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turnontuneinfreakout

new here: my story-- a month into HPPD from heavy MDMA + K usage

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Hello everyone -- 

I have been experiencing symptoms of HPPD for about a month now so I figured it's time to find other people with this condition to tell my story and ask more specific questions -- that being said hello out there, nice to meet you and I'm happy this forum exists. Thanks in advance if you're about to take the time to read this.... 

I have been using psychedelic drugs on and off for about 10 years now. I've always been very careful and aware of harm reduction practices, and have never really had a "bad" trip before. This summer I spent about a month in Berlin and partied pretty hard, I used mainly MDMA, but also ketamine, speed, alcohol and weed. (from most used to least used) So, I didn't do any "proper" psychedelic drugs (I do think MDMA and especially ketamine are psychedelic). My most recent "proper" psychedelic trip was 7g of mushrooms about 6 months prior. I used to take a lot of MDMA but it has been quite a few years (3-4?) since I've taken so much of it over an extended period of time.

While I was in Berlin I did a lot of MDMA, give or take about 4 days on and 3 days off for the month. Note that this is nothing compared to how some of the hardcore locals party, and I mention that to point out that I don't understand why this is happening to me and not other people? Obviously we don't know, but for real, why meee??Anyways if I take a large enough amount of MDMA (1/2 of a really good pill) I almost always experience psychedelic visuals. When I was in experiencing this in Berlin I would ask whoever I split a pill with if they were seeing the visuals that I was, and they never were. I only asked a handful of people but it's still a bit strange that they weren't seeing what I was when we took the same thing, and this ruled out my thinking that maybe I was given MDA, 2CB, or something more psychedelic instead of MDMA. The visuals are very similar to what I experience on acid/shrooms, but very gentle and more heavy on the geometric patterns. The first night I was there I took 2 pills of really good MDMA and I was super fucked up, sitting on a bench, trying to keep my eyes open so I didn't get kicked out of Berghain, all the while watching light reflections in the air flip from 3D and then to 2D, almost like a hologram glitching out. My depth perception was wonky and trippy and everyone I saw had thin, bright technicolor halos around their bodies with little swirls here and there around their features. When I'm tripping I always really pay attention to the patterns that show up in my skin and in the walls (also in the sky and certain kinds of organic formations). I describe this pattern to people as Aztec lace that kind of flows and pulses through everything. I've tried to draw it before because it looks as if it could be drawn, but it's elusive and moves around so it can't really be captured. I see this exact same "pattern" on acid, mushrooms and now on MDMA. One night in a club I got stuck in the bathroom watching these patterns on the wall of the stall, they were so vivid and I was also seeing animals and creatures showing themselves to me from within the walls which was new to me. I'll stop attempting to tell about all of the fun, trippy (crazy) stuff that I experience/d on MDMA but I am generally curious if this is common for people who use it who dont have hppd, (I do have some friends who don't have hppd who have had psychedelic visuals on MDMA) and also whether people who have hppd have had similar experiences on MDMA.

 I noticed my hppd symptoms one day towards the end of my stay in Berlin because this pattern that I see in my skin stopped going away. At this point in time I had started using a lot of speed and was a bit sleep deprived. One night I didn't sleep and still went out the next evening and took MDMA. (a lot of other people I was partying with do this kind of thing often and I don't think they've developed hppd) Ever since those few days I have constantly been able to look at my forearm and undeniably see the aztec lace. I continued to use MDMA for a few more times after noticing that the patterns weren't going away when I sobered up, and they would just fade a little and be less noticeable when I got sober and would get more intense when I was using. One of the mornings after going out I couldn't even tell if my pupils were still huge or if my perception was just fucked up and I wasn't able to tell if I was sober or not because at this point I had full on hppd symptoms. When using MDMA the visuals got a lot more intense, but maybe because I was paying a lot of attention to them. One of the last mornings after taking MDMA I literally saw "the pattern" slowly morph into a fucking portal in the wall next to my bed. It was beautiful and strange and spiritual-ish (?) but at this point I decided to stop giving it so much attention and that I needed to take a break and do a fucking detox. I did some research and I wasn't freaking out because I figured it would fade away and that I just did too much speed or something and it will all get out of my system.

