Paul had found no real solutions to his myriad of health issues despite an endless string of doctors and over 40 diagnoses and symptoms. In fact, some doctors suggested that he would have to endure many of the conditions and symptoms for the rest of his life. He had lost his job, his home, his cars, his relationship and his independence.
Deciding to embrace DNRS as a healing modality on the advice of a progressive doctor he respected was a pivotal moment in Paul’s life. He had once brushed off the suggestion of a friend to try DNRS, but now he was ready. At the time, he could barely function, and his mother had to care for him as he could no longer do simple activities of daily living, like showering or cooking. It seemed like everything he did would cause an upswell in symptoms. Once Paul made the commitment to engage in DNRS, he applied the DNRS neuroplasticity exercises daily, and developed creative ways to stay motivated.
Along the way, Paul reached out to the community of brain retrainers and utilized DNRS support services to their fullest:
- Enlisting support from a Certified DNRS Coach.
- Attending the 12 week Living DNRS classes.
- Engaging with fellow members on the DNRS Global Community Forum on a regular basis.
- Often practicing his exercises with other DNRS participants.
As a result of his dedication to his healing journey, Paul’s reality is completely different now.
Spoiler alert: Paul admits that sometimes he cries tears of joy because he didn’t know the level of happiness he has now could exist.
In this, a reflection on his recovery journey in his own words (with minor edits for length and clarity), Paul describes the life events and habits that culminated in a health crisis, what Star-Trek inspiration he used to fuel his DNRS-based recovery, and what his life is like now.
Exciting New Capacities After Overcoming the Odds
I am writing this update with an open heart and a feeling of immense gratitude. I remember back in early 2020 when I joined the DNRS community, I would read similar sentiments from other brain retrainers who were either recovered or at the later stages of their recovery journey. It was such a foreign concept to me and one that I could not relate to back then.
Since that time, my life has expanded and I continue to grow as a person:
- I have hopped on a couple of airplanes, once to fly to Houston, Texas to visit a close friend and the other time to fly to Las Vegas.
- I can dance for long periods of time any day of the week.
- I went on a 9 mile hike recently.
- I have been spending a lot of time in the kitchen, sometimes on my feet for 2 hours, cooking away new inventions or trying out new recipes. I remember back in the day when I could only eat one food and even eating that one food caused discomfort.
- While I have had food freedom for quite some time now, it seems that even foods that used to give me moderate issues don’t bother me at all.
Someone asked me recently if I had recovered. I honestly didn’t know how to answer that momentarily because that word doesn’t have the same meaning that it once did. The short answer to that question is no. I still have symptoms that I want to rewire. I still have some beliefs and ways of being that I want to rewire.
But I have my life back.
I can do almost anything. I can go anywhere. I recently drove for 6 hours straight and felt I could drive another 6. I don’t second guess my decisions anymore. If I want to drive an hour away to go visit a friend, I do it. Later on in this blog post I will share some of the medical labels that I have overcome, some of which I was told I would have for the rest of my life or that there was no known cure for it. I think to really understand how far I have come it’s important to give a little background information about myself.
Limbic System Dysregulation From a Young Age
I was born into a chaotic household, with an alcoholic father who was unpredictable and would be calm and nice one minute and then as if someone flipped a switch he would start yelling and behaving erratically. One of the ways our limbic system and nervous system learns how to regulate is through our caretakers, which is usually our parents. Both my parents were not regulated people so my brain and nervous system didn’t stand a chance.
As a very young child I remember my parents taking me to the health fairy (my word for any health professional) several times because they thought something was wrong with me. I would get reactions from a lot of foods, I had trouble sleeping, I wet the bed until I was 6 years old, and sometimes I wouldn’t talk for days. My parents were concerned about me.
Physical Traumas Compounded
In high school I was playing Spiderman on one of the spiral staircases and I fell down two stories and I landed on a very hard floor flat on my back. Two of my classmates found me passed out on the floor and told me to go see one of my teachers. I had a slight concussion and a broken left hand, but nothing major happened. At least, that’s what it seemed like back then.
During my college years I was involved in two head on car collisions while I was driving, both were the other driver’s fault. After my first car accident I developed panic attacks and I had trouble driving through intersections that had traffic lights.
There were times when I would be sitting in the classroom and I would get up suddenly and run towards the exit. Most of my professors didn’t appreciate that and after class I went to go talk to them to explain what I was dealing with. One of my psychology professors pulled me aside and said “I understand what you are going through.” I could see kindness and empathy in his eyes. He gave me the phone number to a therapist. That therapist was a wonderful person and he helped get rid of my panic attacks using hypnosis and they would stay away for about 2 decades.
