StateOfRegret

HPPD, anxiety and a lasting feeling of intoxication

28 posts in this topic

Hi all :-)
I'd like to give an account of my experience with HPPD and related anxiety. I apologize for the length of my post!

I'm under the impression that many HPPD-sufferers (though by no means all) began experiencing noticeable symptoms of HPPD after only a few psychedelic experiences.
This was not the case for me. I got very interested in psychedelic substances at the age of 16 and did a lot of reading before actually indulging.
At the age of 17 I tried LSD for the first time, and had an enjoyable and interesting experience. After this, I began tripping frequently, and by age 18-19 I had gone through 1000mg of 2C-B (another psychedelic compound) and had somewhere in the vicinity of 50 LSD trips. I had noticed slight symptoms of HPPD after using 2C-B quite frequently for a few months (tripping perhaps once every fortnight, sometimes more frequently), but I didn't think much of it. I figured that the effects were probably transient. I then acquired a large amount of 2C-C and some Psilocybe Cubensis mushrooms, while continuing to do LSD once in a while. During the time I used 2C-C, I noticed that my HPPD symptoms were worsening, but I still attributed it to my frequent use of psychedelics, thinking that it would soon die down when I eventually decided to take a proper, long break from using these substances. During all this, I smoked cannabis intermittently, while never becoming a "heavy" smoker by any means.

At age 20, I moved to a big city (or at least as big as they come here in Scandinavia) and began studying physics at university. At this time, I made a decision to use psychedelics and cannabis much less frequently. Over the course of the next year, I only tripped a couple of times, and only at somewhat low dosage levels.
It was after this period that I realized that my HPPD symptoms (moving coloured splotches, lingering after-images and so on) had not gone away. They seemed to have lessened somewhat, and I paid less attention to them than before. Nonetheless they were clearly noticeable, and somewhat distracting at times. I felt no anxiety in relation to my HPPD symptoms, and decided that they weren't hindering me in my daily life.

At this point I slowly began experimenting with psychedelic drugs once again, picking up pace after a few months. Apparently I had not learnt my lesson. A friend and I purchased a rather large amount of 4-HO-MiPT (a psychedelic tryptamine, somewhat akin to mushrooms in effects) and some 25C-NBOMe (a potent psychedelic). At this point we were tripping on a weekly basis. After a couple of months, it became increasingly clear to me that a long hiatus from all psychedelic substances would be needed at some point. But I postponed it.

After our last exams we decided that we'd kick back and enjoy ourselves with a bit of newly-purchased 2C-C. I had slept poorly for a couple of days, and really should have gone home and laid down. Instead, I went ahead and ingested a dose of the 2C-C with my partner in crime. This turned out to be a mistake. After an hour, I began noticing that I was unable to have a simple conversation with our trip-sitter (a sober friend who, thankfully, was also present). I thought to myself "I really didn't imagine I would get this high from this stuff". About 15 minutes later it was becoming quite uncomfortable. I mentioned to my friend that it didn't feel like any 2C-C I'd ever had before, and he agreed that it was qualitatively different. I asked him if he thought it was something to worry about, and he responded that he wasn't sure, but that it would perhaps become a problem if it continued growing in strength. By this time I felt extremely hot and my heart was racing.
We decided that, since this drug definitely did not resemble 2C-C, we had no idea what it was. We experienced some visuals, but mostly it was the physical effects which were completely different from what we expected. I said, that if we had ingested an unknown drug, which still seemed to be growing in intensity, we might have to go to an emergency room, since there was no way of knowing how long the effects would continue increasing in strength. First we decided to take a cold shower, to see if it would cool us down, as we were experiencing something akin to hyperthermia. It helped a little, but the relief was short-lived, and it did nothing to attenuate the tachycardia we were experiencing.

To cut a long story short, we went to the emergency room, which was an unpleasant experience worthy of its own report. The nurse said that I had a resting pulse somewhere in the high 120's, which is definitely not life-threatening. By this time, the effects had died down a little.
The next day, I felt very close to normal, albeit somewhat shocked. I paid a visit to another friend, who was smoking a potent synthetic cannabinoid called UR-144, but I chose not to partake in light of the events of the previous night.
A few beers later, my judgement somewhat impaired, I chose to try some of the synthetic cannabinoid after all. This was perhaps my biggest mistake.
A couple of minutes after smoking the cannabinoid I felt a surge through my body, a tingling sensation which spread to every part of my body. I started shaking somewhat, but I managed to ride it out, and within a few minutes I felt alright, albeit somewhat shaken and quite intoxicated. Soon after, I decided to call it a night and went to bed.

