Thursday, April 26, 2007


Besides the obvious, I am making changes around here, some conscious, some not.

Norma and I have begun walking again. For a few months, we were able to maybe get in once a week. We've literally stepped it up and go almost daily now.

I am working to get people to paint outdoors with me again. Last summer, I probably went out a dozen times with people I drew together. I've been recruiting more lately, but mostly I've heard them reply about wanting to stay in the loop, not actually paint. Alas. I have not painted since the portrait class in December. I am overdue and will go out by myself.

I've said many times that my house is a cluttered mess. I have numbers of boxes, here for five years, never unpacked or really even moved. I don't have enough storage so that they (and a bunch of other crap) are in the middle of things. This pattern was sort of a misplaced personal protest, because I didn't want to be here or divorced. I've been to rearrange, donate, and toss.

Thank goodness EEG and Alpha Theta Training are kicking in. For Earth Day, I cleaned my yard. With the direction of the wind, all the trash for the neighborhood blows into my yard. It is trifling, but good for me finally tackling the mess. It was a long time (years) since I painstakingly pulled the trash and leaves from my bushes. Again, witness the personal protest due to sloppy neighbors and wind patterns, but I've made progress.

I've also realized that AT is helping significantly with my PTSD symptoms, one of the prime AT goals. (Think of me not taking care of my house as a PTSD symptom of divorce, too.) Progress is amazingly subtle. I'll realize that I am doing something I should do, but couldn't before. Or I am not doing something that I could not stop before. The former largely refers to stuff around the house and headaches regarding finances. (I took the insurance check over yesterday to settle the civil suit against me. Great to have that weight off.)

The latter refers to intrusive thoughts. The way I think about PTSD is that a tiny trigger suddenly brings on the fullness of emotion and experience that a larger stressor provided in the past. Little things like stumbling upon a clothes hanger belonging to P suddenly dumped the weight of our entire relationship on my shoulders, it being particularly ironic and unfair how that weight increased exponentially since we broke up. Generally my reactions were internal, but it was so bad for my psyche and cortisol level.

The same goes for babies and SIF. The situation I cited involving Ted a week ago was significant. I had not told him about pregnant women and babies ripping out my heart, although he did know a bit about me wanting additional children. (I never know if guys asking about that means they are still holding out on having kids or ensuring they won't be pestered about it.)

In the last few months, I was better able to handle the topic and steer clear of babies, not even bringing it up, but then something happened. A bunch of students died needlessly and I read 'only child' one too many times. I was understandably jarred, so I made that unusual-for-us request to switch sides of the booth in the restaurant. That happening has only reinforced how much AT has done for me, how far I'd come without even realizing it, and how SIF really has been a PTSD issue for me.

Before, in my busy ADHD mind, I would have floods of thoughts that I could not direct. Hypersensitivity, taking in everything without filter, is a hallmark of ADHD. Combine that sensory overload with unfettered rumination makes for an overwhelmed Cricket. I still believe I think more that others, because I can't really turn my brain off, but now I am better able to direct my thoughts than have them direct me. Generally, I don't even have to try. I have the inkling of a thought I don't want approaching from the perimeter, then it makes a u-turn. Sometimes I realize it happening, but sometimes I don't realize it until it becomes a fuzzy memory later.

This is incredible stuff. And it will stick around when I finish up my course of treatment, which is turning out to be longer than most. It has no side effects, unlike the dozens of meds I suffered through. I am very lucky to be getting it pro bono (I could not have afforded it otherwise, although some insurance does cover it), but even if I weren't, the end of the treatments is the end of the cost. Over is truly over.

For me, I can say, "Well, just do it," when it comes to raking leaves or arranging boxes, although I do have enough crap that it is still overwhelming. Unlike before, I have realistic hope that I will succeed.

I can also now warn myself, "Don't do it," when I have an inkling of a thought about, for example, P or I see a baby. I don't want to say that I am numb to the crap, but I am better able to not let it in.

I am on a two week break from EEG now. Apparently, they institute a break after 50 sessions. Amazing that I've had so many since December. When I go back, I'll have 10 more sessions and another ADHD test. That takes me to July and I doubt she'll want to do more.

Although AT is considered a cure for PTSD and addictions, it is not considered a cure for ADHD; however, the focus it has provided me has been phenomenal. I think I've had about 30 AT sessions - the other forms of EEG and additional therapies didn't give me very much - but I have been able to bring my high beta (brain chatter) down significantly. With my brain under control, I can keep my past under control and focus on the things I need to.

I would like to mention that AT became intensely more successful with me less than 10 sessions ago. I'd been using an eye mask for about 10-15 sessions and that helped my hypersensitivity to a degree. I had to be able to hear the sound shift signaling the alpha and theta changes, so I could not use ear plugs, but I was very distracted by the office noise and nearby construction. The PhD suggested ear phones. I have since shifted to ear buds, although them plugging into the speaker makes them mono and sound comes out only in one bud. I now get AT sound in one ear and have a plug in the other, plus wear an eye mask. It is virtually like sensory deprivation, except for allowing in the trickling water signaling alpha and crashing waves signaling beta. This hypersensitivity towards the things I am supposed to be hearing and the severe limiting of outside distractions has helped me turn the corner. It is Alpha Theta Training for the person with ADHD.

Since I took the week off at Spring Break, I've put it together about the progress I've made. Apparently, taking time off helps the brain to heal and to catch up. Since then, the small changes I suspected before have become bigger, more pronounced, something I think I can depend on. It makes me excited to have these two weeks off. How good can it get later?

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