I had my first EEG session yesterday. This was the baseline evaluation, so nothing terribly interesting happened. 6 electrodes are attached to my head, plus three clamps on my earlobes — two to monitor background electrical signals (which will be subtracted from the signal sent by the electrodes), plus one ground. Close your eyes for a minute. Look over here for a minute. Read this page for a minute. Move electrodes. Look this way. Listen to these words. Move electrodes. Repeat these numbers. Repeat these numbers backwards.
We talked briefly about the results of the tests from my last visit, and while the results are more nuanced than I’m describing here, there were two things that stood out very strongly in the results: Hypervigilance, and traumatic stress.
‘Traumatic stress’ is similar to its big brother, post-traumatic stress disorder, but isn’t nearly of the same magnitude and effect. As an emotional condition, however, the fundamentals are the same, and neither of us were very surprised to see this in the results.
I wasn’t familiar with hypervigilance, but it’s a fairly straightforward condition to understand; imagine you get robbed and beaten in an alley downtown at night. Now imagine how you feel the next time you’re in that alley at night. That state, where you’re overly conscious of where you are and what you’re doing (and likely to have an exaggerated reaction if a stranger started walking down the alley toward you) is hypervigilance. It’s an extended form of fight-or-flight — and is what I’ve likely been living for the last 2-3 years.
These two conditions are usually caused by extended and acute physical pain, or periods of extreme stress. In my situation, I had both. (The level of stress was so high that I actually developed a facial twitch which lasted for the greater part of a year.)
I’m in Vancouver all next week on business, so the neurofeedback proper will start Monday after next. If yesterday’s EEG results confirm the hypervigilance, we’ll likely start working on that first, as a precursor to working on the more generalized stress.