I awoke the next morning, and this is where things got uncomfortable. As soon as I opened my eyes, I noticed that my surroundins appeared out of the ordinary. I felt quite high - almost as high as I had done the night before - and my HPPD was very noticeable. I hoped that this intoxication would subside quickly, as I had promised to visit my parents for a family get-together later that day. Upon arriving at my parents' in the evening, I still felt just as out of it. I had difficulty following the conversation, and I was beginning to become very anxious about the whole thing. I decided to tell my parents what had happened, as I felt unable to continue pretending. Soon after I went to lay down.
Around midnight I went downstairs and watched some TV with my mom, still feeling very high and physically uncomfortable. I had been feeling a constant tingling sensation throughout my body the whole day. This is when I had my first panic attack, something I've never experienced before. It hit me very quickly, beginning with an sudden surge of intense "tingling" in my body. I jumped up from the couch, shaking and feeling as though I was about to lose all connection with reality. This state of sheer terror lasted for perhaps 2 minutes, after which I slowly returned to a less debilitating level of anxiety.

The next day I was still in this highly uncomfortable state, and I had another panic attack. This one was different. It kept building for perhaps ten minutes, before climaxing in a severe panic attack. I was shaking uncontrollably, couldn't even stand up, and my mom even ended up calling the medical services, who had nothing useful to say.

The next day I visited my doctor, who prescribed a benzodiazepine (Oxazepam) for the anxiety. This helped somewhat. I didn't have a full-blown panic attack after this. But I still spent more than a week in bed, completely unable to do the simplest things. Even watching TV proved too much. I felt over-stimulated by any sort of stimulus, and was plagued by strange bodily sensations (mostly the tingling feeling) and strong HPPD-like visuals.
After being bedridden for well over a week, I managed to go for a few short walks, while still feeling very strange and anxious. I have been getting better very slowly since then, and it has now been five weeks since the night I smoked the cannabinoid (and since I ingested the unknown substance which landed me in the ER). I now only take benzodiazepines on some days, but I am still far from functioning normally. Most of the unpleasant physical sensations have lessened greatly (thank God for that). The most persistent one has been a strong sense of dizziness, but that is getting better as well.
The only symptom which is still in full force is my visual HPPD, which has a tendency to bring out anxiety as well, since it reminds me of the state I'm in.

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Dude, that's some heavy shit..

Anyway, sorry to hear, and welcome to the forum. Seeing as you didn't really ask any questions, all I'll say is take it easy on the Oxazepam. I mean, the stuff gives me relief as well, but I felt it's addictive potential, and you definitely don't want an addiction on top of this. But I read you're handling that quite well.

Thanks for sharing your story. If you need any advice, just ask!

Odisa.

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Thanks for your kind reply - yes, it's been quite an ordeal. I have many questions, but I'll start by studying the forums, and then I'll return if I don't find answers :-)

 

One of the more painful things (aside from worrying about my own sanity, of course) has been turning down many invitations from my friends, since I haven't felt that I could manage to be around them just yet. I've visited a few friends, but most of the time I've had to come up with excuses, since I didn't feel like explaining my situation to them, worrying that they might not understand. Incredible as it may seem, many of my rather close friends do not know about my use of psychedelic drugs, and only very few know of the extent of it.

 

I realize, upon re-reading my own post, that it comes across as somewhat "matter of fact". Don't be fooled by this. I deeply regret what I've done, and most of all I regret ignoring the signs of HPPD for so long (even though I was aware that there exists such a thing as HPPD, though I hadn't researched it thoroughly).

 

Thanks for your concern regarding oxazepam. I know that benzodiazepine addiction is very serious, and that it may end up doing more harm than good, anxiety-wise. I do certainly feel a strong urge to take oxazepam every day, but I try my best to save them for especially anxious days. I was given 60 15mg oxazepam pills by my general practitioner without any mention of a refill. After five weeks I still have 20 left. I hope that I will not have to use these drugs - or any drugs - in the long run, but I am by no means opposed to taking medication as such. I'm merely worried that benzodiazepines or SSRIs will eventually make the condition worse (I feel that this is in part rational, but I am aware that my worrying over the effects of anything that I ingest is perhaps only making it worse).

