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You know when you're falling asleep, and your thoughts become loosely associated and you lose more and more control over them as you drift off? (I'm assuming this happens to a lot of people). It's like your thoughts kind of jump around - snatches of conversation, music, random weird thoughts - that sort of thing. It's like you've sort of lost conscious control of your thoughts, but you still maintain awareness (like half dreaming/half awake).

Well, I will sometimes (maybe a few times a week, sometimes a couple of times a day) get this sort of thing happen right in the middle of the day. I could be cleaning the house, thinking about normal things, when weird randomness will pop into my head out of nowhere. It's that same sort of feeling I get when I'm falling asleep. It only lasts a couple of seconds, and doesn't interfere with functioning or anything like that - but it worries me because what could this mean?

Any ideas? Could it be a prodromal psychotic symptom? Dissociative phenomena? Racing thoughts? Just normal weirdness?

I'm dxed Pure O OCD if that helps at all.

Thanks guys!

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It could just be you falling asleep for a few moments. Which would not be unusual.

How is your general sleep state? Are you getting great sleep? Well rested and charging to go in the morning? Are you in fact sleepy during the day? If you sit down in a quiet place, or in a long meeting or while on a long drive do you nod off?

If it is sleep related some possible causes are:

poor sleep due to mental illness

sleep apnea

narcolepsy

Also if it is sleep related, don't be alarmed, all those random images, thoughts, sounds etc, are considered a normal part of sleep and doctors do NOT consider them to be abnormal hallucinations. They are just the mind dropping its guard and freewheeling.

ask you doctor about this.

a.m.

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Thanks for your replies everyone - I had been getting pretty worked up about this.

AirMarshall - as far as sleep goes, it's actually not terrible. I wouldn't necessarily say I feel super well rested in the morning, but at the same time I don't really feel sleepy during the day. I have also experienced both hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations as well as sleep paralysis - usually more when I'm really anxious or depressed and when I don't have a good sleep routine.

I had considered that this was perhaps sleep related because it bears such a similar quality to the stuff I get as I'm falling asleep. Maybe microsleeps? I certainly don't notice if I'm nodding off.

I guess my biggest fear is that this is signalling some kind of breakdown happening - losing control of my thoughts (sounds psychotic to me!). But that could also be my OCD talking ;)

Thanks again everyone.

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Isobel,

Here's a long shot that may turn into something very interesting for you.

I read a book about dreaming, published awhile ago (1977) but based in science, written in a fascinating and informative style. Book is called Dream Power by Ann Faraday. This isn't one of those pseudo-scientific "dream dictionaries" that tell you in 3 sentences how you're going to get a promotion at work because you dreamed about a frying pan, no no. The author goes into great detail about the history of dream interpretation, what goes on in the brain when you sleep and dream, and how to determine your own significance from your dream imagery.

The reason I bring it up is that the imagery that's coming into your mind during the day and in the evening might not be random at all. Your brain might be trying to tell you something, or at least point to things that need closer inspection.

I have no idea if this book is even still in print, but if you can find it, it might illuminate some reveletory clues as to how you're feeling about your current life. I felt, after reading Dream Power, that I had a 6th sense available to me, as if I'd suddenly tapped into this rich new stream of information/insight which had been there all along.

I think this subject is really fascinating. I also think it's unfortunate that dream interpretation has been reduced to an occultish pseudo-science by the publication of tons of "dream dictionaries" which ignore the very basic premise that each person's associations with a particular object or scenario will be different and personal to them.

Anyway, it's something to think about. Even if you don't read the book, I think it's worth examining the thoughts that come into your head, and what they mean to you.

MG

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks mad_genius - I'll have to take a look at that book.

Here's a question for everyone:

When are unbidden thoughts just thoughts and when are they voices? I've been reading a lot on this forum about people who experience their voices as thoughts that they don't control, rather than something that's actually audible. So if a word or a phrase or something pops into your head, and it feels out of context, or like it came out of nowhere - is this a voice?

I find this to be a very gray area and somewhat confusing. Could someone shed some light on this? What's the difference?

