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My introduction and sorry it's so long.


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Hello and Happy New Year. 

I am new to the forum and how I got here was from watching a Vice interview with Andrew Callaghan, who has/had a YouTube channel called "All Gas No Brakes". If you are not aware of him, he does a type of Gonzo video journalism with some pretty hilarious results. Anyway, at the end of the interview he mentioned how he had HPPD and had gotten it from overuse of mushrooms which he started using at 13 and he's now 20 something. Anyway, I had never heard of HPPD so I decided to look it up, and that led me down the rabbit hole of YouTube videos, some medical journals and then finally to this forum. 

After reading about it now for many hours over the last two days, seeing some examples of what it could be it and hearing others' experience with HPPD, it made me wonder if this is something that I have had now, in varying degrees, for over 30 years?

Let me explain: I am now 47 and I first took acid when I was 13 and did it twice. Then, when I was 15 until 18 I went full on into the acid world along with almost daily pot smoking which caused my school performance to go completely down the tubes. I went from being an A/B student to just graduating from high school. I eventually stopped using acid when a particularly bad trip, which was brought on by too much pure liquid LSD followed by some serious pot smoking, caused me to have a serious meltdown, making me feel as if I was in some type of cartoon land. It was very scary. I know now that part of what I felt that caused the exteme panic was depersonalization. I felt completely disconnected from the real world, and my friends I was with. I had had some other meltdowns in the past but this one was a doozy. I only did acid one more time after that and after that last trip I remember that the after effects seemed to linger longer than normal and kind of caused me some anxiety and paranoia. I believe that this was also when a fear of choking on my food began to rear it's ugly head. That I have gotten under control now. Around this time, age 18, I also quit smoking weed regularly. Whenever I would do it, feelings of the bad trip would come back, making me anxious, uncomfortable and on some occasions causing depersonalization. Of course at the time, I had no idea what it was. I just felt very weird and outside of myself and wondered if I would ever feel normal again. Of course, I told no one not even my friends about it and just privately dealt with it until I eventually just learned to accept it for what it was (even though I didn't know what "it" was until now). I knew however that taking drugs was not good for me which is why I pretty much cut them out. All except for alcohol. 

I  took magic mushrooms a few times in my 20s, which was fine (no freak outs) and then 5 years ago, when I was 42, I took a microdose for the first time in over 20 years. The experience, since it was very mild, I remember as being quite enjoyable. I don't seem to remember any negative effects other than having a hard time falling asleep due to the visuals with my eyes closed. The next day was also a bit of a struggle.

I have never done MDMA, ketamine or other synthetic drugs.

While I am fairly anxiety-free now, in my early 20s, which wasn't long after I quit both LSD and pot, I began to have panic attacks. My first one happened when I was 21 and at the time I didn't know what was happening, I just felt like I was having a flashback. It was brought on now doubt, due to my living at the time, which was just existing, and being under a lot of both mental and personal stress. They continued at completely random times for a few years until they went away. This was probably due to my having started to exercise and eat better when I hit 24, and my way of living was getting better. I also did cocaine for the first time and did it very sporadically until about age 35. I continued drinking primarily and then smoking pot when the mood struck me. The decision to get high would usually turn out to be a bad idea because I would always do it when I was drunk. One particular episode when I was 36, of drinking and smoking more than I usually did (one or two bowl hits) led me to have only what I can refer to as a "pot black out" where I don't remember what I did for an hour or more until I came to or began to sober up. I guess it was a DP/DR thing. All I know is that my girlfriend at the time, who was a huge stoner, didn't like the fact that I ran off with a married woman and wandered around this music festival with her for an unspecified period. I often wondered if the weed was laced but it just turns out that weed strains now are very potent. 

During my teens I started to drink and have continued to do so. For a while it was beer and then wine before turning into drinking hard liquor on a daily basis. At first it didn't seem to be any problem but it eventually began to make me wonder three years ago if I was turning into an alcoholic. Not to mention I was also having depression, anxiety, etc. But again I didn't make the connection between the two. I was also exercising regularly, eating healthy, meditating, doing yoga and other good things. During the pandemic I decided to cut way back on my drinking and smoke more weed. I had always had an on/off again relationship with weed since I cut it out in my teens due to reasons listed above but now I am beginning to think that I need to cut it out once and for all because it aggravates what I believe to be HPPD. It's a shame though, because I feel that now I can truly enjoy weed again after not being able to for so long. Even times when I have gotten too high, while it can feel a little uncomfortable, I can manage. I am sure this all has to do with age, self-awareness and knowing how to handle anxiety.

