Jun 252013

Last week, I had an average day at LORETA neurofeedback, that is, I achieved a string of scores like most others have. An uptick from the first screen to the second, then down down down. Sigh. At least I ended in the same place as the previous session; doing that required a Herculean effort to raise it up from the depths it had sunk into.

I also felt different than other times. Usually, I begin tired, not wanting to, maybe disengaged. And then I become engaged, I become alert. And by the time I'm done, I'm feeling alive, alert, and with it. This is true even on those days when I start the session feeling alert or engaged I become even more engaged and perhaps feel like I’ve gained a new set of eyeballs.

Not last week.

I was actually not horrendously tired to start with. And I didn't have a head-ache from being on the bus. I was in a more positive mood than I have been recently, not groaning inward about when will this be over already. I didn't have any of those thoughts.

And then I finished the first screen and saw the score: lower than last time. OK. Try not to get disappointed. Begin the second screen. I began to feel empathy in response to the content of the DVD. And every time I did, slurp, there would go the DVD, disappearing into the black. The emotion-related networks (and the reading/language ones too) were being challenged. I'm not sure I felt empathy more intensely than during the previous session, but last week, it was the only thing I experienced. No intellectual engagement, no alertness, and in that screen, no frustration. I felt the latter a tiny bit here for a nanosecond then gone in other screens. The astounding thing was that that second empathy-focussed screen produced my highest score, 183.

164 to 183 was a big jump. We talked about what I felt, what the trainer saw popping up in the coherence networks, and how to recreate that high score. But no matter. After that, I had a hard time holding on to any emotion, felt increasingly disconnected, not engaged, and had no increase in alertness and my scores kept dropping till they hit 158. Sigh. Perhaps the trainer’s desire for me to connect with positive emotions instead of going with the stronger, sadder emotions had me going in the wrong direction and disconnecting quickly. Perhaps, it was those lower emotions I needed to connect to as that was what was coming up as I was following the story on the DVD of the ancient Egyptian who had been murdered.

And so during the last screen, I hunkered down, so to speak, and made a deliberate, concerted effort to feel. And every time the feeling tried to slip away, I tried to hold on to it. I got 175. The effort was worth it.

So why this anomaly? We can only theorize. Last week’s session results may have been related to my PTSD; it may have come out of the conversation I had with my neurodoc the previous week after the previous LORETA neurofeedback; and/or it may have been connected to the conversation I had had with my gamma biofeedback trainer earlier last week. All these things were related to losing the essence of who I was pre-injury. That essence may be coming back (more as a part of new me, not the core of me as before), and I am unprepared to handle it. My lack of preparedness is related to the fact that it’s just been so damn long, related to what that loss cost me, related to what I learnt about people as a result of that loss, and related to the traumatic memories. Basically bad shit. Maybe parts of me scurried down a rabbit hole to hide from all that as the LORETA and neurodoc tried to pull, yank it out into the open.

We talked about how we would know as the next days unfolded and we saw how I was, how my emotions were, and if the spurt of initiation I usually get after LORETA still happened.

It didn’t. I blogged on Friday morning more because I didn’t want to break the pattern the LORETA had instilled in me, one I was proud of, not because I felt that intrinsic initiation. It was an effort. I did have a spurt of creativity later on Friday, but then I spent an awful long time revising a chapter of Simon’s Death on Friday and posting it on Saturday. I am rarely that slow. It was like the usual activities, e.g., searching for the right word in a scene or expanding a detail, went into slo mo. My emotions rose up on the weekend, and then by Monday, I lost my mojo and became disconnected again. I just didn’t wanna, was my attitude, similar to two Mondays in a row a few weeks ago.

Although I had drafted this post on the bus ride home after LORETA, I didn’t have the slightest inclination to edit and post it until after I did my weekly gamma brainwave biofeedback. Getting better is tough. As my GP said a long time ago, improvement isn’t a non-stop upward trend.

I need chocolate.