Please do not Fuck the Man

fuckthemanNote capital M, please.

Sorry – been a while. Breaking the cardinal blogging rule – never leave em hangin…

In my non-existent defense, I’ve been busy.

It’s been a challenging few weeks to say the least. Apparently what you do when you feel better is not just get more done but also start to whittle away at the gigantic mountain of things you had left undone over months/years.

I think now I’ve handled the stuff that needed to get done months ago. and am working on the things I needed to get done years ago. It’s a little exhausting at times – but in a good way. Not the old “aahhhhh dont even look at me I cant see you alalalalalalalala” sort of way.

Anyway, now that Mohammad is coming to the mountain, we’ll see how it goes. Apparently standing in the road shouting “heeeeeerre mountain mountain mountain” doesn’t get you far. Good to know, mental note.

I’m getting stuff done now that I wouldn’t have thought possible even two months ago. Having difficult conversations with people that I wouldn’t have attempted. Planning ahead. You know…stuff.

And incredibly it’s so not enough. I have wasted too much time in my life to waste any now. Now. I. Want. To. Burn.

And I’m still not there mentally. The pace of my training has slowed now that I actually have to contend with life and its evil henchmen “Work”, “Dinner” and “Dishes”. I get in a session or two a week but there are obstacles:

  • No time. I know I know – no excuses. But there’s a strange math to the hunger at getting some old stuff off your plate while continuing to do the training that will allow you to continue getting old stuff done.
  • Other people keep using my machine. This is very exciting really. I’m breaking in my skills on a bunch of willing volunteers, doing peak performance training to help them function at top efficiency. This has many of the hallmarks of the work I’m doing but obviously different end goals. Some are coming to help their performance anxiety, some to reduce stress, some to deal with the irritation that gets in the way of just enjoying their lives. Anyway, it’s damn fun.
  • Sometimes (hangs head) I just don’t want to. I actually find this really strange. I KNOW it’s great. I KNOW it works. And sometimes (not often but enough to slow things up) I resent and avoid treatment. Interestingly, one of the hallmarks of some frontal lobe area challenges is something called oppositional defiance. Basically not wanting to submit to any authority just…cuz. I, um, recognize some of this in myself. And, having recognized it, I had to run out and talk to a bunch of people about it. Apparently a LOT of people do this, including those if us who may have tried medication for our challenges. Add it to the list and I’ll do some work on that area to see if it speeds things up. Or maybe I’ll finally be able to take that army commission I’ve always wanted. Whatever.

I always loved the part of High Fidelity (Nick Hornby novel) where the “hero” makes a number of completely unforgivable statements about himself and takes full responsibility for his actions without any excuses whatsoever. Then spends the rest of the novel explaining exactly why there were really good reasons for doing exactly what he did. Super clever way of drawing the audience into a sympathetic alliance with said protagonist. Also I just like people taking responsibility for things. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy like a Disney film and hot stew all at once.

But I’m not that good at it myself so I’ll make the excuses (see above) and THEN take responsibility. Sorry again.

I’ll talk next time about what it’s like to work with other people’s brains. (Hint – it’s neat.)


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.

Drumroll…Neurotherapy Day One!

Ok. let’s start with the weird stuff first.

I have often bored my close friends with a strange Tim fact…I never, ever get hungry. Well, not perfectly accurate. I get hungry every 5 – 10 years when, until I remember what it is, I get all freaked out and think I’m dying. Possibly of stomach cancer or alien worms. I’m not complaining mind. This trait has served me well in the past. In an emergency, I can go literally days before I go all faint and have to put some calories in me. I usually know how much my body needed them by how fast I eat them at that point. Yes I know this is stupid but that’s how I’ve always been.

Unfortunately, it turns out that neurotherapy, as an adjunct to some other stuff (stay tuned) will actually change this. I will now be hungry just like normal people. Which sucks. I liked being all special and strange, even though it meant a raised possibility of hypoglycemic shock. I suppose it’s a small consolation that it will leave in place a bunch of other things that people were asking about (you know who you are). We never really know when we start out what the road will look like, do we?

The awful, terrible, crushing thing? I WASN’T different! When we made up the list of things that weren’t working, my clinician, Sue, was merrily checking things off on a list. I had a look and there it was! – “Lack of Appetite Awareness”. How humility inducing. Stop laughing, you.

