Getting the hang of this…maybe.

butlerNeurotherapy, as it turns out, has the capacity to be as much a roller coaster as anything else in life. For me, what pulls the brake off the beast is the sense of stepping out into a different skin. Then wondering if you get to keep that skin, then feeling like you might, then knowing you can’t possibly, then…God dammit, I tire my self out in a single sentence. How the fuck would anyone else stand being around me for any length of time? It’s good kids have to legally hang around for a while. Just sayin.

*re-reads last* And I may have to reconsider cutting the anti-anger/anxiety placement out of my brainwave cocktail tomorrow…

Part of it is that the process of NT makes you WAY more introspective and self-noticey than certainly I had been. Which as anyone will tell you is pushing the boundaries of human possibility. I figured any more introspection and I would simply implode in an all-about-me singularity. A dark hole from which no compliment escapes.

But no…as so terribly often happens, I seem to have been wrong. I CAN get more introspective.

Way more.

Neuro (at least othmer-style) seems to focus one very strongly on things that had always been taken for granted. You spend a lot of time looking at things you never thought of before, looking for clues to things you never thought could change.

I’m pissed off! (wait. is that really the asshole in the other car, or is it just my brain being generally angry?)

Oh god, do I have to? (hey, what’s up with my frontal cortex today? It was FINE yesterday!)

My leg hurts…(damn, I KNEW I shouldn’t have tried that stupid .003 setting…what the hell was I thinking?)

Emotions, sensations, pain, thoughts – everything – are all now subjects for examination and inclusion in a sort of vast game of chess, combined with hide and go seek, combined with blind man’s bluff, combined with Clue(tm). And possibly one of the more obscure drinking games involving pennies and an athletic supporter. Or not…Hard to tell as I lost consistently and thus have very poor recollection of the rules.

One thing’s for sure though. I do love a mystery. And this is the best one going…

But I’m pretty sure the butler did it.

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Depression – A ten-letter word

bandaidclownWhoops.

This was an inadvertent test of the system. Had this been a real emergency you probably wouldn’t have really noticed but vaguely wondered much later, “gee, I wonder what happened to that guy who was doing that thing with the eeg therapy deal…”

Anyway, in the rush of getting home, getting unpacked, catching up on doing stuff with my children, trying to re-organize the rest of my life, and various other challenges, I just didn’t get my new machine working till last night. [tech geeks – My neurotherapy system is designed for PC – I have a MacBook and needed to get Windows, install Bootcamp, system drivers, etc. Naturally everything was more difficult than it needed to be. Welcome to Windows…]

And it showed. Stopped doing neurotherapy with Sue about a week and a half ago.

Days 1-5 – Course, travel. All running too fast to feel much of anything except the rush of wind past my face.

Day 6 after neurotherapy stopped – still on fire – great list, hyper-organized, everything got done, super motivated, no time for blog but that’s ok.

Day 7 – little bit worse. List not as complete, things slipped off it to the next day – just didn’t get to blog

Day 8 – no list. totally scattered, got one or two things to get machine set up, hit a minor bump, got discouraged – felt like I didn’t have anything to contribute on the blog

Day 9 – tried to make list but couldn’t find pen. Felt really discouraged, questioned reason for doing all this in the first place, got totally down about something pretty minor, got really scared by that which was useful motivation to get the machine going…Got eeg going (yay)…finally did another neurotherapy session at 11 that night, which is really not optimum. Too scared by getting close to the cliff to blog.

Day 10 – Feel great today, writing this blog entry with no problem (notice how it didn’t happen before?), despite having the girls here. Fitting it in between activities and no problem keeping train of thought despite having to activity hop.

Are we noticing a trend?

Anyway, back on track now. This slippage makes me:

A. really convinced neurotherapy’s effects are real and tangible,

B. a bit worried about how long it lasts.

Neither of these is really new though, so…

Let’s talk about the big one.

Depression – Big awful awful word. For many, “you’ve got depression” is just slightly this side of “you have a social disease”. It can mean that you are a total failure and just too damn lazy to pull up your bootstraps and get on with the work of living.

