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Boy, have I had fun struggling to explain this over the years. Having read implications that people can naturally develop HPPD without the use of drugs, I feel brave enough to come out and propose... I believe I was born with HPPD. Yes, there are an endless amount of possibilities of what can happen to a child before their memory develops. The unknown aside, my mother swears upon her life that she was emotionally compelled to be clean during her pregnancy. She did however try recreational substances in the years before her pregnancy. That's all there really is to factor into the early development without getting into genetics. Fast forward to my mental awakening: My earliest memories go as far back as 2 years old, with a high amount of detail for a small handful of experiences. HPPD's visual snow began as early 3 years old, no sooner than 4. I can't tell you anything else about my life with more certainty. Staring at a moonlit ceiling while lying in my parents' bed, unable to sleep, I could conjure up the visual snow and follow it about for entertainment until dozing off. I distinctly remember it starting as a zebra-like puddle which grew in unnaturally rippling waves. I was obsessing over this nightly until it began to take color and move like a three-dimensional flock of birds descending from the gypsum ceiling to toil about as a flock of hundreds of birds would. (Side note: Growing up with white Gypsum walls/ceilings is a disastrous trap for obsessing and worsening the condition. In my worst episode, I was seeing morphing, endless crude depictions of the black plague in my gypsum-walled home, aprox 16 y/o.) Depersonalization symptoms set in around 4-6 years old, the beginning of which I described as having, "woken up for the first time;" but I was already awake. I asked my mother if she felt it, worried it was a natural phenomenon I'd just experienced. This took place on the usual morning drive to school. At around age 10 I 'lost control' due to obsessive habits mixed with social stress, and began to have increasing difficulty with reading. At the same time I developed a sensitivity to horizontal stripes of almost any two colors. They force a sensation of false-vertigo, nausea, anxiety/nervousness, poor sense of balance or the need to steady myself all with an alluring fixation on this rather distressing visual. It's taken a long, long time to learn to limit the amount of stress this causes to a manageable level. Object-specific color changes usually occur with a pearlescent effect, and are a rather relaxing replacement for the old habit of obsessing (wall staring). Strangely, I find both the visual snow and object specific color changes to be... slightly controllable during dawn and dusk. I can really only give it the last mental nudge to get started, but otherwise can't control the outcome. I can also intuitively fight the potential minor trigger sensation/stimulus in an effort to squelch micro-episodes. Sometimes it takes a bit more than just conscious ignorance, which I really cannot describe yet. Along with this came high-ceiling spatial distortion. Basically what I mean by that is... Any warehouse sized store such as Target, Walmart, Raley's, Costco, Sam's Club, Sports Warehouse or even hardware depots will all force sensations of losing balance constantly between peripheral warping. I can only describe this as feeling like walking in a hamster ball. I must say this one snuck it's way into my childhood at random before becoming a staple of my symptoms. It takes intense concentration, energy and physical control to navigate the store. (merely forcing myself to remember the experience to describe it with better accuracy sent me into a slurry of funny typos!) I've always been regarded as dramatic or 'overly dramatic' for complaining of such sensitives growing up. None of my complaints were taken even remotely seriously, allowing me to steep in these issues and make them grow worse. Of course, my family speculated in all the wrong directions when they did listen, only creating more stress and many unnecessary issues through years of misunderstanding. I can't tell you how great it felt to shed the hysteria pinned upon me of potential mental illnesses once I learned about HPPD and shared it with my family, regardless of whether they believed me or not. It would be useful to note that I also went through roughly 10 years of chronic lyme disease, which definitely worsened my visual symptoms. I'm now 20 and going on a year and a half lyme-free (supposedly). My lyme treatments did not seem to have any particular effect on my HPPD besides the associated stresses of treatment. While moderately tamed down in severity, my visuals are still occurring daily. Experiencing my visual distortions is about as normal as breathing now, occurring or interacting with my daily life as subconscious thoughts do. I avoid recreational drugs adamantly as they can throw me far out of the balance required to keep my own peace. The medication combination I've found to help lessen my HPPD (prescribed for reasons other than HPPD) are Low Dose Naltrexone, Cymbalta and medicinal cannabis extracts. The LDN (Naltrexone) has been my only successful combatant against depersonalization, albeit a slow creep. 10mg Cymbalta once in the evening is just enough to help reduce possibly over-exciting stimuli from actually being too exciting. Yet, I still can't sleep in a dark room most nights. In fact, my difficulty sleeping is what's driven me to write this introduction. I've been skipping stones on the issue all my life, but it's only been getting worse. I used to sleep with lights off as a teen no problem. Now I absolutely need a lamp in the corner of my room to be lit until sunrise. I'm in an odd pickle, since this situation leaves me seeing pockets of visual snow on a nightly basis when trying to sleep. If I try to sleep in darkness or near-darkness, the slightest flicker of visual snow explodes into momentary images or after images of rather terrifying things; usually large or distant faces of ambiguous or monstrous nature. Sometimes straight out of media, sometimes abominations of the imagination. I find these frightening because they occur like jump scares, when I least expect them and only for a nano-second. I'm not one to obsess over violent or scary things, instead I'm unsettled rather easily, so I prefer to avoid thinking on such things. Perhaps that practiced avoidance is what's nurturing this emerging issue. Anyways, therapy is not helpful for this, as the phenomenon doesn't seem to be entirely tied to my state of mind. Certainly provoked under stress, but definitely no recurring themes or obsessions which could fuel these more severe night-time hallucinations. I've tried chopping this up to many other diagnosis by myself since my 20+ doctors over the years have never been able to guess at anything better than visual synesthesia or eye damage from frequent TV usage. Much of dealing with HPPD seems to be oriented around self-discovery rather than self-treatment, in my opinion. I'd love any feedback from others who believe themselves to have been dealt a similar hand in life, since we seem to be too few to notice or be noticed. ❤️ - J.L.
