Aphantasia – Living a life without mental images

Aphantasia - Living a life without mental images

Did you ever ask yourself if the way you are thinking is any different from the way other people think? The question itself is already strange. I always thought everyone thinks the same way. But this is not the case.

One afternoon I had a conversation with my mom. It was about the dinner plans of the following week. For me it’s always difficult to plan dinner far ahead. I mostly decide spontanously what I want to eat. The conversation became strange when she asked me (already a bit stressed because I couldn’t make a decision) what my problem would be as if I think about food I should see all the images of different dishes in my minds eye. This confused me. A lot. She noticed my confusion and tried to explain what she sees when she thinks about stuff.

I honestly thought that there would be something wrong with my mom. Seeing images in your head? Come on! So I called my best friend which told me that he sees them too. That if I would talk about donuts for example, he would see a donut appearing in his mind. He told me this as if it was completely normal. So there had to be something wrong with me then? I tried to find at least 1 person that would not be able to see images in their mind – without success.

Everyone I asked kinda thought that I would be crazy asking those kind of questions. Many even misunderstood the simple question of “When you think of an airplane right now…can you see an image of an airplane?” This was really frustrating.
I started to search on the web for information then. Back then I couldn’t find a lot. Which was even more frustrating. People I know told me that it wouldn’t matter if I see those images or not. It wouldn’t be important. Honestly..it is me living without that..how can they know what it feels like?

I tried a lot to activate the ability to see mental images. Nothing worked. Till now.

When I close my eyes there is nothing else than darkness. Everything is black. Of course when light is shed on my closed eyes then I see some kind of light shining through my closed eyelids. When I sleep I do dream sometimes. Rarely. But IF I dream then it’s basically a lucid dream or I am out of body…so I am not sure if “dreams” are really what other people experience.

After a while and due to not giving up to find information I found out that seeing no mental images is called Aphantasia. There are forums now and facebookgroups. Although it seems that seeing no mental images is not the same for everyone. Some people see letters or words, some see pictures, some see nothing…and some see sometimes something and sometimes not.
For me… I never see anything in my minds eye – frustrating.

Of course you could say it’s no big deal if you miss on some stuff in your minds eye. But think about it. If you want to remember your grandma that died ca. 20 years ago. You simply cannot recall her face in your mind. You need a picture to stare at.
If you want to do a meditation it becomes fun: “You are in a large forest and are following a small trail. All of a sudden you see a gate that leads to a hidden part of the forest” Thinking about the forest my mind already goes crazy from all the options. How the trail looks is also kinds complicated. Is it straigh? Curved? In which way and how does the damn gate look like? Is it made of metal? Wood? Are there decorations on it? After you thought about all those things in the beginning of a guided meditation reaching a meditative state is kinda impossible.
The same goes for conversations with friends, family and your loved on. Things which are totally clear to them simply work different in my head and misunderstandings are the logical result.

I am glad that my family, friends and the love of my life know about the lack of mental images in my mind and that they do their best to support me with it. It’s not really a handicap of course but things are simply different for me.

I also have no sense of orientation, my drawing skills equal zero and following someone who tells me the content of a movie simply bores me to death.

Instead of seeing images in my mind I have the full package of anything else. I am an energyhealer and work a lot with energy. I am an empath and feel simply every little thing. I feel colors, sounds, vibrations, feelings and thoughts of others. From basically every person around me but also from people I know which are far away at the moment. This is also not always the easiest thing on earth.

I have accepted the fact that people can see things in their head – even if I totally cannot imagine how this is or feels. The thought of it gives me the feeling as if my mind would explode. I am not sure if I will ever fully understand this, all I can do is to accept the fact that this is how it is.

Lots of love,
Neelah

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