But what if you just weren’t born with boots on? I speak from bitter personal experience when I say that many people have strappy, high-priced six inch stiletto brains. They sure look nice but see how far you get when the terrain gets a bit rocky. [and that’s MISTER Blahnik to you…]

So me, and a whole bunch of others, aren’t particularly lazy, or weak…just a bit tippy. Our brains don’t have a solid base from which to work. And let’s face it: life hits you sideways. Every single time. It would be easier if it were random, or even predictably mean. No…it waits until your mouth is full and your head thrown back before it hits you in the gut. Checking behind you? Wrecking ball…Stage left. Devised a carefully constructed fence with kevlar protection and proximity warning devices? Piano from the fifth floor window above you.

Monty Python once said “No one expects the spanish inquisition!” There’s truth to the fact that some things are so awful we cannot predict them because we cannot bear to look and see them coming. It’s fairly predictable that bad things happen. Life’s…kinda like that. The difference between the depressed and the non-depressed lies in the response to that smackdown. The depressed person feels crushed, unable to get back up, by the strength of the blow. The non-depressed takes the same hit in the same spot, shrugs it off and says “that all you got?” That’s not about bravery, or gumption or hutzpah. It’s about the flexibility of your brain in a stressful situation.

A motivated, flexible and un-depressed person can’t see any of that. So they tend to tell us to just pick ourselves up and keep at it. I know you mean well…it’s not helpful however. Almost nothing is, really. Sometimes you can coax out of depression. Sometimes life gets better while you have your head down. But you’ll drop right down the next time it gets bad.

What to do?

Find friends to help – As mentioned, sometimes this isn’t so helpful, because being fixed doesn’t really make you feel anything except more broken. What we are all looking for in the end is a bit of control in our lives. Being rescued from yourself doesn’t provide this. Sometimes this makes the bad things go away enough that you can get your head up tho – pluses and minuses. It’s just a band aid. Not a fix.

Drugs – SSRIs (prozac et al) will take the edge off, largely by making you not feel the bad things quite so much. I don’t really like this. At some level I think sadness is as fundamental a human right as joy. It would just be nice to be in control of it a little though, to have it not wreck you and leave you all messy for so long. To maybe just be sad, then pick yourself up and walk on when you feel like it. Man that would be great. Also they make me feel sluggish and not quick thinking. Some days that’s all I have, and giving it up is like trading your house for a new car.

Suicide – Although an effective way to prevent yourself from feeling anything at all, forever, this is a sucky option. Please don’t. It is possible to feel joy again. We just need to get your body and brain to cooperate.

Neurotherapy – Neurotherapy stretches the flexibility of your system so that you still feel everything (um…yay?) but it doesn’t wreck you. Leaves you able to take the punches, rock back a bit, regroup and move on…

And moving on, it’s time to take this energy and go play with my girls.

Neurotherapy – Day 11 – Wave Goodbye, Say Hello…

photo-19It could just be the neurotherapy talking but, man what a great bunch of people. I’ve been in classes and conferences where you were wondering why the exit door seemed to be moving in slow motion, dreading that someone would catch up with you. I can honestly say that there was not a single person that I met with whom I wouldn’t cheerfully spend a day. Interesting, dedicated, open and open-minded. A good few will be friends, collaborative partners and potentially colleagues for years, I’m quite sure.

So I say goodbye cheerfully, warm in the knowledge that goodbyes and beginnings are two sides of the same coin. Bye, all. LA…well, I’ll see you soon. And San Diego. And Portland…

Clinicians Course – Last Day

Today was the last day of what has to be one of the hardest short courses I have ever encountered.  Honestly, I was boggled by the level, depth and sheer volume of information. Under the general rule of you get as good as you give, this was also one of the most rewarding courses I have ever taken.

Normally there are little spots where you can take a bit of a breather. You know. A quick glaze over and no one will really notice if your head starts to roll a bit. Not such a good plan here. I think I did that once, thinking about something or other, only to snap back into focus hearing a bunch of words that made absolutely no sense whatsoever. None. Like the babel fish just fell out of my ear and breathed its last, leaving me merciless at the hands of a completely incomprehensible Vogon. No one expects their aliens on the smallish side with glasses and a little vest. That’s how they infiltrate.

