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Addiction ADHD Atomoxetine Atomoxetine (Strattera) Depression Drugs Meditation Mental Health Sobriety Strattera Treatment Wellness

Life After Strattera

Just over 3 years since taking those first steps into the Doctor´s, (25.09.17), to admit that I had a problem with alcohol and ask for help, I find myself sober, and trying to piece together my life and personality, whilst giving my brain some TLC and the much-needed freedom from the shackles of substance abuse. Life after Strattera has not been easy but each day that passes I feel more positive and closer to finding the inner peace that I have spent my life searching for.

A recent picture in the Parc del Laberint del Horta in Barcelona 03.01.21

Life After Strattera

Although I have been free of alcohol for over 3 years, I was never truly liberated as I passed through different stages of addiction, medication (Strattera / Atomoxetine), and addiction recovery. Click here to read about how Strattera Changed My Life

As I wrote in a previous article, Overcoming Addiction: Your Deceptive Brain, our brains will try anything they can to replace the fix that they once had. It is a highly problematic situation because any substance or activity, no matter how mundane or innocent it may seem, can quickly turn into an addiction or an obsession.

I came to realise that the fear and inability to be sober and alone with our thoughts is the driving force behind the addictive, escapist behaviour that so many of us exhibit.

When was the last time you spent a week without any mind altering substance?

The unbalanced levels of neurotransmitters in the brain such as Dopamine and Serotonin due to alcohol, drugs, poor diet, lack of sleep, stress, trauma, and repressed emotions or memories cause us to be in altered states of consciousness and this affects our mood and view on life.

Searching For Comfort And Pleasure

Some time in 2018 during my Shisha phase

After quitting drinking, I passed through a heavy nicotine addiction – smoking shisha for about 2 hours a day for a year, a caffeine addiction, periods of MDMA and Ketamine use, an addiction to work, exercise, Tinder, and just about anything to distract myself from being sober.

This all culminated in the decision to leave Barcelona and head to Brazil with a one-way ticket (click here to check a short documentary that I made in the Amazon Rainforest).

I thought that I could literally run away from my problems by leaving my life behind. At the time I thought I would never come back but of course, you cannot run forever and eventually I was forced back into reality and back to a life that hadn´t changed in my absence.

Learning To Accept Your True Self

It has taken me the good part of 3 years to learn to recognise and accept this escapist behaviour, and try to sit down with myself and really be me with no substance or distractions. This hasn´t been a particularly pleasant process, as there is no hiding from intrusive thoughts or past mistakes.

Over the summer I tried to push this to the extreme by spending entire days fasting in silence. I wanted to really experience this inner silence and be alone with myself, whilst also resisting the urge to talk, or write.

To people around me it seemed like a stupid exercise but in a few short days I feel that I really learned to appreciate silence and began to learn to control the urge to constantly blurt things out.

I came to realise that we learn far more when we stay silent and observe than when we incessantly talk.

In a desperate attempt to experience being my true self, I took what I believed to be the appropriate measures to help myself flush out the innate need inside me for stimulation. I tried to remove as many external pleasures from my life as I could:

Alchohol, Medication, Drugs, Caffeine, Sugar, Animal products, Gluten Excercise.

Fighting Depression

I thought that this would just magically solve all of my problems but after coming off my medication Strattera / Atomoxetine, I quickly entered into a deep depression.

Removing all of the things from my life which gave me pleasure was very difficult and just pushed me further down but I felt that it was necessary to try and “reset” my brain. Whether or not this is the best way to handle it I am not sure. I have always been a person to take drastic measures to try and break habits and learn new things.

My logic was that if I could fight through the depression with as little external stimuli as possible then I would reset my base level of happiness. If I could learn to use natural tools such as breathing and meditation to help control my mood and productivity then I would be able to free myself from the need for an addiction or distraction.

I came to realise that we should be able to find happiness and gratitude in all aspects of life, but that it just takes a bit (or a lot) of practice. Click here to read about How to Become Grateful.