Self-Medicating Away Sensitivities
Growing up I always felt different. I felt like I could read people’s thoughts and could feel everyone’s emotions. If someone was upset I would literally feel their emotions. I felt like a freak. I felt alone and misunderstood. I spent most of my weekends numbing myself with alcohol. It was the only thing that made me feel good and it numbed the pain deep inside of me.
After college I dove head first into my career, working for financial institutions and also starting businesses on the side. I was usually working or hanging out with my friends. I hardly ever slept and coffee and energy drinks were my jam. In late 1997 I lost my 20 year old baby sister and I felt numb for what seemed like months. I didn’t know how to grieve so I held it inside me and began doubling my work output at work and partying even harder on the weekends. I believed at that time that if life was so tough then I should at least go out and have fun with my friends.
The body has innate wisdom and I ignored all the signals it was trying to tell me. I began developing a bunch of symptoms such as digestive issues, memory issues, and more. Yet, I kept pushing and pushing. When I look back at those last few years that I worked, I honestly don’t even know how I did it – probably just sheer force of will. In early 2018, even that wasn’t enough to keep me going.
After my nth trip to the emergency room, my boss pulled me aside and said that I needed to go on medical leave because I was unable to perform my duties at work. He was a very understanding manager; I was surprised he let me work as long as he did. New symptoms began surfacing and I no longer had the energy or the will to continue working.
I wasn’t able to work and I was trying to hold onto my home, my cars, my relationship, and my sanity. I eventually lost them all and moved out of state with my mother and Stepfather. I felt alone, defeated, and deeply misunderstood.
I’m not going to get into what came next except to say that I spent a lot of time by myself in a dark room, not being able to handle light, sound, or much of anything. I didn’t think it was possible, but I continued to decline.
My mother was supportive but didn’t understand what I was going through. And even though my stepfather let me live in their house rent free, he made it pretty clear that he didn’t understand and he wasn’t convinced that what I was experiencing was real. Things got to a point where I didn’t want to live anymore. I felt miserable and felt like a burden to my family. I wasn’t able to sleep and even medications weren’t helping. There was a period of several months where I could only sleep for 15-30 minutes at a time, if that.
A Pivotal Decision & Commitment
One night during one of my darkest hours, I decided to make a choice. I made a decision that I would do whatever it took to get better. I also made a promise that I would do whatever it took so that my dear mother would not have to experience that kind of loss again. Once I made that firm decision, my outlook began to change.
About a year later, I was following a doctor on Facebook and he mentioned DNRS. I remember him mentioning that about 2 years ago but I discounted it. Well, I was in a much different state of mind. I was fueled by something much bigger than myself, and that was to get better so that my mother wouldn’t have to suffer watching her son decline. It gave me a strength and focus that I didn’t think was possible.
I bought DNRS in January of 2020, but didn’t start watching it until the beginning of March. It took me nearly a month to get through all the material because I could only watch it in increments of a few minutes. Part of me believed it could help and part of me didn’t. It was a near-constant battle inside of me. The part of me that made the decision to do whatever it took won and would continue winning.
At the start of my journey with DNRS I could barely function, my mother had to cook all my meals for me, I needed help to go to the bathroom, and I rarely showered because if I did, it would cause an increase in symptoms.
The Kobayashi Maru-Inspired Approach
Despite the rough start I dedicated myself to the program. Though I hated structure, I have to admit I needed the structure that DNRS gave me in the beginning. I had a lot of cognitive issues so knowing what to do each day was helpful. As time went on I slowly began adding more tools to my toolbox. I was relentless.
Please note that relentlessness did not mean using my tools all day long. It just meant that I would do my daily practice, even if it meant not doing my whole hour of rounds. I would make it a point to do something, even if it was to go outside, sit down on the grass, and listen to the birds sing.
Because working the program was so challenging for me in the beginning, I began thinking about how I could make this process easier or at least more joyful. I started thinking about that episode of Star Trek where Captain Kirk passed a test that had a No-Win scenario called the Kobayashi Maru. He won the test by reprogramming the simulation.
I decided to go “Kobayashi Maru” on DNRS. In other words, I decided to create a container and environment that stacked the odds in my favor.
For example, I realized that I hated to do the DNRS exercises and my limbic impaired brain was also resistant to doing them. Just being honest. So I struggled with them for a few months until I decided to ask a better question. What process can I come up with so that I can hard rewire my brain to either like doing them or at least feel neutral about them? To learn more about how I did it click here. *Editor’s note: to view Paul’s original post in the Global Community Forum, you must be a member of the DNRS program.
