Writing has always been difficult for me, not creative writing, just trying to write what I would otherwise speak if I was talking face to face. First off, I only discovered Aphantasia about 2 months ago, From here so I am still using words incorrectly. I still use language as if I had a mental picture, however I am starting to think I am on the extreme end of the scale so to say. I have never had any image in my head, I cannot conjure a touch, smell, taste, or sound at all. I never dream as far as I am concerned, I go to sleep, its black, I wake up. (I am however aware that everyone dreams, just the amount of recollection is different per person.) I can't "travel" back in time in my mind, I can only explain it as that there is a constant narrative in my head. All the time, 24 hours a day, my entire life. Not a single narrative either, its as if at any given moment there is a million things I a processing. Probably more, but the harder I try to count or approximate the more places my mind goes.
I have never thought of myself as being different than others in the way I think. When I saw the video about Aphantasia, it was as if everything I thought i knew, was shown to be a lie. It was probably the first time in my life I have been stunned, I asked my wife, "Do you actually mean you can see sheep when they say counting sheep?" She laughed and said, "Yeah, why?" At that point she realized something was up with me. We probably spent a few hours off and on that night talking as I slowly realized that this answers so many questions. It has been roughly 2 months and I am still processing everything. Every day I discover an answer to a question I did not realize I had. Why did I have a hard time making sentences as a child? Why did I have to teach myself to say every thing 2-3 times in my head before saying it out loud? How come to this day, at almost 39 years old, do I still do this?
I do want to apologize ahead of time, I tend to be very wordy. I have a very hard time writing anything. I can create a story just fine, I have been told I am good with words, well spoken with decent vocabulary. When I try to write about something I made up, I get carried away with descriptions and details to an absurd degree. Writing like I am now however, is far more difficult. I promised my wife I would not delete this though. It takes a lot of energy to keep myself on topic, if you here me speak you would understand. I tend to drift from topic to topic when I speak, explaining or rewording as I go several times in my head and as I speak. Reading the forums here I did notice something, almost everyone here with Aphantasia types like me. Spelling, grammar, paragraphs, and punctuation etc. Honestly it was the first thing I noticed, reading what everyone writes was a nice change!
Like many here I have a hard time memorizing. As a child I wanted to be a scientist more than anything in the world. As I progressed through school though my grades got worse and worse. From 3rd grade on I was pretty much a C and D student, which crushed any dreams of being a scientist. By 12th grade I dropped out since I was failing English writing. I have always felt I was just average until I met my wife, she was the one that loved pointing out how logical I think, even if I did not notice it myself at first. Although over the years I began to realize what she meant. This is the point in this paragraph I would normally go back and change the beginning to better suit where I am now, which would normally result in me changing the end. That would in turn makes me change the beginning again. Ultimately ending in me deleting everything and saying screw it. Only two things stopping me, I told my wife I would try to say something, and I am hoping this is something others might relate to.
Not sure if anyone here was a fan of George Carlin, a stand up comedian like no other. His comedy appealed to me at an early age, before I could even understand half of his material there was something different about him. A good bit of his material revolved around the English language, euphemisms being a big part that stuck with me. I always thought everyone was like me, and that "counting sheep" was euphemistic language, or even metaphorical. Its very clear now what appealed to me about his comedy at a young age, the way he described and challenged the English language.
After I dropped out of school I went to work offshore for the next 13 or so years until getting hurt. After that giant mess was over my love of science was rekindled. I caught an episode of a show called "How the Universe Works," and something inside me sparked. I have always loved learning, spending hours reading wiki pages, reading discover magazine, etc. My wife used joke I was the walking the Wikipedia. I'm drifting again, back on topic. After that episode I started watching everything I could about space and the universe, Astrophysics became a passion from there on. I was never big on reading, unless it was on science. Reading books was a chore, often having to go back and re-read pages or chapters just to try and maintain the entire story. Science however, was easy for me to read, even if I don't understand everything. Most surprising to me though, is the fact I am able to remember anything astrophysics related so much easier. I can only assume it is because I enjoy it, but to this day I cant remember a persons name unless i interact with them fairly regular. Remembering a face or name is almost impossible unless there is a unique feature about them. Some kind of quirk, or gesture they might have that is unique to me. (I tend to notice subtle things I have been told)
As I tried to explain to my wife the way I think, I finally found a way to describe it. We used the example from the original video that started this all for me. Picture a table. She can see a table and everything on it. For me though, its like I have boxes of words. (I do not "see" boxes, it is just best way I can explain my thought process to her) So, picture a table, I grab my box of words for table. What kind of table? If told a kitchen table I grab the kitchen box, if told to make one up I grab them all. What is on the table, in my word box for table i have words for tables and everything that might be on it. Every word that describes whats on the table has its own box. There is a plate, grab the plate box. This goes on and on as a constant narrative inside my head, I just pick and choose the words that best fit what I am describing. It sounds alien to most people, but is seamless for me. Another person here gave an example using hyperlinks that also fits me very well. Some links are dead ends, some go to an unrelated place. I also have strange connections with some memories, I might hear a word like toy, that triggers a memory about gravitational waves. Not sure if it was the same poster or not but if I am interrupted while speaking or doing something I lose almost all progress with what I was doing, unless I focus which means I will not hear what was being said to me.