Hallucinations From Meditation

Once I found out that we can reach levels of intense euphoria, hallucinations, and visions just from breathwork and meditation I turned my attention to learning this art. Euphoria and hallucinations are the goal of most drug users, so learning that this was possible using our own physiology made me a very happy man.

I have not yet had any crazy experiences but I am not losing sight of the goal. Neither am I very advanced at meditation or breath work but it is a work in progress. Just like going to the gym to train our muscles, we must train our brain to change frequency and enter new levels of relaxation, creativity and love.

These are the sort of hallucinations that can be experienced from psychedelic drugs and I hope to be able to see these sober one day!

To try and maintain sanity I have been trying to meditate as frequently as possible. I have also been trialling different methods of breathwork and have recently started a self-hypnosis course to learn how to enter into states of trance and either relax, or program new positive thoughts into the brain.

One of the most inspirational people that I follow is Wim Hof – the “Ice man”. Check out this video below where he introduces his breathwork.

There is a wealth of resources out there and I think the key is finding what works best for you. It is important to enter any new practice with an open mind and no expectations. Consistency is vital and incorporating any new practice into your routine takes time and dedication.

Strattera / Atomoxetine has been an amazing help in my life and I am so grateful to have experienced its effects. Life after Strattera is a whole new experience but it is a welcome challenge.

Support My Work!

This blog and other related projects require a lot of time and money but I do it because I want to help people.

If you have benefitted from my content and would like to help me to keep creating more, then I would be so grateful for any donations through my Patreon account.

life after strattera
Fireworks to mark the start of 2021 from Montjuic Mountain in Barcelona

Please Get In Contact!

I love hearing from people so please don´t be shy. If there is anything that you would like to hear more about or if you have any questions then you can contact me in any way that you would like!

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Overcoming Addiction: Your Deceptive Brain

Overcoming Addiction Is Possible

It is not easy and it is not quick but overcoming addiction it is possible. As you start to chip away at addictions and bad habits and give your brain more space and time to think you start to undercover the true reasons for why you have problems with addiction.

As you start to remove the false pleasures and painkillers from life, you start to free your mind and uncover the ugly truths that you have been hiding from this whole time. Bit by bit the world that you have created for yourself begins to unravel.

Addiction: Your Deceptive Brain

It’s a highly unpleasant process and the brain, being the astonishingly deceptive and manipulative organ that it is, starts latching onto anything that it can find. Your alcohol consumption decreases, your cannabis consumption increases, your cannabis consumption decreases, your caffeine consumption increases. Your caffeine consumption decreases and your sugar intake sky-rockets.

Sex, drugs, and rock and roll, your brain will find any way it can to regain the pleasure it is so desperate to feel.

The brain is the master of mind games and will try to confuse you and avoid the truth. It will do whatever it can to mask your insecurities. The brain will go to extreme measures to trick you into thinking there is nothing wrong with you and stop you from overcoming addiction.

It is only when you remove these cheap pleasures that your brain has nowhere to hide. It cant hide behind false euphoria and distraction. You are forced to confront what you have been hiding from. As you begin to remove your masks any pain, trauma, and negative emotions that you have bottled up will surface and there is no way to stop this.

Questioning Yourself

You start to question your relationships with people. You start to question how you have treated people and how they have treated you in return. You start to realise the damage that your selfish actions have been causing yourself and your loved ones.

The resentment you hold towards those you believe to have mistreated you is totally inversed as it dawns on you that the one doing the damage has been you. By damaging yourself you have damaged those that you care about, whilst believing that you are in fact the victim in this situation.

Addicts are selfish, self-centred, and self-absorbed because their brains have put them in survival mode. They are unable to view the outside world for what it is and how their actions affect others, as this causes them even more mental damage. The shame, self-blame and guilt is bottled up and thrown down a deep ravine.

Playing The Victim

Addicts play the victim because they are victims, victims of their own self harm, self-loathing and self-hatred. Victims of their own selfishness and the problems they burden themselves with. When you see repeated patterns of selfishness, lack of empathy, lack of understanding and sometimes outright ignorance in a person you believe to be a good person, understand why.

