I just can’t get me out of my head

I’m not really of a scientific bent. I am  definitely more a creature of the metaphor and the analogy. So I know that I’m probably talking absolute nonsense in terms of neurobiology (no need to write in and tell me so!), but at the moment I feel that although the grey matter may be firing on all cylinders, it’s doing it wrong. If my neurons usually join up to make a kind of recognisable picture of the world, then someone’s messing with the pattern. Imagine my brain activity to be like a dot-to-dot puzzle – follow the established path and out of an unintelligible array of dots and numbers will emerge a clear picture, the same picture I’d get doing the same picture a week ago or tomorrow. Only right now I feel like someone’s either been interfering with the numbering, or drawing crazed, haphazard lines between the dots with zero regard for the proper path. Or both. Synapses keep passing on information, but are bringing forth strange and sometimes unwelcome phenomena.

And they don’t calm down when they’re supposed to. A good night’s sleep this past month is only waking up four times instead of 8 or 10, only having a series of lurid and emotionally exhausting dreams instead of nightmares that leave me gasping for breath as my heart booms in my chest. Napping to catch up on sleep is not an option; if I try  brain forces me awake  every 5-10 minutes my in a way that suggests it thinks there might be a monster outside the door. It won’t accept the repeated attempts to evidence that there isn’t. I also have countless mind-pops throughout the day. Mind-popping is when a thought, situation or action leads to a sensation memory of a completely unrelated place or event, and my mind is hopping and popping all over the place this week. I stand at the sink washing up, and suddenly feel that I’m at the Sainsbury’s I used to shop at when my son was a toddler. Picking up the post, I have a sudden sense of queuing to come in after playtime at my primary school, waiting in the corridor alongside the book cupboard. Opening a cupboard,I am in a restaurant in Dublin that I visited once in 1994. No logic to it.

The head music is also back. Once again I am plagued by snatches of the works we are rehearsing in choir – the same snatches, over and over – making me worry that I will have to drop out of choir. I try to get CBT on them. “This is not actual music,” I remind myself. “The actual music requires at least five singers singing five separate parts, and a conductor. This is only a form of thought about music, and thoughts can be stopped or changed.” How sick I am of telling myself that. Meanwhile, sounds in the real world are far too loud again. Sitting quietly in a group I can hear tummies rumbling and feet shuffling, as if tiny insignificant noises are being funnelled down a giant ear trumpet and directly into my brain. Thank goodness for noise-cancelling headphones.

Here’s a new one! My usual capacity for noticing visual pareidolia (inanimate objects that just happen to look like faces or people) has greatly increased. I can’t stop seeing the face in the tree by the church, the narrowed eyes in the speed humps, the horrified countenance of the wire coat-hanger suspended from the cupboard door-knobs. They all look anguished or in pain. I just passed another one, a wailing creature made of worn-through flooring in the station ticket hall. It’s nothing as bad as last November, when trying sodium valproate left me drowning in hallucinations, but I have started seeing faces when I close my eyes. Not realistic faces, but ones that look like they are carved or made from clay, stylised in the manner of tribal masks. They are not (yet) frightening, but they are alien.

With all of this going on, I am back to feeling that I really need a break. A break from being me, a proper rest with my mind quiet and the darkness when I close my eyes being just – well, darkness. I’m not at “the only way is overdose” stage again, but I’m starting to remember why I can get to feel that way. I’m seeing the psychiatrist this week. Let’s see what he has to suggest.


About purplepersuasion

40 something service user, activist, writer and mother living with bipolar disorder. Proud winner of the Mark Hanson Prize for Digital Media at the Mind Media Awards #VMGMindAwards 2013. Winner of the World in Mentalists Mood Disorder blog 2012. Regular guest blogger for the International Bipolar Foundation http://www.internationalbipolarfoundation.org/ Expert by Experience working with Mind training department. Working on The Incoming Tide, a bipolar memoir. Find me on Twitter @BipolarBlogger or at my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/BipolarBlogger
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13 Responses to I just can’t get me out of my head

  1. pink0banana says:

    Omg I had no idea there would be a name for ” visual pareidolia (inanimate objects that just happen to look like faces or people)” I total ly go through phases of doing that more than others. How very odd!?

    Am glad you have a psych appt this week to discuss everything.

    Hugs xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  2. I’m always sort of impressed the brain works at all – it’s terribly complicated. I have the occasional night when I “go into a loop” and can’t get out: keep thinking the same thing over and over again which doesn’t make any sense.

    • That’s pretty much what mine is doing, but with music and memories as well as thoughts. It’s at a level where I can just about not freak out, but it it gets any worse – well, I might :-S

  3. Zoë Smith says:

    ((hugs)) Charlotte.

    Have pined for you on twitter but understand if you need a break.

    Sounds like you have more questions than answers, I hope your psych can help.

    Stay safe, much love.


    • Don’t pine too much, lovely, either I will be back or we will be in touch in some other way. I know what I’m writing about isn’t even a fraction of what you go through every day. Think of you very often. Cxx

  4. Trish says:

    Maybe it is something in the air because it seems my brain is going through something similar. I am at the point where the images are not distressing and I keep telling myself that is a good thing. I too feel a break is in order in the same way–quiet, alone, dark, cut off from the world that seems so much crazier than I am. I hope your psych has answers. Much love. xo

    • That sounds exactly what I have been craving, Trish – dark and quiet, like a cave. Or maybe a flotation tank. I’m a little better today, largely because I don’t have to be anywhere or speak to anyone unless I choose to!

  5. theWriteRach says:

    Huge ((((hugs))))

    Glad to see you blogging but wish you weren’t having such a time of it.

    You know where I am if you need an ear or anything.

    I hope you get some relief soon.

    Will be in touch soon.


  6. Henry Dunn says:

    Apologies to PsyPost, it was PsychToday

  7. Well, in fact if all thoughts were under our control, CBT would not be required, would it? It’s entire premise is that we develop automatic thought patterns and have to spend out time challenging them quite vigorously if we are going to alter the content of our automatic mental reactions to stuff. And so much of the time we barely experience ourselves as having thoughts because we are so much more aware of feelings. Only *after* the surge of resentment, hostility and irritation we feel when someone pushes in front of us in the supermarket queue can we start to unpick automatic thoughts like, “That’s so unfair… how dare they.. they are breaking the rules… they should queue properly.. they’re getting one over on me” etc etc. Anyway, as I describe, there are thoughts and thoughts. Unwanted sounds and images are types of thoughts and, yeah, they are so strange and so fleeting simply CBTing them away seems impossible.
    Glad you feel the venlafaxine is helping! I didn’t get an interview for the ministerial service user post and I am actually quite glad – I realised I’ve been feeling lately like I have to help/support other people too much and it’s been making me more and more stressed. Need to pull back on focus on me a bit more!

    • Henry Dunn says:

      same here on the ministerial job. Take good care of yourself and surround yourself with all the things that have helped in the past. No guarantee they will help, but maybe one of them will do something.

  8. crazyjamiefy says:

    omg. i get like that all the time. Im stuck in my own head. I get the visions when i close my eyes also. i woke up all the time also before xanax. now when i close my eyes it is black. It is awesome and i don’t care if xanax is addicting or not. Plus i don’t worry much about anything or stress as bad as i used to about everything.

  9. crazyjamiefy says:

    oh yeah im on lamictal also but my mind races when xanax wears off so i guess its not working. I don’t like shakes and vision problems from lithium, but maybe i try it again since i added xanax. Oh yeah, zyprexa works great but i can’t afford it and i don’t like that it can cause diabetes

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