The Bipolar Brain – A Radio Station You Can’t Turn Off
Ah, the human brain. It’s a wondrous thing. It calculates, it categorizes, it makes connections and it remembers the square root of 144. I’m constantly awed by its power.
But one of the annoying things that can happen to a brain is that somehow, a song gets stuck in it. Somehow, even though its great power and ability, the catchy hook of the latest pop song gets stuck inside some errant neurons and plays over and over.
And this causes a lot more trouble in my bipolar brain than it does for others.
I Have Justin Bieber Stuck in My Head; I’m Thinking of Cutting it Off
I find myself with songs stuck in my head all the time. Like, every day, all the time. And they aren’t songs that I like or even songs I have heard that day they are just random songs that somehow fight their way into my consciousness long enough to create a groove there. And once they’re there? Good luck getting them out.
My Bipolar Brain and Earworms
According to Wikipedia, this phenomenon is known as an “earworm,” “musical imagery repetition” or “involuntary music imagery.” In Germany, they have a special word for it – Ohrwurn – “a type of song that typically has a high, upbeat melody and repetitive lyrics that verge between catchy and annoying.”
Earworms are completely natural, of course, and apparently, 98% of people experience them. Women seem to experience earworms for longer and are more irritated by them. Songs with lyrics account for about three-quarters of earworms.
My Earworm Moved In
Unlike the experience that most people have, I have earworms much of the time. Sometimes it’s one song that repeats for days and sometimes it’s many songs in a day, but predominantly they are there.
I have found no research suggesting people with bipolar disorder have more incidence of earworms than others but there is research that says people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) do and as I’ve remarked previously, OCD and bipolar disorder may be linked. And earworms on hypomania? That is your brain on extra-crispy-crazy.
Admittedly, it is a very obsessive thing my brain does. It feels like an obsession with the invisible. I can never see it so it never goes away. And I find this highly troubling.
Like, highly troubling. Like I could see someone wanting to ice pick his or herself just to make the blooming song in his or her head shut the heck up. It’s that much of an anxious obsession. It’s crazy-driving obsession. Sometimes I feel like I’m begging my brain to think of anything else but it laughs and carries on with the 30-second loop.
Holy macaroni is it ever frustrating.
So, my question to you is this: How often do you experience earworm? Is it troubling to you?
Tracy, N. (2012, November 23). The Bipolar Brain – A Radio Station You Can’t Turn Off, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 18 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2012/11/bipolar-brain-radio-cant-turn-off
Author: Natasha Tracy
I began life as a child fortunately with amazingly wonderful, educated parents and no history or any of these types of disorders listed in our gene pool. Straight A student through Elementary receiving awards for writing/art/computer science and very high test scores when very young. After graduating 6th and moving to 7th grade I took Basic language computer programming classes with adults at the university. I was the only child in the room so that gives me some perspective as I've continued life.
I personally do not believe that anyone "hearing radio stations in their head" is some condition. The entire universe is di-pole, meaning 2 poles and the some people are at least diagnosed as bipolar which also means 2 poles. It may mean that your brain has evolved to a point closer to what the universe is and further from what most people's brains have developed. I.e. it is not a bad thing or something we should diagnose as faulty.
Radio waves are broadcast everywhere. They move through us all the time, every instant. Wireless modems/routers also broadcast signals however those are "digital" broadcasts (read: man made) so that interference isn't recognized (yet) however radio waves are analog and we and all animals/plants are also analog and they work by quantum effects which our brains do too.
It is my belief that we are all types of organic antennas. Some of this is more familiar stating, to people from large families where, similar to worker bees, they take orders from a Queen bee. You know what your brother/sister is thinking or you have the same idea at the same time. If you've had a very close friend this is also true and that because the two of you are "coupled" or similar enough that you start to take on the same attributes. You're on the save "wave length" as is commonly said but never understood. Occasionally when your friend turns to you to say something, they formed a picture in their mind of what they are about to say and you received it just when the formulated it as they turn to you and you look at them and say what they're were going to say. JINX!?!? We don't understand what is occurring. Its quantum communication.
Have you ever been to a large sporting event (most common) and "felt" the energy in the air? Is is just because you're nervous around so many people or is it because there are so many thoughts occurring simultaneously that our brains are on overload with all the signaling occurring.