My HPPD symptoms, if that is truly what it is are the following:

1. Mild visual snow when in mid to darkly lit rooms or outside at night.

2. Things changing shape, etc if I stare too long at them or until I blink. This is especially a problem watching TV or having a conversation with people. If I stare (zone out) at the TV or anything too long, after a while everything else in the background will seem to melt away. I have to shake myself out of it. Maybe this is why I don't like to watch a lot of TV??

3.After images, I seem to get this a lot from computer screens, which is why I have started wearing blue screen glasses

4.Ghosting of things.

5. Floaters. 

6.When I was younger and this probably began after I first tripped, I use to always get crazy visuals at night when I would fall asleep. I don't have them so much anymore but every now and then, usually after too much caffeine, I can get little spots of light in my vision.

7.If I concentrate hard enough on things like my carpet, crazy designs, etc. I can "see" vague images but they are not enough to cause me any panic.

8. Reading in dark mode on my IPad at night, in the dark, can also make text kind of weird causing some ghosting.

9. I play music and sometimes after having stared at music notation for a period, the notes can seem to change ever so slightly.

While I don't see them now I am sure there was a time when I would get trails from objects, albeit very subtle.

I always thought that this had something to do with my bad eyesight: I wear contacts and have an astigmatism in my left eye. At the same time, ALL these things can get amplified when I smoke pot,drink or do both, which I usually do, and will usually persist even when I am sober. They have also happened after having taken an Delta-8 THC edible. Perhaps this is why I feel just as stoned and out of sorts on D8 THC as I do on regular THC? Over the last few years, since I started smoking pot again (or whenever I have decided to smoke it again), I have noticed these HPPD symptoms ramping up.

The same thing with OCD, which I only realized I had a few years ago, even though I had gotten negative or weird thoughts throughout my life since I first used either LSD, pot or both. I sought treatment a few years ago after a period of regular pot smoking mixed with alcohol was causing some more than normal intrusive negative thoughts, and causing me some anxiety. I even saw an OCD specialist for a bit, which helped. While I didn't want to believe it at the same time I am 100 percent certain that the pot use caused it.

Based on the HPPD survey that you can sign up for on the first page of this forum, I now believe that early age psychedelic use has caused the following symptoms in my life and have been with me since I was a teen. Again, I never made the connection until I came across HPPD, this forum and took the survey.

1.OCD

2.Vertigo - completely took me by surprise but it makes sense because when I was a kid, before I started using drugs, heights didn't bother me as much as they do now. 

3.Chronic back pain?!

4.Panic attacks (though I don't have them anymore)

5.HPPD

6. Social anxiety (not so much anymore). I am more introverted than not but I have to be on when I teach, which is my day job.

Other things I have considered that may also be due to my early use of psychedelics:

I also don't really like driving at night and its made even worse when it rains. This is due to the halo effect that I can get from on-coming cars' headlights. I am not sure if this is HPPD or not but just thought I would mention it.

I could never get those damn "Magic Eye" Puzzles to work. Every time I would zone out on the image and try to see the hidden picture the design would just blur out into nothingness.

Certain patterns really hurt my eyes

It takes me a while to adjust to darkness

For a long time I did reality based visual art and now when I do any sort drawing, especially abstract, I have to try really hard to not get too caught up in whatever random patterns I am creating.  

Anyway, if HPPD is what I have had with for this long (almost 30 years) then I have learned to deal with it. It is what it is as they say. My life now is the best it's ever been: I am married, have a career I love, and have just a basic quality of living that I had when I was younger; I am sure that has helped a lot. Meditation and mindfulness has helped get my OCD under control and now I am going to cut out both pot and alcohol for at least a month and see what happens. I didn't realize that caffeine can aggravate HPPD and I drink at least 3-4 cups a day so, maybe I need to either cut that out too or at least just have one cup each day.

I had Covid-19 as well in 2020, before I was vaccinated, and I wonder now if the 'brain fog" amplifed my HPPD a bit?

