Jan 24, 2022. 4 min read
Sherrie’s story with HPN for Autism, PTSD, TBI, & depression
By the time I tried high performance neurofeedback, the abuse of my upbringing and former romantic relationships had finally caught up with me.
My childhood brightness and adolescent self-determination had gone missing. I had fallen under the shadow of habitual surrender to controlling and manipulative relationships and crippling self-doubt. In short, I was a very spent human being.
Add to this the keen environmental awareness and cyclical thinking patterns that come with Asperger’s (since replaced in the DSM with the term “Autism Spectrum Disorder”), and you have a quietly desperate person running in mad circles trying to do happy-making things for other people so they don’t spontaneously combust and send said autistic person into an arm flapping, Aspie meltdown.
I had begun to become reclusive and lost the ability to work in an office or retail setting. The pressure of 40 hours a week of human interaction was out of the question. My only peace was time spent in the company of animals. I became a pet sitter and house cleaner. Though I loved my work, I found myself unable to earn a livable wage. I had a busted up 1989 Camry, and about $40 left after rent and insurance.
One could say I was functional in that I was not yet homeless. But my mind was not as it should be. Truly. It was exactly at this point that I, through pet sitting, happened to meet Neurofeedback Clinician, Rachel Smith. Not a moment too soon!
Through interviews and collected data from my previous diagnoses my conditions were listed as follows:
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (environmental sensitivity, tactile attachment to certain clothing items, distress over inconsistent behavior, inability to process antagonism as humor – *the last one, when I think of it, may not be an actual defect at all)
- CPTSD/Trauma (flashbacks, hyper-vigilance, lack of self-care due to zero self-esteem, deep distress when gaslighted)
- Traumatic Brain Injury (childhood concussions)
- OCD (intrusive, repetitive thoughts, a tendency to “fix” things which appear visually “wrong,” i.e. retail merchandise on the wrong shelf, etc.)
- Depression (ennui, rumination)
- Addiction (food)
It was determined that neurofeedback could help my conditions, and though I was not familiar with it, I was open to the idea. I am eternally grateful for my openness, because it allowed me to begin moving away from a life that seemed to be imploding. With the positive effects from neurofeedback I am beginning to feel expansive again, and it’s beautiful.
By the second session, I had an experience entirely new to me. It felt very much as though someone turned down a dial of some sort in my head. For the first time in my conscious memory, I felt an absence of extreme alertness. I had not lost all awareness, of course. I simply was inhabiting the space I was in without any need to jump to the rescue of anyone or anything. Nothing was my job. Nothing was my fault. I was just a person. It was sublime, and I wanted more.
My progress has been staggering. Here are the areas and manners in which I have felt the greatest improvements:
Autism Spectrum Disorder
- If something startling occurs (sudden loud noises, etc.), I no longer remain ridiculously anxious and ready to cry for hours after the initial event.
- I can be outside in the rain without being overwhelmed and horrified by the sensation of the rain on my skin.
- I am no longer disconcerted when I see language used improperly.
- I am better able to process inconsistent human behavior
- If I see bright lights flashing, I no longer spontaneously burst into tears
- I am wearing clothing other than my tactile “binky” clothing – no more Aspie uniform!
- I am much less likely to be on alert and think the worst if I hear a sound I don’t immediately recognize.
- I no longer have flashbacks. I do have memories, but these occur as something which I can objectively observe and analyze.
- Brushing my hair more frequently!
- When a manipulative person tries to make me question my memory and believe a lie, I no longer feel distress, but rather bemusement. This is new and most wonderful!
- If someone around me is upset, I still do get upset as well, but no longer completely despondent; no instant panic. I am able to function in the presence of someone else’s anger. I no longer pick up the slack when the angry person doesn’t berate me – no self-destructive inner dialog for hours on end! This is more helpful than words can describe.
Traumatic Brain Injury
- I lose my balance less often!
- I find that I can now break through repetitive thoughts and change the topic in my internal dialog.
- I feel far less compelled to fix things that appear to be in the wrong place
- I am no longer compelled to binge when I arrive at a new location (I frequently work in other people’s homes for extended periods of time as a pet sitter).
- My inner dialog is still nearly incessant, but it’s no longer negative. The effect of this seemingly simple change is HUGE.
- I no longer dread all the things that need doing and become nauseous when I first wake up. I simply notice that I’m awake. I also no longer cry myself to sleep. I simply conk out. I love this.
I am still very much a work in progress, but the improvements I’ve been able to experience give me great hope. I no longer feel a total loss of potential. I feel better equipped to navigate the labyrinthine emotional world of other people. My truest hope is to be able to better relate to my fellow human beings again and to be able to reenter the work force and function at increasing capacity. My results have lasted. I recommend HPN to anyone with similar symptoms.