• 7 months ago

    Mysterious Episodes

    So, starting this past summer I've begun having random episodes, never lasting more than 5 minutes or so, where I feel almost like I'm in a dream and get an overwhelming feeling then it's gone just like that. While its happening, I hear this one specific song in the back of my head and I keep seeing the same imagery that I did the first time I ever had one of these episodes- but then as soon as it's passed I cannot for the life of me remember what the song was or what I was thinking about. I've tried taking note of when they occur but have never found any consistencies as its happened at all times of day, in public or alone, and in moments where I've been doing completely different things. Sometimes it'll happen several times in a week, then other times weeks have passed before I experience it again. I've thought that I could try writing down what I'm thinking at the moment that the episode happens so I can go back later and evaluate what might be the issue, but the feeling is so overwhelming that I can't bring myself to do anything other than sit still and stare in front of me until it passes.

    To go into a little more detail about the episodes themselves- I wouldn't quite describe it as a wave of depression, but more so a rush of anxiety, sadness, and emptiness at once. When I describe it as 'overwhelming' I don't mean it in the sense that it's too much to bear, it's just the ONLY thing that I can feel in the moment and the feelings are so much that I can't describe with words- which has also made it very hard to talk about with my psychiatrist and/or therapist. I kind of feel like I'm in a dream when it happens and the song that I mentioned before almost sounds like its actually playing out loud, but in the other room; my stomach gets queasy, I start to feel overheated, and I'm looking through my own eyes but they're out of focus. I've researched a little about depersonalization and it sounds similar to what I'm experiencing, but I don't think some of the other key elements of that diagnosis apply to me. The most notable aspect of any of these episodes is that its never something new, it's always the SAME things (song & imagery) that come to mind when it happens.

    In terms of my mental health history, I have been treated for my ADD, Anxiety, Depression, Bipolar Disorder, and PTSD starting at around 12 years old. For a long time I struggled mostly with depression because I often went periods, ranging from hours to days to weeks, where I didn't feel like myself and I didn't find any joy in being alive (not necessarily suicidal, though), but eventually reached the diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder because I also have stages where I'm extremely manic and become hyperfocused on whatever it is that consumes me at the time. I am currently 20 and my doctors are primarily focused on my PTSD from a robbery and sexual assault that occurred about 2 years ago, and my Anxiety that worsened when I began having frequent panic attacks in social situations about a year ago. I am taking Lamictal (200MG) right now, and just recently stopped taking Mirtazapine (22.5MG) after being on it for about 8-9 months. I also take 5MG of Dexedrine twice a day for focus.

    And lastly, my lifestyle- I regularly smoke weed, probably about 1-2 times a day. I am a social-smoker, but I also do it to help me eat or sleep, cope with stress or boredom, or to ease anxiousness when I'm alone; so the amount really just depends on the day. (Note: I have always been sober every time one of these mysterious episodes has occurred). I do not smoke cigarettes, I rarely drink, and I live a relatively healthy lifestyle in terms of diet and exercise. Drug-wise, I have done shrooms twice, coke four times, and LSD 10 times- which brings me to my conclusion.

    The first time one of my episodes ever occurred-
    I'm only mentioning this part last because I thought it would be important to know all of the other information beforehand. The first time I ever experienced one of these moments was after coming down from an LSD trip with a friend of mine. Although I do think the LSD played a part in the onset of the first incident, I'm still hesitant to definitively say drugs are completely responsible for what is going on. On the day it happened, my friend and I had both taken only half a tab. I had done acid 9 other times, in the span of 2 years, before this and always took a full tab, so the trip was short and we were both feeling our usual selves within about 6-8 hours. We were sitting on the couch at another friends house approx. 14-15 hours after taking the half tabs when I got the overwhelming feeling I mentioned before- anxiety, depression, and emptiness all at once. I remember listening to music and scrolling down Instagram until I passed over a photo of my ex out at a party posted by someone else, then I felt it. It should also be noted that this ex and I had recently broken off a long-term relationship, so it was a particularly sensitive subject-matter. My mental health had taken a turn for the worst about 6 months earlier (panic attacks, severe depressive episodes, inexplainable episodes of crying, etc.) and as a result, took a toll on our relationship and was ultimately the catalyst that led to the end of things. We had lived together and he kept our puppy after the breakup, so it was not a clean break by any means. However, when this first episode occurred, I had been on the Lamictal and Mirtazapine for a few months and was back in a stable place. About a month passed before I experienced another moment like this one, and then they began to become more frequent later on.

    In conclusion, I know that the LSD very well may have been the reason this ever started, even if I wasn't actively tripping when it first occurred. But it's also possible it could be the result something else like stress, other lifestyle choices, medications, etc.. I still haven't been able to characterize it and neither have any of my doctors, so that's why I'm here. Regardless of what the cause might be, what I would love to know is what these episodes are called, and how/if it could be treated. Although they are only 2-5 minutes long, it can be quite debilitating and leave me feeling detached for periods of time afterward. Any advice at all would be much appreciated. Thanks for reading.


  • RE: Mysterious Episodes

    Hey, Anonymous-

    Thanks for sharing.

    Here's my opinion: who knows why all that started. But why don't you think a little bit about how you might be maintaining it. Now, if in some way you feel alarmed by it, and feel it is part of a larger symptom cluster that needs attention, then talk to your psychiatrist and/or therapist to help figure that out. But what if it is just an odd little loop that occurs occasionally and is totally meaningless and irrelevant? Here's an experiment to try: for the next 60 days, when you notice it, simply detach your attention from it. Shrug your shoulders. Adopt an "I could care less about this" attitude. And really mean it. It's not going to cost you anything to stop paying attention to it for that length of time.

    I suggest this because often with these types of symptoms, the disturbance they create has no value. So detachment is the right action. Don't worry about trying to label the symptoms or trying to make them fit into some diagnostic category. They don't rise to the level of a diagnosis. I understand that they last 2 to 5 minutes, and then you feel detached for a while afterwards. Sometimes, the reason people are detached afterwards is because they are ATTACHED to this specific experience. They begin dwelling on it. "Why did this happen? What's wrong with me? What does this mean?" We have only so much consciousness available to us at any moment. When you absorb it in focusing on this experience, it is no surprise to me that you feel detached regarding the rest of the world.

    So try that little experiment for 60 days and see what you notice. See what you learn.