Bipolar Disorder Thought Types

Recently a doctor stopped by my blog and asked about types of thoughts people with bipolar disorder have. Specifically, he was asking about “crowded” thoughts. Crowded thoughts are likened to “too many people jammed into this office.” Crowded thoughts constitute the experience of having too many thoughts at one time.

So it got me to thinking, what are the types of thoughts and what types of thoughts are typical for bipolar disorder.

What is a Thought?

A thought is a “product of mental activity,” or an idea.

OK. So what’s a “normal” thought?

In my mind your average ideas are like someone whispering in your ear. You know, “I like carrots,” or, “why does nail polish flake so easily?” or, “I really should do laundry.”

They are just random ideas that pop out of nowhere in particular. They may lead to other thoughts about maple-glazed carrots, manicures and Tide, or perhaps not. Either way, no big deal.

Bipolar Disorder Thought Types Differ

Everyone has different kinds of thoughts but in bipolar disorder thought types tend to be unusual. Crowded, loud and racing thoughts are common. Read for more.

But your average thoughts can be controlled to some extent. You can have the thought, look at it and decide what to do with it. Most thoughts get thrown out as soon as we have them. For example, thinking about carrots on the way to work isn’t very helpful so that errant thought gets thrown out with the traffic report on the fives.

Bipolar thoughts are not so much like that. Someone doesn’t whisper bipolar thoughts nor are they typically easy to shed. No, bipolar thoughts are like being yelled at.

Loud Thoughts

This brings me to the idea of loud thoughts. Rather than the thought being a whisper it is a yell. It is a thought being screamed at you so loudly that it bounces around on the inside of your cranium. These are thoughts that are impossible to ignore and just come right back if you try to put them away. They aren’t necessarily crazy or disturbing thoughts, just ones that are yelled at you louder than you can bear. And loud thoughts tend to be repetitive.

(This is similar to the concept of intrusive thoughts, a technical term, but intrusive thoughts are involuntary and unpleasant.)

(Neither “loud” nor “crowded” thoughts are technical terms, just useful ones.)

Racing Thoughts in Mania/Hypomania

Racing thoughts, as they sound, are fast thoughts. So fast, in fact, you can’t keep up with them. Before one thought is done another appears. And they often have no relation to each other except in a crazy world of rapid thoughts were logical leaps are flying ones from one pinpoint to another in vastly different spaces. Often the mouth is a slave to the speed of the thoughts and others tend to have no idea what you’re talking about.

Racing thoughts are, of course, standard to bipolar mania or hypomania and a fairly common experience for people with bipolar. Racing thoughts are not, de facto, disturbing and might even be creative or useful.

(And none of this speaks to delusional thoughts which are a whole other beast.)

Thought about Thought

All these thoughts made me realize, some of the thought types I have always had, like loud thoughts, are probably just the product of bipolar disorder. I’ve always wondered why sometimes one exchange of words can beat at the back of my brain with great insistence, noise and repetition. And it’s probably just the crazy acting up. I find it causes extreme anxiety when there’s a thought that refuses to quiet itself and it’s somehow relieving to know it isn’t just me; it’s really just the bipolar.

And crowded thoughts themselves are an interesting notion and something I’ve experienced many times. “Get all of these people out of my office,” is just about right.

Have you had interesting thought patterns that are perhaps related to a mental disorder?

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

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56 Responses to Bipolar Disorder Thought Types

  1. Steve says:

    Does anyone else feel like they continually take a step forward and fall backwards two steps? Some days I feel like I’m on top of the world, and the next day I feel like a strange serial killer who hates everyone around me. I have read so many articles, posts and studies on depression, mood disorders, bipolar, etc recently. This morning, one of those Top 10 lists of ‘How to be Happy’ popped in my head. The phrase, “Do things that make you happy” is the one that I cannot seem to answer most of the time. I feel like society is one big “Please everyone else but yourself” scenario. The minute I stop conforming to societal rules and acting all sweet and genuinely kind to all others is when others treat me like an asshole. When I am taking care of myself and truly in a happy mood, others seem to vacuum the happy energy from me within minutes. My sister calls these people “Energy Vampires”, but I think she got the term from me.

    It just seems that lately every single person I run into is an energy vampire. Everyone is depressed or angry. I am rarely around people that are smiling and truly happy. This probably explains why I’m always depressed, with minor mood changes to happy that are short-lived. There are several times throughout the weeks that I imagine living alone again for the sake of my sanity.