The early part of today was very unexpected. It was less focussedly about brainwaves and more about self-reported behaviours (at least at first) than I said here, um, yesterday. Sorry about that. Turns out there’s an interesting discussion around different neurotherapy styles and schools of thought, which I will go into another time.

At any rate, through either my own burbling and gentle questioning by Sue, we came up with a pretty extensive laundry list of (as Winnie the Pooh would say) Things That Aren’t Quite Right With Tim. Caveat – None of these things, with the possible exception of depression, are the kinds of things that I would talk to a doctor about, but cumulatively they’re a problem for me. I just didn’t know that you could deal with them cumulatively or at all. And no, this doesn’t make me wierd, or broken, or at least not more broken than anyone else. It’s ok – you can still talk to me on the street, and you probably don’t even need to use that loud voice we reserve for the deaf and non-english speakers.

This isn’t the full list, but rather a list of ones we agreed would be indicative and easy to track, along with a score (subjective 1-10) of how the things on these scales were/felt in the past week.

chartday1 So, we started work on what’s called brain instabilities. (No, that’s not the same thing as being unstable, thank you for asking). These include things like headaches, seisures, oversensitivity, and other “brain can’t really control itself” things.

This was, frankly, strange. I had an impression that Neurotherapy was a slow, you’ll feel it over time process. It was anything but, at least in this area.

During the evaluation and two treatment sessions I did today, there were often times when Sue would change a setting on the machine, looking for the most effective combination of “reward fequencies” (the brainwave pattern that you respond best to in training) and symmetry (the way your two halves of your brain work together). Within a minute, or less, of a setting being changed, I would notice with a sensation change, which ranged from tingling on my skull (possibly increased bloodflow) to a small headache (that I hadn’t had before) that we chased across my head like a recalcitrant child at bedtime.

The last word on the first day? I feel good. Energetic, relaxed, able to concentrate (shocking in itself). Some of it is no doubt the excitement of a new game /placebo effect. We’ll see over time.

Challenges – Motivation

While I’m looking at the walls, waiting for Neurotherapy to roll around, I’ll talk a bit about some of the things that bother me about me, and that I’ll be trying to deal with.

Motivation – this one is a real bitch for me. I’m great on deadline, or in an emergency, or when someone else needs something. I can coordinate the communications for thousands of people, as long as there is some sort of major disaster looming (forest fires are the best – emergency, helping others, and, quite literally, deadlines) (floods good too).

But unless I can convince myself it’s one of those things (and I usually know when I’m lying), NOTHING happens. ON the plus side, I have perfected the thousand yard, thinking about the universe stare. And I now have a lot of deep thoughts that make people think I’m more focused and concentrated than I really am.

I would love, LOVE, to wake up in the morning and be driven from my bed by a hunger to do something just for me. I have never been that person really. Partially, I think, because I don’t really dream about the future. I don’t plan and am very much in the moment. The more I look at this by writing this blog, the more I’m seeing interconnections. Interesting.

Feeling – past few days

Procrastination – 8 – Brutal

Depression – 3 – great chats with friends.

ADHD – 5, and at times 8. Was nicely focused down in work and then got thrown off by some strong emotional junk. This too shall pass.

Dogsitter extraordinaire

So, I’m dog-sitting my sister’s older lab this weekend. This is a required duty for less-successful brothers who may not be able to jet off on ski vacations every other weekend. (I’m not as bitter as I sound. My sister is lovely).

What I notice is: I actually resent having to walk a dog. This is how far I’ll go to avoid being locked into a work schedule, working up actual anger at something as mundane as a dog walk. It’s not a challenge, therefore I hate it. Yet if it is a challenge, I fear it…for lords sake there has to be a middle ground.

On the plus side, blogging is providing huge new vistas in the area of procrastination, while allowing me to pretend I am getting on with a useful Neurotherapy-related project. Bonus.

On the whole…(lower numbers are better)

Procrastination – 7

Attention Deficits – 7 (Facebook doesn’t count)

Depression – 5 (money is stressing me out no end at the moment, but generally an upbeat sort of day)

Forward planning – 7 (didn’t manage to set up playdates w/ neighbours even though they happened anyway)


Did I mention this whole thing makes me so scared I want to barf?