You can actually create thoughts in others heads as well. Seems impossible by all our understanding of the world. Have you ever been at a large public event and seen someone you don't know across the room and thought, he/she's is gorgeous, or that blue sweater is fantastic! and kind of "exclaimed" it in your mind? And that person turned around some 50 feet or 150 feet away and looked directy at you in that instant?
Radio stations always broadcasting and an individual picking up these errant waves is actually nothing unusual at all. In fact, I'm sure way more than 2% of people do this, have no idea why, and just carry on and think nothing of it. Wonderful monkeys!
I don't know if this helps any of your situations but no I've never been diagnosed as bipolar/OCD/ or any of the above and this seems like common sense to me and yet no one cares or seems to acknowledge it. I think this will be more fleshed out with our understanding of quantum effects in the next few decades. Just look at it as your window on the world that not many people are able to desseminate.
I will continue to look for something that may help whilst I'm still breathing; if I fail then so be it. Fortunately I am an eternal optimist and I always believe that tomorrow may be better than today.
Anyway one of the reasons I'm posting is because of a general misconception that many people have about this strange condition. Everywhere I look - blogs, forums, social media, articles, and so on - there seems to be the idea that having this problem is like having a permanent radio station playing in your mind.
NOTHING could be further from the reality. Of course I'm speaking here from my own perspective and, of course, I accept that everyone's experience is unique; however from the years of research I have carried out, and my own experience having INMI (involuntary musical imagery) it rarely, if ever, is like having a radio station in your mind.
What actually happens is this: a 'trigger' of some sort brings a tune, song or melody to the mind of the sufferer. Once this occurs then that person is COMPELLED to repeat the tune/melody to themselves in a never ending loop. This could continue for minutes, hours, even weeks or months without relief, and this is mental torture of the worst possible kind. For those who suggest that sufferers simply embrace or ignore this compulsion have absolutely no concept (or experience) of how this terrible condition works.
Having this problem is a very individual experience: it can range from mildly irritating in most people to being suicidally disruptive for an unfortunate minority. Although I have never condoned the act of taking one's own life I can state with total certainty this: when I am having a really bad day I pray for the release that only death can bring. All I want to do is to fall asleep and never have to wake again. If I'm having a really good day (a rare event unfortunately) then I am full of optimism and a zest for life and living and I feel as if I could achieve anything.
For those who still think that this is a relatively trivial condition then I hope that they never have to endure the relentless mental torture that some have to suffer with this. I would not wish it on my worst enemy.
I wish you all the peace and quiet of mind that so many seem to take for granted.
They accompany me the whole day from the moment I get up until I go to bed.
My depression and anxiety is getting better and better, but the earworms remain.
I have also tried a lot of medication, but nothing helps. At the moment I go to psychotherapy and I think it helps a bit. But I still have many days where I think a can no longer stand this. My two children help me to forget the earworm sometimes...
I have tried everything I can think of over many, many years but nothing really helps. I tried hypnotherapy for a while; after that I tried psychotherapy but, again, a waste of my time and money. In total desperation I turned to spiritual healing as I had heard a lot of good things about this. Over many years I think I had sessions with 3 different healers but it didn't help at all. In between all of this going on I also tried various medications (mostly anti-depressants). Although these helped a little the side effects were always really bad and I had to stop taking them.
At the moment I am having acupuncture as I was told by quite a few people that this can help with conditions such as OCD and bipolar. After about 2 or 3 sessions I noticed a slight improvement (at least where I felt I could get through a day without feeling completely suicidal) but,unfortunately, I started to get worse again a few weeks ago. I have one more session of acupuncture but I don't think it will make any difference now.
I am 68 now and going through a really bad period with this. It just dominates every waking moment so that I can think of nothing else. I retired about 5 years ago and hoped my condition would improve because I was in a fairly stressful job at the time. For a few years I did feel somewhat better, by which I mean I felt that my problem didn't completely control my life. Anyway, for some reason or other, I started to deteriorate about a year ago; ever since then I seem to be going downhill on a weekly basis.
