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How Audiobooks and Music Help Me Quiet the Thoughts in My Brain

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I don’t hear voices in my head, but I do hear my voice, my brain. My brain is never quiet. Never.

Most of the time I keep a constant monologue, a constant commentary on what is happening: What should I do? Is it time to eat? What did that person mean when they said that thing the other day? I also have interjections like, how can the universe be infinite anyway? It’s hard to focus on everyday things, like for example cooking, when your brain is constantly engaged. Should I put the water on first, chop the vegetables or did I do something wrong at the grocery store?

Sometimes, I can get a song stuck in my head, and I’m not sure it’s the same thing neurotypical people experience. Imagine an old LP record with a scratch on it, so you get one sentence or snippet of the lyrics over and over, with the melody hopping from the end of the section to the beginning, and you can’t get out of that same loop. Now imagine this is happening with the volume up so it’s hard to concentrate and hear your thoughts. It’s quite annoying. It takes great concentration to block that out.

And sometimes I feel as if my brain decides to drag things up that make me feel bad, put myself down or concentrate on the bad stuff in life. It especially likes to do this when it’s time to sleep.

This happened a lot when I was little. I had a list of embarrassing or sad moments I went through over and over again. I was too young to understand these things were not really embarrassing or even my fault, and nothing to feel bad about at all.

A positive thing about the way my brain works, is I can focus on a project I’m working on and solve all the difficulties or make them better. My brain likes to do this at night, too. Thanks brain.

Sometimes I have to give up on sleep, get up, make a cup of tea and start taking notes.

I’ve always thought of this as, “the way things are,” but I’ve found solutions to help quiet my mind.

I usually wear headphones and listen to an audiobook or music, but I’ve noticed it helps to just put the headphones on (because sometimes I forget to start the book or music). It took some time to find a pair of headphones I could wear for several hours a day without hurting, and I must say for me, Bose is superior in both comfort and sound. If you can afford a pair of active noise-canceling headphones, they are heaven.

I first tried them on in a busy electronics store. I stood facing the wall with the display, I put them on, flicked the switch, and the whole store seemed to disappear. I stood there with my eyes closed and enjoyed the silence. Yes, I got silence! I didn’t even try them for music. Let’s just say I got a pair.

At night I wear a pair of Sleepphones; it’s a headband of soft fleece with super thin speakers inside so you can comfortably rest your ear on the pillow. I do recommend the cordless ones. I like falling asleep while listening to a book. I wear these so my husband doesn’t have to hear snippets of a book every night.

I don’t always use my headphones because sometimes I need the monologue from my brain. It helps me be in sync with what I’m doing and it helps me work out problems and how to go about stuff. Sometimes I need to be “one with my head.” Then, when I’m finished with a task and need to quiet my brain, it is back on to books on tape.

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Thinkstock image by DAJ

Originally published: March 27, 2017
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