anxiety was much less so but I had a persistent feeling of depersonalisation and derealisation which I believe occurred as a result of the multiple panic attacks. In regards to panic attacks, I went from having multiple a day to perhaps 3 or 4 over the year that the medication was effective. 

In March 2020 I quit the medication and around 4/5 months afterwards, I fell into deep bouts of depression where I wouldn’t leave my room for weeks on end. The dissociation was severe and I had no motivation for anything at all. Come November, I developed new symptoms out of the blue which I describe in the first half of my post.


Edited by OB1
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On 2/11/2021 at 4:43 PM, OB1 said:

"I did not begin to manifest"

I have many things to share with you about your post but I will start here with what stood out the most for me; which was the beginning of this seemingly simple and harmless statement. "I did not begin to manifest..." Manifesting is how one's consciousness directly creates one's reality from a result of your current beliefs; yes I am totally suggesting that you most likely created the HPPD symptoms from a result of the long duration of stress you experienced before you noticed the symptoms. You have to remember that energy flows where focus goes, meaning if you put your focus on negativity then the energy will flow into manifesting negative things into your tangible reality... So in turn the strange feeling that you describe as your surroundings being "alive" and/or maybe being a part of your mind; or in other words part of your consciousness, is just a newly heightened awareness allowing you to realize that you are directly creating your reality with your consciousness... Also fear is not real either, it's just a trick I swear... I.do have quite a bit more to share with you but would rather share in a private or direct message if you are interested to hear more that is. I hope to hear back from you soon and if not then, much love to you while you create the reality that you truly want to experience.....

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