I don't usually bother with doctors because they don't have a clue about things like this and all they can think to do is to throw pills at you. Anyway, despite that, I recently went to see my GP to explain that I just can't cope with this anymore. She was sympathetic but, as expected, offered no useful help or advice. She did give me a self referral form so that I could apply for psychiatric counselling - you have to wait at least a month in the UK for this sort of help. I don't believe this will help anyway because I have tried before and it was a complete waste of time. Even when I told the doctor I felt suicidal every single day it made no difference. But, to be fair, they are just GENERAL PRACTITIONERS and stretched to the limits.
The only thing I can think to try now is CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). Again I'm not really optimistic but I'm running out of ideas so I will probably try that in the new year. I have lost count of the money I have spent trying to help alleviate this strange problem. In the end money doesn't really matter - if someone could genuinely help me I would pay a King's ransom to be 'normal' again.
I don't believe in ending your own life but never a day goes by where I don't feel completely suicidal. I would give anything for the peace of mind that most people appear to enjoy. I understand that this is a problem that plagues at least 2% of the population (at least in Western countries) but it doesn't really help.
Anyway I'm sorry if this comes across as negative but, after 50 years with this affliction, it's difficult to be anything else. Hopefully one day science will have a better understanding of problems like this and be better able to help people like us.......
I am just having a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, it's the so called Accenptance and Commitment-Therapy.
The goal of this is to accept the earworm and no longer try to control it, because you cannot control it ! I have given my earworm a name (I call him Spencer) and I am talking to him many times. Every morning I get up I say: Good morning Spencer, how are you ? It sounds crazy, but you should try to treat the earworm like a good friend.... I like cycling, and when I go cycling, I ask Spencer if he comes with me ? It takes time, but after a while you will recognize and improvement.
I'm so sorry to hear you are experiencing that. It sounds very hard. Unfortunately, there is little to no research in this area. The only thing I can suggest is listening to classical music (without lyrics) as that seems to help some.
- Natasha Tracy
Have tried hypnotherapy, psychotherapy, spiritual healing, meditation and medication - just about everything and all to no avail. Listening to classical music is just one of many ways that relieves the symptoms but the problem is still there - like a deep rooted cancer in your brain.
I'm currently toying with the idea of CBT but, in all honesty, I don't really believe it will help. Over the decades so many people have told me that they can help me (especially when paying £40-50 per session), but it always ends the same way.
I'm 68 now and each day is an ordeal - some people want to live forever but, without being morbid, I have absolutely no issues with death and the peace I hope it will bring....
I know it's hard, and might be infuriating at times. But just know that that there just might be a reason you're having this problem. Have you ever tried writing music? Your approach to it might just be outrageously different than others'.
It saddens me to read how this has troubled you over the years. Just know that there are people who exist with worse situations than ours, and still make the most of them. I urge you to take this positively, and stop thinking about committing suicide.
Anyway other stuff that works is:
-Being barefoot in the forest. Walking slow through the forest barefoot. It is soo quiet!
-Grounding sheets, I am typing on them now. 1 on feet other on wrists. Its the only way to concentrate.
Vitamin C powder, like 2-5K/ day
Iodine: either from salt or seaweed
oh and I am a guy/male :)
question - how many hours per week do you peeps read a book?
Read a book, specifically a book, reading it. not blogs etc.
I've been hearing music play constantly in my head for the past two weeks and I'm exhausted. I can't sleep for more than four of five hours every night. My heart is racing most of the day because of my anxiety. I'm in pain. It all started while I was away on a Vipassana ten day meditation retreat. I was supossed to have come back more alert and calm but now I'm a nervous wreck. ¿Does anybody know of any treatment? I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy.
I have suffered with this awful condition (on and off anyway) for 50 years and, believe me, I have tried everything I can think of. My life has been tainted with this foul 'condition' and I think I will be taking it to the grave. I have been on the edge of despair so many times; all I can do is get through every day as best I can.
I don't wish to be negative but, after such a long time, it's difficult to be otherwise. For the record I have tried hypnotherapy, psychotherapy, meditation, medication, spiritual healing, and pretty much anything else you can think of.
At the moment I am having a course of acupuncture treatment as I am told it can be useful in treating OCD and similar problems. I don't feel really optimistic but I am still prepared to try anything that offers a glimmer of hope.
I'm sorry I couldn't be more helpful and will keep the blog updated on the acupuncture treatment.