OCTOBER 24, 1997
I am writing this to speak about my experience with EEG biofeedback and the work done by Dr. Jonathan E. Walker and his associates at the Neuroscience Center for Research and Therapy.
On February 9, 1997, I was injured in an auto accident that resulted in a number of physical problems, such as whiplash, that left me with a permanent physical disability that therapy has only been partially successful in treating. I also suffered a concussion and what is known as a closed head injury that was not diagnosed right away. This head injury was much more severe than I could have imagined and the resulting symptoms were devastating to me.
First of all, I simply became listless and depressed. I kept going to work because I knew that if I did not go I would have no income. I would cry every night when I got home and every morning before I went to work. I did not know why I cried. I just did. I began to suffer from anxiety on a daily basis. These panic attacks were almost as crippling as the physical problems and the combination was very close to deadly. I did not try to commit suicide, but I certainly wished I was dead.
Since my job is a very demanding one, requiring that I handle a great many different situations each day, the confusion and forgetfulness I was experiencing as a result of this undiagnosed condition were horrifying, since I did not know why these things were happening to me. I was forced to withdraw from a training class that would have resulted in more opportunities to advance in my company. As a result of this I have missed out on two opportunities for career advancement and had to settle for a lower paying position with fewer expectations.
Other symptoms were related to the depression. I had problems remembering simple tasks and why I was trying to do them. Words and thoughts did not always match. Since stress aggravates this type of condition, I sometimes slurred my speech, or used the wrong word to describe something. Aphasia became a problem. I would lose my train of thought in a sentence, or call people I have known for a year or more by the wrong name. In short, I was losing a battle I did not even realize I was in.
Fortunately, I was referred to the Neuroscience Center for EEG biofeedback treatment in time to salvage this before I lost my job or my mind.
When I went to the Center, I was told that a positive attitude was very important. I was, however, past that, and my attitude was simply -hook me up and get it over with. At least it doesn-t hurt-. Then the changes began.
At first, the only thing I noticed was the apparatus. What is it? How does it work? What type of signals is my brain receiving? That sort of question. Then my attitude began to pick up on the changes outside of the Neuroscience Center. Things I had not been able to do or even get interested in began to come back to me. I found I could enjoy reading again. I had lost this since I had had trouble following even the simplest materials, so something I had always loved was gone until I went to the Center.
I could go out without having a major panic attack and go to lunch with friends or by myself if I chose. I was starting to have a life again. It took several months for me to realize just how strong an impact the cognitive retraining was having on my life. I had fallen so far down that any process seemed foreign and I was almost afraid to feel good about anything. The gray bruise of an existence was giving way to something very much like a life.
A very powerful and subtle miracle was taking place.
Most importantly, I was not being drugged into submission by this treatment. I cannot take pain medication for the physical problems and did not want to take any anti-depressants, such as Prozac or the like, since I did not want any chemical alterations in my brain. I felt I had enough brain damage without it. And the EEG biofeedback has eliminated that fear.
The resulting changes in my attitude were done by making the brain provide its own anti-depressant. And it works. While I do take a low dose of an anti-anxiety medication, it is a low enough dose that it does not interfere with my life or make me worry about chemical dependency. It is there if I need it, but more often that not, I don-t need it.
My therapists, Dennis and Genean, have been wonderful. They provided the moral support I needed to get through the worst of this and continue to keep me from just falling down when things get tough. I could not and probably would not have made this progress without them.
As of today, my progress is only about 65-70% of normal, so I still have a long way to go. But I feel that I can do it. I have finished learning a new software program at work and will begin training again after the first of the year. I still sometimes get confused or anxious, but I handle it much, much better than before. I still have mild panic attacks, but the main thing I am afraid of is regressing to the state I was in when I first came to the Center. I have been assured that this does not happen., but considering how far I have come and the miraculous changes this course of treatment has made in my life, one can understand why I would have these thoughts.
One last thing I would like to mention. Like many people who are depressed, I used to eat for comfort. After the accident, since I couldn-t do much of anything physically for several months and mentally didn-t care much anyway, I gained weight. Since I have been going to EEG biofeedback, I have stopped eating when I don-t need to. I simply don-t care about junk food (this includes chocolate!) and have lost 18 pounds. It has to be some sort of side effect of the treatment, since I was not consciously doing anything that would result in this. If this is indeed the case, perhaps the insidious diet pill industry should watch out. I myself would love to see a study done on this, since weight control has always been a problem and eating disorders and mental functions are known to be connected.
In closing, let me say that anyone who doesn-t believe in this type of therapy should have their head examined. It has immense potential for use in many areas now treated by methods that either do not work as well or can have adverse effects on the patient. If you don-t believe me, ask. I started out as a vegetable and am becoming a functional person again.
Without it, I honestly believe I might not have survived this long or if I did it wouldn-t matter, since I could have lost my job, my home, and more importantly, my sanity. I could get another job, but I could never have gotten back my brain without EEG Biofeedback.