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Since my last post, I have suffered less from the auditory memory loops (AMLs) (or broken record syndrome) than from a creeping anxiety that had come to consume me on a daily basis. So when an AML sufferer recently contacted me, telling me not only about his stuck music issues but also about his anxiety disorder, I thought it might be time to share my latest adventures with all of you.

 Anxiety

For several months I had been waking up scared every morning and spending most days seeing threats in every little situation throughout the day. My crazy circular thinking made me hyper-critical of everything, including my partner, who is a sweet, wonderful man. Though I tried to keep much of this from him, the constant overthinking/overanalyzing of my crazybrain tested the patience of those dear friends whose ears I bent nearly to the breaking point.

I knew something was wrong with me but I couldn’t stop the crazy thinking or the anxiety. So I embarked on a therapy fenzy. Maybe there were issues I’d need to work through with my sweetheart at the end of this journey, but first I needed to filter out my own dysfunctions.

Therapy Frenzy

At one point I was seeing 3 different psychologists, plus a life coach friend who uses techniques like neurolinguistic programming (NLP) and hypnotherapy…all in hopes of calming my brain and my anxiety. I told them all that I felt like a small dinghy in the ocean, jostling wildly with every little fish fart nearby. I wanted instead to be like a big cruise ship that remains stable, cutting through all but the roughest seas.

I got some surprising insights from my friend and some useful perspectives from the therapists. But slowly I let go of each because the results failed to give me the kind of relief I so desperately needed.

OCD Behavioral Techniques

In the process, I learned about some behavioral techniques that have been used successfully to control and reduce obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms. These techniques had been effective in not only managing the subjective experience for OCD sufferers, but they actually triggered measurable physical and chemical changes in the brain! So I read the book, Brain Lock, by Jeffrey Schwartz, and was working on retraining my brain.

Biofeedback

Still, it wasn’t working fast enough for me. So I continued with the last of the therapies: biofeedback. However, it was not the kind of real-time brainwave-based biofeedback I’d expected, and instead was focused on relaxation techniques I was already good at. So I dropped that as well and looked at my remaining options.

Was it Something [Not] in the Water?

Over the previous 9 months I had been drinking super-filtered water. I knew that some friends of ours who use the same filtration system added healthy minerals back into their water after filtration. The anxiety had been building during that same timeframe. So I wondered if my anxiety and crazybrain might be partly the result of my being deficient in critical trace minerals. The first one that came to mind was lithium.

Lithium, an Essential Trace Mineral

I happened to have some 5 mg lithium orotate pills on hand, and decided to try it. The typical dose is 10-20 mg a day, 1 to 2 pills in the morning and 1-2 at night. But I’m sensitive to most substances, so I took 1/4th pill Friday morning, then another 1/4th Friday night. Since I didn’t have any negative reactions, I took 1/2 pill Saturday morning. And by Saturday afternoon, I was feeling dramatically calmer.

Lithium Orotate to the Rescue!

After less than 36 hours on a teeny dose of lithium orotate, I finally felt like that cruise ship! It was like a miracle for me.

I have now been taking 1/2 pill (2.5 mg) twice a day for nearly two weeks and I feel great! I still worry appropriately about things like financial challenges and threats to my family’s wellbeing. But I no longer wake up every morning feeling scared. I no longer have a running circular dialogue in my head about what’s wrong with everything I encounter. I am no longer exaggerating threats, or imagining things to be upset or worried about.

And I am no longer haunted by stuck music. I occasionally notice a song memory playing in my head, but it is not bothersome or intrusive.

What You Need to Know About Lithium Orotate

So here’s what you need to know about natural lithium. But first, the disclaimer…

The information in this post is for educational and entertainment purposes only! No substance is completely safe for everyone. So please consult with a qualified healthcare professional before trying anything new.

Lithium orotate is found in most of the world’s ground  water, along with potassium, calcium, magnesium and various other trace minerals.  Several studies have shown that regions with the highest lithium content have the lowest violent crime and suicide rates. The following PubMed link takes you to a study of lithium in 27 Texas counties. From this page you can also access similar studies from around the world.