Turning a Corner
After some time I began liking doing the DNRS exercises. And today, I love to do them. And if you’re wondering if I still get resistance to doing them, the answer is yes. The limbic system likes to resist doing them sometimes, but since I look forward to doing them, they get done. It’s kinda strange to me sometimes that I can like to do something but my limbic system has something else to say about it.
I began connecting with others to do things that were supportive of our recovery journeys. We began doing pillar 5 together by laughing together, dancing together, singing together, doing meditations together, and more. Over time I had enough friends that I could call up that finding someone to do practice with or elevate our moods together wasn’t an issue. I didn’t feel so alone anymore and it made it much, much easier to do my daily practice.
My Kobayashi-Maru-Captain-Kirk-inspired strategy worked. As my daily practice turned into newly formed habits, I didn’t have to think anymore about doing it. I would do my practice everyday and I began noticing things starting to shift.
Then & Now: Much More Than Physical Recovery
It’s been 34 months and while there is more work to be done, I am living a full life! I started a business at the beginning of the year and it is going better than expected. I am very active. I walk nearly every day, I shadow box, play basketball, and do Qigong several times a week. I went on a couple of dates recently which felt really good. I hadn’t gone out on a date in years but I handled the dates with ease and grace. At first I hesitated even trying to go out on a date because I don’t have my own place or car yet and I am still in the early stages of putting my life back together, but then I eventually realized that the right person will see past all that.
And while I am happy about all these things, what stands out for me is how I feel and how clear-headed I am. I wake up most days full of gratitude, contentment and joy. My family has noticed how much I have changed, especially these past few months. I laugh a lot. My silliness has returned and I crack a lot of jokes. I sometimes cry tears of joy because I didn’t know this level of happiness even existed.
Part of me thought that some of the testimonials I read in the past were probably exaggerated. I can definitely say they were not. It really is that good! And looking back at all the hard work, it was SO totally worth it all.
For those of you that are curious about which symptoms I have overcome so far, I am about to mention them.
I have overcome the following labels:
- Lyme, Babesia
- Food sensitivities, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Mold sensitivity
- Night terrors, Nightmares, Sleepwalking, Insomnia
- Chronic Fatigue, Brain fog, Malaise, Adrenal Fatigue
- Muscle weakness, Back pain, Pelvic pain
- Paraesthesia (burning or prickling sensations), Twitching, Blood pressure spikes
- Extreme weight loss, Malnutrition, Hypoglycemia, Hyperglycemia
- Dry skin, Dry eyes, Eye floaters
- Body temperature dysregulation, Excessive sweating, Frequent urination
- ADHD, Depression, Panic attacks, Suicidal ideation, Hallucinations (visual and auditory)
- Fear of being alone, Fear of people, Fear of driving, and other phobias
- SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), Gastroparesis, Erosive gastritis, Esophagitism, Barret’s Esophagus
Rewiring Your Reality: Parting Words of Wisdom
There’s a part of me that wants to hop onto a time machine and go back during my darkest times in 2018 and give myself a very long, deep hug and tell myself that everything will eventually be okay. I want to tell my past self that no matter how challenging things get there is always hope; the mind and body have an amazing ability to heal and sometimes it needs extra support, encouragement, and tenacity wrapped under a blanket of self love and self compassion.
There’s a lot I could write about all the ups and downs, how I handled the doubt and the fear, and how to overcome adversity, and I will go into more details in later blog posts. I think for now I want to give a word of encouragement that no matter how dark things get, there are plenty of sources of light to light the way. And there is always a way forward. Don’t allow the imbalanced limbic system to convince you otherwise.
One of the biggest cons that the limbic system played on me was that it had me believe that it was in charge. Well, it turns out that it’s not. Once I realized that I had the power to override my limbic system, I knew it wasn’t my boss. Not only was it not in charge, but if I kept doing and saying certain things every day, the limbic system would have to take notice and the new neural pathways would eventually force it to see things my way. While one of the primary functions of the limbic system was to keep me alive and safe, it also had another purpose: to help me get what I want. So I made sure that I sent it a unified message every single day of what I wanted.
Through most of my life I had a brain and nervous system that never felt truly safe. So I learned how to send those signals of safety to my brain in a language it understood. I started doing it from a paradigm of wanting to fix myself, but then I moved away from that because that was creating another limbic stress loop . So, I changed to a paradigm of softness, patience, self love and compassion. There was nothing to fix.
“In the middle of winter, I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer.“
– Albert Camus
I just needed to find that invincible summer inside of me. For me, my invincible summer started with a choice, followed by a commitment to myself and something greater than myself, following my own intuition, and never giving up. And that has made all the difference in the world.
No matter how bad the winters get, each of you have an invincible summer inside of you. I know that you do. I believe in you. Keep moving forward.