 

The bottom line is, however, that most of my problems seem to be getting better, albeit slowly. As I mentioned, the visual symptoms are still fairly "intact", though.

They preexisted all the other symptoms (the anxiety. panic attacks, dizziness and strange bodily sensations) and they continue to linger after the other symptoms become gradually less bothersome. Perhaps the "visual HPPD" is mostly unrelated to the other symptoms, which appeared to be brought on mainly by the UR-144 experience (the synthetic cannabinoid).

 

I sometimes think that this sort of terrifying experience has had the "positive" effect of bringing my drug use to a halt. I realize that using psychedelic drugs to the extent that I did amounts to abuse. I do sometimes, paradoxically, feel the desire to "go on a psychedelic voyage" again, but I'm well aware that these thoughts must be dismissed entirely. I value my mental health too much.

 

Lastly, I'm very sorry for the amount of worry I've brought my close family. I apologize for this thread turning into my private confession booth.

 

Edit: I'm aware that some of you have struggled with similar problems for much, much longer than I have. You have my deepest sympathy.

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I realize, upon re-reading my own post, that it comes across as somewhat "matter of fact". Don't be fooled by this. I deeply regret what I've done, and most of all I regret ignoring the signs of HPPD for so long (even though I was aware that there exists such a thing as HPPD, though I hadn't researched it thoroughly).

 

While regret is a natural and much needed emotion to help you learn from a mistake.... It is better to not think too much about what you did or didn't do, it can feed the anxiety and keep you in a negative loop. Everyone makes mistakes, just learn from them and then try to put the regret behind you.

 

It sounds like you are being sensible in your recovery... Just keep resting, eating well and try to get some exercise, maybe some walks outdoors.

 

Good luck, Jay

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You are no doubt right. Thankfully, I don't spend a lot of time ruminating anymore. I do, however, spend a lot of time reading about neuropharmacology, since this "incident" has rekindled my interest in neurochemistry (I actually spent half a year studying chemistry at university before finally settling on physics and mathematics). I do recognize that this is another way of obsessing about my own symptoms, but it feels slightly more productive than simply worrying, which I did a lot initially.

 

As I mentioned earlier, one of my most debilitating symptoms has been constant subjective dizziness. I'm very interested in hearing from anyone who has experienced this, but I'll probably start a new topic on that :-) .

 

Interestingly (and completely unrelated), I feel that nicotine (either from smoking or in the form of chewing tobacco) has a clear calming effect on me. This is curious as I've never been a heavy smoker before (not even a daily smoker), and in the past I've always felt that nicotine was stimulating rather than calming.

I used to drink large amounts of coffee, before developing all these symptoms, and now I can't even drink a single cup without feeling my anxiety flaring up badly.

 

(I realize that I'm not really asking any real questions here, but I'm very interested in hearing from anyone who can relate, nonetheless :-) )

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The dizziness is part of the dp/dr we suffer. I think.

 

I get it pretty bad, like i am floating out of my own body... If i look down at my legs, as i walk, i get very dizzy. I have developed a technique where i shake my head quite hard, once... It seems to bring me back to reality and help.

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if i turn my head to far to the left, too quickly.. and only to the left.. i will sometimes get hit with the sensation im blacking out.. blood pressure bottoms out. get shooting lights in my eyes. kinda scary when it happens when driving, but i've learned over the years how to drive in any condition so even when i drop into slow-mo tunnel vision, I'm mostly good long enough to snap back.

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You are no doubt right. Thankfully, I don't spend a lot of time ruminating anymore. I do, however, spend a lot of time reading about neuropharmacology, since this "incident" has rekindled my interest in neurochemistry (I actually spent half a year studying chemistry at university before finally settling on physics and mathematics). I do recognize that this is another way of obsessing about my own symptoms, but it feels slightly more productive than simply worrying, which I did a lot initially.

 

As I mentioned earlier, one of my most debilitating symptoms has been constant subjective dizziness. I'm very interested in hearing from anyone who has experienced this, but I'll probably start a new topic on that :-) .

 

Interestingly (and completely unrelated), I feel that nicotine (either from smoking or in the form of chewing tobacco) has a clear calming effect on me. This is curious as I've never been a heavy smoker before (not even a daily smoker), and in the past I've always felt that nicotine was stimulating rather than calming.

