Not getting to see the big picture. My life with Aphantasia.

Ez-Bri-Z s

French cheese makes me sick and that is no laughing matter.

What an opening line, huh? So what in the world does that have to do with this MyTake? Well, for now, just keep it in mind and I promise to come back to it later.

You may be wondering what exactly is Aphantasia? Well, contrary to popular belief, it is not the name of the next Disney princess. In short, it is the inability to visualize imagery in your head. For example, if I told you to picture a cat in your head, I am sure most of you could start picturing some sort of cat familiar to you. In my head, I can't even picture my OWN cat let alone any others. Now, sometimes, I might get an ever so brief glimpse as if seeing something out of the corner of my eye, but when I try to focus on it all I get is emptiness similar to a black screen. What I can do in its place is have a list of cat characteristics and recite those. I can say a cat has a tail and whiskers and sometimes fur of different colors.

For the longest time, I actually thought this was the norm. I ended up just being curious one day trying to figure out how someone can be creative when they couldn't even picture what they were going to write or design. I stumbled across a great article on it which I will post at the end of this MyTake that covers a lot of this in more detail. So why am I bothering to post this at all if there is an article, you ask? Well, for one, I thought it was an interesting topic and two, I promised someone on here I would. The problem is, I can't remember who it is I promised which brings me to the next issue with Aphantasia, names.

Aside from not being able to picture images, it also affects other parts of my memory, the biggest of those being names. Names are the bane of my existence at times. I don't watch TV, I rarely ever read books and I skip cut scenes in games just because I know I won't be able to remember any of the characters anyway. One game I play I have been playing for 4.5 years and I STILL couldn't tell you any of the main characters names. It isn't just people's names either, it is sometimes just the names of things. I had a conversation where I literally couldn't remember the word 'strap' when talking about needing a new purse. My last job I was at for 10 years. I knew that system inside and out, but if you asked me to explain it and all the other programs it connected to I would sound like I had never seen it in my life.

So, how do I cope with it? Well, for writing and designing, I don't have to do a thing. I never get writer's block because I can't picture it anyway. Once my hands go to the keyboard and mouse, things just sort of flow into place exactly how it should be without much conscious thought from me. It's as if everything I need is already there, I just can't see it until it is on the screen. For names, this works a little different. I may not be able to remember the names, but I can remember phrases well enough. For those who I speak with most, I usually have some sort of phrase that gets me back to their name and something special about them. I will provide a couple of examples below with people on here.

Santa wants a biscuit and Kit tea. - @ChrisMaster69

Phoenix Downs don't work in cut scenes - @Still-alive

See? That wasn't so bad and the games ended up being fine. - @PaynefulPleasures

I have one for a lot of the people I speak to the most on here.I know these probably won't make a lick of sense at first glance for you, but for me, they give me vital reminders of who I am talking to. I don't want to seem rude by forgetting someone and it's not like I try to do it on purpose. I am just literally drawing a blank on your name. This is also why I spend so much time researching before answering some questions. I want to make sure I am giving the most accurate answer I can with the right information before posting a response.

Clear as mud? Good.
Clear as mud? Good.

Speaking of memory, I posted a phrase in the first line of this MyTake. Now it is time to decipher it the same way I do in my head to get back to someone's name.

* French Cheese = Brie (Or in my case Bri)

* Makes me sick = Gagging/choking/vomiting (this person I met on GaG)

* No laughing matter = jokes

Comes together as: Bri is the girl from the GaG site who loves telling jokes.

Fun stuff, huh? It is an amazing thing what they mind can do when forced to overcome obstacles. I am sure some of the things you consider normal might be completely strange to someone else. These obstacles and workarounds just happen to be mine.

I hope this MyTake was a memorable one, but if not, here is a friendly phrase for you to remember and try to get back to it with.

Disney has way too many Princesses for me to remember, if you ask me.

Article: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/when-the-minds-eye-is-blind1/

Not getting to see the big picture. My life with Aphantasia.
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  • exitseven
    This is really interesting. I have to wonder what life was like for you in high school?
    I always found you to be very intelligent and I wonder if having to figure a workaround to life made you really aware and made you more intelligent,
    Thanks for writing this.
    Like 1 Person
    Is this still revelant?
    • Ez-Bri-Z

      Funny enough in high school I was still a big nerd lmao. I would ask for my homework and have it done before they would even teach it because it was easier for me to have that visual and do it myself using my own devices rather than it was for me to hear it and try to remember it.

      Thank you for the compliments and also for taking the time to read/comment on this!

    • exitseven

      I have often thought there was something wrong with me my whole life. Maybe Asperger's syndrome but no I don't have that. I am just not like everyone else (I know, nobody is) and I am 50 years old and still trying to figure it out. It was good to read this article about something that is totally internal to your life experience. I am trying to picture (I guess that is not the right word) what this would be like because I often run an internal movie in my head.

    • Ez-Bri-Z

      So when dreaming, I know I am capable of full on cinematic movies, but once I am awake I can't describe them other than general ideas.

