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|Alice in Neuroland - Page 18|
After one session, I spent the better part of three days in a backyard hammock, as involuntarily relaxed as someone on barbiturates. My sleep got better, and then worse. Another time, I chewed up an enormous wad of gum like someone on methedrine. Why had I let people I hardly knew put a Mixmaster into my brain? At the start, I'd assumed this wasn't rocket science. Now I realized it is a kind of brain surgery.
I write these words after 25 neurofeedback sessions--15 short of the 40 recommended for lasting change. Using equipment borrowed from EEG Spectrum, I still go to our spare bedroom two or three times a week and stick electrodes onto my head, following protocols prescribed via e-mail by John Anderson in Minneapolis, who's radically helped my friend Patrick Dougherty.
I feel less like a butterfly tethered to a rock. I think more about the next five minutes and less about the next five years. I say fewer things I regret. My scores of impulsiveness have normalized, and my scores of inattentiveness nearly so. Brian and I spent the last couple of weekends assembling and installing an entire wall of Ikea bookcases, and I never once felt overwhelmed or dizzy. My treasured books, hidden in a closet since I moved in four years ago, are now finally on display.
By silently looking at a computer game, without any form of human interaction, I had changed quirks that hadn't responded to meditation or to scrutiny of my subconscious motives. In the grand scheme of things, the improvements may be trivial neurological fixes to anyone but me. But neurological changes don't exist in a vacuum: they set off changes in a wider world. Having my books out has made me more at home in this house and changed the way I'm perceived here. I speak up more. My relationships, and the stories I tell about them, are shifting, too.
I'm grateful for this, and surprised by the emotional sea changes that I hadn't bargained for. I rarely feel mildly depressed anymore. I'm warmer, more flexible, and more forthright with my stepsons. I worry less and express my love for Brian more freely. But I'm not "there" yet--wherever "there" is. I'm still waiting for all the cherries to line up in the slot machine and deliver the jackpot.