I was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome in kindergarten. I had very disruptive motor, eye, and vocal tics. It affected my everyday life. Along with the Tourettes I had OCD, rages, and ADHD, which made school work almost impossible. We had tried every pill out there, the changes in medicines would give me horrible headaches or make me fall asleep in class. I would rage every day throwing huge tantrums, most of the time having no idea why I was so angry. I would get into fights with my siblings that I knew even at the time were ridiculous. My siblings didn’t like being around me and I started to feel alienated from them. I didn’t like being angry, I knew it wasn’t normal even as a 10-year-old, I wanted to change and feel happy but I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t stop the anger, the Tourettes, or the obsessive thoughts running through my head. I had no control over my mind, body or thoughts.
The school kept telling my mom about neurofeedback and how it had helped other kids. We were hesitant at first, it seemed like neurofeedback was too “far-fetched,” but after yet another medicine change my mom decided to try it, and over the next few months of neurotherapy, I started noticing changes.
I remember the first time I felt a tic go away. I had the impulse in my head telling me to “jump” and felt the uncomfortable build-up I had right before every tic, but then, it just vanished. Usually, when I would do a tic it felt like I had done it “right” and there was a small sense of relief. This time, however, it went away completely and I felt a sense of peace and calm in its absence that I had never experienced. It felt like my brain had “sighed” and rewired itself, feeling like a puzzle piece locking into place. My anger dissipated as well, one day I noticed my sister wearing my shirt. I marched up to her and started yelling at her to take it off. I was angry, I could feel it building up. My mom ran over to break up the fight, and yells “don’t talk to your sister that way!”. I instantly noticed how up in arms everyone was- the tension was like a pressure in the air, I could feel the heat. That’s when I realized… I had noticed something for the first time when I was angry. Normally I had a feeling of going blank or blind rage that I would feel, but for the first time in my life, I could think through the black cloud. I realized I wasn’t actually angry, and that I had a shirt I wanted to wear of hers and maybe we could compromise. I looked at my mom and said “oh, sorry mom” and skipped off, elated that I felt so calm. My mom and sister were dumbfounded, to say the least.
My obsessive thoughts had stoped, my Tourettes had almost completely disappeared, and I could focus in class. My sleep was better than it had ever been, I felt awake and alert and most importantly I was so happy. I felt like my life was finally in my control. My grades became A’s and I found a new interest in my work, for the first time I actually started to enjoy school. My relationship with my siblings was stronger and I felt like I was finally getting to know them. I no longer had the frustration of my Tourettes, OCD, and anger weighing me down.
I was a different person, in the best way possible.
A few years later in 8th grade, I had an accident and received two concussions on the same day. These were my 5th and 6th concussions, and they had each been classified as traumatic brain injuries. I could barely talk; I couldn’t remember the words to describe things or string a conversation together. My brain felt like it would just hit a wall and shut off. I was in a constant fog, like a dream. The room felt as if it were constantly shifting or spinning, I had vertigo spells and would pass out many times each day. I couldn’t see out of my left eye and had tunnel vision in my right. I had constant pain in my body with debilitating migraines. If I nodded my head or turned around too quickly, the room would spin and a horrible headache would erupt. I became depressed and anxious, developed insomnia and could no longer understand people very well. I could hear them but it sounded like a foreign language. I was in 5 different treatment therapies; physical, occupational, ear-nose-throat, visual, and auditory therapy. I was treated at the Mayo Clinic where the doctors felt that I should be pulled out of school because of the lack of progress I had been making. My former neurotherapist, however, had heard about my accident and told my mom to hold off before pulling me out of school and to try neurofeedback for the second time. After the results, we saw the first time we knew it could make a significant impact. I continued with my other therapies and after a few months of neurofeedback, I started to feel like myself again. I was able to return to school and once again focus in classes, my sleep and chronic pain improved, the brain fog lifted… everything returned to normal.
I personally know the impact of neurofeedback because of what it did for me, and I see it affect others every day. I am so fortunate to be where I am today and have the opportunity to do neurofeedback for others. The brain’s capabilities amaze me, just knowing how far my own brain has healed I have a greater appreciation of the brain’s ability to adapt and rewire.
I understand when people say they feel like they have no control or hopeless. I know what it’s like to have the frustration and overwhelming hurt. This is what gives me the ability to understand my clients because I’ve been there. Neurofeedback changed my life, and it can do the same for you.