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Looking For Advice. Do I have HPPD? Or am I overthinking? In distress and could use help!


Warren01
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Hello all,

I’m writing this post because I am still trying to figure out what has happened to me. I could really use some help and insight perhaps from those who have experienced something similar? I feel like what I’m going through doesn’t fit the “classic” symptoms of HPPD I’ve read about (visual snow, halos, etc) but what I’m going through feels like a 24/7 psychedelic experience so perhaps qualifies for some form of HPPD? My doctor tells me it’s “just anxiety” but it feels like it has to do with psychedelic use.

For background: I used a small dose of LSD once in 2020, one micro dose of mushrooms in March, and one moderate dose of mushrooms in June, none were particularly bad experiences. The last mushroom trip perhaps had some anxiety and loss of control, a feeling of being outside of my body at times but nothing completely unmanageable. No effects the days after. Only other relevant drug use has been weed, one time 7 years ago a friend and I smoked some stuff that looked like oregano and definitely wasn’t weed, made us trip balls/see colors/laugh maniacally for hours/writhe around in bed uncontrollably so to this day not really sure what it was but also not sure if that’s playing a role here. 

Anyways, fast forward to this August (7 weeks after I last used the shrooms) and I start getting a lot stronger CEV before going to bed at night. I kind of just brushed it off but it was a bit disturbing. This lasted about a week and after a stressful night of flight delays I remember coming home going to bed with the CEV becoming especially vivid and some hypnagogic hallucinations occurring (very disordered, nonsensical, disturbing thoughts right before going to bed that would jolt me awake with anxiety). Again I fell asleep after a few hours and brushed it off.

It was this next week when unreality really took hold. More and more objects I would look at would have this “psychedelic” appearance to them - not melting/moving/warping but just that slight increase in detail and texture that you may notice if microdosing? This would disconcern me a bit and cause me to feel down for a few days. But as the week went on I began noticing it in more and more things around me until I felt like I was FULLY in psychedelic world. Again, no visual snow, trailers, halos, but just increased detail and brighter color? And my eye getting drawn to things more readily, almost like HD vision I would get with weed normally. And greater attention to patterns (not really seeing patterns that aren’t there though). Also I started to feel like the world is moving past me when I walk instead of me walking, not a DP/PR feeling because I definitely feel in my body but just this strange feeling of the world flying past me when I move. 

All of this would be fine and good but it has caused uncontrollable anxiety, like the anxiety came on right when I would stare at things and notice they are different, to the point where I had a non-stop panic attack for an entire week with no sleep. The panic attack manifesting itself through intense chest, foot, and wrist pain that is like an 8/10 so very strong. The body pains (presumably from the anxiety) are very frequent and last throughout most of the day. It didn’t feel like I could just look at the “different-ness” of things and not care about it, it just felt like the anxiety/disheartedness would spike AS SOON as I drew my attention to the changed appearance of an item.

It’s been almost two months now and I’ve gone on Prozac and Hydroxyzine for sleep, with benzo use as needed. I also take Tylenol for the body pain. The world still looks just as different, still flies past me when I walk, the body pains are still there, and the closed eye visuals still keep me up many nights. I wake up at least once or twice a night and get 6 hours of sleep on a good night, usually less, laying in bed thinking how fucked I am on the nights I can’t get to bed. Functioning has been tough, I’m much slower at school and had to take a couple weeks off even. 

My question to all of you is - do any of these symptoms sound familiar to you? Can this be considered HPPD in your opinion or are my “visual changes” just a result of “regular anxiety” as my doctors say? Have any of you experienced symptoms like this and have you dealt with them? I know none of you on here are medical professionals but it’s difficult for me to accept that the weirdness of how things look is just a symptom of regular anxiety, especially since I have no life triggers to bring it out. Thank you so much and I look forward to hearing from you!

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It certainly sounds similar, just without the open eyed visuals usually associated with hppd. A lot of the issues sound like some form of DP/DR (The DP part is what makes you feel like you are not connected to your body, but the DR part is the more trippy/dreamy state of mind). 

I imagine all the same triggers will generally apply, so try to avoid things like caffeine, extra stress etc. 

Try to stay calm and see how this goes over the next few months. Good luck, Jay

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Hello, 

     I'm sorry to hear about your struggles.  I will say that my first thought is that you and your friend smoked Spice (synthetic weed) 7 years ago.  I have done this too (unfortunately) and it had a significant impact on my life. HPPD is a funny thing that I don't pretend to understand.  I am confident that there is a strong relationship between HPPD and anxiety and they sort of create a feedback loop which can make things really difficult for periods of time.  My history is one of extensive marijuana, LSD and mushroom use.  Plus a few other things here and there, spice being included.   I tell everyone the same thing because it worked for me and facilitated my recovery over time:

  • 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 
  • Learn to meditate if you can (this was really helpful for me) 
  • If you're open to it, start praying to God (it doesn't have to be any particular religion and you don't even have to believe in anything just ask for help on your knees everyday.  I really believe help will come if we reach out)

Remember, most things in life (good and bad) are impermanent; this time for you included.  I know it can be scary, hopeless, upsetting and many other things.  It's important to believe that you can recover if you give your body and mind the chance to.  The mind especially is extraordinarily resilient as you will see through your own recovery.  I genuinely cannot believe how good my life is today; I have a family (wife and kids), I am a mathematics PhD student (year 5), I served in the military and I am generally happy.  All of this good stuff occurred AFTER I contracted HPPD and even went back to drugs for a short period in between the military and graduate school.  Keep pushing and try not to worry.  Try and accept that this is how things are for you now, do what you can and see what happens.  Also, there is nothing to feel guilty about.  We all make mistakes, the important things is how we respond to the effects of those mistakes.  This is an opportunity for you to grow and start a new life! 

I am also available to chat on WhatsApp, if you're interested DM me on this forum.  

Take Care,

Nick 

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