Sunday, 15 September 2013

Of Aspergers and ear worms

Everyone gets songs stuck in their heads from time to time.  It's kind of annoying, but it passes and isn't really any big or even medium-sized deal.

But sometimes, my brain takes the whole song thing far too seriously.  Instead of just having a snippet of a tune drifting through my head, the beat of the song takes over my mind so completely it's really hard to get anything else done.  It's there constantly, the beat pounding so loud it's deafening.

I'm back working in radio at the moment, and consequently have heard Royals by Lorde and Just Give Me A Reason by P!nk a heck of a lot lately.  Now, they're taking turns invading my mind, and really cramping my style.  It's screwing with my already wobbly ability to focus on things I need to focus on, constantly derailing my train of thought, and interrupting at the most inconvenient moments.  The Pomodoro technique will only get you so far when your own brain's conspiring against you.  Plus I keep unconsciously grinding/tapping my teeth in time to the beat, so now I've got a really tense jaw and all the headachey blah-ness that comes with that.

This isn't the first time this has happened.  While I don't always have industrial-strength song-stickage going on, I do have something of a history with it.  And that means I know it's going to continue to be a monumental pain for Gods know how long.  Once I had Itty Bitty Pretty One by Thurston Harris lodged so tightly it nearly became a workplace incident because I kept humming the 'whoa-oa, do-do-do-do' bit involuntarily, and that was as annoying for the rest of the office as it was for me.  And don't even get me started on Edith Piaff's Milord, which accompanied me for months and can still be triggered with terrifying ease.  (Although, at the moment I'd have it back just to be rid of Royals.)

I don't know how much of it is Aspergers - although there is a thread over at Wrong Planet discussing similar experiences, so other people on the spectrum have experienced similar things.  But I have other neurological shenanigans as well, and I'm never entirely sure what causes what.  And if it is an Aspergers thing, is it the misbegotten musical cousin of autistic obsession, is it some weird mental stim, or is it related hyperfocus?  Is it somehow connected to the inertia thing, that brings trouble stopping one activity or train of thought and moving to another?  Since it's almost always songs with a heavy beat, is it related to the BPM and how that interacts with my brain waves?

The problem is that, unlike a normal-strength stuck song, which usually goes away by itself soon enough or can be dislodged by listening to another ear worm, there's no budging it when this happens.  It will eventually go away in it's own sweet time, but so will a dog that's chewing your leg off.  Listening to other songs doesn't help.  Listening to the offending song over and again doesn't help.  Mindfulness meditation might help if I knew what that actually was, but I've never found an explanation that didn't rely on weird instructions like "observe your thoughts but don't interact with them" and "be in the moment", which means absolutely nothing to me.

It's like an annoying neighbour having a party that's too loud and goes on too long and some of their musical taste is shit (seriously brain, Thurston fucking Harris?) except the party's inside your head.  So I'm trying to concentrate on work and life while some jackass has a bogan block party between my ears.