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dukkha

A small piece of heart advice

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Hi all,

 

I haven't been on the boards in a year or three. I find that the less I think about HPPD the less it affects me. And, similarly, the more I'm on the boards, the more the conversations and discussions here loop through my head, and the more frequently HPPD dominates my thoughts. But today I decided to stop by. Why? I wanted to share a small piece of advice. Honestly, I had been thinking of doing this for a while but for some reason, it was so incredibly hard for me to open this forum and log in. Anyways, here I am now.

 

What I want to share is what has worked for me and is what continues to help me. I speak to you from experience. I've found that the less I think of HPPD as a "thing" and the less that I see myself as a "victim" the less I suffer. What that means, is that the less you let this thing called "HPPD" be what identifies you, the less power it has to affect you. I know what this sounds like. It sounds like I'm saying "don't make a big deal out of it." And yes, that actually is what I'm basically saying. And I also know how most people are going to react. "It IS a big deal" or "that's f***ing easy for you to say" and so on. And you're right. HPPD is a big fucking deal and words come easy. However, I'm also a sufferer of HPPD and I know where you are coming from. Your symptoms may be far worse than mine. Or they might not. You don't really know. There are a lot of people suffering in the world. In fact, let me retract that statement--everyone in the world is suffering. You might not be able to perceive it, but there is a not a single breathing creature on this blue planet of ours that doesn't have a considerable dose of suffering. Some people's suffering has to worn on the outside. Do you think it's easy being physically deformed? Others, those like you and me, have to bear our suffering the inside. We may look "normal" and "just fine" to others in the street, or even to family and friends around us, but the amount of suffering we have inside of us is incredible. Indeed, it's mind boggling. And similarly, when we go out in the streets, on the subway, or for a drive and see all the other people going about their lives, you don't know--their suffering may be absolute nothing compared to yours. Or, it may not. Maybe you're is but a bit of spare change compared theirs. You just don't know. A person who has a toothache thinks that is theirs is the most painful type of suffering that can happen to you and the person who has a headache thinks that's theirs is the most painful type of suffering that can happen to you. That's whats called being human. We are all so incredibly self-centered and absorbed in ourselves. So naturally, us HPPDers think that HPPD is the most awful thing that can happen to someone. And maybe that's true. Or maybe it's not. All I know is that I wouldn't wish HPPD on even my worst enemy.

 

But let me get back to my point about not letting HPPD become your identity. Once that happens, once HPPD becomes you and you become HPPD, it's over. Game over. You've started a cycle where you continually feed HPPD and it's ceaselessly grows in power over you. The more you think about it, the more it becomes real. The more you obsess over it, the most it becomes solid. Of course, it's hard not to think about it when the room is melting and and the anxiety feels like it literally about to give you a heart attack. But have you ever wondered why Xanax is so effective. I've noticed that after coming off a panic attack due to xanax my mind is completely clear, like a blue sky without a single cloud. The drug cuts through the snowball effect between the visuals and your anxious thoughts and suddenly you're back to neutral. And after pure hell, what a beautiful place that is to find yourself. And that is the state we have to cultivate. That is the state of mind that we have to start trying to inhabit if we want to live again. And that is where I am now, to be quite honest. I used to be in the deepest reaches of hell and thought I'd never come back. And I'm not cured today either. Hell no. HPPD visuals are always there and will always be there with me for the rest of my life. That is one thing I know for certain. However I consider myself cured because, except for the occasional anxiety attack, I can live and I can be happy. Of course, the visuals are always there if I chose to look for them. But for the most part, I don't pay them any mind. Sorry, visauls, but I'm not going to give you the time of day. So that is how I don't let myself become a HPPD victim. I don't let myself think that I'm the unluckiest person on earth who had to get this terrible disorder when all my friends didn't and still trip all the time. I just see myself as a average guy, just another human being, who happens to have screwy vision and anxiety. Nothing more. If you can start to think of yourself like that, that is exactly what you will become. Likewise, if you think about of yourself as the person on earth with the most suffering, that is EXACTLY what you will be. A guy who seems himself as just another fucked-up guy  can go out in to the world. He may be a little awkward, but he can still enjoy the joys and sorrows of life. A guy who see himself as a HPPD Victim has to stay inside his tiny room and suffer as the walls close in upon him.