I used to drink large amounts of coffee, before developing all these symptoms, and now I can't even drink a single cup without feeling my anxiety flaring up badly.

 

(I realize that I'm not really asking any real questions here, but I'm very interested in hearing from anyone who can relate, nonetheless :-) )

 

I have the dizziness.. constantly.. it seems to go hand in hand with dr/dp or something.. but with me the clonazepam I am on takes the dizziness away.. and the earaches, and the headaches.. and the fog...

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Yes, some benzos do a lot to alleviate it! However I do not wish to use benzos constantly, so I take them sparingly (less than once per week). Is your dizziness of constant intensity, or does it spike? I have this underlying dizziness which ebbs and flows, and on top of that, I get short intense spikes of dizziness. 

 

I feel that I should mention that the anxiety has gotten much, much better. Most of the other symptoms are pretty much unchanged.

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I feel that it is time for an update on my situation.

In short, I'm almost back to square one. I still feel intoxicated, the dizziness is still going strong and the anxiety is as bad as ever, if not worse. My visual symptoms are mostly unchanged.

I was able to cope with the symptoms well enough to finish another semester at university (4 courses) with top grades. I taught a recital class as well, which was good for my economy, of course, but the stress of it all has taken a toll on me. It came to a point where I suffered daily panic attacks and developed insomnia as well (still present).

Now I've decided to take a few months break from uni, to see how much progress I'm able to make without the added stress of studying.

I'm hoping I'll get to try some of the medications that others have had success with; Keppra, Sinemet, flunarizine etc. I'll make sure to keep you all posted. :)

This board has been a great source of helpful advice for me these past months, and I hope I'll be able to give something back (perhaps via medication trials).

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I just read your story, and you have my empathy.  I can relate to many of the symptoms you did, and still are, experiencing.  Intoxication and dizziness are par for the course, unfortunately.  I had the same soothing effect from nicotine and violent anxiety from caffeine.  Caffeine, however, had the mixed effect of slightly focusing my perception, but it certainly wasn't worth the anxiety.  Studies have been done showing that, in the schizophrenic brain, nicotine is actually quite soothing.  Schizophrenia and hppd share some similar symptoms, so that may interplay with the motivation to smoke.  I no longer smoke because it was taking a toll on my physical health, but I do miss the soothing effect.  I hope you find healing in time.  This journey is tremendously challenging.  I look forward to hearing about your experiences with medication.  As an aside, in which part of Scandinavia do you live?  I spent some time in Norway as a teenager, and it's been my dream to return ever since.  :)

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Hi Solveig, thank you for taking the time to read my story :-)

I've read about the compulsion to smoke in people with schizophrenia - I remember reading that some 80% of schizophrenics smoke. All in all, I don't think that HPPD has very much in common with schizophrenia, however.

 

To answer your question; I live in Denmark, Copenhagen to be more specific :-) 

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I experienced much of what you did starting about twenty years ago. It lasted four years. I posted my experience in this forum tonight if youre interested. I had everything you described accept I had it "less together" it seems. I was quite suicidal from the DP/DR I was feeling. Im by no way trying to say you've had it easier, you just seem more collected in your posts. Good luck I have a good feeling you will get better soon and become an importanat asset to the community. Im now 85% better. I would like to say 100% but I have to admit that I do have visual snow, albeit negligible.

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Hi! Yes, I read your "Introduction" post with great interest, and I mean to comment on it later :-)
We have something in common, in that we have both used psychedelics extensively. There is one difference, however; I never had a truly horrendous experience with psychedelics. Sure, there was that one time where an unknown ''research chemical'' landed me in the ER, but even then I didn't experience severe anxiety or existential dread or the like - it was mostly the physical symptoms which were bothering me.

I've had some intense and strange experiences on psychedelics (''ego death'' and the like), and I have felt anxiety while tripping, but nothing as severe as what I've experienced sober over the last few months.

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Wow, that's interesting. Perhaps your mind is built to deal with trauma differently. I feel it may be necessary to study PTSD/shellshock victims I.E., war vets to get some answers to whats happening to us as everyone seems to cope with trauma differently.

