I had an interesting neurofeedback session yesterday. It had been a month. The routine has been once a week, but in the last few months it’s hardly been that what with my father getting sick, then moving. Then my brothers cancer and all that uncertainty. Then my doctor went on a couple of trips–one long. So yesterday after a months break I could “feel” that I would have a normal EEG. I knew, even though I suffer a lot of emotional pain much of the time, that my EEG would not reflect depression and that my brain was stable. The emotional pain I suffer now has a different quality than anything I experienced on drugs. Drugs, I think, may well have caused the appreciable depression that reflected on the EEG.
(A side note for those not familiar with neurofeedback and EEG readings for that purpose. The EEG used is not the classic monitoring done on the brain for seizure activity for example. My psycho-neurologist is trained in reading specific patterns that most neurologists are not. I found that there was some confusion about this from one of my readers. It makes sense that there would be. To give a little background on neurofeedback that I’ve left on this site before see here, here and here.)
I did not want to influence my doctor in any way yesterday so when I sat down I told him, like I always do, “tell me what’s going on in my brain.” When I first started neurofeedback I would do this and he would tell me like a clairvoyant whether I was depressed, stable or manic. He could see it on the EEG and he was always right. Since a few months into my earnest withdrawal, however, the EEG does not always match how I feel. My brain waves have been stable for quite some time. He says this is extremely unusual for someone withdrawing from the amounts of drugs I’m withdrawing from. In his experience there is continued instability throughout the withdrawal period. His only way of explaining my stability is that I watch my diet and that I take nutrients and supplements and that this does indeed keep my brain wave patterns stable or “unbipolar.” He does not doubt that my diet and nutrition is making this difference. And he tells me, unlike any other of his bipolar patients that he does not believe I will need neurofeedback indefinitely.
So what is the pain I feel? As he said, “Even healthy brains suffer.” I am waking up to old pain–mild PTSD perhaps, memories of abuses both as a child and young adult. Memories of my own self-destructive behavior and the pain I caused myself. Why?? Well, that pain seems to still be there, waiting to be processed as the numbing effects of the drugs leave me, I am left to feel the legitimate pain of my life. I am back at age 19 – 26 when I was first medicated. I am a troubled young woman–but for a reason–my life has been hard. Circumstances then and now–including my brother’s cancer and the grief I continue to contend with all color my emotional reality and some of it cuts like a knife–my emotional plate is full. It’s not faulty brain chemistry. My “bipolar” brain is stable, but I am not. I have psychological work to do.
How many 100’s of thousands of people on anti-depressants have work to do? I imagine most of them.
So we decided I won’t go back to neurofeedback for another month. I’m not ready to give up neurofeedback. It’s what got me set off on this journey. I shed my anti-depressant and my first 6 mg of Risperdal with neurofeedback alone–I had not changed my diet at that point. Neurofeedback is powerful stuff and if you’re not up to making serious lifestyle changes I highly recommend it, though lifestyle changes are much cheaper and they seem more likely to be a permanent fix!
I was completely depression free after a life time of depression for 3 years due to neurofeedback (after just 5 weeks.) I want to keep it as an option, so my doctor is keeping me on the schedule. It’s all about security.
And in the meantime I will throw myself into psychotherapy. I have a damn good therapist. A humanistic therapist– someone who respects my inner world. Someone I can dig into the feelings with. No CBT for me. I want to understand my feelings and thus cope with them. Not simply cope with behavior mod. I want to own my experience and relive my trauma so that I can heal. I want to embrace my life and how it has shaped me.
One of the ways I am feeling vaguely in touch with some sort of spirituality is that there seems to be a confluence of events and people in my life that is leading me towards mental health. The right information, the right people, the discovery of the blogosphere. It’s all coming together in what seems a synchronistic fashion. Nothing in my life is stopping me. I have the full support of everyone in my life–all my friends and family, my spouse and all my health professionals. Most people are not so lucky. Family members often balk at the thought of many people going off drugs. Psychiatrists are not on board. People are fighting against the people in their life for their right to self-determination. I may still have to fight–but I’m not fighting any of the people in my life. I’m fighting my psyche and she is a noble and worthy opponent. I am grateful.
