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Brain-Mapping: What I Discovered When I Popped the Hood on my Brain

by Lifeologie Founder, Melanie Wells

 

 

About 7 years ago, I began experiencing severe short term memory loss. I mean, it was BAD. So bad that during the entire half hour I was strapped into the CT machine while they looked for a brain tumor, I wracked my brain trying to remember what SUV stands for. I drove myself home with two pieces of information: 1) no brain tumor; and 2) sports utility vehicle — which I remembered when I saw a bike rack on the SUV in front of me at a traffic light.

Wait. What was I Talking About?

What I DIDN’T discover that day was ANYTHING else about my memory loss — or about my brain. Just “no tumor.” Which was great news but didn’t solve my problem.

After doing some research and chatting up a psychiatrist friend of mine, I eventually got tested for mercury and found out that I had twice the toxic level of mercury in my bloodstream.10 ppb is considered toxic — that’s when the neurological symptoms start. Mine was 23. Ouch.

That story in itself could be a whole other blog.  THIS blog is about all the things I actually NEEDED to know about my brain that the CT scan didn’t tell me — and how I found out — and what I’m going to do about it.

Going Beyond the CT Scan – Mapping My Brain

Brain mapping is a simple process that involves a snazzy looking shower-cap thingy with a bunch of wires attached to it, a computer, and one of those buzzer buttons they have on Jeopardy. Kinda fun and totally painless. It takes about half an hour. I guess a half hour is all you really need to look at my brain. 

Seeing My Brain in Action. Uh Oh.

A brain map — also known as an EEG — is different from a CT scan in that it looks at brain activity and functioning.  A brain map provides a dynamic view of the brain — not the 3D snapshot a CT scan reveals.  A CT scan could tell me whether or not I had a tumor.  A brain map can show me what my brain is doing while I’m worrying about a tumor or trying to remember what SUV stands for. 

example of brain mapping

A brain map can also find old injuries (in my case three concussions), diagnose ADHD, anxiety, depression, OCD, and a host of other functional brain issues. It can ALSO show where your brain is most active — and which parts are less active.  I can actually SEE, by looking at my brain map, why I’m an entrepreneur!  I’m a visionary thinker (I’m creative and innovative) with basically NO ability to think in a linear fashion.

Visionary Brain Image

Yep, That’s my Brain Down There. 

Blue areas show slower activity than the typical person my age, green areas show average or “appropriate” levels of activity and red or orange show activity that’s too fast. 

Melanie's Blue Brain Map

All those blue-brain images mean that my brain S-L-O-W-S down when I slow down — which could mean a number of things. Some of the typical reasons for a “blue” (or slower brain wave activity) didn’t apply to me at all. The density of “blue” shown and my history don’t match. I don’t suffer from clinical depression, for example. 

However, when you consider the context of my known brain history — you get a nice, complete clinical puzzle that all fits together. 

  • Short-term memory problems – check. 
  • Fatigue – check.  
  • “Freeze” response in stress – check. 
  • Insomnia – check. 
  • Lingering effects of mercury, concussion, and meningitis – check, check, check. 

It’s all right there on the brain map. Simultaneously affirming and disconcerting.

How to Turn My Brain from Blue to Green

Going over my report with Lifeologie’s neuro-health expert Dee O’Neill, I learned that my symptoms are actually quite mild and that I function at a high level despite the challenges my brain faces.  And perhaps most importantly, I learned that there are some solid, concrete things I can do to turn my blue brain to green.

So – in the interest of optimal brain health, I will be pivoting in 2021 to

  1. get more and better sleep;
  2. double up on the time I spend using my Alpha-Stim, to stimulate Alpha waves (green) in my brain,
  3. adjust my diet (slightly) with the help of one of our health/ nutrition coaches, Ami Edge;
  4. keep up my daily yoga practice;
  5. add meditation to my brain care routine;
  6. spend more time outside; and
  7. continue to build a team around me with people whose brains function differently than mine. 

All totally doable and all of which will have both a short term and a long-term cumulative effect.

My Brain is Like a Mini Cooper

At the end of the day, my brain is not unlike my red Mini Cooper convertible. Lots of fun, but needs to be taken care of and maintained so that it runs properly.  

Unlike my Mini-Cooper, my brain does have some long-term damage — the mercury isn’t going anywhere, for example. But most of the challenges are ones which can be easily addressed. Partly with adjustments I can make to my lifestyle, and partly by surrounding myself with people who can compensate for the things I lack — people with a well-developed ability to organize and manage information, as well as the ability to think in a relentlessly logical, linear fashion. Which I have NEVER been able to do. And the memory problems? That’s what notes are for! 

Don’t Confuse Your Brain with Your Personality

This is the beauty of understanding your BRAIN. Because often we confuse our brains with our personalities or our minds. And we shame ourselves for our perceived limitations — when actually we should ADDRESS the things we can change and ACCEPT and ADAPT to the things we can’t. 

I will never be a linear thinker. I will always be a creative thinker. I will never have a crack memory. I will always fight that “freeze” response that comes naturally to me in stress.  

But it’s my responsibility to manage this slightly dented, fun, creative brain with all the resources at my disposal so that I can live a long, happy, productive life — and so that I can be the best version of myself for the people in my life who count on me.

After experiencing the brain map myself and soaking in all that juicy information, I would encourage anyone to get a brain map done! Maybe you’ll be lucky and your brain will be green and happy and optimally functional. Maybe you’ve got a nice reliable SUV going on. Useful, reliable, relatively low maintenance. Or maybe maybe you’ve got a Maserati situation happening —  delicate balance requiring a lot of maintenance. 

Or — quite likely, you’ve got a terrific car that runs just fine but has some issues you need to address or to accept. 

No matter what, a brain map is a win/win. I can tell you that because I assimilate complex information well and my cognitive reasoning abilities are sharp as a tack.  You can see it right there on the map.

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