Well here I am today a month later and I can still see the pattern in my skin (and other people's skin, etc.) Note that I always see this pattern when I'm tripping on "proper" psychedelics and would aaalways wonder WHY the hell it can be so undeniably real, right there in my arm, but when I'm sober it's completely gone! I would wish that I could just see this beautiful interesting shit when I'm sober. Well, here I am... be careful what you wish for I guess. I've been reading a lot about this and i definitely think its a real disorder, but maybe manifests in different ways for different people. We do not understand the human brain very well, let alone what psychedelics are doing to them so no wonder a disorder like this is so elusive. What I do know for sure is that I was never able to notice this pattern when I was sober, no matter how fucking hard I tried to, and I really have tried to see it when I'm sober with no luck. Now trying not to see it can be difficult sometimes. This is new. 

The anxiety element is the only thing that worries me. I had my first panic attack last summer and haven't really had one since but now I feel it creeping in sometimes like it might take over and fuck me up which is really scary in itself. So I've avoided what felt like the beginnings of a few panic attacks since then. I got the panic attack in the first place because I had taken Kratom and then touched a wet vile of acid and thought I dosed myself -- so rightfully so I freaked out. It lasted an hour and I thought I was going to die but I didn't dose myself and everything was fine. I felt a bit of panic creeping in in the few days after I self-diagnosed with hppd but I'm mostly ok with it now that I've realized that my brain is mostly ok, from what I'm capable of noticing I haven't done any serious damage. The problem is that I feel like in the future it may be far more difficult for me to take psychedelics, and I worry I may give myself a panic attack and think I'll get stuck like this forever or whatever. I do NOT want to stop taking psychedelics, though. I've read that weed is the worst trigger and makes symptoms worse, and I rarely smoke weed so I have no serious problem with giving that up. I haven't smoked yet since getting hppd, though, and I wonder if it's worth it since I'm only a month in to see what happens. 

TLDR: MDMA bender gave me HPPD --> SYMPTOMS: "acid pattern" is undeniably noticeable in my skin and other things like walls and certain kinds of surfaces. It does come out more when I pay attention to it but it's distracting on other people's faces and I have to try not to pay attention to it when talking to people (especially people with freckles). I also have visual snow, trailing, and generally a bit of brain fog. It also really affects me on the computer when I'm reading (right this instant) because the letters are swaying. It gets much worse at night and with anxiety or attention, BUT this is NOT all in my head or purely because of anxiety/attention. I noticed one morning that the "acid pattern" didn't go away, and this is undeniable: It is still here and it wasn't here before. I have some other symptoms as well but I'll stop rambling here because Ive told the main points of my story and explained my symptoms.

In conclusion :

I'd like to hear what some of you think of my experience, if it's similar or different to yours, etc. Any suggestions or recommendations. As interesting as it is I would like to go back to normal, but am in the process of accepting that I might not and will have to be extra careful with my drug use in the future, which reeeally saddens me actually, now that I'm typing it out!! I am always so careful with drugs and usually really responsible but I just went a liiitle bit out of bounds and now I have fucking hppd, shit!! 

I also am just intellectually interested in all of this stuff... I like to speculate about what exactly happens within this particular kind of psychedelic pattern recognition and what it means in the big picture questions about reality and consciousness. Anyways.. thanks again if you read this and I hope to chat with some of you ~

Edited by turnontuneinfreakout

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Hello, I hope you are well.  I contracted HPPD about 8 years ago from acid had a period of abstinence in which it almost entirely went away with the exception of the occasional 'flare up' usually when I was feeling anxious.  I then had a period of 7 strong mushroom trips in about 7 weeks that seem to have brought it back to some extent so i am stopping psychedelics for now.  I too am very interested in their mechanisms, applications and pretty much everything about them.  However they CAN induce a detachment from reality which scares the shit out of me.  Life is amazing and for a time psychedelics made me feel this in a deeper fashion however there were breaking points where I felt like I wasn't myself, detached from everything and everybody.  This is not where I want to be.  Be careful.  My advice would be to take a long beak and see if things get better.  Exercise, sleep and meditation are excellent tools to use to get  out of the funk.  It sounds like you just have visual distortions and not DP/DR; I think that's a much more manageable situation than what a lot of other people are facing.  Quit while you're ahead before you lose your sense of self and place in this world.  Also I think that it can lay 'dormant' within your brain, in which it is susceptible to reactivation.  The moral being if you think you're 'healed' and go back to tripping the previous effects can come roaring back.  I have gained a lot from psychedelics however I paid some prices, I think that for a while I was deceived into thinking that they were the answer.  I really don't think they are the answer to anything.  They do allow you to see beyond yourself and feel/know there's something greater than you out there, that we are all one and love is paramount to everything.  However, these conclusions and facts exist independent of drugs and can be realized through meditation and mindfulness.   There's a great quote from Allan Watts about the use of psychedelics "...when you get the message you should hang up the phone"  

 Anyway I wish you the best of luck, take care. 