It is obvious from having read some of the other posts on this forum that my case is not as bad as others and nor was it ever to the point where I couldn't function normally day-to-day. However, it is safe to assume that because I used drugs at such a young age, before my brain was fully developed, HPPD, along with the other symptoms that I have listed above, has been with me a long time. It is just now that I am realizing why that is and for that I feel like I have made in a huge leap in my day-to-day life.

Again sorry, for the length of this but I feel I had to get it all out there as a way to help me process it better.

 

 

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Hi, welcome to the forum! I'm sure it's been a relief to put a name to the condition and know you are not alone. We share a similar drug history, it seems (even down to the cartoon world trip!) ... It sounds like you are at peace with your hppd though and have lived a full and normal life! 

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Welcome.  Please don't apologize for your post "being so long"!  it's very articulate and informative.  I too started dosing when I was 13 (almost 14) and I'm convinced it's one of the reasons why I contracted HPPD.  That and the fact that I dosed frequently until I was about 20.  I too consumed too much alcohol during my 20s to deal with the anxiety.  I finally gave it up because it was grinding my bearings.  At that point, I was married, had two children, and a new career.  I knew if I kept on drinking, everything I cared about would be washed away.  Cannabis suddenly backfired on me.  As soon as I stopped dosing, it started giving me panic attacks and my visuals went out of control and this is back when weed was relatively weak.  You mentioned that you started a meditation practice during the pandemic.  I've been practicing for a long time and I find it to be very helpful.  it keeps my brain focused and significantly reduced my anxiety.

Thank you for sharing your experiences.   When I first found this forum it was a huge relief to finally express the symptoms I'd lived with for so long.

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It is comforting to Read these intro's and experiences, and as Jay noted above, and we share similar 'stories. Your experiences and also symptoms share many, many parallels with mine - I am also mid 40's, 45 ( 47 is mid right??? 🙂 ) and have had lived and accepted this condition for a very long time. 

As MadDoc and you have noted above, I also am convinced taking so many and so many powerful hallucinogenics at such a young age was the trigger on this for me. 

Man, finding you guys on here has been the best thing for so many people in this HPPD journey, for me for sure. x

 

 

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@Blossy I'm 62.  I'm hopeful that's still the early 60s and not the mid 60s!

I was a very depressive young teenager.  I found for a while after I dosed, my depression would lift.  Unfortunately, my young brain thought psychedelics were THE answer and I took it too far.  I think, in my case, the combination of youth and excess cemented HPPD.  I've been listening to a blog about the wonders of psychedelic therapy to treat depression.  My fear is, without careful regulation, a lot of human wreckage could result.

In any case, I've found that life is a true gift even with HPPD.  I don't follow any particular religion, so I guess the term "gift" isn't like a present some diety granted me.  instead, I see myself as a bunch of matter that woke up to witness whatever "this" is.  I apologize, I'm indulging in my weirdness again.

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Thanks for all the positive feedback, I really appreciate it.

Yeah, when I in high school I was a hardcore acid head and would tell anyone I knew about it how great it was but all it took was a couple of bad trips to change my mind. Some will say that there are no such things as "bad trips" and you just have to be prepared for whatever the drug brings. As an adult I can see that now: you have to give up all control and just learn to go with it for better or worse. Of course, that is easier said than done. When you are a teen everything is so much more complicated because of all the changes your body and mind is going through. Adding a strong hallucinogenic drug into the mix can just make it so much worse. I even knew someone who when we were in high school, became somewhat of an acid casuality. He was already inbalanced and the acid just kicked it into overdrive. I have another friend who, due to his extensive MDMA use in his early 20s, began to develop seizures in his 30s and his doctors still don't know what's causing them. He now has to take  medication to keep them under control.

I have to admit though, that when microdosing became a thing a few years ago, I was a bit intrigued. I read Michael Pollan's book "How to Change Your Mind" and it began to renew my interest in psychedelics again as seen through the eyes of an adult and not a kid.

However, there was a part of me that also was thinking "what if something bad happens"? Of course I know the chances of developing a serious mental disorder as a middle-aged adult is slim to none since by now the brain is done developing, neurons have been pruned, etc. but, you never know...Besides, reality is weird enough without drugs!

On a side note,this is day 14 of not drinking (I don't know the last time I went this long without any alcohol) and I feel pretty good too. Sleeping better, better mood, more focused, OCD is pretty much non-existent or very minimal and I don't have to drink as much coffee as I usually do. 

Be well,

C

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