My Progress, an adult perspective...
I’ve struggled with depression most of my adult life, and anxiety since my oldest was born almost eight years ago. I’m guessing most of you who know me casually have no idea, but mental health touches so many of us, and most, like myself, keep it rather hidden. I started taking anti-depressants in college. It seemed the thing to do. You go to a doctor, tell them you feel sad, or down, or overwhelmed, and they hand you some meds. And don’t get me wrong, medications can be amazing, and often necessarily. And for the record, I’m not against them. But they don’t always work, and often you’re left deciding if the side-effects are worth trading off for the benefits. Anyway, I took them, for years, switching when I got married in the hopes of getting pregnant, and thus wanting a ‘safer’ version of an anti-depressant. Our infertility struggles were brutal, and then two preemies under two years-old with a physician husband who works a ton, well, needless to say, anxiety medications were added to my arsenal a few years back. I was surviving. But I’m not sure I’d say thriving. But… I didn’t get into Neurofeedback originally to help myself. In fact, I’m still shocked at how amazing I feel. When I first invested in the equipment, I was really just trying it out on myself while studying for the certifications. Little did I know my life would head in such a positive direction.
Soaring motivation was the first change I noticed around the five to six-session mark. When my Neurofeedback machines finally arrived, after being stuck in customs for weeks (they ship from Canada) I was sooooo excited to try them. I completed my first five sessions in five days, doing one each night after my girls went to bed. I woke up on that sixth day with what I can only describe as EXTREME energy. I felt electrified, but in a good way. I made a to-do list a mile long, and I was determined to complete every single item on it. I was reorganizing my kitchen cabinets and dusting those way too high light fixtures, which in the past, I couldn’t have cared less about. It was amazing. I’m now twelve sessions in and still feeling full of energy, I even started a health coaching program while opening this business, and if that doesn’t speak to motivation, I don’t know what does! I’m now excited to get up each morning, hurrying through showers so I can start my tasks for the day. Oh, and all this energy comes without the help of caffeine. Yep, none! I gave it up after reading Caffeine Blue’s: Wake Up to the Hidden Dangers of America’s #1 Drug by Stephen Cherniske.
Truth be told, I used to rely on Ambien every single night to fall, and stay, asleep. By my tenth session I’d ditched the Ambien. I have an Oura activity tracker, which, in my opinion, tracks sleeps far better than my Apple Watch. So, with my ring’s help I can see my sleep has improved. Granted, with sleeping pills I was technically get a decent amount of sleep each night, but my deep sleep and REM sleep percentages were both much too low according to Oura’s optimal sleep rating system. I’m now getting perfect scores on both REM and deep sleep. Plus, I’m remembering my dreams. I’m no longer tired and groggy in the afternoon, although a lot of that could be ditching the caffeine too.
Oh anxiety. Where to even begin. I’ve taken several different medications over the years for anxiety. Even on medication though I often felt nervous and worried. Everything annoyed me, my daughters fighting, my husband’s morning alarms, the slow Starbucks line, my dog constantly asking to go outside... I think I lived with anxiety so long I thought it was normal. And a certain amount of anxiety is normal and healthy. Humans are alive today because of our built-in fight or flight response. But living non-stop on the edge of blowing up at your children for splashing water outside the tub is not ideal. Well, guess what? Ten sessions of Neurofeedback and I’m off ALL my anxiety medications, and I feel amazing! Do my children still annoy me sometimes? Of course, but not to the same degree. Last night I told them to keep the water in the tub and walked away. It wasn’t a big deal, it’s water on the floor. It wipes up. The things in my life haven’t changed, but my perspective and how I respond have.
Social anxiety can be brutal. I used to browse ahead on my calendar, noticing weekends with several events, and sort of dread them. I mainly forced myself to attend activities for my children’s’ sake, for fear of them missing out because of me. I’d wonder, who else will be at the event, what if I don’t know anyone, what should I wear, do I have to dress up, do I really have to go? I’d search for excuses. Last week we attended three birthday parties, and honestly, I didn’t feel any of the anxiety I remember from the past. I found myself seeking out people for conversation I didn’t know all that well or hadn’t seen in a while. Truly a new experience for me.
I’ve mentioned medications several times in this post, and I want to reiterate something… I’m not anti-medication. They’re amazing, when they work, and often necessarily and lifesaving. But personally, I’d prefer to take less, if possible, mainly because of the side-effects. In fact, my own personal goal is to completely we