Alright so here's my story:
I first noticed the symptoms of HPPD after a mushroom trip in 2009. Nothing too bad, just some black static on stuff, visual snow, lines would move, grass and walls would breathe slightly, etc. This stuff kind of dissipated over time and would come back once in a while when I was really stressed or had too much coffee or lack of sleep. No big deal. I kept doing drugs, even psychedelics, for the next couple of years. Acid in 2010. Some RC in 2012. Weed almost daily.
Everything changed November 7, 2015. I had a panic attack while I was driving with a friend. I've never experienced anything like it, and the sensations of what I was experiencing sent my mind into a state of extreme hypochondria. I thought I was dying. They rushed me to the hospital and checked my heart because I thought I was having a heart attack, everything ended up being fine so they gave me a 10mg Valium and sent me on my way.
The panic didn't go away. It was all day, every day. It was relentless, and all this horrible stuff about dying was going through my mind. I thought death was imminent, that I was going to have a heart attack or stroke any minute. I guess I got into a state of hypervigilance.
About a month later is when everything got way worse and what I've been experiencing every single day non-stop for about a year and a half.
A month after the initial attack, in early December, I started to notice that I was seeing only what I can describe as closed-eye visuals with my eyes open. The perceptions in my head and mental state started to change. Anything I could think of I could see in very vivid detail, and thoughts and images were flooding into my mind on auto-piilot and non-stop. It was like I was tripping on a half-tab of acid 24/7 but it was all mental. Like I said, I've had HPPD since 2009 but have never experienced anything like this before December 2015 - like a mental picture show in my head that just wouldn't stop. I see clouds, birds, lights, and colors - anything that the mind can imagine, anything I can think of I see, with my eyes open, but in my mind. All the time. I feel like I'm between two realities, like there's another world inside my head all the time and I'm switching between them. There's a "space" in my mind's eye where all these images originate from, and it's this "space" that I think is the core of the problem. I haven't done drugs about a week before the panic attack, and don't plan on doing them ever again.
Anyway, I couldn't sleep, became agoraphobic, and driving became impossible. Riding in the car was a nightmare and would send me into panic mode. The extreme anxiety/panic/hypervigilance lasted about 4 months straight and I slowly started driving with my dad in the car, and was able to start driving close to home around town on my own. I can now make it into the outskirts of the city but there's a certain distance I can get to and I can feel the panic start to envelope me. I started failing my classes and failed an entire semester because I just couldn't do it mentally anymore.
The images and weird thought processes have not stopped for almost a year and a half straight. At first I thought I was going insane. I thought I was in the early stages of schizophrenia and I was about to have a massive psychotic breakdown. But I kept telling myself that I'm too logical and coherent for that. I had several tests ran over the course of a couple of months and even got an mRI done, but there was nothing substantial. I don't see things externally and don't hear things, no external hallucinations, I just see shit in my head.
I feel like I fucked up my mind and my brain. I've been to about 5 different therapists and have been on about 12 different medications in this timespan ranging from Abilify to Depakote to SSRIs. Nothing has really abated the symptoms and the withdrawal from all these drugs left me in a worse state.
My life is very stressful right now. I'm on disability and have maybe one friend I can hangout with in real life. No girlfriend. Live at home with my parents. Money's always an issue.
I've contemplated suicide every day for the past year and a half. One thing gives me hope - a friend I met on an HPPD Facebook group who said he went through the same thing and said that what I'm experiencing is all DP/DR and hypervigilance. He said his lasted about a year and a half and then he made himself go out and do things and it started going away. Also, in January of this year, I had a really good month where the images/weird perceptions were down 0.1% (I measure their intensity on a percentage scale). It was a really good month. That gives me hope. But the past couple of months have been non-stop.
There was even a period of about 3 months where I developed some kind of weird synesthesia where whenever I touched or saw metal like a fork or tin foil, I would feel it throughout my whole body and in my consciousness like my body was made of metal. That went away. If that can go away, can the images and the space in my head?
I feel like every day is just a struggle to survive and all I want are my mind and life back. Can the intensity of all this go down, to where it's manageable or not even noticeable? I'm prescribed klonopin and it helps sometimes but I don't want to get addicted to it.
If any of you have advice I'm all ears.
Thank you for listening to my story. Please tell me that there's some ray of hope out there and I haven't completely fucked up my brain.