John

Ecstasy induced 24/7 DP/DR.

I have never been into drugs but some of my friends are.  They kept telling me stories of great Ecstasy experiences.  They made it sound so amazing and appealing – curiosity eventually got the better of me.  I decided to take half an E.  I didn’t think it was really dangerous.  After all, I have friends that take the stuff regularly and in huge quantities without any apparent side-effects.

I took it at a rave almost 2 years ago and had an awesome night – on top of the world.  The next day I felt a little hung-over, light-headed.

During the month after I had several dizzy-spells and felt constantly “lightheaded” and tired.  I began posting messages on a “rave” website to see if others had experienced this.  My first few weeks of messages were re-assuring with people just telling me not to worry, etc.  I then got a VERY SCARY reply from a guy going by the name Peter Jones.  He said that the same thing happened to his brother and now he is in a mental asylum with half his head numb!!!!

Understandably, this scared me like crazy.  I immediately assumed the worst and slipped into a full blown panic attack that lasted weeks with thousands of questions and ‘what ifs’ running through my head.  The thought of losing my mind was too much for me – I was even suicidal.  I’m sure you can understand my despair and depression….

This event triggered a whole load of physical symptoms – random muscle twitches/spasms and pins and needles in different parts of my body, intense burning sensations in my left hand and ‘floating’ black lines, clouds and spots in my vision (later found out these are floaters).  I also awoke with partially numb hands almost every morning.  One night I awoke to find myself paralyzed from the right shoulder down, and this lasted a scary minute or so.  I was also in a constant lightheaded dream-like state (I now know 
this to be DP/DR).

During the initial period I emailed over 100 neurologists and MDMA researchers with a “cry for help”.  Most replied with advice about keeping positive.  Many suggested seeing a psychologist for help with dealing with the emotional side of this situation.  Some suggested that many of my symptoms may be related to the anxiety I was experiencing.  The best news was that no-one had heard of any similar cases to my own, or cases were ecstasy use had led to “Peter Jones” type situations.  I now believe that 
the message was just someone’s idea of a really, really bad joke.

I also saw a GP and a neurologist and went through a heap of testing – CT scan, MRI, evoked potentials, ear tests, eye tests, blood tests, etc.  When nothing showed up both blamed all my symptoms on anxiety.  Of course, I knew there was more to it.

As a last resort I saw a psychologist specializing in anxiety disorders.  He also believed that anxiety was causing my problems.  He helped me to realize the very real relationship between the mind and body and gave me my first glimpse of hope after 3-4 months of constant panic.

Over the past 14 months or so I have tried very hard to think positive and go on with my normal life – working, playing sport, going out (no alcohol), etc.  Most of the physical symptoms have now gone, making me certain that these were caused by the anxiety.

However, I am still in a light-headed, dream-like, state 24/7 (I now know this as depersonalization/derealization (DP/DR)).  The best way to describe my general feeling is that I constantly feel as though I have had 2-3 drinks.  Also, I have “wobbling” vision 24/7.  Looking at the moon is a good example.  I look at it and it seems to jump around, like I just can’t keep my focus stable.

I have recently found web-sites on DP/DR.  I have read about other cases where Ecstasy use caused permanent DP/DR.  This has certainly helped me, just to know there are others out there.  Also, it is reassuring to know that the condition doesn’t tend to get any worse with time, and that it doesn’t lead to madness.

Although what I am experiencing is very difficult, I know I can continue to live a relatively normal life if the severity of my problem doesn’t increase.  A weird thing is thing is that I seem fine to everyone around me.   In fact, my wife is the only person who has any idea what I am going through!  Although I am now sure that much of what I have experienced was caused by the anxiety, not the E, I am also sure that the E is responsible for the underlying symptoms (DP/DR and wobbling vision).  I am also still very worried that my condition will deteriorate with time.  I am trying to stay positive………………

I am now seeing a psychiatrist.  He has prescribed Klonopin to help reduce my anxiety levels.  Although this has helped relax me, it has had no noticeable effect upon my DP/DR.

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