Anyway, the other 31 hours, 58 minutes were spent in rapt attention. I think I was down to alternating eyes for blinking, just in case. The one exercise where we actually closed them was nearly sinfully lovely.

And let’s use that as a segue into the real heart of the matter:

Did Neurotherapy Work?

Well, let’s look at it from a few angles. Random bursts of excitement and Deus Ex Machining aside, I’ve seen a lot of evidence from a number of sources over the last two weeks:

ME

  1. There is no way in hell that I would have been able to devote that kind of focus and attention to anything two weeks ago. No way. In hell. Period. (note – admit to this potentially being in LA doing cool stuff, learning cool things, meeting cool people – see in the long run)
  2. I was both focused and engaged. I felt upbeat, excited and happy to be there pretty much every minute. (as per note above)
  3. I am actively seeking plans for the future, with some solid, or at least excitingly ephemeral results.
  4. I am now hungry three times a day. I increasingly bow to the common understanding that this may be a good thing, although it’s largely a moot point.
  5. Although I am hungry, I seem to know when I am full. I worry that the unfinished food may suffer self esteem issues.
  6. I just don’t seem to want sugar much anymore. This is ok, but confusing.
  7. I am now drunk on one beer. This causes me shame.
  8. I have a more general thirst for life that I haven’t seen in far longer than I really want to think about.
  9. I haven’t had a migraine in 2 weeks. This is a while, but by no means a record. Bears watching but not conclusive.
  10. I seem to be surprisingly sensitive to blood glucose level changes. Minor (minor! – still strange) headache today after big carb lunch, same a s I used to get from beer in the afternoon. This is not a good thing but is clearly a change from my previous last one to the box ‘o cookies is a rotten egg system. Significant negative effect still equals effect. And it’s probably fixable.

OTHERS

  1. The other members of the class were not dummies or rubes. There were clear effects using the machines for even the few hours of demonstration time we had.
  2. The effects are sufficiently powerful that when people made mistakes during class, the person doing the training clearly felt the effects. Headaches, tight chest, rapid mood swings, clenched jaws, instant grogginess and many other symptoms showed up in the light of our inexperience. Needless to say people learned fast.
  3. Also clearly, when the settings were right, the person felt a sense of immense well-being. This would sometimes happen when they didn’t know the settings had been changed.
  4. Occasionally settings were changed with a stray elbow or arm. Neither the tester nor the subject knew this. The effects were still extremely obvious and had to be corrected quickly.

FACTS AND FIGURES

  1. There is solid, published research behind it, on lots of test subjects but no where near the numbers that exist in pharmacuetical studies – the cash just ain’t there.
  2. The Othmers have compiled data on several thousand cases the clinic has dealt with. These numbers seem solid and in several cases really, really impressive.

Looking at it skeptically, there are still many areas where I want more knowledge, more facts, more understanding of what’s happening and why. Then again, I also don’t know how an MRI works, or even that Blizzard machine at Dairy Queen. They still do the job.

I never take statistics as proof of anything. Spent too many years making them dance to believe them in isolation. Once they start to get confirmed by real world test subjects (or as I like to think of the class, my fellow guinea pigs), I start to think hmmmm…maybe.

And once I feel them myself, I hope.

I truly believe that this has had a significant effect on me. I feel like a new man, utterly and completely. As I continue to work with Sue from Victoria, we will see how these effects settle, build, change and last. Once I know all that, well… I will find a good avenue to do this for other people. No question about that. It’s a gift.

Stay Tuned,

Same Bat-channel, Same Bat-place (that one’s for you, Darla)

Neurotherapy – Day 9 – Four out of Five Experts are Flabbergasted.

