May
27
2010

  My Frontal Lobes Are Working!

On Monday, J started me on "focus training" which involves inhibiting slow wavelengths from occurring in the frontal lobes of my brain. I do the focus training for a little while, but finish up the hour with the alpha protocol so I leave feeling relaxed instead of exhausted. Today was just my second session with the focus training, but I'm already experiencing results.

When I left the office, I continued to feel very relaxed after our session, like usual. On the way home I guess I planned out what I needed to do ahead of time, since when I walked in the door, I immediately put away the cold groceries, put the pizza stone in the oven, and preheated the oven, all before putting my purse down. I didn't think anything of it, but when T walked in the room he was flabbergasted. He said he had NEVER seen me do so many things at once all planned ahead. I told him that was ridiculous, but upon further reflection he's right based upon the situation.

I have successfully multi-tasked in the mornings before, but he's right in that I can't recall ever having my act together after I've been out running errands. Usually when I get home I'm completely frazzled and it's all I can do to get the food in the freezer or refrigerator. Shelf-stable groceries might linger in the trunk of the car for hours if not days. And if I'm really on top of things, I would have picked up a ready-made meal on the way home, not planned ahead to preheat the oven so I could cook something in advance to be ready in time for W to eat. But today I got home at 5:05pm, and had home-made pizza come out of the oven at 5:35pm. Practically miraculous. PLUS I went outside immediately after I turned the oven on and put down flags to mark the 5pm shady spot around the big oak tree (I marked the 1pm shade border before I left this afternoon).

The strangest thing is, this experience is just like Ritalin-- I just naturally had my act together, without having to arduously plan it out. Productive things just "naturally" happen without my having to think about it.

I can get my act together for big events, like W's birthday party with people coming in from out of town for the weekend, etc., but I have to think about it all week to make sure I can have food on the table at the right time for each meal, as well as have all the other stuff done (clean sheets in the guest room, etc.). I plan it all out in advance and write it down in a list (ie 8am make coffee, start oatmeal before others wake up. . . 4pm prepare icing for cinnamon buns tomorrow morning, 5pm wash salad greens, 6pm start dinner, etc.). It's all a monumental achievement for me when I pull it off, and I'm too exhausted afterwards to be of any use for days. But man, if I can get the same stuff done WITHOUT hours and hours of advance planning, wow. I'm all for sticking with this front-brain protocol, it must be working.

Now that I have a glimpse of what I can achieve with the proper brainwaves, I am having a resurgence of that "I can rule the world" feeling I had when I first felt what alpha waves were like (my April 14 post). I am very excited, and now have some faint inking of how it is possible that my college classmates have published numerous books and won Pulitzer prizes and stuff. If I didn't have to think so long and hard about how to get things done, and I could just spend my time doing instead of thinking about doing then perhaps, I, too, would have something more impressive on my resume than, "cooks dinner for her family".

So the dark side is that my entire life until now has been relatively difficult, and few people can really understand how hard it's been for me (except my friend C, since we are very similar this way). That's frustrating, since people just think I've "wasted" my talent, etc., when really I've had to work ridiculously hard just to get where I am today. Fortunately for me, I stopped caring much about what other people think long ago. I really haven't bothered to complain much about it since who would believe me?

I would leave work or volunteer association meetings to go outside and have a smoke whenever more than one person started talking at once. It's not that I really needed a cigarette (but of course, that's what everyone thought), but more that since I can't really filter noise very well, I hear everything everyone is saying at once, and thus can't follow any of it, and I imagine the effect inside my head is similar to what it would be like for most people if someone put two boom boxes on different stations, one held up to each ear, and then tried to have a conversation with that person. Useless. But until I was diagnosed with ADD I couldn't really explain why I couldn't deal with that sort of situation (where multiple people start talking at once), I just felt an overwhelming urge to leave the room and go somewhere quiet; it was easier to just excuse myself for a cigarette, and I felt better after that.

Cigarettes were good for many years, but over time fewer and fewer of my friends smoked, so it became more of an isolating behavior to go out for a cigarette than it once was. But if I drink enough, my senses are dulled enough that the filtering isn't as much of a problem. But I've got to get a good buzz on before a lot of people start talking at once, which means that I tend to try to down several drinks as soon as I get to a party. So while it appears that I'm just a lush, I'm not really. But it's easier to just live with that impression than to try to explain that I'm kind-of crazy, because if I'm sober when multiple conversations are taking place within a few feet of me, I hear four or five voices equally in my head and it makes me so agitated that I have to leave the room, and quickly. People can't really relate to that, y'know?

So I really do need to have a few drinks in order to have a good time at parties. It's just not for the same reasons most other people do it. And it's not a perfect solution, since while it does help me tune out the background noise in the room, having a buzz doesn't really do me any favors when it comes to holding up my end of the conversation. It slows my entire brain down, so that while it's helpful because it prevents me from clearly hearing a dozen voices at once, it also dulls my perception of the one voice I'm trying to pay attention to. Still, it's better than the alternative. Going to parties without alcohol can make me very agitated, very quickly, then it's a real strain on me to pretend that I feel fine and everything is normal. I can do it, but it's not fun, it's exhausting, and if that was my only alternative I honestly wouldn't go to very many large gatherings at all.

The bright side is that neurofeedback offers me hope of an actual "cure", and not just spot-treatment with drugs. And I'm relatively young, in the broad scheme of things. Would it have been better to have had this diagnosed and taken care of when I was in high school? Absolutely! But that's water under the bridge, and as of right now I've still probably got another 25 good years left (hopefully more, but I'm not counting on it), so I'm going to focus on that. One can get a whole lot done in 25 years. Especially if their brain is working right.