Understand that that person’s internal struggle and addiction has caused their stress levels to rise, which in turn shuts down the brain, and puts the person into a state of self-protection and self-obsession.

The brain expends no effort taking into consideration other people emotions or feelings because it is totally inundated with its own stress, anxiety and fear.

There are no moments of silence, no time for self-reflection, and certainly no space for loving, healthy relationships or friendships.

The Brain In Survival Mode

The brain is doing everything it can to keep itself safe from external threats and so the outside world becomes the enemy.

The problem is that the brain likes this state. This state of high stress is a deep-rooted intrinsic survival mechanism. We are born to survive, and our brains will do anything they can to protect us. The safest way for the brain to ensure protection is to consider its own needs before the needs of others.

A World Filled With Addiction

Unfortunately, when you have a world filled with addiction, a world filled with people trying to escape reality and a world distracted from reality, you end up with a damaged world filled with greed.

Greed, another key characteristic in the addict´s survival handbook. Addicts need money, they don’t just want it they need it. They need to consume – food, drugs, clothes, material objects. This need to purchase and consume is just another way to satisfy the brains craving for that metaphorically cheap dopamine fix. Depleted levels of natural Dopamine and Serotonin caused by the consumption

The outside world cannot make us happy. Only we can make ourselves happy, and we do this by beginning to truly understand and accept ourselves. To accept our flaws but learn to love them. To work through our wrongdoings and regrets.

This whole process takes a lot of time, patience, support and willpower. There can be breakdown after breakdown and days, weeks or months without any feelings of happiness but never let go of that glimmer of hope for better days.

Overcoming addiction is an arduous path to take but no matter how many times you fall, once you make the decision to begin you will not want to turn back.

We are a work in progress, but just putting the effort in to chip away at the outer greedy, selfish shell we can begin to focus on the wonderfully creative, intelligent, and truly confident person that we are waiting to become.

By just trying to change, we are always as perfect as we can be.

Each new day.

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Removing Your Three Masks

First of all, I would like to apologise for abandoning the blog for such a long time. I was undergoing a lot of changes mentally and was really struggling to get anything done. I knew I had to just ride out the tough times, try to learn as much from it all, and emerge stronger on the other side. During this time, I began to unknowingly chip away at the three masks I will talk about in this article.

I know a lot of people have been waiting to hear the rest of the story with my experience with Strattera (Atomoxetine) and so I apologise for keeping you waiting. I felt like it would be unfair of me to write anything before the journey had properly ended.

I am glad to say that the story has a happy ending, and I am beginning to return to what I believe is a new and improved version of my “normal” self.

Since my decision to quit drinking alcohol in September 2017 I have been on a tumultuous path towards what I hope to be a life free from addiction and the mental burden that comes with this.

Along my path I have been forced to face the ugly truths and explore the deep parts of my soul that I had kept hidden even from myself. By doing this I began to unknowingly demask myself, and I am now trying to live a life as faithful to my true self as possible.

masking
Typical Carnival masks. Click here to read “What Actually is Carnival”

It Is Believed That We Have Three Faces or “Masks”

The First Mask

The first mask is what we show to the world, the person that we want everyone to think we are – often: flawless, confident, and happy. This first mask is fuelled by: alcohol, drugs, caffeine, nicotine, sugar, and all other stimulants or false pleasures that give us false confidence.

The more substances you consume, the thicker your mask will be.

The Second Mask

The second mask is reserved for close friends and family and reveals us at a more intimate level. We feel comfortable enough to reveal some of our less pleasant characteristics and a deeper insight into our personality is observed.

The Third Mask

The third mask is what we believe about ourselves before spending time to introspect and really get to know our true self. The third mask often suffers the negative effects of the substances that we put inside ourselves. The anxiety, fear, and depression that all substances -even sugar- cause.

Interestingly, what we believe about ourselves is often far worse than the actual truth. We often focus in on every possible negative aspect and extrapolate them into the ugly picture we paint of ourselves – to ourselves. It is curious that we do this, but it is possibly because we have evolved to air on the side of caution, often underestimating our ability to save us from harm.

