Internal Narratives and Aphantasia – Who Knew??

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Do you have an ‘Internal Narrative’ – an ongoing dialogue in your head? Never told anyone, ‘cos you think you’ll out yourself as a weirdo? Or do you struggle with picturing things in your ‘mind’s eye’, and can’t figure out why nary a flock of sheep has graced you with their presence when your eyelids are closed? Well hey, turns out there’s a club out there you can join! (Metaphorically speaking.)

I came across this article today, on Internal Narratives, which then led to this one on Aphantasia, and they completely blew my mind! I have an internal narrative that Never. Shuts. Up. Every waking hour of my day is narrated. I’ve just put it together that this is why I’m happy to spend hours, even days at a time, alone in silence. It’s because I’m never actually alone. There’s always a voice, or voices, inside my head having ongoing conversations with me. There IS no silence! The only times The Inner Narrative really shuts up is when I’m watching television, which isn’t often because I don’t have one, or playing instruments and/or singing, or when I’m reading a novel. Which I do with great frequency, largely because I need a break from the babbling Inner Narrative. Reading, for me, is bubble gum for the mind.

It also explains why I can’t meditate. Ever. At all. So shutting myself inside a cave in the mountains to meditate would be a moot point, as would taking myself off for a few weeks to a meditational retreat. Which is good to know, as it will save me a stack of money and a whole heap of frustration. Plus, and let’s look at this from a practical point of view, caves aren’t usually furnished with couches, beds or refrigerators, and anyway, my cat would probably miss me. Probably…

The other thing is, it turns out that I have Aphantasia. I can not picture things in my head. I have no ‘mind’s eye’. This has long been a source of exasperation for me, as I love doing crafts, such as sculpting, watercolour painting, etc. I now understand why I can be there for days trying to create something awesome, without having an ‘end product’ in mind. I have a table in my home that is towering with projects that I’ve never finished, because I don’t actually know what they’re finally going to be. Disembodied heads, legs, vessels and as-yet-unidentifiable objects abound on my ‘table of unfinished mysteries’.

I once spent a whole year (and a large wad of money) studying graphic design, and really struggled with coming up with concepts and putting them on paper, while everyone else in the class whipped up diagrams and drawings in no time at all! I could never figure out how they did that. I was obviously in the wrong class. I did actually finish that year and got my qualifications, but I came very damned close to turning into a blathering, dribbling idiot from the stress. (And yes, to those who know me and are reading this post, I know full well I already had the idiot part down pat. But I don’t usually blather and dribble. No, I do not. C’mon, gimme a break.)

Anyway, I guess this is why I never went into the tattoo business. Can you imagine? “Yes sir, I could probably design you a tattoo like that. Could you come back in a year please?”

Thus, these articles clarified much for me, and it’s a relief to finally find out that it’s a ‘thing’. Isn’t it funny how much better you can feel when you find your ‘label’? There are people out there who say that ‘labelling’ is segregating, separating and discriminatory. I beg to differ. Once I know that a thing that I have has a category, or a recognition – an acknowledgement in some way, it means I can start finding solutions to working around it, if it happens to be a block in my path. For my part, understanding is everything.

And I feel better knowing that there are others out there like me. It’s one thing to feel that you might be a bit of a weirdo, it’s a whole other thing to know that there’s enough others like you that you’re actually part of a tribe. We have enough herd animal in us, at a primal basis, that tribalism, on whatever level, is a source of comfort and company. And, somewhere out there is a wee slot that we can tuck ourselves into, mill around with our fellow weirdos and mumble about our ‘thing’ together. Ain’t life grand with the internet??

And so, now I’m really curious about how many others of you are out there that walk through their daily life with these issues. Feel free to comment on this. I’d also love to hear from those of you who are opposite, or have parallels on other levels, such as Hyperphantasia (extreme or far above average mental visualization), or enhanced audial abilities for instance. Cheers to you all. Have a happy day. I’m off to chat with the voices in my head.


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