14 June 2017
As told to Sara Schwartz
“Naftoli, you are a bright young man with lots of potential, however I’m not sure our yeshiva is the right fit for you,” said Rabbi Goldman. “Our bochurim are all very serious. They sit and study for over 12 hours a day, I’m not sure you have the capacity to do that. Your previous Rebbe revealed that you struggled to concentrate in his classes, and that you were very disruptive during chavrusa because you couldn’t sit still. What’s more, he said that you were very impulsive and quick to insult your fellow bochurim. It is very disconcerting!”
Understandably I was devastated by this conversation. Rabbi Goldman’s words were like daggers in my heart. It was true that over the past few years I had found it harder to sit and concentrate for hours on end. It was due partly to my inability to focus but I also found it difficult to retain information which made me restless. It wasn’t such a problem when I was younger because I’d just walk around the yeshiva grounds when I was feeling edgy, and no one would say a word. Now that I was 18-years-old that strategy wasn’t going to work as the yeshiva expected me to focus for hours at a time without fidgeting; it was either buckle down or you’re out.
After much discussion, Rabbi Goldman agreed to place me on probation for a few months with a strict warning that if I didn’t toe the line I’d have to leave the yeshiva. It took a great deal of strength to sit still the entire day, but I decided that if I put my mind to it I’d be fine. However, after a few short weeks I started experiencing heart palpitations and respiratory trouble. I went to see a few doctors and even a cardiologist who said: “You’re suffering from anxiety. The only solution is to remove yourself from such a competitive atmosphere.” I was distraught. I wasn’t ready to become a yeshiva dropout so I decided go see a well-known psychiatrist. He ended up prescribing medication for mild ADHD, but after taking it a few times I hated how the medication made me feel. In a nutshell, my life had become a living nightmare.
Then I saw an advertisement for Neurolinks. I couldn’t believe it; the advertisement described all of my symptoms. I gave them a call and booked an evaluation with Mrs. Chayala Taub at the Lakewood location. “Naftoli you’re suffering from poor focus, so that’s why you’re having a hard time concentrating and keeping your eyes and mind on a specific task,” said Mrs. Taub after the evaluation. “Often doctors misdiagnose poor focus as ADD or ADHD because the diagnosis is arrived by assessing behavior, rather than a medical examination. I believe that your issue is not a chemical imbalance, but rather an auditory processing issue. Medication will only temporarily treat the symptoms, but our program can cure the underlying causes.” I knew it would be a huge effort on my part, but decided it was worth a try.
The first few sessions were relatively easy, but then the exercises became quite challenging. I persevered and began to see great improvement. As the weeks progressed I found my problems beginning to dissipate altogether. In fact I worked so hard that I was able to finish the program early, after just 22 weeks.
Now my memory is wonderful and I’m able to sit through an entire Gemara class without fidgeting. My impulsiveness has also improved, I no longer insult people and have become much more sensitive to the needs of others. Thankfully I’m now off medication and I’m much more relaxed. I’m extremely thankful to the Neurolinks staff who really invested interest in my progress, and helped me turn my life around for the better.