My broken record (BR) or auditory memory loops (AMLs) started in my late 40s. First I noticed that I had little stuck songs more often, mainly after I played a favorite over and over. But like always they faded after a day or so.
Then one day I realized couldn’t get them out of my head. It was as if my brain was a music magnet and everything would get stuck.
Around the age of 48-49, after a year of dealing with the worst of it (couldn’t hear my own thoughts, couldn’t sleep), I went to the doctor to ask if this might be a symptom of menopause. He sarcastically said, “Either you have a thyroid problem or a brain tumor…and you don’t have a brain tumor!” But to shut me up he tested my sex hormones as well as thyroid hormones.
Turned out my thyroid hormones were normal…but the sex hormones were seriously low. So, yes, I was hormonally menopausal.
He put me on Prempro, the horse-estrogen and fake-progesterone drug that at the time was the gold standard for hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This was before the big WHI study said the stuff is really bad for you. (Duh.) Curiously, this bad drug stopped the music in my head. So it was a matter of good news / bad news.
Thinking I’d discovered that it was indeed the low or imbalanced sex hormones that caused the BR/AMLs, I boldly proceeded to switch from those nasty alien hormones in Prempro to the more natural approach of using bioidentical hormones. These are hormones that are chemically identical to those nature gave us.
Well, they were good for me in most ways. But sadly, the more natural hormones didn’t stop the BR/AMLs.
Since that time, I’ve developed the cortisol hypothesis written about in previous posts. The hypothesis began when I was writing my book, What Part of Menopause Don’t You Understand? I thought about how real/bioidentical progesterone differs from fake progesterone (Provera or MPA). The key difference is that the real/bioidentical stuff can break down into cortisol. The fake stuff can’t.
Not everybody I’ve talked to can make a connection between high stress (with high cortisol levels) and the triggering or increase of the BR/AMLs, but probably 80% can. Some seem to have first noticed the AMLs after a traumatic event or situation in their lives. For some, it seems the BR/AMLs started when they took one of those very same antidepressants that are given to try and quiet the AMLs (however, the need for those meds may have been preceeded by a traumatic or stressful situation that might have been the real cause).
But I suspect there is also another factor in addition to cortisol involved. After all, I know I faced stress many times in my life before age 50. So something else changed after 50 that made stress cause my brain to become “sticky.” Maybe there’s too much of the enzyme that converts progesterone to cortisol, or too little of the one that converts progesterone to estrogen and testosterone. Maybe there’s something new in my brain, maybe low or high neurotransmitters, or something physical like a lesion acting like a leaky faucet. That’s what we need a researcher to figure out.
Anyway, that’s how my nightmare started.
How and when did your music magnet turn on?