I feel this is already way to long, so I will try to wrap this up. I did have a few questions though.
1. I have no real flow of time in my head as far as the past goes. When a memory surfaces for some random reason, time is omitted. The memory can seem like yesterday, but was in fact 20 years ago. Anything within a few days is ok, older than that and the memory can seem old and new. If that makes any sense, very hard to explain right now. Was wondering if anyone else can understand or relate.
2. I stopped buying the lie of religion around age 14, to many inconsistencies and contradictions. Things like that seem like a waste of time to me, not trying to start anything or insult anyone's religion. Just curious if this aphantasia related or not. Does the way out brains work push us to be more logical, or factual with critical thinking?
I should really stop now, I could probably write non stop. Problem being that the more i write the more it drains me to keep things somewhat in a constructive order. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, with no pictures in my head I can say they are wrong. Every part of a picture is worth a thousand words, and words are all I know. I wish I could memorize better, but if they could cure aphantasia, I would not want it. It is impossible for me to miss something I have no concept of, the mere thought of having pictures in my head is so foreign to me I really don't think I would like it. I am glad that I found a word to describe the way I think, and glad I found more people similar to myself. Something I honestly did not think I would ever find.
First, I need to say Thank You to my hubby. As much as it's driving him nuts, he didn't delete everything he typed and actually posted it. ❤ Thank You Hun.
Secondly, are there any other spouses floating around? I would love to compare notes with other couples.
I know for me the last 2 months have been enlightening because I now have something that explains my hubby's quirks. He's not being a *cough* buttmunch deliberately during different activities with us and the kids, he just doesn't/didn't understand what we were saying or doing. There's a reason he can watch the same shows over and over again and still crack up like he's never seen it before. He's the family's quirky Vulcan and we love him even more.
I just wish he would stop wordsmashing gross words out of the blue now that he knows it puts images in my head. It's funny and not at the same time because I can't get him back. LoL.
My memory is bad but nothing distant seems like it happened recently for me. I took a Eurotrip ~7 months ago and cant think of much more than a moment in each city. Im sure i could jolt more by looking at pictures but as a memory exercise i cant recall much. I could also have SDAM but i dont want to put the time into researching it further yet.
My religious experience i've been a non-believer since a very young age, but went through the catholic school system all my life. I dont like any religion - every "holy" book has terrible things written in them that we wouldnt accept today so why should i care if you dont read or pay attention to those parts. They're in there and someone will take it literally. I hate the influence religions carry... I could go on but i wont haha.
I havent watched a Carlin stand up for a while, but he really was a word smith. Would be interesting to watch now.
I should also add astronomy has been a passion i discovered last year! I bought a telescope and im looking at going back to school for a science degree now. Aphantasia has also got my interested in neurology. I read somewhere that Aphants have a higher showing in the math and science field so perhaps we have an advantage in that field somehow.
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I took a Eurotrip ~7 months ago and cant think of much more than a moment in each city. Im sure i could jolt more by looking at pictures but as a memory exercise i cant recall much
I explain it as there being no "time" in my mind. All memories I have are either clear as if they just happened, or fragments as if the data was corrupted or partially deleted. I have a constant need for learning things, and have just started with research into Aphantasia and recently SDAM. Best I can gather, anyone with Aphantasia as sever as me or worse pretty much has to also have SDAM. Going by the definition given, autobiographical memory is the ability to travel back to past memories as if there, using the minds eye.
More study is needed though, there may be other ways to utilize ones autobiographical memory we just are not aware of yet. Hell, 2 months ago i did not think people actually could "see" things in the mind, so i guess anything is possible.