 

So you have a choice. My choice, and my advice to you, is to not think of yourself as the worst, the unluckiest, or most miserable person out there--even if that is exactly how you feel. When you start to change your mind, you start to change your experience. And hey, you might not be at the bottom anyways. There are a million different ways we can suffer in this crazy world and HPPD is but just one of them. I've been on these boards for ... damn... is it almost eight years now? Maybe more. And there haven't been that many people who killed themselves or died. The only I can remember is Andy, the UK fellow who was a Buddhist. I'm sure there might have been more but compare that with the teenage girl who got blackmailed until her nude photos got leaked online and she committed suicide. Or the people recently in India who lost their life savings when the 500 and 1,000 rupee notes got canceled over night and their family founds them dead the next day. In fact, I have heard a lot more success stories on this board than deaths. So, please, all I want to say is be gentle with yourself. Everyone is suffering too so don't think you're so damn special for having HPPD. You don't know. Maybe one day you'll be like a lot of others on this board who are back to living again. Maybe not. But I think a lot of that depends on you.

 

I'm sorry for my blabbering but this is what has made a serious, long-term improvement in my quality of life, more than drugs or anything else could. I felt terribly guilty not trying to at least say something that might even just help one person even in the tiniest way. I doubt that it has but still I'm glad I finally got up the confidence to log on today and write whatever came to mind. Feel free to take my advice but also feel free to call it bullshit and chuck it out as you see fit. That's all up to you and it honestly don't make one bit of difference to me what you do. You're the one who has to bear the results. I'll make my choices and bear their results. Anways, I'll be back in some time. Please know that I pray for each and every one of your on the boards daily. I'm not sure if helps relieve your suffering but its the best I can do.

 

-Dukkha

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You're right. If you allow me can I do a TL;DR ?

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Focusing on the HPPD will make nothing but increase your symptoms and maybe even create new ones. Identifying yourself with HPPD will make it more difficult to grow out of it.

HPPD is one of the many events that could have happened in your life, some are better and some are worse. Maybe that night a beautiful girl could have blown you, or maybe the friend who was driving you home crashed and killed you all. HPPD takes time, but it improves. And even if it doesn't, you learn how to live with it. Think of all the people with debilitating diseases that keep fighting, do it yourself too!

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Great post. Wish there was more contributions like this on this forum...

Pain is relative, as you say. This entire experience has totally opened my eyes up to the depths of human suffering and have made me aware of how much pain people from accross the world live with every single day. I do think HPPD ranks high amongst the most emotionally disturbing conditions you can live with (just look at how many people talk about suicide on this board), but who's to say how much worse we have it than other sufferers of mental illness? It's too difficult to quantify objectively since pain is a subjective experience but what I do know is, as you said, I wouldn't wish this on anybody. That's a phrase that's very common here and I think speaks volumes to how much pain we're in on a daily basis. 

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Ya, Dukkha is correct.   I used to just obsess about HPPD everyday and, that's when it was the worst.  It's a perceptual disorder.   Well a big part of perception is attention.   Whatever you pay the most attention to , this is what your mind/brain amplifies.    I tried every drug, supplement, running around, whatever to 'cure' HPPD.   Didn't work.  Because, I never cured my obsession with it.    Once I started treating my obsession with HPPD and not the visuals I started to improve.  I focused on other things, the more I did the more HPPD diminishes into the background.   The SSRI I took really helped to cut through the obsessions.  This might be useful for people who just can't seem to stop focusing on it.  And yes, I used to read here lot's of people saying to stay away from SSRIs, that they make visuals worse.   Well, maybe for a few days or a week or so, but if you give it a couple weeks, everything is fine... so don't just buy everything you read here. 

And I'm not saying HPPD is 'all in the head' or something like that.   The visuals are real.   But the heart of the problem is the difficulty or inability to refocus one's attention away from them.  

I still have some visuals after 10+ years.  Some static, trails.. etc.   I don't think the brain will ever fully go back to normal because it's always adapting.  You throw a strong chem at it like LSD well, it's going to make adaptations to that chemical.   But if you refocus long enough, it is possible to diminish HPPD to the point where it's in the background and you're not thinking about it all the time.

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