I’m sure you’ve been asked to picture something in your head. An old memory, what someone looks like or an imaginary place. When you have been reading a book you can picture the scene in your head. Well, I can’t. I have never been able to. I always thought it was just another facet of my oddness. But it turns out I am not the only one and there’s even a suggested name for it. For the time being it is called Aphantasia. Makes it sound like something magical and wonderful, but it’s not. It can actually be horrible. My grandad passed away a few years ago and I can’t picture what he looks like. I don’t even have a photograph to look at, so I can remember him. I was there when he passed away and although I can feel the emotions I went through, I can’t picture any of it. I can’t remember seeing him for the last time. That tears me up inside. Sometimes I just wished I could remember him.
The same for my cat. Might seem stupid, but he passed away a couple of years and I had had him for 8 years. He was my baby boy. My first ‘real’ pet of my own. We had a family dog, but I had moved away for a few years when we lost her and I’ve had a few hamsters, but he was my first pet that I felt connected to. He was my furbaby. And I can’t picture him. I have lots of photos of him, even a big canvas of him, but when I look at it, it sometimes feels as though I’m looking at a pet I don’t even know, as I notice different markings each time. As I can’t picture what he looked like. It’s frustrating. I just wish I could remember without having to have a picture.
It has also made me feel stupid. People asking me if I remember things, to somewhere we went together or something they were wearing on a particular day. I can’t picture it. If they tell me, I’ll know what they are talking about, but I still can’t see it in my mind. I know what people are talking about and sometimes I can describe it, but it isn’t because I can picture it, I just know it. For example if someone asked me to draw a circle, I could. But I can’t see it in my mind. I just know what one looks like. When I’ve tried to explain this to people, they look at me like I’ve grown another head. They just don’t get it. I guess they just think everyone can picture things in their mind. I have no idea if it is linked to my mental health or if it is just something else I have, or don’t as the case may be.
There hasn’t been much research or studies done about it, so I don’t know what causes it and if I could ever be ‘cured’ of it.
So, if you cannot picture images in your mind, know you are not alone and you’re not that odd or weird.