08/06: How a Bump on the Head Can Ruin It All
“But, how did my brainwaves get ‘out of whack’?, asked Meghan*, a new client and college student in her early 20s. Meghan had struggled with depression and anxiety throughout her childhood and teens, but found that it was worsening as she got older. She found our office after reading about brainwave training online through various depression support groups. After hearing about the success others had with brainwave training and looking for an alternative to medication, she decided to experience it for herself.
Outward appearances suggested that Meghan was a talented and hard working young lady destined for success. She reported a fairly stable childhood, friends, good grades, and a desire to do well in life. However, further discussion revealed some possible answers to her question. Her mother had told her that, as a first born, her birth had been difficult. Her family has suffered some financial difficulties when she was in grade school and her father lost his job. Although he eventually found new employment, Meghan reported that she began to worry that “something bad” was going to happen ever since that incident. Active in sports and athletics, she also reported that she had suffered her fair share of knocks to the head, but had never thought that they were of concern. Finally, she was in a little “fender bender” while she and a friend were out shopping. Although no one was hurt, she realized that afterwards her moodiness increased and she began having trouble paying attention in school. She also observed that her grades had started hurting, but had attributed it to the challenging college curriculum she was studying.
Almost all of us can report having experiences similar to Meghan’s. Part of the “Earth Experience” is that we will suffer losses, times of worry, trauma, and bumps on the head. It just goes with the territory. For some of us, just being born is traumatic! However, when traumas occur there is no “walking it off” as we would like to believe. The effects of trauma stay with us.
You see, when traumas happen to us, our brains become extremely active to try and protect us. Depending upon the situation, this activity can activate our “fight or flight” response, or in some cases the “freeze” response. Unfortunately, once the danger passes, our brains can get stuck in these activity patterns. Over time and with repeated traumas, this unbalanced brainwave activity can cause disruptions in our sleep, affect our ability to focus, or keep us in a near constant state of worry, anger, and sadness. For some individuals, the brain becomes so unbalanced that it interprets non-threatening events in day to day life as dangerous, causing the individual to react inappropriately to the stimuli and making situations worse.
Our culture likes to believe that trauma is something we can “shake off” or lock in a box and put away. Unfortunately, the brain just doesn’t work that way. When we push our feelings away, they begin to fester and appear in our lives as dysfunctional behaviors. These behaviors can show up as drinking, substance abuse, gambling, shopping, eating, or drama seeking. Each of these activities creates an experience where our brains feel temporarily balanced. But, when the activity ends and the chemicals caused by the activity leave our systems, we go back to feeling as bad as or worse than when we started. At the same time, some of us also begin to identify with our traumas and the stories surrounding them. We begin to believe that they define who we are and then start to act out the story we have told about ourselves, creating a self fulfilling prophecy.
Meghan was a mix of both. She didn’t believe that any of the traumas she had experienced should have any effect on her. She saw them as separate from her current experience. However, she also began to tell stories about herself. She saw herself as a worrier, a moody person, and a perfectionist who never really got things right. She started to think that maybe she really wasn’t “college material” or smart enough for higher level classes. She began to fear that she wasn’t cut out for success after all. Until she came in for brain training, she didn’t really understand how seemingly “insignificant” events in her life were having a profoundly negative effect on her current situation.
After learning how brain training works and how trauma can cause experiences like hers, Meghan was convinced. She purchased a package of 12 sessions and is now about halfway through. Already, she reports that she is starting to feel happier and more like herself. The constant worry has begun to abate. She is more clear and focused throughout her day. “I can’t wait to see how I do during fall semester”, she recently stated. “I’m actually looking forward to my Junior year of college!”
Brain training is a great way to start feeling and thinking better. We offer a variety of packages that can fit your needs. Call today to learn more! 913-954-7007
*Names have been changed to protect client privacy