This third mask is by far the most dangerous and harmful.

We tell ourselves that we are not capable, not smart enough, not good looking enough, not strong enough to achieve what we truly desire even though deep within we know that of course we are capable.

masking

The True Self

Beyond the third mask and deep within is our true self. It is often a part of ourselves that not even we know and understand. It is the part that we try our hardest to hide from the world, and even from ourselves.

The true self carries all the suffering that we have ever endured. All the regrets, past trauma, and negative emotions that have impacted our lives.

Connecting with your true self can be very painful because once you begin to remove the masks the pains of a lifetime can return to haunt you. Your entire view on the world can begin to change as realisations completely knock you sideways.

Freeing Yourself From The Past

You are held accountable for all your wrongdoings as repressed memories flood back. As you try open your mind again to the world you begin to allow yourself to experience all the trapped emotions inside.

This process can be very unpleasant, but you know that it is worthwhile as you can feel yourself evolving and releasing the emotional burden that has been weighing you down.

Freeing yourself from addiction is a long and painful process but once you embark upon your journey and you get a taste of freedom you won´t want to turn back.       

This end goal is now even closer than ever as I am on my final week taking Depakine (Sodium Valproate / Valproic acid) – hopefully the final stage of my medication process.

Read more about coming off Strattera (Atomoxetine) in the next article .

I am trying to keep my articles shorter so that they are easier to follow,.

Support My Work!

This blog and other related projects require a lot of time and money but I do it because I want to help people.

If you have benefitted from my content and would like to help me to keep creating more, then I would be so grateful for any donations through my Patreon account.

Please Get In Contact!

I would love to hear from anybody that is considering going through this process or if anybody has had similar experiences.

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What´s It Like To Be Completely Sober?

What´s it like to be completely sober?

This article was written on 24.04.20 but re-published due to a site update

I would like to start this by saying that I AM NOT completely sober. I take a mind-altering substance every single day to help me live a normal life as well as recreational Psychedelic drugs from time to time because they FASCINATE me.

What do I take? I take Strattera, (Atomoxetine), which is a Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitor. This is a medication designed for people with ADHD who are expected to have an imbalance of Noradrenaline. Noradrenaline, amongst other things is responsible for our fight or flight response.

I have however passed through various stages of (almost) complete sobriety.

Complete sobriety I think is very nearly impossible. Everyone has their vice

Starting with the biggest killer in the world…

SUGAR

Followed by the next most popular poison of choice

CAFFEINE

Followed by

ALCOHOL

Followed by

NICOTINE

Illegal Drugs

After these come all of the “bad” drugs. The other drugs that all have very similar mind-altering effects but are considered damaging to society and thus illegal.

At least one of the “big 4” is freely available to purchase or consume in almost every part of the world and they are the “socially accepted” drugs – but by far amongst the most powerful.

I do not drink alcohol, I do not smoke (weed or cigarettes), I do not consume caffeine, I do not use cocaine. I do however use Psychedelic drugs from time to time.

So What´s It Like Be Sober With ADHD?

When I came back from Brazil I had come off my medication and was going somewhat crazy. Read about My Strattera experience here. Strattera can take up to 2 months to take effect in your body and so the changes that it makes are slow but quite drastic on a neurological and physical level. Coming off it was horrible.

For long term prescription drugs such as this it is highly unrecommended to suddenly stop, because although it is not a physically addictive drug, (there are no physical withdrawals or cravings), it does change how your body functions and so there can be a lot of side effects.

The first few days I noticed my anxiety levels shoot through the roof – partly due to the fear of uncertainty – but partly due to the rise in Noradrenaline.

Within a fairly short space of time I started to feel more and more out of control. When I am “sober” and not medicated I feel like I have adrenaline surging through my body.

I can feel it pulsing and if I try and sit still my muscles get cramped and agitated and I get restless leg syndrome. Some part of my body is constantly moving, twitching, shaking. Sometimes I will be sat “still” and my entire body will be vibrating.

