My Weird Brain

on March 18, 2013 in Misc

I know we fiction writers generally don’t rank high on the normal scale.  But this last week my brain has really been trying to weird me out.

It started Wednesday night when I was very tired and went to bed.  My brain would NOT SHUT UP!  It kept flashing memories and old movies at me and dredging up tiny nit-picky worries and putting me in a deep dark funk.

Finally at 3:30 a.m. I did something I’ve never done before.  I got up, opened a bottle of wine (I got two for Christmas and hadn’t opened them yet, which shows you what a light drinker I am), sliced up some cheese, and plopped down in front of the TV because I was too frickin’ tired to do anything but veg out.

(By the way, the odds are very good that at any time of the day or night, there is an episode of Law and Order running on some channel.)

One and a half glasses of wine later, I’d managed to stifle my brain, and that’s when I at last fell asleep – on the sofa, of course.

Thursday and Friday I slept kinda better but my brain decided to entertain me with some really strange and vivid long dreams – not the kind that might inspire, say, a story for a science fiction book or some magic realism.  More like the kind of dreams that make me think that therapy wouldn’t hurt.

Then on Saturday morning I woke up thinking about a few old jackets in the back of my hall closet that I haven’t used in years so why am I holding on to them and since I’d been clearing out some old clothes I had to be REALLY SURE to add them to my Goodwill pile, and while I was at it why don’t I add that Italian language tape set I got at Goodwill which I’m never going to use and why do I waste my money on things like that…

You get the picture.  My brain was, off and on for a few days, obsessing over nonsense and putting me in a blue mood.  Yet what’s equally weird is that what inadvertently helped me was to clear out some old junk from my home.  It’s as if cleaning and organizing in the real world helped my brain to clean out its own crud — at least partially and for the time being.

This also reminds me of is that I used to meditate a lot more often, especially before bedtime.  It helped me to relax and sharpened my concentration and mental self-control.  For obvious reasons, I think it’s time I started meditating regularly again.  I also really, truly need a vacation.

Please, please tell me that you’ve had weird bouts with your own brain. And have you ever channeled the mental weirdness into some great storytelling?

20 Responses to “My Weird Brain”

  1. Decluttering your house decluttered your mind. I’ll have to try that.

  2. There are nights when I have trouble getting to sleep, and they’ve gotten more frequent as I’ve gotten older. Maybe I should exercise more and that would help even me out. For the record, they are remaking Poltergeist. I wonder if it will be any good.

  3. Helena says:

    Alex — Well, it didn’t completely declutter my mind. Maybe the work just tricked it.

  4. Helena says:

    Michael – I wish Hollywood would come up with new movies instead of remaking old ones. I’ve heard stories of great original screenplays floating around the town but the studios stick with the tried and true.

  5. Bouts with my brain usually come about three in the mornings. Reading before I go to sleep sometimes helps.

  6. All of this weirdness I accept as part of who I am. I hate it when I’m really tired and my brain won’t settle enough so I can sleep. Good thing is, you have something that works for you.

  7. Helena says:

    Carol – What is it about 3:00 a.m.? The strange hour.

  8. Helena says:

    J.L. – Yes. Wine works. And I’m so glad you’ve accepted your weirdness, but I’m still trying to control mine.

  9. Ciara says:

    I suffer from insomnia so I totally get this. Yes, mind can get overwhelmed with garbage and needs a good cleaning every so often.

  10. Helena says:

    Ciara – My sympathies to you, fellow sufferer. My own brain needs more than a cleaning, it needs to be fumigated.

  11. Lisa says:

    All very normal Your limbic system was just in an activated state….take your vacation and soon, and get back to the meditation…that does help…..The limbic system can remain activated when the amygdala, the emotional center of our brains, sends a signal to both our body and our neocortex sending us into a state of hyperarousal that is hard to get our of. We feel it in our bodies in different places, it affects our sleep, and causes crazy dreams! Wine and cheese is a nice intervention but can have bad side effects if engaged in too often! Use a body centered or brain centered intervention to calm your limbis system and that old amygdala down! Meditations, deep breating, yoga breathing, stretching, check in with yourself on a scale of 1-10 and if you are at a 7 or higher for feeling “activated” (anxiety, sleeplessness etc) time for a brain based intervention to calm your brain down!

  12. Helena says:

    Lisa – A “brain based intervention” – I kinda like the sound of that. You’ve reminded me of an old meditation tape I have somewhere (yup, an old-fashioned tape) that for whatever reason really relaxed me. I’ll dig it up tonight and try it out again.

    I love how you’ve given me the scientific language and perspective for my overactive brain and how its emotional center is involved. That really does sound like what I’ve experienced — thanks!

  13. Old Kitty says:

    I really like the idea of watching Law and Order at 3 am with a bottle of el vino and some cheese!! I may try that some time!! :-)

    I hope you do have a holiday soon!! Brain overload and lack of sleep are exhausting!! I hope you get to return to doing some meditation! I love my daily aerobics sessions because there’s always a really relaxing 5 minute sretching session at the end and that’s always helpful!

    Take care

  14. Helena says:

    Old Kitty – Daily aerobic sounds great. I sit too much on my job and that gets to me sometimes. Do Gumtree and Charlie get their daily exercise? My cat is older and just schleps around most days, but then she has her two minute “psycho kitty” periods where she runs and jumps like crazy.

  15. Ben says:

    Good to hear I’m not the only one who habituates abnormal behavior! Me far more than you, by the looks of it. ;) I had a 35 page screenplay due on Thursday, and me being a semi-forgetful semi-procrastinator, realized on Wednesday night that I had only written 10 pages. The craziest writing splurge ensued. Let’s just say, that the last 5 pages of it consisted of an eclectic assortment of ethereal euphemistic jokes, and considering that the first 30 pages was a pretty serious action flick – I know for a fact that it didn’t work, but I found it too entertaining to change. Good luck grading it, professor.

  16. Helena says:

    Ben – It’s funny how this might work out. Your last five pages might very well serve as the inspiration for a whole new script, this time a comedy. Or you can re-write the whole script as a sophisticated action-comedy-ethereal contemplation. But whatever way you go, the grade on the current script will likely be problematic.

    Hey, maybe you’re especially creative BECAUSE you’re a procrastinator who doesn’t sleep when he should. Artists are unique, after all!

  17. Ben says:

    Thankfully it was a rough draft and only graded on the number of pages submitted, not the content. Yeah, I’d like to turn it into a ridiculous action/comedy, but it’s so much work to re-write 35 pages! I’ll probably end up doing it, because I enjoy comedy too much – and being serious for too long is incredibly boorish.

  18. Helena says:

    Ben — For me, it’s the humor in a lot of shows and movies (and not necessarily comedies) that really make them work for me. Silver Linings is a great example, and even Lincoln had a couple funny scenes.

  19. Ben says:

    OMG, SIlver Linings was the best movie of the year! I saw it two days in a row in theaters – I saw it before all the hype came out, so I had realistic expectations thankfully, or it could have skewed how I saw it.

  20. Helena says:

    Ben – My expectations were just that it was a good movie, but the trailers didn’t do it justice. My friend and I left the theater floating on air. Wasn’t it wonderful?