My Dark Mind

I have something called Aphantasia.  I am an aphantasiac.  I cannot picture things in my mind’s eye.  I did not realize that it was actually possible to do so until just a few years ago.  I assumed it was a metaphor.  I assumed everyone was like me.

Nope.

2% of the population is like me.  We cannot see things in our heads.  I cannot imagine the faces of people I know well, I cannot picture places I used to live, I cannot see my dog, unless these things are right in front of me.

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I can describe things.  I know the nice guy I met has brown eyes and a great smile full of straight, white teeth, and he’s darker complected than I am and often wears a hat. However, those are words.  I am not envisioning him as I write them.  My mind is dark.  I see nothing.  All these words are merely facts.

 

I am a police sketch artist’s worst nightmare. 

 

Photographs have always been important to me.  In them are all the details my brain has stored away, but I cannot access like most people do.  People, places, colors, shapes.  I need the photos to recapture these things others have ability to recall at will.  I take thousands of photos, everywhere I go.  Fortunately, my father did, too.  Much of my life can be reconstructed through them.

 

I cannot see my father’s face without a photo.

 

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In my dreams the people have no faces, the places are almost never ones I have been to before.  I do not relive experiences.  I can’t.  My nightmares are unseen: feelings and sensations and shadowy things lurking just beyond my sight.

 

 

I forget so much of my past.  It’s like I am being erased from the beginning, and have to outrun the eraser by living faster.  I don’t remember classmates, or events that happened, or things I have done, without writing them down.  Sometimes when people say “remember that one time…” I smile and say that I do.  But I don’t.

When I tell a story I am frequently accused of being too descriptive, and taking too much time to get to the point.  But for me, therein lies the beauty.  I crave the details I cannot picture.  I tell you about a tree, and you can imagine it.  For me, I need the words.  All the words.  There are no trees in my own mind.

It’s just dark in there. 

 

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