CandyFirst things first, I felt fantastic today. No treatment the last two days (obviously, since I’m in class) and absolutely no fall off on concentration, motivation or mood. Not over the top, just really really good. Before Neurotherapy, I often had a sense of fear or overwhelming exhaustion when starting a task. It’s just gone…completely. Was discussing this stuff with some of the counselors in the room (can’t throw a rock without hitting one and even if you did they would just ask about my feelings. Except the woman from New York. I’m pretty sure she’d just hit me with the nearest chair.).  Mentioned trying anti-depressants back home, and the fact that, while they helped mood some, I never felt myself, not sharp, not clever. Never stayed on them as a result. This isn’t like that at all. I don’t expect it would last if I stopped now, but I have absolutely no intention of stopping before I finish the 20 or 30 or 40 sessions I need to really make this, well, maybe not permanent but close enough for me.

The Course

Today was the start of practical application of the theory behind the Othmer system. Just in case we were under the impression that it was going to get easy, the morning was more challenging than the day before. It’s tempting to run away, but the lunch is so good you have to stick around.

About the theory (and if you hate stuff like that just jump ahead)

Over the course of the morning I talked with a bunch of the people in the course, asking them what they thought thus far. I talked to a few doctors, a psychologist, and a math professor from a California university. Each one had their own take on it, but the general consensus was (and I’m paraphrasing) “Well, I’ve got an open mind, but this is really different from anything I’ve seen before. I’ll have to wait and see whether it works in practice.” Individually, each could look at pieces in their own area of knowledge (network theory, pain management, trauma counseling, etc.) and see the possibility. It’s a dizzyingly large body of completely new concepts or old concepts reimagined in new way or a blurry combination of the two.

Luckily, the primary work of scientists is relentlessly finding new ways to be wrong without ever admitting they believed something completely different the week before. If the Othmer’s theory proves to be true, there will be a massive and complete about-face so breathtaking that long term use of chemical anti-depressants, anti-convulsants and so on will make the “flat earth” model seem like quite a good idea. Many will declare that they always believed it so, while others will declare those ones big fat liars it was their idea first.

I can follow most of it, understanding-wise, but I don’t even have the beginnings of the knowledge I would need to critique it, so I’m largely along for the ride, hanging on and hoping my intellectual pants don’t fly off. I’m grateful to have at least a few people in the room ready to call bullshit if they hear it. Like a security blanket sewn out of smart people. [Ed. Note – This is a metaphor, and it’s late so it’s the only one I could think of. I generally renounce violence of any sort. Do not phone the police.]

Ok – You can start reading again.

The remainder of the day was teaming off into pairs and having a go with the machines. This, it seems, is pretty much what everyone was waiting for. Even those of us with the little drool marks started working with the sort of focus and attention normally reserved for bomb disposal. Which it kind of looked like. Damn…where does the gray wire go again? Oh…sorry Ed.

This part was, definitely, really really fun. I’ve talked about the process before so I won’t bore you but, in the same way as driving is not the same as being a passenger, working as the clinician monitoring the subject was a radically different experience.

We had all been warned ( and I had already seen it firsthand), how insanely fast the body reacts to the right (or the wrong) reward frequency (the brainwaves you are telling your head to make more of). Even so, everyone in the room was flabbergasted when symptoms like headaches, sweating, anxiety and muscle tension broke out across the room while they searched for the reward frequency that worked for the individual. The Othmer’s new technology allows the machines to be set anywhere from 40 to 0.001 hz (which is crazy low). Interestingly, 0.0001 hz is pretty much where many people seem to like their rewards. Although I had previously found with Sue thathis was my personal frequency, I let my partner (I’ll call him Ed, mostly because that’s his name) hunt around a little, in order to get a feeling for the question-asking process. Even after dialling it back, the muscles in my chest didn’t untighten for two hours.

I remember thinking the day before, “Wow, these are committed and serious individuals (which they are). Look at them all paying such close attention.” After the demonstration, that just totally fell apart. There’s really no other word to describe the class but giddy, with poor Sue having to shush people and shout over the noise like it was free candy day at the Kindergarten. At a guess, I’d say they were all pretty excited at the prospect of finding a tool that could actually make a huge difference in the lives of their clients. The physical reactions had, for the first time, made that a tangible possibility.

Which, after all, IS pretty exciting.

