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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

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 or 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 beastie.)

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.

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar Burble, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

61 thoughts on “Bipolar Disorder Thought Types”

  1. Oh my god, I’ve never heard it explained so accurately. I get thoughts yelled at me all the time, especially when my meds aren’t working as well as I need them to or if I accidentally miss one. I also get the repetitive phrases, which sometimes turn into somebody singing something over and over and over. Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone.

  2. I hurt myself- when I cook my mind Tells me to hurt myself- I always have bad thoughts- I can’t tell anyone what’s going on in my brain, I am tired of yelling and crying, I isolate myself from friends and family I am so tired of living like this/ sounds drive me crazier people talking a ball bouncing I am so tired of taking pills to sleep

  3. Loud thoughts, I could talk and about my crazy but probably just annoying thoughts! You are the first person that’s ever said that! I it’s like someone screaming at me but it’s my voice I hear. I hate being mean to myself but sometimes it’s uncontrollably.

  4. 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..

  5. 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. 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:(

    1. @ Rachael Bailey. I have a pretty thick file with more than a few diagnosis and will leave that as it is. Needless to say, I have been having brain thought issues and googled.

      And I landed here.

      I don’t often comment anymore, but have felt lead to respond to your cry for help.
      I realize it has been nearly a year since your post and I surely hope you have received some help, but if not, here is my go at it.

      Get a bible, NASB, NIV or NKJV or another. Start reading! The book of John in the New Testament. Also Philippians 4:4-9 ish. Either your meds do not seem to be working, in need of counseling to take better control, and or need a Jesus washing. I will pray you find a good godly pastor counselor with excellent skills in working with folks with mental health issues. I prayed for you. This mental health/illness monster stinks like a family of skunks. And I am sorry you are walking this path. For me, there has been a bit of a silver lining if there ever could be. It has left me more compassionate and real. I hope this helps.

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