Rage, anger, fury: these are the emotions people with brain injury are excoriated for.
While I was in the middle of SMIRB last week, the next client walked in and actually TALKED TO ME! Like, was he blind?! Closed door. Electrode on head. Writing. Apparently, his need to know where the biofeedback trainer was trumped normal societal rules – he just had to open a closed door and ask a client hooked up to the computer a question.
Daily stressors from the usual TTC inaccessibility, usual self-centred, thoughtless commuters, usual Toronto lack of inclusive services for pedestrians blended with fatigue to grow aggravation, which sparked after the surprise of being walked in on. I blew up. I managed to keep my voice to a growl and told him I was busy. He shut the door.
Since my SMIRB screen lasts for 10 minutes, my trainer takes the opportunity to get stuff done or to go to the washroom (health care professionals should be told the day they sign up that they need iron bladders). When she returned, I managed to keep my powderkeg damp, but I was raging underneath and told her if she didn’t tell him not to do that again (it was the second time he’d walked in on me), I would walk in on him (that would end badly!). Everyone who works with people with brain injury are so cool. You’re growling and hissing and raging, and they’re like, OK, no problem. Totally unfazed.
The brain injury anger rarely shows itself since I began my hypothalamus fix, and when it does, it’s not quite as overtly volatile. And so this was the first time that I can recall I went from zero to the beast of brain injury anger while hooked up to the ADD Centre’s computer, the first time we had an opportunity to see how this kind of anger affects my muscle tension, heart rate, breathing, and brainwaves.
My trainer looked hopefully at the numbers. Um … My muscle tension was normal for me. My heart rate the same; my breathing unchanged. My busy brain, even in the harder 24–28Hz area we were training, was not off the charts. My Delta-Theta 2–5Hz had barely shifted from its level before his interruption. The SMR 12–15Hz waves hadn’t dropped percipitously. My trainer suggested maybe no change because I was in the middle of SMIRB, which is designed to get your irritating thoughts out of you. But I had to stop SMIRB because the beast was too strong for me to focus through it and write.
I did the busy brain biofeedback training screen after, working to enhance the brainwaves of relaxed, focused attention and inhibit busy brain and Delta-Theta, and right near the end of the three minutes, I could feel the beast ease back. However, I remained a powderkeg.
So now I’m wondering where in the brain does brain-injury anger reside, and I am kind of curious that it doesn’t seem to tense my muscles … or enough for the sensors to pick it up. Earlier in the session, when I had sat back during the deep breathing HRV screen, she had noted that my muscle tension rises quickly and drops just as quickly. So that might account for seeing no change. Yet …
… the beast didn’t disappear completely and my aggravation remained. My muscle tension should logically therefore still be up. But nope.
I remained aggravated not only because of the fucking TTC and city being so inaccessible while crowing about how progressive they are, but also because I’m so very tired. New ability, emotional overload, flashbacks, working on Concussion Is Brain Injury crowdfunding campaign…
And now this puzzle.
It needs a research study. To me, it says that medical and psychological professionals’ tendency to lump all kinds of anger in the same basket is just wrong. It’s long past time to study the beast of brain-injury anger.
Switching topics: last week I noted the very busy screen I had to use. Well, we’re sticking with it because no other biofeedback screen has enough room for all the parameters – enhance two brainwave frequencies, inhibit two brainwave frequencies, monitor heart rate, keep breathing even, keep muscle tension down. There’s so much info, it takes up two displays. Sigh.
My trainer watches the second display on the right for me. This two-display screen also forces me to work on my brainwaves while stressed, which after many, many sessions of using it will actually help me cope better sans conscious thinking with stressful situations. Is good but UGH!!!