Neurotherapy – Day 7 – IT’S ALIVE!!!

frankensteinOk – that experimental thing was awesome. Loved it. Talk about motivation…just totally fired up and not in a can’t sit still sort of way; more a “I can start or do anything” sort of way.

When three quarters of your problem is a sense of exhaustion at the thought of beginning things, that’s a big deal.

The first of the two sessions, we did the experimental 40 hz training on both sides of the forehead (I note that Sue only did this on my last day as she knew she would be seeing me over the next few days at the course and would be able to discuss with me whether it was throwing me off). Then we mellowed out its potential jumpy or destabilizing effects with a little more temporal lobe training (same electrode placement we use for the migraines). The feeling I got from it was completely clear and motivated – absolutely great. But still not perfect…

Went and sat in Starbucks reading a text for a bit. Lots of motivation to read but missing some concentration factor that allows me to focus on the words. I discussed this with Sue when I went back for session two so we decided to focus on more calming and the focus control placement that was working before. Together the combination is really good (so far – it can take a little while for things to shake out). Motivation + focus and control = Stuff gets done – at least for me. YaaaaaY!

Which brings me to another topic… Despite repeated protestations that it won’t, people keep asking about whether this will change me. I now believe I may have been full of shit. Having a taste of real motivation, I now have a clearer idea of the many ways I do things that are wrapped up in looking like I’m doing things when I’m really not. Those things may change. And depending on what you thought of me before, you may now be seeing something different. Hopefully it won’t be worse. Hopefully because I like this better and am unlikely to change it back, thank you.

Things that are unlikely to change (I think):

  • I’ll still be a nice guy. (just a nice guy that gets more done)
  • I’ll still have this crazy head that jumps from topic to topic and makes all kinds of wonky connections from left right and centre field. (I’ll just be able to stop it where I want and focus on one topic when I need to)
  • I’ll still be unpredictable (but I might be on time)
  • I’ll still be sensitive to others’ emotions (but I might be less vulnerable to the crap around me)
  • I’ll still be your friend (probably – you might want to bring me cookies or beer just to be on the safe side)
  • I’ll still look the same (but I might smile more) [ed. note – The bolts are hardly visible but don’t comment; he gets testy.]

Experiments

The therapies they are using at EEG have been tested any number of times on lots of people. You are perfectly safe.

That said, I love (did I say love? I meant LOVE) that neurotherapy is a reasonably new field, with lots of room for growth.

One of my favourite parts about this, that I realize not everyone would be comfortable with nor do they have to try anything even slightly new, is the opportunity to do real research into the nature and function of the brain WITH MY OWN HEAD. With no significant danger of screwing it up. Fun!

Granted there’s some work to be done. I’m going to throw down a good chunk of cash on the therapy, clinical training and a machine to work with. I need to learn way more than I know now. And I’ll need a professional designation (like psychologist or nurse) before I can do significant work on anyone else.

In the mean time, it’s a bit like being at a banquet in a foreign country. Takes a lot of work to get there, but once you are at the table… wow. Everythings new and different, you can try anything and if you don’t like it…discretely spit it out, have some wine and go back to that other stuff, which was delicious. The sense of possibility is breathtaking.

Another question from the floor – Should I do this?

[legaldisclaimer:Timisnotapsychologistnordoeshepretend
tobeoneexceptinthemirrorlateatnight.Hehasnowayof
knowingwhatmaybeyourspecificchallengesordesiresin
seekingtreatmentbutfeelsthatneurothrapyissuchabroadbased
systemthatalmostanyonecanbenefitfromitevenjustinorderto
becomethebestthemtheycanbe,so…)

Yes. Results may vary. I have one brain and you have another. Yours may resist the process more or less than mine does. You may like the process more or less than I do (actually can’t see the “more” – I loved it). It’s an emerging field. Some things they just don’t understand yet. [ed. and Pharmacuetical companies have no real idea what lots of drugs do to women or children because they never checked. At least this process is undestructive and open about newness]. Your specific concern may not respond as well as mine or may not respond at all (some things, like schizophrenia and sociopathy are challenging to treat).

