Monday, October 5, 2015

How I fixed this strange feeling

First of all, this won't be a continuous blog. I just want to write about the weird problem I used to have for more than a year and the way I cured it. I'm leaving this for all other people who are suffering from this sickness and are frustrated to find out how to get rid of it. If you liked this post and if that helped you, please leave a comment. Also that would be nice to show your appreciation by using the advertised products in adword banners.

The Story:

  I am a software developer in test (SDET) which simply means that I write code to test other's developed software. For years, I could easily work with computers for 12-14 hours per day, including my job activities and personal stuff like emails, education and playing games.   Around a year ago (December 2014), our company hit a hard deadline in a sensitive ongoing project that would cost a fortune if we couldn't make it by the new year. I deliberately and voluntarily worked more that usual, focused more on computer screen and sacrificed weekends for the project's sake. We achieved our objectives and closed the project before the new year's eve but my body didn't forget that and started to punish me for what I did.

The Problem:

  That hard working days broke something in me; I got more sensitive to light, would get tire easily and quickly, and worst of all, after few minutes focusing on computer screen, a strange pressure in top of my head would start growing up. This sickness would force me to not pay full attention and evade looking at monitor. I can't describe that feeling very clear perhaps because of my limited English vocabulary but I try my best to elaborate what it felt:
It was a painless pressure expanding on top of my head almost close to my skull. I could imagine that something like a sponge inside my brain is getting soaked, bigger and heavier that put more pressure on my brain. As I said, it never caused pain but it would cause some sort of numb feeling in the head.  At the same time I could feel that my eyes are somehow connected to this sponge. I was uncomfortable to roll my eyes around because I the eyes mussels were a little sore.
Taking a coffee break with some extra sugar would take this feeling away only for few minutes and then it always returned almost immediately.

Unsuccessful attempts:

For me, this situation was a life-style threat. I make money from computers, I'm a family man providing for family and paying mortgage and this could be a "disability" for what I am good at. I started to look for a remedy online and made appointments with different doctors. I changed my diet, renewed my glasses, took many types of pills including vitamins, minerals, herbal supplements and nootropics; only few were a bit helpful.

Most of articles and researches about similar symptoms are focused on an irrelevant root cause such as Anxiety, Depression, Migraine, Attention deficit disorder (ADD) or See Sick Syndrome (SSS).
No I don't have any of the above. No one can persuade me that I have depression or anxiety. I won't let a physician decide what psychological disorder I might have just because the arrogant lazy and careless doctor wants to hypothesise it.

After 11 months of trial and error, I can tell you what exactly helped me and what did not. So if you have exactly same problem as I used to have, and if you don't have other health problems like anxiety , depression, SSS or ADD, then don't waste your money and time over all the nonsense you find in web. Don't turn to a lab rat and pay money to doctors who don't even understand what your problem is. Try my solutions first and then go forward to your own journey with my wishes of best of luck.

For example, I didn't see any benefit from Modafinil, Caffeine, Noopept, Huperzine, Racetams, Acetyl L-Carnitine, Bacopa monnieri (Brahma),  Physical activities, Yoga and relaxing  music or meditation freaky noises. I'm not saying that they are not good at all, I mean they didn't fix this particular problem but they might be useful for other purposes. Anyway, I found some solutions that you might find useful below.

The Cure:

Before going forward, I want to give you a name for this symptom. As per my understanding, its name is: Mental Fatigue. Your brain is a machine and like all other machines it gets fragile and inaccurate while being under restless tension and stress. Forget about all the myths saying "Brain is the only machine that gets stronger by work", respect your brain, give it time to process buffered data and put reserved cells at work. It's not like "breaking through it" by keep the stress going on. You must change your habits now.

The Four Steps of Recovery:

1- Pay Your Sleep Debt:  40% Improvement

Speaking of myself, I used to sleep around 9 hours a day since I was a kid. I had to decrease this number to average of 7 hours last year because of my job, online school and family. It was a little hard at beginning, but I eventually coped with short sleep hours with a some help of extra caffeine. Anyway, the effects of this change was gradual sleep deprivation and fatigue.
This is the most important part of the healing process: Do yourself a favor and use a whole weekend to sleep as much as you can, like 10-12 hours for three days in a row. Take some sleep-aid pills if needed, use ear buds, darken your rooms and enjoy the comfortness of your bed while the AC keeps you comfortably warm or cold. Don't let your pets or kids make you feel guilty because you are trying to recover yourself to be a better dad as well.
Then after that weekend, sleep enough every night. I sleep 8 hours a day now and when I don't, I feel the same feeling coming again. Yes, you can not kill the beast forever but you can tranquilize it by keep this prevention routine. You will start feeling less and less head pressure after a week.

2- Consume more Oxygen:  30% Improvement

I found that whatever this sickness is, it gets much better with deep breaths. Try to change you breathing habit, breathe more and deeper. You will figure how it helps you when you keep your deep breathes going for few minutes. I'm not sure but I assume breathing pure oxygen every now an then should have the same impact.

3-Avoid Eye Strains: 20% Improvement

One thing you should consider as a trouble maker if you spend lots of hours in front of monitors, is the eye strains. Eye strains can lead to headache and the make your situation worse while struggling with mental fatigue. There are some methods to reduce the effects of computer screen on eye. You need to try them as much as you can:

  • Decrease your screen brightness to the lowest and most comfortable level. Right now, you are staring at rectangular lamp that we call a LED screen, don't let this name confuses you; your eyes are not evolved for non-stop intense light input, especially the blue light that you barely find in nature. Use dark themes for your windows, as I used in this blog.  Finally, change your monitors light temperature to below 6000K. There are some tools like f.lux that are very helpful in pampering your eyes.
  • Change your glasses to an anti-glare one. Avoid glares on the screen and any shiny objects near it that might distract you.
  • I found this article very useful. Read it carefully.

3- Brain Supplements: 10% Improvement

Following supplements helped me a lot to get rid of the problem. Please take them at your own risk and consult your doctor before doing so.

  • Gingko Biloba Extract (I take one in morning and one around noon)
  • Rhodiola Rosea root extract (same as above)
  • Multivitamin and Mineral (everyday with my breakfast)
  • Omega 3 (1000mg per day)
  • Sesame seed (chew 2-3 table spoons during the day)
Also try to eat more protein and less sugar. Have fewer drinks but consume lots of water everyday.

My last advise is have some Tylenol (Generic name: Acetaminophen or Paracetamol) ready to use. Only take them when you know that would be a hard day ahead. 

I hope this could be helpful for you. I'm sure if your head pressure problem is like what I had, you will feel healed within two weeks. If it didn't happen, do not hesitate to have a serious checkups and look for professional help.