It can be exciting, it feels like you are supercharged and unstoppable. It feels like being on a stimulant drug such as Cocaine or Amphetamine. However, being “high” like this all day causes me to be agitated and anxious. I talk incessantly, blurt things out, say totally inappropriate things because the “filter” that the Strattera gives me goes.

Those are the irritating parts but not the dangerous parts. The dangerous part is that I start WANTING danger. I start to search for any possible way to occupy my mind and give me pleasure. Anything that will stimulate me and excite me. I start craving alcohol, I start taking drugs, I start looking for sex, I start arguments, I start doing absolutely anything that will distract me from myself. I WANT the danger and I want the stimulation and I do anything to find it.

I got through this after a couple of months of insanity and then went to speak to a private therapist for the first time as I needed help and answers for some problems going on in my life. When I explained to her that I had been using recreational drugs from time to time she explained to me that it is not possible to give any sort of accurate evaluation until I had passed 3 months of sobriety – as a sober mind is a mind that is free from any sort of drug.

This made total sense and so I decided to stop absolutely everything that was mind altering in any way. I stopped having sex, I stopped taking any sort of drug, I stopped consuming caffeine, and then I even stopped consuming sugar by living off Huel (a vegan, organic, meal replacement shake), and then a diet almost 100% free of added sugars.

Quitting sugar and caffeine was absolute hell and made me realise how savagely addictive these substances are. The withdrawal symptoms are horrible and the depression that they cause is far worse than that of any other drug withdrawal I have experienced. Caffeine withdrawal for me lasted roughly a month and drinking caffeine was on my mind most of the time.

Trinity college
Trinity College, Dublin
A recent sober trip to Ireland – The land of drunkards

The whole point of this story is that by being as close to 100% sober as possible I was forced to see myself fully unmasked, without the added confidence and stimulation of caffeine, without the buzz of sugar, without the exciting thoughts from psychedelics, without the affection of sex. I was forced to experience life without any unnatural “buzz”.

I was faced head on with even more personal problems and insights into my personality and toxic behaviour traits. There was literally nowhere to run, and I found myself struggling to get out of bed as it was all too much.

What´s It Like To Be Sober

I was trying to stimulate myself in healthy ways, by going to creative events – poetry, comedy etc. and meeting new and interesting people. I was exercising, trying to get work done, and trying to be a normal human being. Sadly at the end of the day I was still miserable.

I was going through some family and relationship problems at the time as well and so this obviously didn’t help but I realise that I was, and have been for my whole life – DEPRESSED

When I realised this, it made total sense and seemed obvious as day. I had always thought I couldn’t be depressed because only depressed people get depressed. But obviously I was one of those depressed people.

Sane people don’t become addicts at the age of 12. This was actually something that my Therapist had to make me understand.

Depression and Sobriety

Depressed / people suffering with personality disorders / identity issues turn to drugs as an escape method. This of course does not mean that all people that take drugs have issues. Drugs are a wonderful pleasure of life so long as you use them responsibly. The tough part is using them responsibly.

The more troubled a person is, or the more toxic their environment the more likely they are to turn to drugs.

In my case these problems stemmed from the inability to control my brain and my thoughts. I have had major personality and identity issues my whole life and this has only started becoming clearer very recently through therapy.

On that cliff-hanger I will end the article. I have been writing more about my discoveries through therapy but that is for another day so stay tuned!

To read about my experience quitting drinking click here

If you have been having dental trouble read this interesting article about why ADHD can cause dental issues ADHD and dental issues

Support My Work!

This blog and other related projects require a lot of time and money but I do it because I want to help people.

If you have benefitted from my content and would like to help me to keep creating more, then I would be so grateful for any donations through my Patreon account.

Please Get In Contact!

I love hearing from people so please don´t be shy. If there is anything that you would like to hear more about or if you have any questions then you can contact me in any way that you would like!

Leave a comment on the article or, if you prefer, send me an email to conor@thequestforwisdom.com

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Mind Your Business – The Silent Battle Of ADHD

Mind Your Business – The Silent Battle Being Fought Every Day

This is a guest article that a friend wanted to write for everyone to see.

