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Dizziness, Panic attacks and therapeutic use - a reader writes

Recently I read your Q&A with one question about dizziness and one about nocturnal panic attacks. Maybe my story can help people better understand those problems. When you don't know what is happening they can cause a lot of worries.

I am a frequent user of E and have experimented with longer trips (two or three days). I find that when you go beyond about 10 hours of tripping the following two symptoms always occur.

Dizziness is the best word I can find to describe the first symptom. It feels as if you are lifted by a wave when swimming in the ocean. Another way to describe it is that it feels as if the blood pressure in your head suddenly changes. The waves always start approximately 48 hours after taking the last pill and last one to five days. In the beginning they occur quite frequently - every 30 to 120 minutes - and then decreasing in the following days. Sometimes when the wave is intense I can feel it in my whole body, but the centre of the sensation is in my head close to my ears and behind my eyes. I can evoke the sensation by moving my eyes. The sensation becomes more intense when I lie in bed just before I fall asleep. At that moment I can also hear an unexplainable 'whoosh' sound during a wave. I have experienced such episodes approximately 12 times and the episodes are all very similar. After approximately five days the symptoms are gone and only come back after another extended session. After those five days I always feel completely recovered.

Nightmares, the second symptom, are inevitable after extended sessions. They always occur the night following the day that I have come down. I don't wake up feeling disturbed like after a not-E-related nightmare, but the dreams can be pretty frightening - 3D full colour and sound experiences that sometimes end with my waking up, screaming, almost with my nails in the ceiling, scaring the hell out of my partner. After waking up I feel ok and I can go back to sleep within a few minutes. In such a post-E night I sometimes have 10 to 15 nightmares. Those nights have an epic character - some dreams are incredibly beautiful - and the strange thing is that the next morning I feel well-rested and calm.

What goes up must come down?

Two days after an extended session I can get emotionally unstable. I am easily irritated and become intolerant, vulnerable and closed-off, in short the opposite of being high. I think some post-E psychological experiences are not directly related to E itself but more by one's changed perspective on the world and oneself. However, this emotional instability after extended sessions is, as far as I can see, pure inbalance in brainchemistry. It lasts for one to three days. When experiencing such an episode I keep a low profile and question my thoughts, feelings and behaviour all the time.

I understand that my frequent extended usage is questionable for various reasons, but I do not think that I am addicted as after a session I feel no compulsive need for a new one and I can wait as long as I want, whether that be weeks or months.

I have had psychological problems for 12 years, and still consult a psychologist. I have been taking E for two years now, sometimes with a one to two month break. The detached perspective on life during these E sessions helps me to understand my day-to-day perspective. My relationship to thoughts and feelings has completely changed. I have investigated the E experience intensively to find a way out of a very limited, self-infatuated perspective on life. I have applied my findings very successfully.

I don't think E is, in itself, a cure against psychological problems. After tripping you wake up as self-infatuated and neurotic as you were before. Or probably even worse, because you have had a very positive experience which you cannot hold on to it. But by experimenting with E and applying my findings in real life I began to look at my psychological problems from a not-involved perspective. I began to understand what they really are. By simply being completely aware of them from a non-judgemental, not-involved perspective they started to fall away. How this exactly works is still a mystery for me, but for some reason I found a way to make the shift towards this detached awareness without using E.

Using E in this therapeutic way was extremely hard. Unlike psychotherapy there is no endless analysis of an illness in your character; it is the opposite - you stop touching it and simply look at it in a very concentrated way.

I wouldn't dare to advise anybody to do what I did. In my case it worked, but I have no idea if this approach would work for others.

An anonymous Dutch man