Settle in, dear friends, for the story of how we discovered I have aphantasia.
One night we were lying in bed, just talking about nothing when my fella turned to me and asked a question that would literally change my life.
“If I asked you to picture a red apple in your head, what do you see?”
My first reaction was to laugh, because that’s just an expression, right? No one actually sees things in their heads, do they? What an absurd concept!
So I replied truthfully and said, “Nothing.”
The energy in the room changed completely as he tried to figure out if I was joking or not.
“What about you?” I asked, still kind of laughing, “What do you ‘see’?”
As he started explaining to me the detailed imagery he was able to conjur up in his head, I felt myself kind of shrinking into myself.
He noticed and stopped and asked, “Wait, you weren’t joking? You really can’t see anything?”
I shook my head.
He then asked me to close my eyes and describe what I saw.
But, like, how do you describe nothing? But I tried.
(this is the closest approximation I could create of what it looks like inside my brain.)
“Well, it’s like black and purple and pink static with some amorphous blobs that move around if I am looking at a direct source of light. Honestly, I just figured I was just ‘lookin’ at the blood and stuff moving in my eyelids.”
So he did a google and discovered I wasn’t the only one that experienced this and it was a thing called “aphantasia”.
My unseeing mind was BLOWN.
Like, when people would say things like “I can imagine that!” or “I’m picturing that in my head right now.”… I seriously always thought those were just figures of speech. You know, just expressions that people say.
These bitches are picturing whole scenes in their heads all the time.
Me being me, I stared doing all the research about aphantasia that I could. The official definition (according to Wikipedia) is “the inability to voluntarily create mental images in one’s mind.”
But it’s more than that, it encompasses all the senses, so I started drilling down to see which ones I could replicate or recall in my brain.
Sight is out immediately.
For touch, the Internet suggested trying to recall what the feel of being at the beach is like… the sand, the sun on the skin, all that.
For smell, I tried to recreate the smells of my favorite foods. I tried savory, sweet, everything I could think of.
I couldn’t smell shit.
That’s not to say that I smelled poop in my brain, just that I had no luck in smelling anything at all.
I tried the same thing for taste and I got nothing but the flavor of my own spit.
So then I tested out my hearing. Finally something I can recall in my brain. I was pretty confident in being able to recall sound memories and create sounds in my head, because I’ve got 27 inner monologues going on at all times in my brain. Some of them in my voice, some of them streams of memories of mean things people said to me, some of them quotes from movies and TV and some of them music.
I bet if I listened hard enough I could find nature sounds in there too.
So, there’s the story of how I figured out I have aphantasia. I love talking about my weird brain, so if you have any questions, shoot me an email or leave a comment! Questions are my literal favorite.