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Some people get this condition the first time they do psychedelics while some go years abusing drugs before HPPD symptoms appear. You're clearly a member of the latter group which means you're much more invested in the drug culture and will likely find it more difficult to abstain from future drug use, as you allude to above. 

You really have two choices at this point: Quit drugs and drastically increase the odds of recovering to your pre-HPPD state, or keep doing drugs and keep messing your brain and nervous system up even more. There is no middle ground with this condition. You cannot abstain from drugs most of the time then do acid or MDMA every three to six months, or even once per year for that matter. HPPD is the disassembly of some aspect of the nervous system and brain. Putting them back together takes years and years while tearing them apart takes only a single pill. 

You have to decide what matters most between your former life of drugs and partying or your future life of inner peace and happiness. Again, you won't be able to achieve both by continuing drugs. This is a decision you must figure out very soon. 

Most people here will tell you the same thing: Drugs aren't worth it. They are a temporary, hourly high; HPPD meanwhile is often for life. HPPD is a horrific condition that can get increasingly worse with further drug use to the point you wish you were never born. 

I hope I don't come off as rude but it's important to understand how your life is currently at a tipping point. Once you have HPPD you're already way in over your head. Any further movement in the wrong direction can leave you permanently compromised where as immediate abstinence can potentially save your life. I say "save your life" because this condition can make you suicidal. There are plenty of stories on this site documenting such tragedy. 

I hope you value your life and happiness more than your current lifestyle that will inevitably end soon enough. It's not too late to turn things around and start new, but if you continue down the path of drugs and partying it certainly will be. 

Good luck.  

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First thing I would address is the "why me" focus.

I had a very wide group of friends in the 90s rave scene and we hit it HARD... For some time I had the "why me" focus too, but what became apparent over the years is that the majority had some issues with the drug use, even if they were not quite as obvious as my hppd. Overuse of drugs will get to most people in one way or another, so try and look past the negative feelings that you were one of the unlucky few. 

I can't add too much more that K.B and Cosmic haven't addressed. I went from getting high in one form or another every day for 2-3 years to drug free overnight and it was very hard, you have to pretty much cut everyone out of your life who is part of the scene (for a while at least)... my friends I drugged with are still some of my best friends now, 23 years later, so it is only a temporary thing, if they are cool, understanding people.(in fact, once I quit, a few others joined me and the group in general realised we'd pushed the limits, though I had to move out of my hometown as temptation was too strong).

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btw - at the moment it sounds like you are still in a place where you are free to choose your next steps, whereas for me, I had a mental breakdown (after a binge at Glastonbury 1995) that meant I pretty much no longer had a choice... It was either stop drugs or be in a 24/7 psychotic state. Our disorders can get almost infinitely worse and it only takes one session to go to a new level of hell... This is not a scare tactic, just a simple fact. 

At the very least, give yourself a real, prolonged break of months.

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Hey, hope you're doing okay. You seem to be in an okay frame of mind which is great.

One thing I cannot overemphasise is to stay away from hallucinogens. I mean it's your choice but I was a regular MDMA user (and hadn't tried any hallucinogens) for a couple years until developing HPPD. I first noticed HPPD visual symptoms from my first acid trip. I never did acid again but continued to do MDMA regularly for a year after that, noticing no difference to my symptoms whatsoever, in fact within that year my symptoms faded to barely noticeable.

Then I did magic mushrooms for the first and last time and everything changed, I woke up in a completely different world with my visual perception completely changed, intense DP/DR, etc. I now will never touch any drugs again, very sadly because I loved MDMA. But it is just not worth the risk. It's now been 6 months and my vision is exactly the same as the full-on HPPD onset, if not worse. I'm coping a lot better but there were a lot of suicidal thoughts in the beginning and I would give anything to take back that trip.

Having said that you got your symptoms from MDMA so it may be worth avoiding that as well. I know that sucks to hear but it just isn't worth the risk from what I've experienced.

 

Also, funnily enough I was the same as you with MDMA. When I was either really fucked, or coming down from being super fucked, I used to see fluorescent colours on everything and people's skin would look pink with yellow stars on it - something I see now on most people's faces in lowlight. Also whenever I shut my eyes on MDMA I'd have this square in the center of my vision with all kinds of weird, video game, cartoony shit playing through it. No one else who did MDMA with me would have these experiences, I wish now looking back that I could've known this was a sign somehow.

 

Sorry if this is another lecture telling you what you don't want to hear but it really is worth knowing and considering whether it's worth the risks... Hope you're all good!

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