Posted on January 26th, 2015 by Beth Finke
I am pleased to introduce Debbie Hampton as a guest blogger today. Lifestyle and thought modifications, therapies, and mental health practices helped Debbie recover from a suicide attempt and the resulting brain injury. Her willingness to share her story now helps others to build a better brain, and consequently, a better life.
Rebuilding My Brain
by Debbie Hampton
When I woke up from my coma, I was barely there. I couldn’t focus on anything, and my brain couldn’t make sense of what it was seeing. When I opened my mouth to speak, all that spewed out was garbled noises. My mutilated speech was disturbingly slow, flat, and mangled. My brain was working, but painfully slow.
A week earlier I had tried committing suicide by swallowing an assortment of pills, mostly brain drugs. I had survived, but my brain was stuck in a drugged stupor.
I eventually recovered enough to resume living independently, but I was still very mentally impaired. I had no short-term memory and unreliable long-term memory, an inability to focus, aphasia, poor people skills, no math aptitude, and little impulse control. The very good news was that I’d healed enough emotionally to decide that I did want to live, and I promised myself, “I AM NOT living like this!”
I started researching ways to rebuild my brain and tried everything from supplements and exercise to alternative therapies and brain training.
Brain training takes advantage of neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to change its form and function throughout your life. Your brain is changing every minute of every day, and brain training exercises harness and direct this process. Just as you workout to exercise your body, you can exercise your memory, attention, and other cognitive skills to keep them in top shape. Benefits of brain training include:
- faster thinking
- better memory
- finding words
- sharper listening and vision
- quicker reflexes
- safer driving
- improved mood
Posit Science’s Brain Fitness Program — now offered as part of BrainHQ — is one of the first brain training software programs I purchased. The first Brain Fitness Program (I refer to it as BFP) exercise assessed my brain’s processing speed by having me listen to sounds that went up or down, called sweeps. At first it was infuriatingly difficult for me to tell which way the sound was going, and as I improved, the software adjusted to continually challenge me.
When I completed the program, I did another assessment and was thrilled to find that my processing speed had more than doubled. What a fantastic discovery! Something that substantially improved my brain without expensive doctor visits, medication, or therapy. All I had to do was sit at a computer and have fun.
I went through the BFP again and again until I stopped seeing improvement. I moved on to other brain training products after that, but I would run through the BFP again from time to time to give my brain a tune-up.
The effectiveness of brain training is still the subject of debate in the scientific community, but I’m convinced it helped me dramatically and was crucial to my recovery. Judge for yourself by following my blog, The Best Brain Possible, where I post about ways to improve your brain…and your life.
For a free unlimited sample of four brain exercises, try the Easter Seals Train Your Brain Challenge, too. Easter Seals also has brain health programs for both youths and adults and seniors.