I was 7 years in the gauntlet of Lyme Disease, a horrific journey of agonizing pain and doubt – and even being one of the lucky few to be completely cured two years ago, I was left with brain damage.
I meandered in a thick mental fog of memory loss, confusion and sluggish thinking, in the belief that I would never recover. To top it off, I’d been diagnosed with PTSD, ADHD, and bipolar disorder.
Over the years I had developed a keen interest in psychology and neuroscience – an aspiring science fiction writer – and in my research, had come across Doctor Norman Doidge’s seminal book The Brain That Changes Itself. This book details how the brain is constantly changing into adulthood, overturning decades of orthodoxical assumptions about brain development in the scientific community.
This revelation catalyzed a zeal to recover that was compounded by the notion of injury induced neuroplasticity, a cascade of regenerative effects following acquired brain injury that can last for weeks or months. Some of the most incredible cases include Daniel Tammet, who suffered a seizure as a boy, and who now experiences number-shape synaesthesia; and Jason Padgett, who, as a result of a violent mugging, now perceives fundamental geometry in everything he sees, as well as the incredible ability to draw perfect fractals such as the one above.
Inspired, and full of conviction, I built myself a program based on hundreds of scientific studies, replicating what I could on my shoe string budget. This included computer-based training such as Dual N-Back spatial memory training, complex span tasks, and many other computer-based training methods which are now used in sophisticated brain training suites such as Cogmed and Cognifit..
I also combined nutrition, exercise, meditation, therapy, listening to and composing music, transcranial direct current stimulation, and learning new skills and knowledge areas like math and physics. There was nothing I wouldn’t try, so long as it had a good scientific foundation and it was something I could replicate.
I aggressively pursued rehabilitation for 8 months, dedicating myself. When I had finished, my IQ had increased by 15% and I found that my ability to reason, write, calculate, and even manage my emotions had all improved far beyond the levels that preceded my injury.
Cognitive enhancement became my salvation, and soon after, my life’s passion. I began mentoring others. People were reaching out to me for help, and seeing their progress became the most rewarding thing I’d ever experienced. So in the summer of 2016, I built True Focus, a suite of programs designed to help people overcome their brain injuries, to unlock latent potential, and push the limits of the mind. Since that time, I have improved the program to target symptoms of ADHD, depression, anxiety, and OCD among many other program goals. Now, instead of 8 months, the program works extremely fast, in only 6 weeks. The average cost to treat ADHD in the US is $14, 000. I reduced that cost by 2800%.
Living with a brain injury can be extremely difficult, a daunting challenge for which there can seem to be little recourse – and it’s the same for ADHD, depresison, anxiety and bipolar disorder. You feel trapped, alone. Like there’s nothing you can do. But there’s a light shining in the dark, through understanding the brain and willing ourselves to reach beyond our grasp, we can heal and be made whole.
The most important lesson from this experience was this: always keep a pocket of hope, never give up, and believe in the power of ideas.