      I am still finding things out about myself too. I didn't know about this until last year and now after talking with a therapist this week for the first time since I was a child, she actually thinks I might have adhd which would explain soooo much.

      This is why I always encourage people to never stop learning, even about yourself. You will always find out something interesting you may have never known before.

    • Show All
  • Still-alive
    lol yes how inconvenient how we can't just pheonix down Aerith in FF7 smh

    And yeah im terrible with names myself. usually takes about 3 separate times of hearing the name before i get it.

    Thanks for sharing Bri!
    Like 1 Person
    Is this still revelant?
    • Ez-Bri-Z

      Lmao I am so glad you got the reference.

      Ty for reading it!

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What Girls & Guys Said

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  • juliaanita
    That was such a fun read! It caught my attention because dear writer, I have been blessed (or cursed) with hyperphantasia-a 180 degree twist of the dial from your setting. My head fills itself with vivid pictures of.. well... everything. Aromas and tastes turn themselves in colorful graphics. The soft touch of lamb's wool makes me see clouds in a full-moon light as they blow silently cross the sky. I hear a piano concerto and I see the ocean waves with dazzling sunbeams sparkling through their crest. So the markers in my little brain-the subjective correlatives of my own reality-are vivid mind's eye depictions of all of my other senses.
    FYI there is also-apparently-a thing called prophantasia, which makes me think that there is also an postphantasia (although I can't confirm that). And of course there is the actual FANTASIA-my favorite Disney flick of all time. There are no princesses, but really, it is a (poor) representation of the way my own mind operates.
    Also FYI-people like yourself tend toward STEM professions, and that makes sense, as you listed 'computers' in your profile. I am supposed to be more creative-and that makes less sense because all I am is a registered nurse.
    So thanks for your enjoyable read-I love your writing style. Your take will forever be marked in my head (if you can imagine this) as a beautiful yellow bumblebee fat full of pollen-buzzing through a lavender field that goes on forever.

    :) :)
    Like 1 Person
    • Ez-Bri-Z

      Thank you. You have no idea how much I needed a pick me up right now.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and for the compliments. It is so funny how the mind works for different people and why I try to do my best to delve into those experiences to try and get an idea of the world at large through them.

      The creative side of me is a complete mystery. It's weird to be able to sit down with nothing except maybe a basic topic and then just let my hands to the rest. I could be watching YouTube and writing a MyTake. For decorating designs, I have to focus more, but I seem to be able to distinguish minute changes in coloring, but no clue what the color is called other than your basics (blue, green, red, etc).

      I'd love to just experience what you have for a day to know what that is like to be able to see pictures and not just basic things but a full on fully 3d rendered scene. Even with your example I'm really trying to picture it, but all I can get is knowing what a bee and yellow are. I know it can fly. Maybe from the corner of eye I might be able to see a blur, but that's it.

    • juliaanita

      So very fascinating!! I wish we had the opportunity to one day meet face to face. Between the two us, we would be just... normal :)
      It has always interested me the diverse paths human beings may take to perceive the world around them. And sometimes late at night I wonder about what our normal senses cannot perceive. I wonder about the realities we may be missing just because we haven't yet learned how to perceive them.
      Anyway, thanks for talking to me too. I enjoyed it.

    • Ez-Bri-Z

      You sound like an amazing person to have conversations with. We really need more of that around here 😊

      Feel free to talk with me anytime!

    • Show All
  • AmandaYVR
    Wow. Very interesting!
    That must be very difficult. But I presume you were born that way, it's not a brain damage situation, so you've always had to find ways to cope. Which we all do for our own deficiencies.
    I was watching a fascinating roundtable discussion yesterday of the Nobel winners of 2017. The host, who I thought did a very good job moderating, brought up the topic that three of the guest winners/speakers deal with some health issues - such as dyslexia. And one, who was not included in this, got very testy, and said that we should focus on the joy and passion and positives of life and who cares about such supposed inadequacies.
    I thought he overreacted and got unnecessarily uppity. I think the host was celebrating everyone there, and it was a conscious way of reminding the viewers (filmed to be aired on TV, so millions would be watching it) that there really are no excuses, saying things like "Well I'm not as smart as these people." They all agreed that they are just passionate, and dedicated to their work. They all had intellectual curiosity.
    I can sometimes be blamed for focusing on negatives too much as well. Training oneself out of that can be sort of like muscle memory.
    So while I want to say "This is tough, what you've had to deal with", I also want to not emphasis it, and just say, "Good job, you've figured out ways to compensate!"
    Thanks for sharing.
    Like 1 Person
    • Ez-Bri-Z

      First off, thank you for taking the time to read and respond to this. Yes, I was born with this and have never had brain trauma other than trying to read some posts that show up on this site. As I stated, I didn't even realize it wasn't the norm until sometime early this year. As for what to say, just speak from your heart. It may not always be the perfect words, but it will always be the honest ones.

