Neurofeedback, Take Two

I woke up to the sound of workmen right outside my bedroom window at my apartment complex clattering away on whatever they were doing. It was jolting and triggering as all the racket made me all twitchy right out of the gate. I missed my appointment at the gym with my trainer because I was having trouble getting out of the dissociative state.

I hit the alarm at 8:40, and rushed out the door by 9:00 for the hour long drive to my neurofeedback appointment.

When I got to Doc’s office I was in a mood as I had a horrible headache from Tuesday’s session that took several hours to squash, and I drove an hour to this appointment in a less than ideal state of twitchiness. In short, I was in no mood for what seemed to be a waste of time.

I hate how when I open Doc’s door I am hit with a cold blast of air conditioning, along with a bevy of annoying door chimes announcing my arrival. It’s jarring to anyone, but especially me in my anxious state. It’s like a gust of sensory overload.

Doc then comes out, and waves his arms in that wildly expressive way of his, and says, “Come on in!”

He wants to know how I’m doing, and I tell him I’m not feeling great, as I didn’t sleep well. I also tell him about the headache.

It’ turns out that I should not have gone to acupuncture on the same day that I had neurofeedback. He had told me it was okay to go to acupuncture, but he did not realize I went to acupuncture for my PTSD. Apparently, both forms of therapy were too much for my brain, and that is likely why I had a headache.

Today I played EEG Chomper, which looked like a generic version of Pac-Man. Well, to be precise, my brainwaves played Chomper. I just watched. I am surprised at how hard it is for me to sit still for 30 minutes. It is very, very hard for me.

The good news is that I started at a 27 today, and got as low as a 5.5. Doc says I got lower faster than I did on Tuesday. Even though he annoys me at times, he is endearing. As soon as I was done he said, “Wow! Even better than last time!” It is sweet how he gets genuinely excited with good results. He is not a prim and proper doctor, which I appreciate. I’ve always preferred people who are a bit offbeat.

So far no headache today. I am so thankful for being pain-free today. I was actually humming at work, and singing along to music in the car. I almost don’t recognize myself. Doc did say that I will start to have different thoughts about myself, good thoughts. I can’t wait.

What the heart wants, the head can’t have

One of my supervisors, Dena, reminds me so much of the me before I became so broken by PTSD. She even has my old body style, as she can rock A-line dresses. I look at her wistfully as she bounces into my office cube to ask me a question with that girl-next door charm of hers.

Meanwhile, the A-line dresses I have no longer fit me very well, and I seriously doubt that I exude much charm these days. While Dena confidently glides around the office, I sit in my cube with a cardigan wrapped around me as I twitch with anxiety.

Today I struggled with intense headaches, and I am not sure if they were caused by yesterday’s neurofeedback. Interestingly, I didn’t have a lot of anxiety and triggers today. Those were traded in for headaches, unbeknownst to me until they took over my head in pain.

I wanted to cook today, but I was too tired and in too much pain to do so. So, with a refrigerator full of food to cook, I picked up a sub to eat instead. Ugh, what a waste.

I miss doing investigations in my last job. The work was so fun that it didn’t feel like work. Today I found myself holding my head in pain as I struggled to edit a voluminous policy document. I have a good job, but it’s not the job my heart wants. My heart wants to go back to human resources doing employee misconduct investigations, but my head isn’t ready to do that work again. The heart gets impatient with this predicament. It didn’t help that I received a canvass letter for a promotional position doing the kind of work I used to do. With a heavy, heavy heart here’s the reply I sent in:

Yep, I declined being considered for the position. It was in my own agency, and the secretary in human resources only sits four office cubes down from me. Before I could change my mind I filled it out, and rushed it over to her desk. I even made myself rush back to my desk so that I would have less chance of changing the form.

I have to hang on with the off chance that I may get to do what I love again some day. If that’s not the case, I would rather not know because I don’t know if I can bear that knowledge.


Today was the first day of neurofeedback with Doc, the psychiatrist. I actually walked in feeling relatively calm. Though I did not sleep well, I was able to go to the gym this morning, so I felt alright. In fact, I felt the best I had felt in at least a couple of weeks.

Doc sat me in front of a laptop, and started putting some goop on my ears and head for the sensors that would send feedback from my brain to the computer. There were a variety of programs on the screen, and Doc chose Spectral Mirror, whatever the hell that means. He told me to focus on the screen the entire time. Various colors would appear on the screen at certain intervals. I believe the intervals have to do with my brainwaves.

At the start of the neurofeedback session Doc just blurted, “Wow, I’ve never seen numbers this high. Yes, you have PTSD in spades!” It’s a good thing I’m patient with the old guy because I didn’t exactly appreciate hearing that in that moment, especially with the fervor in which he exclaimed it.

It was a bit weird how Doc knew when my mind was beginning to drift during the session. I would start to think about work, and there were even a few times when I started to get triggered. I got twitchy a few times. When my mind would drift he would tell me to put my focus back on the screen. Weird. Kinda like he was an interloper in my brain. There was a moment when I was fighting the urge to get under the table.

The neurofeedback session took 30 minutes. As soon as I was done he told me that my brain took to it very nicely as my “number” came down to a 5. I asked him what was ideal, and he said that ideally it should be under a 7. I asked him what it was when I started, and he said it was a 45, and he had never seen such a high number.

Doc then asked me if I was feeling nervous when I came in, and I said no. In fact, I arrived feeling the most calm I had felt in many days. Then he asked how I felt now that the session was over. and that’s when I realized that I felt even better. I actually felt calm. Perhaps, I’ve been so anxious for so long that I didn’t even know what calm felt like … Doc thought that could very well be the case. I will be back on Thursday for another session.