 

I have a friend who is a US marine vet. He served in Iraq three tours and witnessed death and has had his life threatened on numerous occasions. He came back chipper and was laughing about it, in a twisted morbid way (defense mech?) he claimed he had no issues. Four years later, he cant sleep, hes throwing up at night and havibg flashbacks and nightmares. He saw a doctor and was diagnosed with PTSD. He hides these issues well and doesn't talk about them much but hes clearly disturbed. So I believe that we all may deal with these things differently. But of course perhaps your case truly is completely different but if you are experiencing anxiety now it doesn't necessarily mean that you experienced trauma during acute influence of the substances. your trauma may have been experienced after. Just speculation.

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Careful speculation is always welcome and appreciated :)

 

I think it's time for an update on my situation:

I had an appointment with a new doctor today - a GP. She turned out to be very understanding. I brought a document on HPPD which I've written myself together with the DSM-V definition and an article on the efficacy of Keppra. It turned out that she had actually heard of HPPD (imagine my surprise) and that she was well aware of what Keppra is (including dosage and such). She said that my suggestion to try Keppra sounded interesting, and that she'd like to try and work with the HPPD, in part to help me, and in part because it was interesting and novel. I found that attitude extremely refreshing after my past experience with GPs, neurologists etc.

She said that she just wanted to confer with a neurologist before prescribing it, and that she'd call me back. I really hope the neurologist doesn't turn out to be narrow-minded and conservative about it.

All in all a very interesting day :-)

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Because I deemed Keppra to have at least as high probability of being effective, and it seemed to have less of a risk of serious physical side effects. Sinemet is on my to do list as well, if Keppra doesn't cut it, so to speak. I'm aware that Sinemet often works faster :)

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Ahk! What are your main symptoms if i may ask? For dizzyness, you should try piracetam.

Really? I have piracetam lying around somewhere. Do you have some info on that?

My main problem is anxiety, really. But my visual symptoms are patterning, palinopsia (negative after-images), splotches of colour/visual snow etc. A general feeling of 'intoxication' (as per the thread title) is also present.

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Just had a 90 minute talk with a psychiatrist and a psychiatric nurse about my anxiety and HPPD. I'd been referred by my GP, who wants to put me on Keppra.

In short, it was a bit of a letdown. They wanted to put me on antipsychotics (Seroquel/quetiapine), which I refused. I showed them one of the antipsychotic/HPPD articles (LSD-Like Panic From Risperidone in Post-LSD Visual Disorder) to explain why it was not a good idea. In the end, they gave me a new appointment for next week. They want to do an EEG as well - I tried explaining to them that HPPD might be visible on a qEEG, but they didn't seem to take much notice.

They hadn't even heard about Keppra and did not seem very receptive to reasoned arguments (i.e. evidence in the form of an article from a medical journal).

 

I may expound later, but I'm a bit worn out now.

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I sympathise, StateOf Regret.

 

Since my last post, I agreed to go into the psychiatric inpatients clinic, in the hope that once they could keep me there under 24/7 observation, they may FINALLY agree to try out Keppra, Lamictal, or some sort of med. Fat chance. They even refused to call this condition HPPD. Apparently here, it is simply 'leftover effects after hallucinogen intake'. 

 

I complained forcefully, for nearly a week, that it's my symptoms that are dragging me down, especially since the compulsory MRI scan to go inpatient has made them worse. How would they feel with unrelenting double vision, after images, trails, visual snow, star bursting etc, oh, and also the new one, tinnitus since the MRI? Of course, these terms were also unfamiliar to them, they refused to google images of them and over my stay, I had to describe them to bemused individuals for nearly a week, all to no avail, while the others on the ward were handed out their various meds.

 

Icing on the cake: I have now been labelled as a possible Histrionic! Just because these psychologists were out of their depth and shit scared to treat my symptoms (they already made them worse with Mirtazepine), they suggest that I'm either exaggerating just to get attention, or simply making it all up!

 

They took no notice of my qEEG (cost 400EUR privately) or MRI results either. Not even sure if they bothered to look at them. I was supposed to be in for 8 weeks. **** that. I'm happy to be out of there! You're so lucky to have such a progressive doctor. Give the psychs a wide berth!

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Hey StateOfRegret,

Just wondering how you're recovering atm? Do you still have any anxiety related to HPPD//have your visuals lessened since?

I'm studying at university too, although not quite as intense of course as physics.

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