However, if you have the money or know someone who will help, this is amazing stuff. It’s powerful, easy (god so easy), with no significant side effects and it is permanent (mostly – only the effects of things like dementia can be improved – the root cause isn’t being cured). If you have anything on this list I posted a couple of days ago… it’s sooo worth it.

As I also said, we’re all a bit broken. Lots of people (stock brokers, business executives, etc) use neurotherapy as a tool for improved performance. It boosts their concentration and abilities same as it does mine, they just started out a bit better. What’s telling is…they have just as many problems or broken areas as people who are functioning at a lower level. It’s just that their OCD or anxiety or whatever is working to make them effective in their field so no one notices (an OCD broker who has to check stock prices every 5 minutes may be a better judge of when to sell for instance). Sue at the clinic mentions that when people come in for peak performance, often lots of other things pop up. When those are fixed, they don’t leave unable to do their jobs all of a sudden. Unless maybe they are a hitman who came in for faster reflexes and all of a sudden acquires empathy. I can see that being a problem. Mostly they just become fuller, happier, better-rounded and complete humans.

So yes you should try it. Or you should keep reading my blog over the next month or so as I continue to track changes. Whichever one, if you decide to do it:

  • Go here (I am partial to their particular method – I think the system itself puts client first both in the way the electronics are designed and in the way they fundamentally approach the clinical process) and look up a clinician that uses the Othmer system.
  • Have a consultation and decide if the person doing the therapy is your sort of person. This is remarkably important as trust is the fastest way for you to figure out together what the best treatment is. If you don’t trust them enough to tell them what’s wrong they will be less likely to be able to help you.
  • Ask them if they have done neurotherapy themselves. Not all have. It’s important. If they haven’t, you might want to check if someone else has.
  • Have fun. It is.

Neurotherapy Day 6 – Upsy-Downsy, Notes and Quotes from the Clinic

office-space-1-1024I felt more unsettled and distracted yesterday and last night than I had the day before. This was both unsettling and reassuring (sorta).

I’m only down here for a limited course of treatment and then back to Victoria (Canada) to complete, with the occasional consult from Sue. Judging from my colourful array of symptoms and the rather criss-crossed map I have of my head now, a full course of treatment is going to run to 30-40 neurofeedback sessions (but that’s just a guess – it’s pretty messy in there).

I’ve had eight so far and it’s clear that there is a really positive effect. As I mentioned on Sunday, I’ve been trying to read a complex neurotherapy text for the last six months, bust couldn’t make the rubber hit the road, brain-wise. Read the vast majority of the thing in a single day. I’m horribly disorganized normally and even starting out, I could see the four types of questions that were forming in my head, so I went out and got a whack of post-its in different colours. This is all very strange – it’s like there was a really really organized person hiding in my head, all ready to go post-it-al. Freaky.

The hyper-organized effect started to drop off Monday morning. I forgot a few things I needed to check (like the timetable of the museum I wanted to see – it was closed as it turned out) and my reading was nowhere near as vigorous. In general,  I just felt more scattered. Now, after two sessions this morning, I feel very clear. In terns of physical sensation, there was a lot of tightening and tingling sensations across my scalp during the sessions. We were working on several electrode (more in a bit about electrodes) placements, including one for focus and organization, one for headaches and auditory processing enhancement, one for the body issues (became hungry halfway through the session) and . The auditory processing is because I have a hard time picking out what people are saying if there is much (or any) background noise. Occasionally it’s so bad I just nod and smile – bars are brutal, I might as well be a bobblehead. Apparently this is just one more in a monster list of clues as to what is happening inside your head. Fixable, apparently.

Questions people ask the clinic staff about Neurotherapy

“Will it Last?”

