Earworms

blue headphones on grass

Photo by Sai Kiran Anagani on Unsplash

Do you ever get a song stuck in your head on repeat for hours or even days? I do. Constantly. One song always replaced by another. Sometimes only briefly. Others stay with me for weeks. My head is rarely quiet between the blasts of music and the billions* of thoughts constantly racing around. *this number may be a slight exaggeration*

Sometimes the songs in my head carry no meaning for me, are just sound beating away. Sometimes they express something that I am struggling with, feelings I have. Sometimes a tune I simply love with every fibre in my being. The tunes I hear with a mental finger on the repeat button can be anything. Television shows from my childhood (yep Littlest Hobo and Funhouse I’m looking at you), catchy pop songs, slow and sad songs, tunes that fit my mood or contrast wildly, literally anything. A particular favourite thing for my head to do is provide me with bizarre remixes of random tunes such as the Croatian entry for Eurovision this year (if you don’t know it, google it – it’s the one with the man singing with himself) remixed with ‘Let It Go’ from Frozen. I mean what is my head trying to do to me with that one?!

The clever people are not really sure why we get earworms (also known by the more boring scientific term ‘Involuntary Musical Imagery). They know that songs which niggle their way into our heads are usually ones we have heard either recently, repeatedly or have memory associations with them. They know certain patterns in music are more likely to worm their way in. They know that earworms are more common in musicians and last longer in women. But they don’t quite know why.

Earworms are also more common in people who suffer from mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and OCD or by tired, stressed people. This makes sense I suppose as they are thought to be similar to involuntary intrusive obsessive thoughts. And it makes sense why I get so many. To some people, earworms are at worst a mild irritation, easily forgotten. For some, they can cause serious problems. For me, they fall in between. Sometimes they are funny, a little musical accompaniment to my daily life. Sometimes they crowd my brain, stopping me from focusing on anything. From thinking. Sometimes this is not a bad thing. It quietens down those billions* of thoughts that rattle around in my head. I often get to sleep by reciting my current/favourite earworm in my head in a weird this-shouldn’t-work-but-it-does way.

This last month or so has been tough and if I am honest, pretty bleak at times. The music has been ever present, always there, demanding and yet comforting. There have been many songs that have come and gone. Yet some have demanded my attention over and over again until I know the songs inside and out. These have been the soundtrack to this episode, have both driven me mad and supported me with their incessant presence.

Beautiful Mess‘ by Kristian Kostov – runner up at Eurovision this year (yes okay I am a Eurovision fan…don’t judge me). This has haunted me for months now.  A song that speaks to me of finding a way out of overwhelming darkness, of working out what matters to you and fighting for that against everything working to keep you down. There is a darkness yet there is also hope. The lyrics ‘water so deep, how do we breathe, how do we climb’ get me every-single-time.

‘I Can’t Stop This Feeling I Got’ by Razorlight – heard it on the Hollyoaks Pride ‘boxset’ and that guitar sound at the beginning just got me.  It’s that simple really.

‘Back to December’ by Taylor Swift – not my usual cup of tea in the slightest, this song is currently my choice of getting to sleep song. No idea with this one why, it is just there in my head day after day.

‘The Night We Met’ by Lord Huron – my current main earworm. Haunting, sad, beautiful, full of sadness and heaviness. The female voices at the beginning, the lyrics, the singer’s voice and the little guitar twangs…quite simply I love this track.

Tom Hickox – an odd one this as it’s not really a song I hear. Since seeing him at Womad, I have been left with a feeling of his voice, the emotions in his songs in my head. As I say, odd.

I have learnt that the standard advice for getting rid of ear worms – distractions or engaging with the songs – doesn’t work with me. They are part of me, they are simply there. Sometimes you just have to go with the soundtrack to your life.

*This post was bought to you with the accompaniment of ‘The Night We Met’ by Lord Huron*

The oddness of friendships

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Friendships are a funny old thing. Full of ups and downs, tears of laughter and the not so happy tears. Friendships can be the best thing in your life. Sometimes they can be the worst.

Friendships are a tricky thing for people with mental health difficulties. My anxiety and depression makes it hard for me to both make friends and keep them. My head is constantly full of questions – ‘why would this person like me?’, ‘am I funny or interesting enough?’, ‘why did I say that? what must they think’. You kinda get the picture…

Friendships are a hard thing to maintain when you don’t simply like your own space, you fundamentally need it. When you find the world too much to take sometimes and have to cancel things, say no to invitations and shut down away from social media. And then you realise that you have been far too effective at reaching for your own space all the time and no one notices when you do withdraw. That you feel alone.

Friendships are sometimes surprising.  The ‘are you ok?’ that lets you know that you have not been forgotten about. The person who says they love you for your weirdness – who lets you know that it is okay to be you, that the right people will want to be your friend because you are you. The unusual friendships you can form through unexpected ways. The support you get from an Instagram friend you have never met. Who makes you feel that you do matter. The friendship that fills that space in you.