Even though this battle has been making some noise for a few years now, it is still a relatively quiet one, and many of us are fighting it silently while often the people who love us the most doesn’t even know it’s going on, furthermore the very people who love us might even be making it harder for us without knowing,

By the title of this article you might have thought that I’m talking about the old lady who told your mum about that one time you came back home drunk at 3am and fell asleep on the porch, or the one who told your parents how you pierced your tongue and have been hiding it for months.

I mean yes old ladies, mind your own freaking business, but what I’m really talking about it’s not a battle against nosey grannies, I’m talking about a war to be more precise, one that it’s going on inside the mind of those of us who find it hard, or straight up impossible to set our attention to something in order to complete simple tasks – from the most mundane tasks, such as cleaning the room, to much more serious ones like studying for that one test that we needed to pass in order to get into that university (those of us who were able to make through high school, I mean).

Attention Deficit Disorder

At this point you might have heard of it, Attention “Deficit Disorder” with or without Hyperactivity, or ADD/ADHD, I will elaborate on why I quoted “deficit disorder” later on.

“Pay attention”, “what’s wrong with you”, “Can’t you just sit still?”, “You are so smart and you insist on sabotaging yourself”, “You’ve so much potential and you continue to waste it”, are some of the most common things people with ADD/ADHD have to grow up listening to for the most part of their childhood/adolescence and often all the way through our adult years.

They frequently come from people who genuinely care about us and only want the best for us, but as Jesus reportedly said while being tortured to death on the cross “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (I’m not religious, don’t run away)

Adhd Symptoms

 

Photo taken from Wikipedia

 

ADHD Struggles

They just don’t know, so they just can’t understand, not even ourselves can understand why we seem to struggle where other people seemingly thrive, so we’re called lazy, rebels or difficult, they think that we just don’t care, and we feel misunderstood, those feelings turn into frustration, and frustration turns into anger and anger turns into harmful habits… so many of us have a history of alcohol/drug abuse, anger management issues, volatility, sex addiction and so on.

Not to mention what it does to our self esteem when we are constantly compared to those who, with the same apparent tools and opportunities, seem to do it right.

There Is No Attention Deficit

The way we are doesn’t have to do with a deficit of attention or lack of focus, in fact we can focus much more than many, it’s just that we can have many more things in our head at once than most, we find it hard to focus solely on the book that we’re reading, when we also wonder the life expectancy of the fly on the window.

While people struggle with what to be interested in, we cannot be interested in anything that we’re not genuinely interested in, it’s not a choice, that’s an advantage and a disadvantage on its own, on the one hand when we like something, we know we really do, otherwise we wouldn´t pay attention to it.

ADHD and Thinking Outside The Box

We are terrific at thinking outside the box (in fact we very often didn’t even know there was a box to begin with), but on the other hand, this life requires us to complete things that are not always necessarily interesting, yet important for us to properly function within a society with rules and expectations.

Yes, I don’t know many people who enjoy doing their taxes or staying awake until 3am studying for that one test, but for some of us is borderline impossible to concentrate on that (and no, we can’t sit still).

We don’t suffer from a “disorder”, we just function differently in a world that’s definitely not made for us,

We need dynamism in order to thrive, we do impressively well when dealing with a bunch of things at once, we just have a hard time setting our mind to one that doesn’t absolutely fascinates us.

Evolution of ADHD

Maybe it is an evolutionary thing, we humans have increasingly come into contact with more and more information over the years and especially since the internet came into play, you can ask your parents or grandparents what did they do to entertain themselves in the past.

The most important things have always been there; nature, sports, each other’s company, there has been music, books, film and TV for a while, but right now… Shit man! We have all that multiplied by the billions, and we have it just a click away, it is available in our pockets at any given moment.

ADHD Juggling

 

To check out Roberto´s Instagram click here @rbsemtei

INFORMATION OVERLOAD

We have Tinder, Netflix, and Audio books, If you want to order food you have 20 apps on your smartphone with hundreds of options, you can learn how to build a computer or to tie a tie by watching a tutorial…

We’re overloaded with information and images and possibilities, is it really that crazy that some of us have difficulty to concentrate on one thing? Shouldn’t areas of society such as education adapt to the new human and to meet the requirements of those of us who can’t sit still also?

