Man, this is a long story. I’m currently 27 years old for reference. This is something I’ve never tackled head on, I’ve always just repressed and shrugged off. I hope you guys can help me with some insight and clarification. It will help me come to terms with what is going on. I promise I’m not a hypochondriac looking for reassurance, I’m purely looking for certainty with my condition.
I’ll start off by touching on the fact that I have never been a full on drug user, rather just a teenager experimenting and partying with my friends. I would take the occasional pill and smoke some weed every so often at parties, which was always fun and no problems.
One day when I was 16, I took a half pill (it barely worked) so then smoked a bunch of weed with my friends. 15 minutes later I was tripping balls, everything was shimmering, voices were echoing, I was hearing random sounds, seeing Pac-Mans on tiles, seeing faces in patterns, intense closed eye visuals when trying to sleep it off ect - it was horrible and put me off weed completely. The following days I had severe depersonalisation and panic attacks, I’ll never forget those horrible emotions I felt the days after, it was a nightmare.
Weeks after, the anxiety diminished, however I noticed that I could look at objects and look away and the image would persist in about 70% detail and same colour - aka Palinopsia. I never really noticed this before, it was completely new to me, though I was consciously looking for visual symptoms at the time. I also had my first migraine with aura around this time, which I’ve had once a year ever since. I noticed I could see faces in patterns (I think this is normal though) and halos around lights, but it wasn’t that bad. For a while I was obsessed with playing with my Palinopsia and at the time, google didn’t bring up much, so I literally did not care what’s so ever about it in the end, it didn’t bother me, and I only noticed it when I wanted to notice it
6 months after that horrible experience, I smoked some weed again (much less than I previously would) and started tripping mildly, nowhere near the same before, however it made me realise I could never smoke weed again and get the same high as previously, it was like my brain completely did a 180 on weed and reacted differently. I made the decision to never touch marijuana again, or even be in the same room as someone smoking. The palinopsia continued in the background and life went on normal, where sometimes I’d randomly notice the after images I’d shrug it off.
11 years later, aka these days, ive lived a very normal drug free life, with the exception of getting drunk with mates. I’ve definitely noticed strange things in my vision over time:
example; sometimes when I fall asleep, I get intense imagery and sounds in my head, this begins right as I fall asleep - it’s very similar to the CEVS experienced from the night mentioned above.
example 2: I get static in the evenings and dimly lit rooms, blue field entoptic phenomenon, mild photophobia. + ongoing Palinopsia. I never knew at the time what these symptoms actually were, so again I shrugged them off
example 3: negative after images and a bizarre phenomenon where if I look at a bright yellow wall, it becomes a giant blob/after image within itself until I blink?
all these symptoms have been there for 11 years, maybe they’ve always been there but I never noticed them previously, only after my bad drug experience.
Now, the reason I am here and some questions I have for you guys. all these symptoms have just become 10x worse for no reason (or maybe you can clarify this for me?)
3 months ago I thought I had Methonal poisoning whilst in Bali (I didn’t) however I read that going blind is a major sign you’ve been laced with methonal. I began to obsessively watch my vision for signs of going blind (this is likely due to my mild OCD) and this sent me into a horrible spiral of obsessively watching my vision. I ended up getting severe migraines from stress and very bad panic attacks. I started to come good for a while until recently.
3 months ago I was driving along and realised I was looking at things and looking away to see if after images would persist subconsciously, and I had a massive panic attack and suddenly remembered that night when I took that pill and smoked weed. When I got home, I googled my symptoms - it lead me to visual snow and HPPD - something I had never heard of. Since learning about both disorders, I’ve become obsessed with checking for ALL the symptoms, which now my Palinopsoa is INTENSE and A LOT more vivid then ever, I can look at someone’s face and see it again when looking at a wall (they last less than a second, like a flash). I find myself looking for static and seeing it more, I get floaters more than ever and my anxiety levels are through the roof.
all my symptoms mentioned above have become so much worse, which lead me to get numerous eye test, MRI, and seeing a renowned neurologist who leads research for Visual Snow in Australia. Everything in my brain and eyes are structurally perfect, no lessions or underlying medical issues. He diagnosed me with visual snow syndrome, despite me telling him about that horrible experience with drugs! He said that he highly doubts that it would be HPPD because it was such a low dose of XTC and marijuana “rarely causes it”.
A big part of me thinks it’s HPPD, because I noticed all this ever since that night, but then again, maybe it’s always been there!?
I hope you guys can give me advise based on your knowledge and experience and tell me whether my symptoms could be HPPD or not? I honestly believe you guys would know more than my neurologist, as you likely are more knowledgeable about HPPD, whereas he knows more about visual snow.
1. Based on the above, could I have HPPD or Visual Snow?
2. Is it possible for HPPD to last 11 years considering I’ve never taken LSD?
3. Can the symptoms of HPPD/Visual snow get worse the more I obsess over it?
4. If I did have HPPD, is it possible it has returned 11 years later much worse? Or is it the health anxiety about the problem making it appear worse? I’ve not touched drugs to trigger anything/make it worse.
5. are my symptoms consistent with yours?
I think it’s worth noting I do not get warping walls or see strange colours swirls, it’s purely palinopsia that is most prominent and mild static. I feel like all my other visual disturbances are common in people
I really appreciate it if you’ve made it this far. I just want to know your thoughts, as I am on the fence whether it’s HPPD or Visual Snow.