Today was my first scheduled Neurofeedback session which arrived with a great deal of anticipation, anxiety and rumination as I have spent the past 2 weeks since I was last there talking myself out of doing it for fear that it would result in another failed attempt at recovery and further hopelessness. So it should be of no surprise to you that as Rich drove me to my appointment this morning he needed to pull the car over while I was in the midst of having a panic attack that caused me to throw up at the side of the road.
Feeling a shred of relief we eventually arrived (only a bit late) at the clinic still feeling anxious, dizzy, overwhelmed and weak (which is probably not the best way to start off) but I sat down in the waiting area where I was given a glass of water to drink and Rich went and got me a bagel from Tim Hortons while I attempted to calm myself down. Once he got back we were escorted into one of their “training” rooms and we were briefed on what the session would look like (Rich was allowed to stay and observe the entire session, which he thought was really neat!).
It all sounded pretty darn cool even if I only understood half of what the technician was telling us (he has been patiently walking me through this process from my first phone conversation we had about a month ago). But even if much of the information we were receiving was a little bit too “sciency” for me there is simply no denying from watching the expressions on the technician’s face and listening to the enthusiasm and passion in his voice that he truly believes in this concept and that he honestly cares about my wellbeing and that he sincerely loves the work that he does. That has to give anyone hope, right?
This first session was purely a learning curve, figuring out what may work for me and what may not which included so many variables, some of which are very technical right down to the musical overtures playing as my brain is being rewarded. It may even take a few sessions to play around with several of these concepts like to what degree the program is set at in order to challenge my brain, but from just one session I definitely knew what didn’t work for me, including the musical selection, so next session I will try more calming sounds of a harp!
I really don’t know how to truly explain how Neurofeedback actually works because I am honestly still learning and figuring out how the hell it can work or better yet will it work for me but to put it in layman’s terms one might compare it to the “high” we get from playing the slots in Vegas or our favorite video game from the comfort of our couch. The slot machines are programmed to reward you a certain percentage in order to keep you excited and make you want to continue playing with its positive reinforcements. Same is true in most video games where each time you reach a new level the bells and whistles go off which will also keep you excited and wanting to continue playing.
Essentially when my brain is being rewarded with those same auditory and visual rewards as that of the slots and video games it’s getting positive reinforcement and retraining your brainwave patterns in an irrefutable manner. I’m still very unsure about whether or not continuing with this treatment is doable right now after the toll its taken on me both physically and mentally these last couple of weeks but either way it looks like I could achieve an honorary Master’s degree in Psychology and my PHD in Neuroscience if nothing else!