Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Blessing For The Brain

If you have been following my exclusive series on Neuro Bio-Feedback, we’re now at the stage with Lucy where she is going through actual treatment. She has needed some time in between sessions to rest, and so I have been patient, while still staying supportive from afar.

It’s quite amazing to watch brain waves fluctuate on screen, during a Neuro Bio-Feedback session. Sitting in front of a computer with electrodes attached to your scalp doesn't seem like the most comfortable feeling in the world, but in fact, once you do it a few times, it becomes routine. Lucy knows the drill now, so when she arrives, there are no surprises. After setting up, Lucy is able to discuss any events that have caused issues for her since the last time she had a session, or the psychologist may want to delve into a subject that has previously caused distress, in hopes of releasing pent up feelings. Lucy told me that “It’s really helpful to use talk-therapy in conjunction with bio-feedback because then I can just fully relax and get in sync with the program.” She told me though that “talking about my past trauma’s is still very difficult and there is a box of Kleenex that is set out for me because even to this day, the stuff I thought I was properly dealing with still seem to be impacting my present life.” After a bit of talking, a bunch of buttons are clicked and adjustments are made, and she’s good to go with the brain activities. Someone is always present (one of the two psychologists, they rotate depending on schedules) to ensure her comfort, and to monitor progress or any changes that need modification. The main goal is to reduce the heightened brain wave activity in the theta/beta range for Lucy and going on her 7th sessions now, it has reduced her anxiety dramatically. “When my time is up, I feel a sense of calmness that I haven’t experienced in a long time and it is starting to last longer and longer. I am even sleeping better without waking up drenched in sweat.”

As stated in my last article, every program is customized to meet the needs of the individual, based on the brain mapping results. During a single session, Lucy is given several breaks for a few minutes because it’s important to give the brain a rest in these circumstances, instead of doing trial after trial. Without giving too much away here, Lucy’s tasks involve trying to lower her brain wave pattern activity as much as possible by focusing and also listening to certain sound patterns, both with her eyes open and closed. If you came into the room while she was in a session, you’d wonder why she is just staring hypnotically at a screen, but there is constant brain activity happening on deeper levels.

Although Lucy is still experiencing episodes of panic and anxiety, I can tell just by talking to her that she is making huge strides. She did have a little bit of a set back a few nights ago where she recalls, “it was like a terrifying moment where I just felt so dizzy and fearful that I had to leave the situation, but instead of beating myself up about it like I would before, I just realized that this is a temporary glitch and I am safe now.”

With her medical coverage just about to run out, Lucy realizes that there are going to be some tough times ahead, but she is confident that this was a better investment than anything else. Knowing that many people are facing similar issues, a reduced rate will be discussed next time she’s in, which is so hopeful for not just Lucy, but anyone who is considering Neuro Bio-Feedback, who cannot afford the high cost of these treatments. There is a lot of time that is put into every patient’s experience and so accountability for the psychologists services are a must, but it’s great to know that they have a human side too and realize that with government cuts and only a small portion of money aside from insurance companies, accommodations can be made. “I am not considered mentally ill enough to be put on disability, but I’m not well enough either to function like I see people my age, so before knowing this, I felt kind of like a rock stuck in a hard place.”

Lucy has begun to blossom into the woman that I knew was underneath all the pain. It’s not an easy road, especially with so many dissolving friendships along the way, but her core support system has been unwavering. When I asked her what she sees in the mirror now when she looks at herself, Lucy tells me “I see the beauty that comes after the breakdown.”