Hi. I’m 27 yeas old, and throughout my life, mostly as a child, I have had occasional moments during which I’ve experienced one of a variety of weird but very short hallucinations. They don’t bother me, because they’re so rare and brief, so I’ve never felt a need to bother a doctor about it. However, I’m still curious to know what’s going on: am I a very lucky sufferer of aura-without-migraine who gets ridiculously tame episodes, or does everyone in the world actually experience these at some point in their lives and I’m being silly for thinking there’s anything special about it? As a kid I just assumed they happened to everyone, but after I had a frightening episode as a teen (see first entry in my second list below), I started to wonder if they were actually migraines.
Here’s a list of common experiences. Note these always occur in isolation of one another:
– A flashing orb of light with jagged edges pulses intensely in a large section of my visual field, sometimes drifting around, sometimes not. Lasts a few seconds to a minute.
– A strong, shooting pain on one side of my crown or upper forehead. Lasts a few seconds.
– Depersonalisation. This takes one of three forms:
1. I become light-headed and the world will seem “realer” than usual; colours become stronger, objects seem more… object-like, etc, and I don’t feel quite like I’m really there, while simultaneously feeling like I’m as hyper-real as everything else. Lasts a few seconds to a minute.
2. I will feel like I’m only a few inches tall, even though I will continue to view the world around me as though I was normal height. Tends to be accompanied by light-headedness. Lasts a few seconds to a minute.
3. A building I am very familiar with, most commonly my grandparent’s old house, for some reason (and no, I never had a traumatic experience there; my grandparents were wonderful and I loved visiting them), will have an “alternate universe” version of itself, which, the first time I experience it, will feel totally unfamiliar to me, like I’m in a stranger’s house; but which, on subsequent episodes, will start to feel familiar — not like it’s the place it actually is, but like I’ve become friends with that stranger and visited their house several times. It’s hard to describe. It feels similar to looking at one of those optical illusions like the Necker Cube or Rubens Vase that can be viewed one of two ways, except I can’t switch between them at will. This mostly only happened to me as a child, and was quite long-lasting — minutes to an hour, maybe more.
And here’s a list of notable, unusually intense episodes, all of which occurred roughly during the same year or two in my mid/late teens:
– I woke up to a flashing light, larger and stronger than any I’d had before, and lasting for far longer than it usually would — it felt like 20 minutes, but was probably closer to five or ten. When it finally subsided, the entirety of the right-hand side of my visual field — the area the light had previously occupied — was gone. I was totally blind on that side, in both eyes. My vision returned to normal after another twenty minutes or so.
– For a period of a few months, I was very easily triggered into having olfactory hallucinations. Most commonly these were the smell of metal, blood, or well-hung meat. On one memorable occasion I smelt cooked, rotting fish all day after being triggered by my dad’s kipper breakfast. These hallucinations were strong, couldn’t be shaken off by real scents or fresh air, and would last for hours. After a few months of this, they just stopped happening to me, as suddenly as they’d started.
– A headache that lasted all day. Probably a coincidence, but apart from the brief pains I described earlier, I never get headaches, so it was notable. I don’t remember what sort of pain it was, just that it was unbearably strong and didn’t seem to be triggered by anything.
– A jagged, iridescent strip appeared in front of me and removed a dot from the dead centre of my visual field — such a small dot that I might not have noticed anything was gone had I not been reading at the time. Neither object changed in size or shape, although the strip sort of shimmered. Lasted a minute or two, vision returned to normal afterwards. This wasn’t a particularly “intense” hallucination, but I’m listing it here because I’ve only experienced it once. Based on what I’ve read and seen online, I think this was similar to a scintillating scotomata.