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My HPPD story


Clara
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I developed HPPD when I was 17, in 2018 and back in the time I used marijuana frequently, until one day, I started to depersonalize almost every time I smoked. At the time i stopped smoking and after a week or two i started feeling weird, nothing felt right, I started to have floaters in my vision, I closed my eye and saw spirals, I looked at the ground and the ground was distorting, several flashes of colors in my vision, the lights were very strong, I didn't remember several moments of my day , I couldn't study because I couldn't pay attention to anything, I was just surviving and very scared. At that time I didn't have much awareness of what could happen to me, so I think I handled it well. Obviously I developed a fear, I thought I was predisposed to schizophrenia or psychosis but I didn't despair at the time. I remember reading a lot about dp and dr and thinking what I had was just a constant dr. After about 6/7 months I got fed up, obviously I started taking things lighter after a while, whenever I had HPPD crisis I was like "oh lets go, I desrealizated˜, and I kind of normalized, that was really good for my mental health. But even so, I went to the psychiatrist and he told me it was anxiety and that I was probably going to have it my whole life. He prescribed me Lexapro/Escitalopram (SSRI) and it got better a lot, I was cured of hppd in a year. I know that for some people, taking antidepressants (SSRI) makes the HPPD a lot worse, but for me it got better. In the first few days I noticed a worsening but in the long term I can say that it cured my HPPD. Actually I don't know if it was my body healing itself or the medicine, because the hppd doesn't suddenly disappear, it gradually disappears.

So after a few years, whenever I tried to remember what it felt like when I had a hppd attack, my head would go blank, I couldn't remember what it felt like, it was something inexplicable and I remember getting a lot relieved and happy for not to remember what it felt like. Until October 2021.

I was in a very bad phase of my life, I found out that my mother and I had thyroid cancer and we had to undergo surgery to remove the cancer, I was also reconciling work with college. I worked until 10 pm at night and woke up at 7 am to attend college. I was so overwhelmed, me and my boyfriend were fighting a lot. It was chaos. Anyway, one day in October I went to a party and took MDMA to have some fun and it wasn't such a high amount. But I got REALLY stoned, dissociated, started vomiting, had diarrhea in the middle of the party, anxiety crisis. It was horrible. I chewed some gum, I was fine.
After a couple of days some very intrusive, very strange thoughts started to come. Anxiety crisis, panic attacks. It got to the point that every time I went out with friends, with my boyfriend, I had a panic attack. I always thought that something bad was going to happen, I thought I was going to freak out, go crazy, turn into those lunatic people, and that didn't get out of my head. So I watched myself all the time, every thought, every feeling, and I freaked out, because every thought I had I thought I was going to lose control and get crazy and then I had a panic attack.

So I went back to the psychiatrist and he prescribed Lexapro again and said that MDMA unleashed pure OCD on me. I really believed that all my visuals were just because of my anxiety. I didn't know about HPPD at the time, that's why I freaked out so much, thinking I was going to be schizophrenic.

In the first few days that I started taking Lexapro, the pure OCD was gone, but my HPPD got worse. I didn't care much because the pure OCD for me was much worse, it triggered my panic attacks A LOT . Well, I also discovered HPPD on Reddit in the first few days of taking Lexapro, I researched: "I close my eye and see spirals". It was a relief, but at the same time a tension, because researching on HPPD I found that SSRI worsen and even cause HPPD. So I had several attacks of anxiety, thinking that I would depersonalize again and never get back to normal, I felt very helpless. I was also going to have cancer surgery 4 days after I started taking Lexapro. The surgery was performed under general anesthesia, and I had read that the symptoms of HPPD worsened a lot with general anesthesia, I was also very scared.

I had the surgery, came back home, I didn't understand anything, I had to take 1g of dipyrone every 4 hours + rivotril and it seemed like I was dreaming the whole way through, I couldn't react and almost couldn't see because of the intensity of my visuals , I closed my eye and saw several red and blue flashes, like arrows, blinking all the time, my head was racing but I couldn't react, but thank god it lasted just two days. But even so, my looks were very intense for the next 5-7 days.

Today, there is a month that I had the surgery and I'm much better, I've been taking Lexapro for about a month, I haven't had any anxiety attacks or panic attacks. I started exercising, stopped drinking, using any type of drug, including caffeine (only the SSRI), I'm studying to see if I switch to CBD, my visuals have decreased a lot, the crises are very few, I'm free of pure OCD and I'm relearning how to deal with HPPD again.

I know it's not easy to go through this, it's a trauma, a challenge. But know that it will pass, an hour passes, your body is healing every second, minute, hour. Be strong and think that this is part of you, of your story, this is you. And it is much more common than we think. Everything will be fine, there are a lot of people just like you.
Please if you are going through with this, go to therapy, don't be alone in this. Without my therapist I would have been much more lost.

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