    I am and always have been the sweetest, kindest and most generous guy on the planet. But most recently, people anger me hourly. I’m just curious if others that may or may not think they’re bipolar have these varying tendencies of loving people and then later hating them. I’m seriously starting to think that instead of being bipolar, I might be an Empath.

    I ordered breakfast today in the cafeteria and watched a troll looking kitchen aid wander around behind the cooks. He truly was hunched over and went about his duties refilling hot food items. The cooks treated him poorly. He appears to be late forties age, maybe just over fifty years old. But, I stood there waiting for my order completely dazed, staring at him and saddened as if I were watching Cinderella as she was being mocked by the mean stepsisters. I could easily sense that this guy has been treated extremely awful his entire life, and the emotions swept through me so much that my stomach started hurting. I felt like crying for this guy just from the look on his face.

    This kind of thing happens to me almost daily. I might be in a great mood, and minutes later after observing mean people treat someone awful I begin to almost cry inside. My stomach turns, and I quickly become depressed that we live in such a cold, cruel world.

    Does anyone else experience anything similar often?

  2. Steve says:

    I’m curious how many of us are having a difficult time letting go of something whether is be toxic family or someone accepting you for who you truly are?

    I recently discovered that I have to let go of my toxic family, and it hasn’t been easy. Each day bounces around like a roller coaster for me. One day I’m fine and almost happy, and the next I’m depressed as hell. I’m having somewhat of a mock funeral in my mind daily because I know that the exhausting efforts on my part never return normal healthy behavior on my family’s part.

    Normally I would love family, but in this case there’s not much left to love. Most strangers’ families have treated me better. The hardest part is that my mind is non-stop reminding me, “You’re alone now. Just you. The rest of them are too toxic. Conditional family love isn’t worth fighting for.” And, I can’t seem to break free from the depression of it all.

    I’ve tried and tried communicating with them, and my feelings are immediately converted into them being victimized. I don’t feel that the only solution is accepting that “this is the way life is (with us).” It doesn’t matter how bad my situation is or how much I need support, they will always be worse off needing more attention than I. I’ve realized the only solution is permanently exiting the toxic situation, family or not.

    I’m guessing that the “new family” that I make will cure all of this.

  3. Racheal a Bailey says:

    Hi, my name is Racheal Ann Bailey. I live in Chisago city Minnesota. I am very over board it seems with diagnosises. I’m almost alwYs in a struggle with my mind. I don’t know why my meds don’t do the trick. But Im always talking in my head to some entity. An almost all times. Then I’ll go on and think oh it’s all God..god I just want to be in peace. Then I’ll go on a rampage talking to god…then someone else talked then there god. And I believe off the wall things. Like..oh never mind…I just want to quit talking all the time in my head. It never ends. I’m suicidal. I take ten pills in the morning and five at night and a shot of invaga sastena once a month. And I’m still. Being drove crazy. Maybe I need shocks. Maybe I am suppose to kill myself. I live in an adult foster home. Maybe I’m suppose to go threw hell to get to the best heaven there is. Wow! I see a doctor psychiatrist who provides me meds. Her name is Beth Good..she works at alot of places. She is a good doctor. I meet her in anoka Minnesota at C.O.R. I’m It. Doesn’t meant my life should be take from me. Am i pozest? Do I need an exrosysom? Whatever. I need help. When I’m done with this. My my brain screams again
    Some one help me:(

  4. Fran says:

    I read every word of your questions and thoughts.

  5. Fran says:

    STEVE- I read every word of your 2 posts Oct 30th. I felt as though I were the one writing that word for word. I need to know how to calm and stop it all. I even signed up for this website just to see if there is any cure. I dont have hope and faith. Those are pretend words to make others feel better and I know the only way to be happy is to only count on myself.

  6. Laura says:

    Hello there, I have the same moods Steve so accurately described and initially I blamed it on me for being unmotivated, cold, lazy and saw the thoughts as motives to push me forward. It’s unbelievable how much these thoughts can lower your self-esteem; you can get from being confident to being unsure, to lose your words, to shy away from people, to crawl inside, to try every morning to find a balance, your balance and when you seem to finally have found it to meet the outside wall…to overthink, to push that safe feeling back and re-start…every day, feeling either the king of the universe or a tormented soul…going in circle….concentrate on anything else than what seems to matter for the real world…or being finally present and enjoying it for a couple of moments before you get back inside the cozy shell…

    I do not open myself easily, but I couldn’t believe my eyes reading Steve’s confession…it’s 100% what I experience on a daily basis…so thanks for sharing. I do hope that meanwhile you’re closer to finding that inner balance..

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