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Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) Support Forum
nora47

Do I have HPPD or am I overreacting due to anxiety?

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Hello everyone, 

I joined this forum because I was curious about my symptoms. I've been extremely stressed/anxious about developing HPPD for the past month now since discovering what it is. I was hoping to seek some advice from someone in hopes of understanding what I am going through.

Back in January of this year I had a really bad panic attack while smoking weed. I felt like I was in a dreamlike state and everything around me felt unreal. It really freaked me out and turned me off from weed completely. As a result of this experience my anxiety skyrocketed to levels i had never experienced before. I began researching on the internet about my symptoms and later learned that what I experienced was derealization. The anxiety and dereaization continued for months until I decided to see my school therapist. Although the anxiety is still there, thanks to that therapist I was eventually able to recover from the derealization and rarely experience it now.

However, 1 month ago I began to notice my vision getting fuzzier, almost like I was seeing heat waves in my vision. I came across a disorder known as visual snow which I thought I was developing. I started looking at videos on what it's like to experience this and found out I didn't have it. However for some reason (maybe because of my anxiety/overthinking) that didn't stop me from worrying, I began researching visual snow more and came across HPPD. I began researching the disorder and learned that you can develop it as result from Hallucinogens or weed. I began freaking out because I have done LSD about 5 times before but this was years ago, back in 2015. I stopped 3 years ago after experiencing one bad trip (my last trip), which made me never want to do hallucinogens again. I still continued to smoke weed almost on a daily basis but stopped once I experienced derealization at the beginning of this year. I started researching HPPD more and noticed that I don't have the common symptoms such as visual snow, seeing halos/auras, trails behind moving objects, color flashes, positive afterimages, or objects appearing smaller/larger. This put me at ease for a while, but then I started getting anxious about developing it. For the past month it's all I've been thinking about and it's driving me crazy. I'm fearful that the symptoms might develop over night and I'll wake up one morning with hppd. I constantly over analyze my visual perception now and as a result of this constant worrying I began to notice some slight negative afterimages when my anxiety is high. Ex. If i stare at black text with a yellow background, I get a negative afterimage of the text. I also notice things move in the corner of eyes, but I think those are just eye floater that i'm overreacting to. I get dizzy more often, and tend to feel like I'm unbalanced at times.  I do experience double/ghosted vision sometimes, but I think this is due to the fact I have an astigmatism in my eye and the fact  I stare at a computer screen all day because of work. These are the only anomalies I notice right now, but I don't know if it is a result of over analyzing and worrying or if it's onset symptom. i would really appreciate it if someone could help me by describing their experience with hppd and letting me know if what I'm experiencing right now is onset symptoms. Thank you to anyone who took the time to read this and I hope to get some answers soon. Thank you.

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Thank you for posting.  First off, I'm not a doctor or an expert in hppd.  I'm just an older person who has had it for a long time.

A lot of people have panic attacks from smoking weed.  The weed that's available today is SO powerful.  It's no surprise that you experienced anxiety from it.  I know people who have smoked for decades who won't touch what's available today.  Fortunately,  you've decided to give MJ  a rest.  The symptoms may simply be indicators that you're susceptible to hppd.  I honestly can't tell for sure.  Many of the visual anomolies you describe could be caused by eye fatigue or common eye abnormalities.  Us humans don't always perceive "reality" just exactly perfect.

Old people like to tell stories, let me describe what I deal with.  If I stare at anything, floors, ceilings, trees, clouds, within a few seconds they start transforming into patterns, animal, Aztec glyphs, etc.  If I keep staring they start to move and sometimes the colors start to shift.  I've had this disorder for almost 40 years.  HPPD for sure.  People in here describe derealiazation and anxiety that is truly debilitating.  Some describe hppd as being on a low dose of acid all the time.  Is this the kind of thing you're experiencing?  

As I said, I can't tell if you have hppd, early hppd symptoms, or if you don't have it at all.  My gut feeling is that you don't have hppd. Please understand I'm not trying to minimize what you're dealing with.  Anxiety is no joke but, unfortunately, it is part of the human experience in a world that can't seem to rest.

This is what I would suggest.  Continue to stay clear of psychoactive drugs like MJ, acid, etc.  Focus on the things that interest you and that give you joy.  Why do I say this?  When I'm focused I don't have hallucinations.  Staying focused and reaching for goals in life is what saved this psychedelic wreck.

Even if you have some early hppd symptoms, and you stay clean,  I'll bet life will work out fine and those symptoms will improve.  Myself, and others with severe symptoms have careers, raise families, and have found great joy in life.

Hang in there and take care of yourself.

I hope that helps.  

Edited by MadDoc
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MadDoc thank you for the advice and for sharing your experience of hppd with me. It really put me at ease with what I’m dealing with. I don’t feel like I’m on a lose of acid at all times. The only thing I notice from time to time is negative after images/outlines of objects when I stare for more than a few seconds, but I read somewhere online that it takes your eyes time to adjust when shifting your vision. That helped me understand that what I’m seeing is a normal human experience. Perhaps it’s just my anxiety and guilt of past drug use that causes me to over analyze every little thing in my vision. 

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Don't beat yourself up for using drugs. We're all trying to make sense of why we're here and psychedelics is often used as a step in the path to trying to figure that out.  My mistake was that I thought psychedelics was the answer instead of a learning tool and I fried my noggin'.

I can only suggest to not feed the guilt.  What's done is done.  Take what you've learned and move forward with the knowledge you might have gained from those experiences.

I hope that didn't come off as too flaky.

 

Edited by MadDoc
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