This is NOT Pharmaceutical Lithium

If the name lithium sounds familiar, it may be because you’ve heard that prescription lithium is used to treat patients with bi-polar (manic-depressive) disorder. However, the forms of lithium used as drugs are so poorly absorbed into the brain that patients have to take huge doses that are toxic to the rest of their bodies, just to get enough into the brain to calm the mood swings.

Do Your Homework and Consult a Health Professional

Natural lithium orotate, on the other hand, is far more bioavailable, and can be effective even in tiny doses, with few, if any side effects for many people. Still there are precautions or caveats you and your healthcare advisers should be aware of.

The following links take you to articles about the benefits of lithium orotate. 1. Psychology Today article. 2. Global Healing Center article. 3. Lithium video by John Gray, author of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. But do your own research as well.

The 5 mg lithium orotate I am using comes from Life Extension Foundation, which I have come to trust over the years.  I can’t speak for any other brands, but, again, do your research, use your best judgment, and follow the advice of a healthcare expert.

As always, wishing you peace and quiet.

- Pat

Here I am, still fighting the ebb and flow of this recent recurrence of the stuck music (auditory memory loops/AMLs). (I now suspect I have gotten a bad box of estrogen patches, and will see if this resolves when I start on the new box.) Meanwhile, I decided to try searching OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) sites for new perspectives.

Do I really have OCD?

The first thing I looked at was a self test for OCD.  I failed miserably (or should I say “happily”). Classic OCD is associated with repetitive rituals (like locking the door the “right” number of times, or incessant hand washing) and a lot of dark thoughts and fears. The TV character Adrian Monk had OCD (among other issues). His list of fears/phobias began with “Germs, needles, milk, death….”  Yes, in that order.

I apparently don’t have OCD in the sense these tests define it. I have no rituals, no dark thoughts, and no phobias/fears other than: (a) spiders (since childhood), (b) 4-leaf clovers (long story), and, most important, (c) the fear of having songs stuck in my head again and not being able to enjoy…or even truly live life.

OCD – Melanie’s Article

Despite my apparent lack of OCD symptoms,  I searched for OCD and hormones and came up with a fabulous article from Melanie Gladney’s HubPage.  http://melaniegladney.hubpages.com/hub/OCD-Glucose-Metabolism-and-Food-Allergies This focuses on classical OCD, but offers suggestions that may work for some of us as well. It is certainly worth a shot.

OCD and Hormones

In this article, she discusses the same hormonal influences I’ve identified, but she adds important dimensions to the discussion, including information about key brain chemicals that the sex hormones trigger.

She emphasizes the role of progesterone in calming anxieties. Just keep in mind that, for me at least, there is a very narrow sweet spot for progesterone levels: if I get too much (relative to estrogen), it actually brings on the stuck music.  But as we know, we all have different body chemistries and reactions, so keep progesterone in your toolbox and use it carefully, like everything else.

OCD and Blood Sugar, Insulin Resistance and Cortisol 

More important, Melanie covers in great detail the role of blood sugar/metabolism and  food allergies as they may relate to OCD. Her suggestions about diet require more self discipline than I am easily capable of, but they have worked for her OCD, so please check them out and see if her suggestions might work for you.

Remember that high cortisol can not only trigger or exacerbate the AMLs, it can induce insulin resistance (which Melanie talks about in easy-to-understand detail). So maybe it’s not the cortisol directly that affects our AMLs after all, but the insulin/metabolic conditions that result from that cortisol overload. Maybe regulating blood sugar and/or insulin is, in fact, the answer…or at least part of it.

Is it that simple? Probably not.

From a logical standpoint, it seems that if blood sugar, food allergies, and insulin resistance were truly at the root of this (in my case, at least), then I should not have been able to get rid of the AMLs when I implemented my current hormone regimen, because I did not change my diet. The only things I changed were: (1) I took cortisol suppressing supplements, and (2) I created a mini hormone cycle with a surge of estrogen 24 hours before I took my progesterone.

This same kind of reasoning told me that it’s not just cortisol that triggers the AMLs, because I have been way more stressed in my younger life (i.e., had tons of adrenalin and cortisol surging through my body) and yet I did not get songs stuck in my head.  This only started when my sex hormones went south at menopause…and it only went away again when I mimicked a youthful hormone cycle.

