Mental Static - Living with a leaky brain
Well, it's 4:00 AM, and I've been awake most of the night - as usual. And as is often the case, the maelstrom of disconnected half-dreams bombarding my subconscious has thrown up a concept for me to write about.
So here I am, sitting in front of my computer and dictating in a stream-of-consciousness sort of way the sum of the thoughts I have been having recently that describe my dementia.
Dementia has provided me with a constant companion. But, unfortunately, that companion is a continual confusion of white noise that consists of snippets of remembered conversation, music, random thought and sensation.
I live in a fog of strange, spontaneous mental prompts.
I dwell amid a swirling soup of random ideas, concepts and suggestions that assail me constantly.
It's a bizarre, surreal experience. A mental tinnitus that presents significant challenges for me and is a major component of my dementia.
I could describe the sensation I experience by likening it to the random psychedelic interludes used by The Beatles, notably at the end of I am the walrus—a cacophony of disorganised, sometimes incoherent speech and strange distorted sounds that distract but are strangely enticing.
Pink Floyd also captured this strange accompaniment in some of their early work.
As you can imagine, it takes a lot of effort and concentration to try and carry on as normal with all of this distraction.
Unfortunately, I now live in a mental hubbub. But I have learned to concentrate and block out the extraneous thoughts that try to invade everything that I do.
I can filter them. And I can actually use them to my benefit by selecting the practical, helpful elements and rejecting the random nonsense.
I sometimes wonder whether my experiences while growing up in the psychedelic 60s and 70s have helped me to cope with the strangeness with which I now live.
My waking hours are spent filtering confusion, and my night times are spent immersed in the surreal worlds constructed from the randomly generated static produced by my mind.
The most prominent aspect of my dementia is this confusion of mental noise. It isn't my short-term memory (although that is, of course, a nuisance). And I believe that the difficulty that I have in concentrating affects my ability to remember things quite severely. It also affects my organisational skills.
Inside my head, a choir, an orchestra, a dialogue, a newsreel and a plethora of other sensory
triggers are constantly churning and vying for attention. A groundswell of background noise that I sometimes think of as a "memory leak".
But it's more than that.
Sometimes, valuable insights are gifted to me. The themes for poetry, short stories, or research pop out of the static unasked, intrude on my consciousness and are gratefully scooped up.
Is my experience unusual? I don't know. I've never had the opportunity to discuss my experiences with anyone else on the same journey.
Is it important? I think it is. I think it should be considered, researched, and examined. It's the curse of my life, but occasionally, when it delivers an insight, a blessing.