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Maybe it is HPPD after all


ArdSionnach
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Hi all,

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.

History

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.

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Hello Friend, 

I'm sorry to hear your difficulties.  However, what you have going for you is your rather short drug history.  We're all different and contract this condition for various reason with various manifestations of symptoms.  For me it was excessive LSD use over a period of months which I think landed me here.  I was young at the time and actually continued tripping despite the symptoms because I didn't care.  Now I am older (31 years old)  and still have symptoms but they are nothing like they used to be.  I am happy, have a family and am currently working on a PhD in math.  Life certainly does not end with this condition.  I'm hopeful that with you, your symptoms will clear up completely and I'd say there's a good chance if you abstain from drugs.  I tell everyone the same thing on this forum:

  • Stop all drugs (even alcohol for a bit if you can) 
  • Get as much sleep as you can 
  • Exercise regularly even if it makes your symptoms worse
  • Eat well 
  • Stay busy with work/ school/ hobby etc
  • Try not to worry 
  • Meditate and mindfulness! (these were the biggest factors in coming out of the funk) 

Another thing that's useful to is to try and not obsess over the condition, just accept it as a temporary change in your life (maybe some good will come of it who knows).  I've found that the more I focus on the problem the bigger it gets and it tends to produce anxiety which exacerbates the symptoms which creates anxiety ...

Anyway, hang in there, try and have a positive attitude and you'll recover. 

Take Care,

Nick 

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