Then again, the most obvious difference between the identical twin boys who shared most everything except the AMLs was that the one who had the AMLs turned out to have a then-undiagnosed metabolic disorder involving insulin resistance. The mom obtained the diagnosis after reading about the cortisol/metabolic connection to AMLs here and taking her son in for relevant tests. So, clearly the AMLs and metabolic dysfunction are closely linked.

Visit Melanie

The bottom line is that Melanie and I seem to be running down the same rabbit hole, chasing the same two suspects–sex hormone imbalances and dysfunctional metabolic/adrenal processes–from slightly different perspectives. So I encourage you to check out her hub. (You can read the articles but may have to join HubPages.com to comment.) And write to her if you think she can help. She seems to be very generous in responding.

And if any of you try her suggestions, please keep us posted on the results, whether positive, negative or neutral.

Wishing you a blissfully quiet day.

Pat

BTW, Last night I attended a lecture by a neuroscientist, and he has promised to put me in touch with someone he thinks might be able to help us or at least can point us to someone else who might. Cross your fingers…

I guess there’s a price to pay for getting too cocky. I’ve mentioned several times that I seem to be the only one among us who can turn the AMLs (auditory memory loops) on and off. Well, I suppose to remind me of the horrors all of you are still suffering, I recently had a relapse and had the opportunity to refresh my memory…over and over and over and… well you know.

This relapse happened in the wake of conditions that may have directly or indirectly contributed to the problem.

1.  I had just finally recovered from a 2-month vertigo episode, the worse I’ve ever had. This condition might not have triggered the AMLs, but it certainly stressed me out, pumping cortisol into my system for two months.

2.  During the vertigo episode I took Valium for a couple of days. (It and other drugs like it can stabilize the inner ear’s balance centers.) But when I realized it was making me nauseated, I quit. Toward the end of the episode I took Xanax (related to Valium) every night to help suppress the spinning in my sleep. I worried about taking these drugs because so many of us only started the AMLs after taking SSRIs and other brain drugs.

3. In the last 2 weeks of the vertigo I had a short-fuse video project. Not only was I stressed (producing cortisol), but I was listening to the same 3 short songs over and over again for a week as we edited the video together.

4. I had cut back on the phosphatidyl serine (PS) that reduces cortisol and provides healthy fats to the brain.

Having heard your stories and thought more about the OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) connection, I paid closer attention to what I was feeling when the AMLs came back this time.

  • I was physically antsy, a feeling I know I get when either my potassium is low or when my hormones are messed up.
  • I felt as if there was an “openness” or a gaping hole in the middle of my brain, or that there was a thinness of the wall between that open part in the center of my brain and everything else.
  • That hole was like an open sore that was exposed to anything in my environment that might “infect” it and get stuck there.  I felt totally vulnerable to falling into other forms of OCD, not just the music. (Some of you have progressed into classic OCD.)
  • I also noticed that I was waking up with the crazy repetitive dreams (making a list, recalling names) and/or the music, all happening around 3 am…the classic, low estrogen wake-up time. I also had other low E symptoms, like heatwaves, itchy-crawly scalp and ears, and stupid brain.
  • I had trouble going out to restaurants and places that played music. I realized that my awareness of music wasn’t just me being cautious about music around me. No, the music literally seemed to attach itself to me more aggressively.  I was having lunch with a friend and had to step outside when a certain obnoxious song came on. When I got back, he said he hadn’t even noticed the music.  He said “You’ve got to do something about your hearing.” “Like what” I asked. “Like…go deaf,” he said.  It made me laugh. But the point is that his brain was able to tune it out, as mine normally would. Instead, for me it seemed as if not only was my brain open but it was aggressively seeking out and sucking the music in. And, all jokes aside, my going deaf would not have stopped the AMLs because this is not about “hearing;” it’s about replaying things stored in the auditory memory…even things we’ve never heard with our ears.

So I’ll cut to the chase and tell you that I finally suspected my estrogen patches weren’t working and I hoped and prayed this was also why the AMLs had come back with a vengeance. I have had problems with defective patches and/or possible permeability issues with the area of skin where I stuck my patches. So I put more patches on. And for a couple of days, the AMLs would go away.

I have finally ended that screwed-up hormone cycle and have started over with new patches in a new spot and have had no further problems with the AMLs.