“Can I do it? I’m not very good at video games you know – my son can do them.” (from adults)

“Will it hurt? They think that we are going to put electricity into their heads.” [editor’s note – they don’t]

And last thing, a quote from a Vet in the waiting room…

“First started doing it – I thought it was a hoax – thought it was a lot of bullshit. Now I really think people should try it…I was in Vietnam and I had terrible nightmares – I don’t get those anymore.” – “Max”

Thank you, I’m sorry and a big list

shoulderandneck13I started this blog as a way to see if my process couldn’t perhaps help more people than just myself. I’ve have quite a few people say, “hey I see parts of myself there”, and I have to say I’m really gratified and pleased. But there’s no doubt it’s a two way street. The process of writing for all of you is a serious gut check every single time I put fingers to keyboard. What should I put in, what is too personal? Well, turns out that the best way to help people connect with the process is to just be me, not too edit-y and pretty honest about what going on. I normally hide a lot about myself, and that’s a strange and scary feeling. I feel like I’m up on the edge of a cliff (I hate heights too)…but the audience, the confessional I suppose, is making me feel better about myself, stronger and clearer.

So thank you.

In that vein….They say that the first thing a person who is choking will try to do is leave the room, as if dying in front of people were a terrible, shameful inconvenience for the other diners. In the same way I suppose, whether it’s ADD or the tendency to depression, the stuff I’m looking at now in neurotherapy…well, I’m ashamed of it. I’ve kept it all well hidden from the world, or even myself, for my entire life. I haven’t known I was ADD until I started looking at neurotherapy for depression (which is harder to miss – dark curtains and a fetal position are a dead giveaway).  In the course of looking at what neurotherapy does, I came across some clear descriptions of what ADD looks like. It looks like me apparently.

I also don’t have a lot of ability to complete complex tasks that require a lot of forward planning. I’m a bright guy, I can bumble along getting day to day stuff done, and I have lucid times when I can look ahead and see past my toes for a bit. I can even be a total star. But all people really see is a guy who can think pretty quickly in conversation. So they are really really disappointed in me when stuff gets dropped or just don’t git done. “Jeez Tim, if you can do it then, you can do it now. You must just be lazy.” And I’m disappointed in me too.

I’ve spent me whole life not understanding that there are good reasons for that; that being broken isn’t really a badge of shame so much as a sign of being human.

The thing that really brings that home (strangely) is some of the technical manuals on how to do neurotherapy. One of them is a very matter-of-fact list of what to do with certain symptoms and syndromes. Quite frankly I’m staggered by the list of things that can be changed, or improved. I get that it’s a really powerful technique. The brain has an amazing ability to be flexible, to find a way to change itself and adapt to it’s environment. Neurotherapy takes the adaptation systems the brain has developed to keep us alive, and channels them toward repairing the things that are holding us back. That’s an amazing tool, but even knowing that, I look at the list and see a whole bunch of people, myself included, that I had kind of written off as never going to get better or be more. For all of you, myself included, I’m sorry.

Here’s an partial version of the list, in no particular order:

  • Migraines
  • Seizures
  • Asthma
  • Mood swings
  • Depression and motivation challenges
  • ADD/ADHD and difficulties focusing or ability to plan ahead
  • Emotional and impulse control and anger/fear management, dangerous thrill seeking and self-injuring
  • Attachment disorder
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder and Asbergers
  • Anxiety challenges, including OCD, Tourettes, panic attacks, paranoia
  • Flashbacks and fears stemming from past incidents, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and childhood abuse
  • Body issues, including Anorexia, Bulimia, over or under eating and sugar cravings
  • Inability to plan
  • Control over ones body/clumsiness.
  • Addictions
  • Nightmares
  • Physical tension, including Bruxism (tight jaw and teeth grinding)
  • Sleep challenges
  • Pain and pain management, including Fibromyalgia, low pain threshold, Sciatica and chronic nerve pain
  • Poor math or language ability

This list seems ridiculous, even to me. Like a travelling salesman with his fancy wagon, selling snakeoil to the local hicks. Hence the “I’ll try it first and you can see what you think” approach. We tend to single out the diseases, illneses and broken bits, putting them up against a wall and shining a narrow spotlight on them. We don’t tend to think in terms of larger, interacting systems, and we certainly don’t think about what a healthy human looks like, or how to create that. It’s how our medical system operates, and it’s how we’ve come to think of ourselves and our bodies. It’s clear, however, that the brain can command an amazing number of resources, can touch an incredible number of things within us. By harnessing that, we have a hell of a tool.