i actually have (and currently do) suffer from DP/DR and always associated it with LSD and/or marijuana use when i was younger. i only used those things a few times but i had one very bad experience. i recovered, but a few months later i had a bad anxiety attack that just never seemed to go away. i spent a good year or two in sort of an unreal state and also had what some people call HPPD (hallucinogen persisting perception disorder) where you have some mild visual symptoms like trails or 'visual snow.' it did slowly get better over time. the worst was of course the first 6 months or so. and by the time i was in college i would have to say that it vanished totally. unfortunately, though, it came back around the time i was getting ready to graduate. i then went on an SSRI and recovered again and enjoyed life for about
8 years. about
3 years ago though a bunch of stuff happened in my life that knocked me back into that state. i am still trying to recover from this latest episode. i have had plenty of good days and some very bad days. i stopped taking my SSRI about
3 months ago because i felt it had really stopped working anyway, caused a bunch of bad side-effects, and may actually be hindering my recovery this time around. i am hopeful i can do this on my own like i did the first time around when i had the most success - unmedicated.
anyway, i feel like there's a connection with the drug use because there are so many people that talk about
having DP/DR along with seeing trails and floaters and things like that and most of them seem to have been drug users at some point and mention that there problems started a certain period of time after taking the drugs. the more i read the more i felt that there is a connection but it seems like most of the time it happens to people who are already susceptible or have a biological predisposition towards anxiety, depression and feeling unreal. they are more vulnerable and sometimes it seems the drugs trigger something that can create a 24/7 state of anxiety and derealization. that's one theory anyway. however, that being said, there are definitely people who both see trails and/or have dp/dr who never used drugs at all. so i think people who use drugs are more prone to suffering this, but anyone can fall into it.
the good news is that people can recover on their own. i would suggest you google Shaun O Connor. He's a kid from Ireland that suffered from DP and wrote an excellent guide to recovering. it's about
$10 to download but worth it. he explains how it's really just a negative thought pattern habit that you need to break and if you do you will be fine. he admits it's not easy but definitely doable. he has tons of chapters on various aspects of life related to DP including visual stuff and how it's just a manifestation of your mind overly focused on itself. as you say, if you try and see it you will. you basically become so sensitive to everything you begin to see things that your brain blocked out before. and you fixate on things as well, which could explain the trails and lingering images. there are many people on forums who have recovered in the same way Shaun describes. it doesn't have to be permanent. as long as you understand what's happening you can break the habit. the key, though, is to not focus on it. just like with OCD you have to distract yourself and live your life. which is why i also recommend not googling HPPD
that actually triggered my latest episode. i started reading about
HPPD and went back to thinking i ruined my life by taking drugs and i'd just be a freak living some nightmare forever. but that's exactly what you can't do. it makes it worse.
anyway, i know i've just thrown a lot out there. it's just that it hits home. if you have any questions feel free to send me an email or PM.