      I want to share a story. My youngest brother has a bone disease known as Osteogenesis Imperfecta, basically, brittle bone disease. Growing up, he refused to stop doing things with my brother or I. We might be doing something as simple as shooting baskets on the hoop in my dad's front yard and he would break a bone from something like catching the ball wrong or jumping up and cracking his shin bone when landing. He knew he broke something, but he would continue playing until we were done and then he would tell us he had broken something. He refused to ride around in a wheelchair when he could help it just so people wouldn't stare at him. I couldn't possibly imagine the level of pain he went and continues to go through on a daily basis. What I do know, is he didn't make excuses for it. Today my brother is extremely successful in his career. He does really well pay wise, he owns his own home and car, heck, he even married a high school cheerleader.

      (Side note for the guys who think height is an issue, my brother is 5'2 and his wife is 5'9 or 5'10. If he can do it, you can too. And, no, they were married long before his career took off.)

      He would never accept the idea of sympathy for his situation. He'd despise it honestly. This is why I think the host was right in his approach. It isn't a negative thing to have something that is abnormal. It is just a different way of needing to approach it. Let those examples shine for others who think their odds are insurmountable. We don't all need to do it the same way, we just need to make the effort to try.

    • AmandaYVR

      That was indeed a wonderful story. 👌💕 And so true. Everyone, deep down, admires those who don't blame others and fall into victim mentality, etc etc. Your life is yours, and what you become, in many respects, is made by you.

  • A_Bell
    I seem to be exactly opposite. I can daydream elaborate scenes in my head and if I am sleepy I can dream while still awake.

    I can't imagine not being able to visualize things.

    How do you recognize people if you have no visual image of what they look like?
    Like 1 Person
    • Ez-Bri-Z

      Sometimes I can't if I have only seen them once or twice. For my wife though, for example, if you asked me to picture her face I could tell you she has red hair, green eyes and thats about it. If you put 10 pictures in front of me I could select her instantly.

      It's not that the pictures in my head don't exist, I just don't have access to them. I can however match it to something once the image is in front of me.

    • A_Bell

      That's so strange. The brain is a marvel.

    • Ez-Bri-Z

      It really is and that is why I had to go look it up because I do actually really well in creative pursuits like writing and decorating which made no sense to me because I had no idea what I was going to do before I started lol

      I would love for other people to share their quirks one day and maybe they will find people who be a kindred spirit in it.

  • ChrisMaster69
    Princess just wow, what a brilliant My Take.

    you are excellent.

    Love and Kisses to a sweet and lovely princess
    Like 1 Person
  • Seinna
    I don't normally read MyTakes but this one seemed so interesting!

    Thank you for sharing your unique experience, I had no idea something like that existed. I of course don't have Aphantasia, but I can relate to you on some instances - I have Face Blindness so I can picture in my head anything I want, unless it's a specific face of someone I'm not very close with :D

    People usually want to be different, meanwhile we're just trying to be normal lol

    I can't imagine how you could function at school and work but I think it's fascinating. Like living life on a hard mode. I think a book character with Aphantasia would be very interesting!

    I'm a bit nervous writing it, I hope if you remember me at all, it won't be me saying something stupid :'D
    Like 2 People
    • Ez-Bri-Z

      First off, thank you for taking the time to read it! I am honored that you did.

      As for school, I usually would ask for my assignments up front and have them done before they were finished teaching them because it was easier for me to do that then to retain everything they said. I had a constant visual guide from the books.

      I would love to read your writing when done and if you need any life experiences to make the character have more authenticity I would love to help out.

  • tatianamay
    Wow, this was an amazing MyTake. I absolutely loved it. You’ve done a wonderful job 🥰❤️
    Like 2 People
  • anylolone
    You are the bane of RPG designers or cinematic game designers.
    lol!
    You should speed run.
    Like 1 Person
    • Ez-Bri-Z

      Lol the worst is the game I was referencing was Final Fantasy 14 which is an mmo to boot. Everyone talks about the lore of the game and no joke I am just like:

      "So Dead eyes and Pikachu are fighting for a pencil or something?"

      You can feel the heat of their glare through the screen.

    • anylolone

      lol!

  • Asianguy123
    Don’t even start if you are not rich men or hot model. The rest of the people are scavengers eating whatever fallen into the bottom of the ocean.
  • girlinthemirror
    why did u choose to put that wrinckled woman at the topic
    Disagree 1 Person
  • Miah02
    Thank you for sharing something so personal
    Like 1 Person
    • Ez-Bri-Z

      Thank you for taking the time to read it!

  • NathanDavis
    such a beautiful mind you have, amazing indeed...
    Like 1 Person
  • Joker_
    I have aphantasia too, so I relate to all of this
    Like 1 Person
  • KrakenAttackin
    Is this a result of damage to the frontal lobes?
    • Ez-Bri-Z

      Nope, not a lot is actually known about it, but you can just have it at birth. Everything else is fine, we just can't access that part of our brain like others can.

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