HormonePathways12

Now, it would be easy to think you just need more estrogen and the AMLs will go away. But it’s not that simple.

Estrogen (at least in theory) merely creates receptors so the progesterone (P) in your system can break down into the sex hormones instead of adrenal hormones like cortisol.

But what about men with AMLs? Are they low in E relative to their P? We have no data to tell us one way or the other.

However, one new friend of the blog, a 20-year-old male, has just had a ton of lab tests done recently (including sex hormones and cortisol) and promises to send me a copy of the results. I may be able to spot nuances in the ratios or levels that doctors aren’t typically looking for.

Another new friend of the blog is a pregnant woman who began having the AMLs in her 6th month.

Both of their stories present very strong evidence of hormonal components associated with the AML/OCD symptoms. His initial labs, for example, say he’s got normal levels of a key hormone, but other symptoms tell me he is severely low. I hope our pregnant friend can also send lab results so I can see if perhaps her hormone ratios might be off, with too little E relative to the amount of P being made by the placenta.

At any rate, I am back to normal for now, having relived the terror of wondering whether I’d ever get that madness out of my head and be normal again. And my empathy has been renewed for all of you who are still suffering.

Curiously, I noticed a song in my head yesterday. But this felt different. It felt as if it was in the front of my head, instead of in that gaping, sucking hole in the center. (In fact I don’t feel that hole is there at all.) The song did not feel sticky or disruptive. It didn’t yell. It was just a small, well-behaved, pleasant memory floating around harmlessly in the stream of lots of other quiet thoughts.

I wish this same state of tranquility for all of you.

Pat

It just occurred to me that some of you who have recently found this blog may have missed some of the basic concepts and the details regarding my cortisol/hormone hypothesis and the solutions that may help.

So I encourage you to go back and read some of the older posts, especially the Original Part 1 and 2, which are here in the March 2010 archives.

http://brokenrecordsyndrome.wordpress.com/2010/03/

But also read some of the other posts in the archives as well.  These will fill you in on what others have tried, what works, what seems to make things worse, etc.  I’m not exactly sure where I talk about my hormone mini-cycles that finally got rid of the stuck music (auditory memory loops or AMLs), but you might look for that post as well.

Meanwhile, I need to figure out a way to keep a link to the basic posts easily accessible on all new posts so anyone who finds us can learn about the core concepts right away.

I’ll update you all later about how I got my AMLs quieted down after the recent recurrence that kept me awake at night.

Wishing you peace and quiet.

Pat

 

As those who follow this blog know, I have found a combination of solutions that has kept the music out of my head for most of the past 2+ years now.

But I didn’t really know which parts were necessary, so I tried taking one part out: the phosphatidyl serine (PS). I didn’t stop it completely, but reduced my daily dose from 300 mg to 150 mg.  It seemed to be fine, as I’d been on this reduced dose for about a month and had had no problems.

However, I was only cautiously optimistic because PS takes a long time to build up in your brain, and presumably would take an equally long time to deplete.

In the meantime, I took on a rather manic project to produce a video in just a few days to support a proposal for one of my clients.  A few days stretched into a week when they got an extension and asked us to add a couple of animations to the video. And with the video goes music, three short pieces. And so for a week of sometimes 12+ hour days, I sat with my video editor making cut after cut, tweak after tweak…all with the music bits playing along with the images onscreen, sometimes even editing the music to make it fit the visuals.

So not only was I pumping out tons of cortisol to stay on my toes and try to figure out what key concepts from two 100-page proposals needed to be conveyed  in this brief 6 minute piece, but I was drumming the same 6 minutes of music into my head over and over in that high cortisol state.

Granted, that alone should have earned me this current soundtrack. But I fear that cutting back the PS may have been really bad timing. We finished the video last Friday, but the music didn’t stick right away. It has been slowly creeping in a little more each day, mostly in the morning then fading out… until today, when  it  has really become bothersome, intruding into my thoughts. It is now 3:00 in the afternoon and the music is finally calming down now. Then again, I took 200 mg of PS at 10 am. I don’t think the PS can possibly work that fast, but it may be a factor, for what it’s worth.

