Hello. Wow this feels weird. I never thought it would come to this but I've finally made an account on this site of which I have been browsing for just under a year. Now I am at the point where I am sharing my personal story to the public. yikes.
I think the main reason I created an account on here was not because of the HPPD symptoms in itself (as the more I ignore I think the less obsessive and anxiety is associated with symptoms) but because of the loneliness of dealing with it. I have talked to doctors who have never heard of this and refuse to believe it and brush it off as anxiety prescribing me cocktails of anti-depressants (you know the usual thing that HPPDers go through at first) and family (one of my parents) who thinks that the internet is crazy with lots of wild theories to come up with illnesses, evil people, and nothing good from it. I beg to differ on that matter so we do not see eye to eye. So I've reached out on here looking not for a magic piece of advice from someone but just support and people to talk to that are going through the same things as I.
Anyway let's get started as this is a long story in itself.
I am 20 years old. When the Hppd started it had been just a month after of turning 19. Before this I was a heavy user of marijuana for about a year and a half. AND Before this I used no drugs nor alcohol. I was bright in school but socializing was never my strong suit. I suffered from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) from a very young age (unfortunately I don't know the exact year of diagnosis), an eating disorder at 11-years-old, anxiety, and depression around the same time. From 10-years-old I have almost always been on medication so this idea that some people have a predisposition to HPPD does not seem that far-fetched for a guy like me.
The first time I noticed something was definitely wrong (the HPPD symptoms) was after doing a mushroom trip for the second time. I started getting strong after images, visual snow, and I received double vision in the background (whenever I focused on something). I wasn't too worried at the time as I recieved these same alterations in my perception the first time doing mushrooms. Just going to note that the amount was very small and I actually did not feel at all silly or get a "high" from it which was actually really disappointing considering what I have now I would consider a whole change in my mental and visual state. Flash forward to the next day, when out of the blue ironically while doing meditation, my heart starts pounding and the after images get worse. They had actually died down the day I did mushrooms (that is after the effect you could say "wore off"). But now they were very bad. I was getting bad anxiety from the heart beating that I decided to get my heart tested as I felt it was beating really fast.
Flash forward about 5 days later when I'm at the hospital getting my pulse checked. It was 90 bpm which is normal. They said its anxiety you should go back on an anti-depressant that you went off 2 weeks ago. Awesome, I was doing so great, went off an anti-depressant, took mushrooms and now I'm even worse off then when I first wanted to go on the medication. So I was really upset and frustrated with the docs and at myself.
Before doing the mushroom trip I had researched a lot about what great things it could do for you and helps you face your demons (imo all that BS). Then I came across HPPD before I even got HPPD. boy am I stupid. The person I was doing research from said how rare it was so I made nothing of it thinking this can't happen to me haha. Boy was I was wrong.
Over the period of three months (even being abstinent from all drugs and stimulants, i.e. caffeine) the HPPD became worse. The first onset was anxiety, depersonalization, and after images. that was it. looking back I look at how lucky I was but back then I was freaking out and complaining about why I suffered this. then things got worse, I started seeing floaters in the sky one day. flash forward 10 months to now where I see them everywhere (bright screens, bright lights, and literally everywhere I look on a bright sunny day outside). I started seeing tracers and light halos one day 2 months after my initial onset watching TV randomly.
It's been a bumpy ride however I have to say that there have been randomly two brief moments in two days out of the entire year where my symptoms were 90% gone and then they returned the next day after I woke up. Weird. After I went on Zoloft I noticed the symptoms less but the derealization, brain fog, and depersonalization came back full blown when I began taking the SSRI. I have also relapsed a total of five times with marijuana during the whole year which made things terrible (yes I'm an idiot). I think I've finally accepted that I can no longer take (or that I must be extremely cautious) drugs anymore. It is just a really bad idea in the long run.
I have contemplated suicide a lot as the last time I smoked things were honestly so bad I felt like I was living in hell mentally. I had bad insomnia and suffered gastrointestinal stuff (not going to get into it but it was gross). anyways my neurological system is so messed up from the year of damage I did to my body with drugs. My only hope is to take every day one step at a time going for runs, eating healthy, drinking lots of water, and taking good supplements (lions mane is the only one I've tried but I hope to try magnesium). I am currently off of all drugs including pharmaceutical medications.
Things are actually not that great visually for me at the moment. My anxiety is down but still there, the symptoms that frustrate me the most are the damn after images and the floaters that are everywhere when I'm outside. I can honestly say I was way better 2-3 months ago. I feel still even worse then my initial onset. But on the positive side, just a week ago I had a night where it seemed all my visuals vanished. I remember actually feeling the happiest I've been in my life just in the feeling that "whoa, they've all vanished (90% actually)... I actually can't believe it." Then the next day, it was right where it is normally which was unfortunately sad.
So I guess my story wasn't too long and I apologize if my writing became gradually worse and worse. I have something to attend to very soon so I'm trying to finish this as fast as I can. Before I go I am curious and just wanted to ask the community what kind of hobbies you guys like to do that helps take your mind off of the HPPD? Mine are video games, writing and exercise. Unfortunately, I don't have many social activities as I am quite socially inept (both naturally and worsened by HPPD) so I am quite recluse when it comes to hobbies. There was a time during my drug and alcohol binge and where I would attend parties and socialize in big group settings but that's no longer an option unfortunately as I can't be in those types of environments with drugs being passed around left right and center.
Well, that was it. Hope you all are having a wonderful day.