I have never heard of this kind of treatment. I hope it works for you though.
my 2cents. I don’t think there is a cure, there are techniques to reduce it , if you (the greater part of you) want to reduce it. The first thing the person with body dysmorpic disorder must do, is have proper nutrition. a brain working on poor nutrition can not have full consciousness/cognition, the person can not reason, debate and decide rationally because their energy is so low.
Pls do tell me whether there is any cure for BODY DYSMORPHIC DISORDER
Thanks for the tips! Can you come to my site and send me an e-mail? I prefer not to post my location. 🙂
If you follow the links in the post to past posts I made on neurofeedback some of your questions will be answered. I have a psycho-neurologist with a Ph.D doing my neurofeedback, but all sorts of people can do it and it’s not a particularly well controlled field. I don’t think you even need a certification to practice it, so you need to be really careful in choosing a provider.
eeg.info is one place to find providers but I don’t know how they are vetted.
If you tell me where you live I can ask my doctor for a referral. Tell me what your condition is too. He does not always know people everywhere, but he knows a lot of people.
I’ve never done neurofeedback. Where do you get the treatment? Do you need a prescription? What kind of doctor administers the treatment?
“So what is the pain I feel? As he said, “Even healthy brains suffer.”
This is such an important point Gianna. So often, people feel the need to run away from that pain. We think of pain as being a “bad” thing, because it feels so uncomfortable. But what is so difficult to grasp is that pain is not our enemy. It’s there to call attention to places within us that need nurturing and tending, places that need healing. When we ignore the pain or mask it with drugs, the source remains and the “wound” deepens and spreads in ways we can’t even begin to recognize. It’s not just patients who fear this pain, but doctors as well- even more so when it’s emotional pain.
“I am waking up to old pain–mild PTSD perhaps, memories of abuses both as a child and young adult. Memories of my own self-destructive behavior and the pain I caused myself.”
Uncovering and healing from these issues takes a tremendous amount of bravery that many people cannot find within themselves. It’s easier to think of one’s severe emotional pain, easily overstimulated nervous system and uncontrollable highs and lows as being the result of a “brain illness” such as bipolar disorder. When it comes to post-traumatic stress, people often don’t experience the symptoms until many years after the fact, and all of that when not addressed or recognized can look very much like bipolar disorder and various other so-called brain-illnesses.
It’s so attractive to accept a bipolar diagnosis and take medication, when the only alternative is to deal with the memories and feel the pain- to process it. Medication will dull all of those feelings, even when we don’t recognize that they’re the source of the pain, and unfortunately- this feels better and also prevents us from truly healing.
“Well, that pain seems to still be there, waiting to be processed as the numbing effects of the drugs leave me, I am left to feel the legitimate pain of my life. I am back at age 19 – 26 when I was first medicated. I am a troubled young woman–but for a reason–my life has been hard.”
This makes perfect sense. Of course, the pain is still there. It never had a chance to be fully felt or processed. Even though you were in terrible emotional pain much of the time on the meds, it wasn’t the “source pain”, what you call “the legitimate pain” of your life. Yes, troubled “for a reason”.
And the reason is not likely to be your “bipolar brain”. I suspect that’s a huge part of the reason for your success.
Without appropriate, effective therapy, there are many people with the bipolar label (other labels as well)
that will walk around thinking they must have a brain illness, but these symptoms are almost always a sign of something else that needs healing. Unfortunately, a biological disorder
seems to let some feel like they are not responsible for what they are feeling, experiencing and doing. That can be attractive to patients. The pills are seductive, because they tend to “help” for a time, but that rarely lasts and the cycle goes on, even spirals more and more out of control.
“My “bipolar” brain is stable, but I am not. I have psychological work to do.”
“I want to own my experience and relive my trauma so that I can heal. I want to embrace my life and how it has shaped me.”
Your recognition and willingness to do that work is what makes this process possible for you, in a way that it will not for others who attempt it without doing the psychological work. They are almost guaranteed to fail, if not immediately, eventually. This willingness to embrace the pain and how it has shaped your life is crucial to healing and to opening your vision to what all of this suffering has prepared you to do with your life…that’s really exciting!!!