Let me invite you into my little world...
In October, utilizing a qEEG (a diagnostic tool for determining if the brain is engaged and processing efficiently), I was diagnosed with severe ADHD, and it was discovered that part of my brain that should be active only during deep sleep is active even during my waking hours.
This diagnosis was so affirming and not at all surprising. As far back as I can remember, I’ve exhibited ADHD like tendencies, and brain fog developed as an accomplice to my deep grief after the death of our son and then my extensive surgery that followed a few months later. It’s as if I never fully came out of anesthesia; even 9 years later, I feel as if I’m watching my life in 3rd person and in slow motion. Early on, many physicians assured me this fog was normal – and it was for a time. Eventually, I accepted the the possibility that my brain may never be as sharp as it once was.
Brain fog and memory issues made my ADHD more pronounced. Have you ever seen the clip of “I Love Lucy” where the chocolates are coming down the conveyer belt too quickly for Lucy to put them in their proper location? She ends up shoving the chocolates everywhere… her apron pockets, her mouth, and both arms were filled to the brim. Prior to the brain fog, diet, exercise, a good sleep schedule, and a strong reliance on God helped me to function alongside my ADHD. But now, while parts of my brain are still bringing in a million thoughts and observations a second, the foggy part of my brain can’t log and file at nearly the same rate. The result is an absolute mess!
A painful part of ADHD is it affects intimacy in relationships. I wonder how nice it would be to snuggle up next to my husband or boys on the couch to enjoy a movie, but I really struggle to watch TV and especially movies.
While I love to listen to others and learn from them, I have 5 million conversations going through my head at the same time. Trying to decipher what someone else is saying, while also taming thoughts and trying to keep them from coming out of my mouth, requires a significant amount of energy and self-control. You may be thinking, “Halee, you don’t use self-control in keeping your mouth shut! You talk constantly!” What you see and hear is only the tiniest part of what’s happening in my mind.
Expounding this energy all day long is exhausting, so the second I sit still, I fall asleep, which is awesome... unless I wake up. Rarely if I wake up can I return to sleep because my brain is going full speed ahead. No matter the time I go to bed, I promptly wake at 5-5:30am, no alarm clock necessary, and ready to go (this obviously has it's benefits!).
My elementary teachers would hold me down, both hands on my shoulders while looking me in the eyes, trying to bring calm to my activity (and never-ending words). As an adult, I was typically the first to show up at the office, and I thought my employees and co-workers were going to throw a party when I finally realized that the incessant list of solutions, ideas and action items I threw at them within the first 5 seconds of walking through the door wasn’t really working for them. I agreed to give them a few minutes to themselves every morning before diving in… there were days I thought I would explode as I waited for that 5-10 minutes to roll by.
Honestly, on most days, my ADHD and fog never occur to me because it’s my normal. I’ve learned to live with it – but I know it’s there. I have avoided a diagnosis and especially treatment out of fear, “Will I require medication with side effects? Who will I be if I slow down? Will I lose my creativity? Will I lose my passion or drive for learning?"
When fear was replaced with hope, I finally sought a diagnosis, “What if I could actually listen well to my children? What if I could finish reading a book within weeks rather than a year? What if I could hug my husband without also considering the laundry I forgot in the washer, the keys I misplaced yesterday, the next article I hope to write, and… hmmm, can I still remember the dance routine from my middle school cheerleading competition?”
As a result of my diagnosis, I began Neurofeedback a few months ago. So far there are aspects of my ADHD that are still noticeable, but my sleep has been solid and in the last few weeks I read a book… like a whole book – from beginning to end! Typically, by the time I finish a book, I don’t even remember what the beginning was about.
After only a few sessions, the fog diminished… oh let the blessed fog go on its merry way, never to return! Good riddance, fog! I feel such relief having the fog go away.
Ten sessions in, the provider did another qEEG to make sure the neurofeedback had jumpstarted the progression. Jumpstarted? I was feeling so good, I thought, “Do I even need to keep going to treatment? I feel awesome!”
Regarding the fog, the qEEG showed an improvement on average of about 15% and about 4% regarding the ADHD. Say what?!?! How can it be so little improvement since I feel so much relief?
Some may assume the placebo effect, but I have another theory. I have lived in the fog and chaos for SOOOO long that the tiny bit of relief feels like ecstasy. I could not imagine feeling this good when I began treatments, so how good will another 25% or 50% improvement feel. Does such a place of brain health even exist? What in the world do you think I'll be like apart from my ADHD?
This process has been a bit of déjà vu for me. I remember a time when life seemed fine because I didn’t know it could be any different. This was my life apart from Christ. It was fine. I survived… until one day I experienced Jesus, but when I went back to my normal, it no longer felt fine. It felt awful. He ruined my world in a very good way.
I’m grateful I became unsatisfied for the way things were. I hungered and thirst to see what else might be around the corner. Now, here I am, 23 years later and things are lightyears away from the best I thought possible. I’ve only experienced the tip of the iceberg of what He is capable of and willing to do for me.
There are glimpses of heaven in the Bible that seriously put me in awe, but I do occasionally think, “Okay, once that moment of awesomeness passes, what will I do with the other infinite amount of time?” It’s difficult to consider the possibilities with my boxed in imagination; what will it be like if I’m 25% more free and healed, 50% more? What will it be like to be completely free and healed and surrounded by others who are also 100% free and healed?
This process of diagnosis and treatment has amplified my hunger and thirst for the fullness of Jesus Christ in my life. I remain motivated to keep running my race in His direction, knowing that, just around the corner, is another nugget of “incredible.” I am not unsatisfied with what I have today; I simply anticipate the goodness of my Lord and Savior in every day ahead.
What is your thorn? What is your hope?
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6
“Three different times I begged the Lord to take [the thorn in my side] way. Each time He said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me… For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-9,10b