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.

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What’s normal?

A number of people (big hugs, you know who you are) have pointed out that I really don’t appear to have that many problems, that I’m perfectly normal. Fact is, in comparison to many many others, I really don’t. I can hold down a job, have perfectly reasonable relationships with perfectly reasonable people, and raise lovely children well and responsibly. Fact is also that I’m still not satisfied and I think I have good reason to think I could be more.

Let’s take a poll… What would you want more of in your life…Not money or fame or those things – I’m not a freaking genie – what would you want your brain to do better? Please take this little poll and then read on.

In part what I’m talking about, and trying for, is not…normal. I think our “normal” is kinda broken. Some more, some less, but broken. We live in a world where the large majority of people consider themselves “normal” but also spend a good portion of their time hiding the many many things that make them not normal from the world. Are you normal? Am I? Is the autistic child or the guy with tourette’s on the bus a form of alien, completely unlike me in any way? Or do we all sit somewhere on the same line, like birds on a telephone wire.

I think there’s a a big bulge of us in the middle, supposed norms, some a little quirky, some not so sensitive to the needs of others, some engineers, god help them. And out on one end is the autistic boy. He’s not really different, or even broken. He’s just way far out on the end of the wire, out past the engineers and the shut-ins, in a place we can’t easily reach, with many of the same things we see in ourselves everyday, just way more of it.

There’s also the other end of the (same) wire, from emotionally sensitive on out to the clinically depressed and suicidal, whom life rubs so raw that they simply can’t survive it. I know I sit somewhere on that scale…where seems to depend on what day it is. Happily, suicide has never really been a draw, but I admit to feeling completely crushed by my life at times.

Perhaps there are a whole bunch of wires that crisscross, perhaps the reality is something more complex. My point is that it’s a lot easier for us to believe that we are one of the many, and they are the shattered few. I just don’t think it’s true.

So the poll: It’s a list (except for write-ins) of all the things that Neurotherapy works well at resolving. Many of them are things we naturally assume can’t be changed without serious drugs and an admission that we are one of the few broken souls.

What if it’s all a lot easier than that? What would you do if you didn’t have to hide your differences, your failures, the things that hold you back? Perhaps it’s as easy as putting a cast on a broken leg, healing it rather than continuing to just limp along.

Pure speculation of course…We’ll see when it comes down to it. But whether neurotherapy helps me or not, I think it’s worth asking the question…what IS normal?