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Thanks mad_genius - I'll have to take a look at that book.

Here's a question for everyone:

When are unbidden thoughts just thoughts and when are they voices? I've been reading a lot on this forum about people who experience their voices as thoughts that they don't control, rather than something that's actually audible. So if a word or a phrase or something pops into your head, and it feels out of context, or like it came out of nowhere - is this a voice?

I find this to be a very gray area and somewhat confusing. Could someone shed some light on this? What's the difference?

This is a very good question and something I've been thinking about quite a bit lately myself. I will be absolutely useless toward producing an answer but here's my own experience with the sounds:

Often (hell, daily) I hear music or sounds (sometimes on a loop), but I realize they are exclusively in my head. Today it was like the sound from inside a WWII era submarine (like I know what that sounds like) - for hours. Still, I knew it was inside my head. However, a good portion of the time I will be unable to distinguish my special (spatial?) entertainment from the outside world and will have to ask my husband, Hey, is there a lawnmower in our front room?

Now I can't ask any random person those kinds of questions. Fortunately, I don't get out much. Then again, plenty of people get away with saying, Was that the phone? without sounding crazy. Mostly, I try to enjoy the pretty sounds. I make light of it, but it can be unnerving, and the meds don't quite knock it out. There also seems to be a direct correlation between the difficulty in distinguishing veracity of the sounds and how tweaked and freaked I have been feeling, plus how much sleep I've been getting. They also happen a lot more often the worse I become.

Visual effects are an entirely different topic. I'd love to learn more about this. I used to be fairly think-y but now I just try and remember to tell myself it's going to be okay. When I look at the books I own and know I used to read I wonder what the hell happened to me. Oh yeah, Topamax and Fibromyalgia probably haven't helped.

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Thanks Green Tara - I'm glad to know someone can relate, at least.

The worst part of this is, I want to talk to my pdoc about it, but I find it very hard to articulate what it is exactly that's going on. I have OCD, with an obsessive fear of psychosis and I'm constantly self-monitoring for symptoms. It's possible that I'm taking a normal phenomon and catastrophizing. On the other hand, it could be the development of psychotic symptoms. Regardless, it's causing quite a bit of anxiety. If I tell my pdoc and its actually nothing, and he misinterprets what I'm describing, I may be prescribed an AP unnecessarily. On the other hand, if it is something, I'd rather nip it in the bud. Can you tell I'm obsessive? :embarassed:

Any thoughts?

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  • 3 months later...

Argh!

I've been having this happen again. It's so hard to know whether I am just obsessing about a normal phenomenon or if I'm right to be worried.

Is it normal to have unbidden thoughts pop up that feel like you didn't "control" or you didn't mean to think? How do you know if it's a voice?

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  • 3 years later...

Don't know if you are still around but I have experienced the same thing (maybe), and accidentally came by this a while back. Asked someone about it and was told that it is connected to my sleep, but I haven't pursued it further. I can really relate to your thoughts about this, and huh...hope the info in the link will be useful for someone.

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  • 2 months later...

I was in the middle of tightening a bolt on my bicyle and the name "John Wayne" just went by as thought. It has nothing to do with what I was thinking about or doing. This happens occasionaly if I am doing labor or tedious stuff-- never when I am fully engaged reading a book, coding, or watching a movie.

I asked myself "WTF???". Then I asked myself "Am I schizophrenic?" (All my docs tell have told me I have intractable depression, but I find it hard to accept--partly because of phenomena like the above. Finally I just reasoned that some neurons fired off randomly and I would never be able to figure out why. Took all of 10 seconds to get by this, and I was back to tightening the nut.

My objective condition is as follows (if anyone wants to relate this experience to meds):

I am in the 4 day of going cold-turkey on Ambien. (I lost the bottle, and my new doc did not prescribe any). I was up for 29 hours. I am taking 2 mg of abilify after spending years on SSRI's SNRI's, wellbutrin, parnate, provigil. In a couple weeks I am getting the emsam patch as long as the depression does not become agitated again.

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