Just want to start by saying to whoever has fixed the site...thank you! its great to finally be able to sign up. Been suffering with mild-moderate (at its worse) HPPD + moderate - strong DP/DR for around 14 months now. After around 5/6 months, I was starting to feel comfortable with my symptoms and ended up having a pint of beer. Well for whatever reason it fucked me up and my symptoms went hellish for about 3 months. After that I got back on track and had been doing okay for a while. This passed weekend I had a friend over and I smoked a few cigs (i smoke very occasionally with no issues) with him whilst he was outside smoking a joint. The next night after I had a really bad nights sleep and felt like I was tripping. Since then (5 days ago) I've felt like I've slipped back into a bad state again and whilst most of my visual symptoms havent got any worse, I feel like lines wobble when I look at them (like they did the first few months), my DP has flared up along with anxiety, and I have this weird feeling of dizziness that I had in the first few months. Like when Im sat still I can physically feel myself swaying sometimes. Anyway, are random flare ups normal? Im currently in my final few weeks of writing my dissertation so is it just stress? I know it sounds stupid but is possible I got some second hand smoke from his joint (I didnt feel high, and we were outside)??. i've been through this once and it took me around 2-3 months to get back on track, so Im trying to stay positive, however I cant help but worry Im going to be stuck in this worse state. I just cant seem to place why it would just get worse like this after months of being generally okay. Its just so annoying when 5 days ago I actually had a generally dp/hppd minimal day. Anyone who has experienced similar, or just some reassurance would be appreciated. Cheers
Hi, I'm new to the forum. I have had HPPD symptoms for about 3 months now. I took a 150mg dose of BK-2cb powder (2c analogue) had an incredibly strong and terrifying trip that lasted 18 hours +. 3 weeks after the trip I had no problems at all except I got a bad ear infection and went to the doctor about that. She prescribed me a decongestant nasal spray which I used daily for about a week. I don't know if it was the spray that triggered it but after using that spray things turned very bad indeed. Anyway, the one thing that is causing me the most fear at the moment is the problems I am having with my vision changing into a slow frame rate version of reality. When I look at my hands moving they move like a flip book animation and then it happens to my whole vision, I get anxious and it just gets worse. I then have to go to the toilet at work to take deep breaths and calm myself down to make it stop. Has anyone else had any experiences like this? I'm just wondering if it's HPPD or if its a symptom of a Psychosis.
[Note: I posted this a week or so ago in the DP/DR file, but it got only one response, so I'm posting it here so hopefully more people see it/take it seriously. This is as much a call to the community to write any particular techniques they use to stave off stress caused by DP/DR than my current ideas and theories about DP/DR. I want to compile these tips into one file and post it on the website. If you don't feel like reading a large post, please just write any tips you have found useful for getting over DP/DR. For example, today I discovered that if I rapidly waved my fingers past my eyes, difficulty in reading computer text seemed to decrease. I have my own ideas about why this might be, but that is less important than our getting a concise, compiled file on all our techniques. Once we have them all in one place, we might all weigh in on them one at a time consider why they might work, as well as get some general concensus on whether they work for the majority of us.] Sorry I have been away so long everyone. Please take this seriously. I have a psychology degree, and these are not things I thought up today, but theories accumulated through years of having HPPD, a year of reflection upon it, and through the aid of the degree in psychology. The majority of my theories on exactly why different symptoms of HPPD are crippling in their respective ways hinge on biological, evolutionary responses elicited by what would normally be non-threatening stimuli. Most of the anxiety built up by DP/DR I believe are due to instinctual flight or fight responses due to the non-recognition of stimuli, of what one is looking at. If you are stressed, your instinctual, animal self, the self that has evolved virtually none in ten thousand years, assumes danger is lurking. In essence, your logical self realizes there is no actual danger, no saber-tooth tiger lurking in the bushes, but the instinctual part of your brain, as an evolutionary precaution, assumes first and foremost that it is dangerous, thus giving the body the greatest capacity to defend itself if necessary. Essentially, many of the difficulties we face with HPPD is this animalistic part of the mind assuming, since we do not recognize things immediately as a normal human would, that what we look at is a threat, and should be treated as such, which results in a constantly higher level of stress. Take the human face, for example. To not recognize a face, or even the 'humanness' of a face, is to assume it is a stranger, perhaps a stranger from another, rival clan. The animal brain will always assume the worst, a thing scientifically proven through endless studies. Again, this is evolutionary design. Faces differ in extremely minute ways, yet they are the critical element we use to distinguish humans from one another. With the visual distortions HPPD causes, these otherwise less significant distortions become multiplied when looking at a face, because the human brain is designed to gather enormous details from looking at that face. So since all faces look bizarre with HPPD, a massive amount of information is acquired that is mutated by the depersonalization and realization. So, in