So just in case cutting back on the PS has played any part in this recent recurrence of the AMLs, I’ve decided to go back to 300 mg of PS daily until I am far enough away from a music-loop-inducing situation that I can try weaning off the PS again and see what happens.

I’ll keep you posted on this ongoing science experiment in my brain.

Wishing you peace and quiet,

Pat

Finally, Life Extension Foundation Magazine’s July 2013 issue is available online with its article about the use of the spice saffron for the treatment of many brain and mood dysfunctions as an alternative to drugs. (If the hyperlink above doesn’t work, you can find it at the path below.)

http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2013/jul2013_A-Safer-Alternative-for-Managing-Depression_01.htm

Let me just say first that I have absolutely NO idea whether saffron will work to quiet the stuck music/AMLs (auditory memory loops). But since the conventional drug treatments for the AMLs we experience have also been known to CAUSE the AMLs, and saffron seems to do good things without bad side effects, this natural solution might be worth trying for our affliction.

Here are a few key reasons that make me think saffron might be worth trying for AMLs:

1.  In human studies, saffron was as effective for mild to moderate depression as Prozac and Tofranil…without the side effects.

2.   In animal studies, saffron was effective in reducing anxiety and OCD behaviors and increasing total sleep time.

3.  In human studies, saffron decreased compulsive, between-meal snacking by 55%.

4.  In human studies, saffron proved as effective as Zoloft for improving mild to moderate Alzheimer’s symptoms without the bad side effects.

5. And by the way, saffron not only doesn’t have the sexual side effects of antidepressant drugs, it can reverse the sexual side effects and improve libido even in people who are still taking the antidepressant drugs.

So my logic is that if saffron works as well as drugs for depression, anxiety and OCD without side effects, perhaps it might calm down whatever is going on in our crazy brains that makes us play music over and over.

If nothing else, if some of us are taking those drugs…either because our doctors have thought the drugs might cure us, or because having this affliction is depressing…maybe we can get off those drugs or at least add saffron to offset the sexual side effects.

I don’t know about you, but for me, loss of sex drive is not not JUST about sex, it is about all forms of passion. If I can’t feel passion for sex, I also can’t feel it for music or books or movies or art or a beautiful sunset.  I’m a writer and without my passions I literally cannot create…I cannot feel.  So this is a big deal to me.  Since several of you with this affliction are musicians, I suspect your passions are similarly critical to who you are, not just what you do.

I have bought 2 bottles of saffron, which amounts to a 2-month supply. Most of the saffron studies showed results in 4 to 8 weeks, so I figured this would give it a fair test. However, I’m not  the best subject for the experiment, since I’ve quieted my AMLs by adjusting my hormones. And with the stupid vertigo still lingering just a bit, I’m not in the mood to go off my hormone regimen to let the AMLs come back right now.

So with all the caveats in the world including–This is for information only. Please consult your doctor before trying anything!!! –I will be interested to see if anyone out there who actively has the AMLs will try saffron and report back to us with your results.

If you do try it, be sure to take the dosages used in the studies. Try not to change anything else during the “study” period. And try to keep a daily log rating your symptoms on some kind of scale to show whether they change at all, in which direction, and how soon.  Then let us know what happened.

I’m not going to get my hopes up just yet, but my feeling is that nature probably offers  everything we need to be healthy.  Granted, not everything “natural” is good for us–nature makes plenty of poisons too. But if we can eat saffron in rice, it’s probably not going to hurt us as a supplement. Though even that rule should be tempered with the reminder that even the most benign things, consumed in excess, can harm or kill us.

So do your homework, check with all the experts you trust, and let us know if you decide to be a guinea pig.

Hope you are all having a safe,  happy and crazy-music-free Fourth of July.

-Pat

This is to clear up any possible confusion about prednisone and AMLs that my previous posts may have created. Prednisone is NOT a potential solution to this affliction.

My previous posts were about my concerns with taking prednisone (because it is so closely related to cortisol) and that it might reawaken the music I’d worked so hard to get rid of.  And although I did have music stuck in my head after the first day’s dose, it went away and didn’t come back for the remaining 5 days I took the steroids. So my fears about prednisone seem to have been premature.

Meanwhile, there may be a safe new option to try coming soon. I am just waiting for the article to become available online and I will write about it here, probably within the next few weeks.

Stay tuned,

Pat

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