Jane* is still surprised when she hears the comments from friends: What happened to you? You’re so outgoing….so full of personality. You’re a different person!
And she blushes just a bit when her happy husband Bud remarks with a grin: “You’re so much more…amorous.” He says he loves the fact that for the first time in years she’s showing emotion and physical passion.
The “new” Jane, 72, is a far cry from the “old” Jane of the past 30 years.
“Being off medications is a big deal after using them for 15 years. I’m a walking advertisement for neurofeedback. I could have had therapy and been on drugs for the rest of my life and it wouldn’t have fixed me. It’s the best money I ever spent.”
When Jane was 40 she had a “nervous breakdown” after being shocked at finding her father dead. It wasn’t the trauma of discovering his body that threw her into a psychic hurricane. Instead it was the fact that for the first time in her life, repressed memories of being sexually abused by him from the age of 3 until she was a teenager came drip-drip-dripping back like water from a hole in a rubber swimming pool. Over time her psyche ruptured and she couldn’t hold back the deluge of recollections of her father’s indecent actions.
A lonely battle and ineffective medications
For 15 years afterwards she fought a lonely battle against anxiety, depression, multiple personalities, an eating disorder, and more. She couldn’t calm herself enough at night to go to sleep and felt exhausted all day long. She said it was only her job in the education field, plus her faith in God, that kept her going.
When she finally couldn’t cope any longer on her own, Jane sought therapy along with help from a psychiatrist.
That help meant, of course, medications. Different drugs for mood and for her maddening, unrelenting insomnia. Groggy days and not very good nights. Side effects like heart palpitations, lack of interest in life, weight gain and loss of her sex drive. “I felt like a guinea pig,” she recalled.
Eventually Jane talked to her psychiatrist about getting off her medications because they simply didn’t help and in some cases made her symptoms worse.
“My psychiatrist said getting off medication was a bad idea, that I needed to be on medication the rest of my life and just had to ‘suck it up,’” she recalled.
That wasn’t what she wanted to hear but didn’t know where to turn until her husband got a divine inspiration. When he prayed for her one day, he received a message from God that they needed to contact Mike Cohen at the Center for Brain Training, where Jane had done some neurofeedback training nine years before.
Convinced it was going to help her, Jane and her husband Bud stretched their budget so she could do twice-weekly sessions.
Getting back into life
Within two months, Jane had been weaned off of all her medications except an occasional valium on a stressful day. She was able to go to sleep and to sleep soundly throughout the night. Friends and family started commenting on how different she seemed, and Jane began volunteering for activities and “getting back into life.”
“Now she can cry,” Bud said. “Before, if we watched a Hallmark movie, she was immune to it. She didn’t seem to feel anything. It’s enormous that she can cry.” And he doesn’t mind that she’s more affectionate. “Our entire relationship has improved,” he said.
“I didn’t realize how numb I was until my emotions returned,” Jane added.
“When I was on those medications, I was in a daze most of the time and would lie in bed all day,” she explained. “In contrast, this morning I walked the dog, took an exercise walk, read for a while and went to the dentist. I’m so much more together.”
She describes being able to sleep all night as “a miracle,” since she’s had a sleeping disorder since she was a young girl plagued by nighttime visits by her predator father.
“Since doing neurofeedback I’m calmer, and it’s heaven. I finally have hope.
“I’m going forward with my life and am better than ever,” she continued. “I’ve taken control of my life. My life isn’t controlling me. I’m living in the present moment. I’m not a victim anymore. I used to talk about my trauma all the time. Now I don’t talk about it very much.
“Mike Cohen is a hero in my life. If it wasn’t for him and the staff at the Center for Brain Training I would still be numb, still be medicated and still be dependent on a psychiatrist.
*Name changed to protect confidentiality.