short, human faces are particularly vulnerable to the distortions caused by HPPD, because a greater amount of sensory input is being distorted This can even occur looking at one's own reflection. I know this was my own experience. Logically, I was aware it was my face. However, the animalistic part of me did not, and thus, it assumed a stranger. And if there is a stranger in my home at 2 A.M., when it is dark and the only person who would logically appear at this time would likely be a burglar or murderer or some kind of threat, the animalistic part of my brain assumed the worst. To this day, seeing my own darkened silhouette in my door elicits a fight or flight response within me. In essence, whatever the brain cannot categorize as recognized and safe, it classifies as a potential danger, thus raising stress levels. This is why DP/DR can be so hellish. One is constantly feeling, even if only on the very fringes of the conscious, that there are potential enemies everywhere. So, how does one combat this? Here are the techniques I have come up with: 1) Choose what stimuli to focus on. If the reflection in the doorway frightens you, as it does me, choose to pay it no attention. 2) If one is incapable to avoid the stressful stimuli, choose to put forth effort to deny the negative thoughts, the fearful thoughts, that accumulate. If there is anything in your immediate surroundings to focus on that is pleasant, focus on it. If there is nothing positive to look at, choose to put forth the effort to fight the negative thoughts, and think of something pleasant. This is not easily done, and requires effort. It may tire you out. But it is a muscle just like any other muscle, and it can be strengthened. 3) Workout. Essentially, with DP/DR, one is, no matter what, going to endure the extra stress from fight or flight responses elicited from illogical sources (for example, my computer speakers used to literally scare me, and to this day can still seem a bit like they are staring at me, calculating something menacing, two eyes staring, etc etc). This, while DP/DR persists, I do not believe can be helped. One cannot simply turn off the symptoms of DP/DR. So, stopping DP/DR is out of the question. What does this mean? One is thrust into either one of two extreme positions:A) one of constant fear at potential inability to defend one's self from the onslaught of fear elicited from illogical stimuli, or one is constantly aware of this fear, but feels capable to defend oneself from these stimuli. 4) Winner's mindset. This is a technique I stumbled upon through, believe it or not, videogames, but it can be built through any competitive effort, or any effort where one is put under pressure to perform and must focus past that pressure and fear and succeed in the present. This is the mental equivalent of being physically strong. In whatever way you can, you must try to prove to yourself that, when it is crunch time, you will be victorious. It is not an overnight process. It is something I work at every day. It is a relatively new technique for me, and I try to put myself under pressure quite often during the day, even in such menial situations as trying to throw a piece of paper into a trashcan where people are around to criticize me, laugh at me, if I fail. What matters is one's 'mental muscle'. It matters far less whether the paper goes in the trashcan than whether I was completely focused on the act at hand, not the repercussion. This is one of the few things that I believe the animal mind (the 'subconscious' as it's often referred to, but I think in this case, the definition is clumsy) responds to. It can feel confidence. The animal mind is engineered to appraise the severity of a threat as quickly as possible. If one has been going through daily life engaging in activities that constantly reaffirm a feeling of likelihood or capability to succeed in stressful situations, the animal mind will appraise threats reflectively, and thus reduce the stress level it initiates. So, in summary, I think someone with DP/DR, without aid of medication or some kind of natural reduction in the severity of the symptoms, can do little to simply not feel its effects. (Meditation is another technique I should mention, for it calms the mind and thus, the animalistic mind feels less stress, and thus assumes less danger, but I myself have not yet incorporated this into my daily routine.) I believe one is thrust into one of either two extreme positions: that of the defenseless and under attack, or that of the capable, even aggressive, and under attack. It is, from a cost-benefit ratio, massively beneficial as far as accumulated stress, to do what one can to feel capable in defending oneself. The mind of someone with HPPD will perceive vastly more threats than a normal person due to non-recognition of otherwise harmless stimuli, and thus the feeling of capacity to succeed in some sort of conflict, instilled into the animalistic brain through efforts performed by the conscious, is an effective way to combat these feelings. These are the techniques I have personally discovered and used. I have not yet looked, but I do not know of a sort of DP/DR specific area or file or post that have the accumulated techniques the community have discovered to combat the effects of these symptoms. I hope everyone posts their own techniques in response to this, of whatever scope, doesn't matter if it sounds silly or not (I liked to look at tree-lines when I had bad HPPD, for example), and to compile this into one file that everyone can use. I think it would be enormously beneficial to have a refined, distilled, singular post or file of these techniques, rather than the scattered information we usually have that are spread out among many posts. Once I get substantial feedback, I will write as refined and edited and distilled a collection of this material as I can. I will post them and we as the community can decide what needs to be edited, revised, changed, improved. Hope you are all doing well. HBB