Friendships are sometimes toxic and sometimes the thing that saves you. They are not always easy to find, keep or to let go. They always do matter though and sometimes they literally can change someone’s life. Tell your friends that you love them. Be there for them. You never know what a difference that could make. Or when it might make a difference to you

 

Image from Pixabay

False starts and dead ends

The title of this post pretty much sums up my attempts at writing blog posts these past few weeks. Actually no…it pretty much sums up how my life seems to feel far too frequently right now.

I have lost count of the times over the last few weeks I have sat down to write and ended up with nothing. Sometimes no ideas have come, sometimes they have come and I dismissed them as rubbish. Sometime I have just looked at the screen and thought – why? what is the point in it all?

I miss it when I don’t write. It is a way of processing my emotions and thoughts. Of thinking things through. It is a way of interacting with others when I can’t face actual real people. Or of saying things that I struggle to say ‘face to face’. Of sharing my happier adventures to go ‘hey look life with anxiety and depression isn’t always panic and sadness’. To say that living is possible…some of the time.

So I may not be writing as often as I would like. Or sharing the most positive informative posts right now. I am though still here, still blogging, not giving up. So yay, go me. I got this.

*sort of*

Any suggestions on dealing with this crisis of writing confidence/focus, send ‘em my way…pretty please. How do you cope when the doubts creep in?

Time slipping

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Hours, days, weeks – all seem to be sneaking past me at the moment. They are on tiptoes, trying not to wake me from the fog that seems to still be lingering around in my head these last few weeks. I intend to do things yet so much is undone and I am left living with that feeling you get when you are asleep and desperately trying to wake yourself up.

Being away was lovely yet I am more aware than ever that much is missing from my world, from this existence I find myself in. You would think that this would inspire me to dig deeper, to work harder for the changes that are coming. I wish it was. My mind is still partly elsewhere, still trying to regain its structure and motivation.

Maybe it is busy working some great issue out and when it is done, I will understand what was going on. I will be all like ah-now-I see-what-was-going-on-and-what-to-do-now. Or maybe not. Maybe it will be forever a mystery. For now I would settle for it simply going and letting me be again. For now I will continue to get up, to do my best and to accept that right now this is simply how things are.

Reconnecting…

The odd week I had stretched into another week. So now I am trying to reconnect. With myself, with my blog, with my work. This week we are away visiting friends and family back where we used to live before heading off to a festival. So I am hoping this break from all that surrounds and suffocates me will be the air I need to breathe again.

Sometimes I am so deep in my own company that I forget that I need other people. In the people that know me, who stay with me through all my ups and downs, I find reminders that I am more than me. I have a history, a life I have lived even if it has gone places or ways I never expected it to. They remind me to keep on living, to share myself with others.

I need that right now. I need taking out of this headspace and reminding that I am part of something bigger. That I am part of people’s lives. Last week it felt like this week was coming at the wrong time, that I couldn’t cope with all the people. I believe now that maybe it is coming at exactly the right time.

It’s oh so quiet…

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Does it ever happen to you that you think you haven’t done something for a while and then you realise it is actually even longer than you thought? Happened to me today with this blog. Knew I hadn’t posted for a few days…but a week?! Oh my how did that happen…

To be honest its been a bit of an odd week. Something has simply not felt right. Not the usual over the top anxiousness or the sad depression that sometimes still hits me. This was more an absence. A feeling of not being quite here. Of detachment.

Everyone has their own way of dealing with their dark moments. I have a few. My main one is to switch off. I shut down and step away. Let whatever is up with me pass. Usually it is quite a conscious decision, this time though it kinda felt outside of my choice. Still I went with it, had an absent few days and now feel like a little more of me is back.

So an odd week as I said. My mental health can still throw me a curveball after all these years of living with its ups and downs. What is it trying to tell me this time?

My Friend, the Inside of my Head

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Me and the inside of my head are very good friends, we hang out all the time.  Nothing happens in my life, from big events to small daily activities, that we don’t spend time discussing and assessing.  Some might say we spend too much time together, that the inside of my head is a bad influence on me.  And I would probably agree with them.

I like spending time with the inside of my head…or at least I used to.  Being an introvert, a thinker and an analyser, it allows me to think things through and get quiet time from the rest of the world.  At some point though, the inside of my head started taking over.  We spent too much time together.  I started hanging out in my head all the time and not in the real world.  Like a possessive partner, it started distorting how I look at the world and myself.  I became the silent friend in the relationship, the friend of a bully who kept me down all the time so it was the powerful one.

I recognised in time my friendship with the inside of my head was not a healthy one and I began to distance myself from it.  It did not want to let go of me though, there was and still are arguments over how to see the world and my place in it.  Our friendship has become toxic and I need space from it.  Yet I still need that friendship, it is my refuge from a world that I find too much sometimes, it is a place of processing and protection.  So I am trying to build bridges with the inside of my mind, to find a partnership with it where we are equals not enemies.

 

Image from DasWortgewand @ pixabay