ADHD Medication

Medication can be incredibly helpful, but it’s important to note that for many of us, all that it takes is to know that we’re all different and unique, what works for you doesn’t have to work for me and vice versa, yet we insist in trying to fit all into a square box when in fact some of us are a circle, or a line, or my personal favourite, a spiral.

This article is intended for everyone, for the misfits so they know that they’re not alone and for everyone else who need to be a little more considerate and open to those who are different, because we all are. Even those of you who can sit still, yes, you’re also special in your own unique way.

I believe that if you take the time to get to know someone, you will inevitably end up finding out what makes them special.

“Everybody is a Genius. But If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid”

                                   – Albert Einstein (maybe) –

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#16 Aphantasia and The Fight For Imagination

There is nothing in this world that excites me more than the human body – and more specifically the brain. Everything that we think, see, and do is powered by our own unique brain. One person’s blue is another person’s green, a piece of art to some people conjures up powerful imagery and emotions and to other people – such as those with Aphantasia and no imagination – it is just paint on a canvas.

If you haven´t already read my previous article on Aphantasia then click here Aphantasia and My Inability to Visualise Mental Images

This article was written on the 14.02.20 but not published until later

The Loneliness of Aphantasia

My recent discovery about my inability to visualise and to recall memories in first person has led me down a rabbit hole of fantastical differences between us all. I was quite frankly very upset and felt even more lonely than usual when I found out that I have no visual imagination.

I started to investigate this and as I spoke with more and more people, I started to feel worse rather than better. It seemed totally unfair to me that people had this magical world inside their head to which they could escape and be happy. Where do I have to go when I am feeling down? There is no escape, no happy place, no safe haven.

Aphantasia and Hallucinating

The bizarre thing is that when I take hallucinogenic drugs such as ketamine or psychedelic drugs such as Magic Mushrooms or DMT I CAN visualise and imagine with my eyes closed or open. I put this to the test recently by taking MDMA and Ketamine together, which can produce very strong closed eye hallucinations and lo and behold I was able to imagine.

It’s as if it unlocks the capacity, or more likely unblocks something which is stopping me from being able to imagine. I have been discussing with friends how they imagine, and how vivid their imaginations are, and I realised that it is as vivid as you can make it. Even with the use of drugs, I don’t think my imagination/hallucinations are as strong as other people, but this makes perfect sense as I have never, “practised”, before.

Brain Training and Practising Imagining

I have been doing brain training each day with an app called Luminosity

(not paid sponsorship)

It really blows my mind and I have been trying to do imagine things at every opportunity. A few times I have had changes in the pitch black, and what I can only describe as some sort of shadow movements.

I had my eyes closed and it was black as always and then I started seeing different shades of dark as if I was looking at a dark lake. There were little black dots darting around as if they were fish jumping rapidly from the lake. There was no detail whatsoever and it was all completely dark, but it was SOMETHING.

The speed at which everything was moving made me start to think that maybe my inability to visualise is my brains coping mechanism. I think that I didn’t have any time or mental space for any imagery before I was medicated, and I honestly think I would have been mentally disabled if I saw things as well.

Aphantasia Dreams
Photo by Nandhu Kumar

ADHD and Aphantasia

Having a constant stream of information passing rapidly through my head due to my ADHD, coupled with images would have sent me crazy for sure. I feel like I really have to fight to keep my sanity and sometimes it is tempting to just let go.

If my brain has the capacity to form mental images and dream it means that it is not, “broken”, but that it must be something psychological that is holding me back. I have always felt like something was, “missing”, and not quite right. One of my reasons for wanting to do Ayahuasca in Brazil was to discover this and, “unlock”, the part of my brain that I felt was missing.

Unfortunately, due to my ADHD medication (Strattera – Atomoxetine), I wasn’t able to take Ayahuasca when I was in the jungle but as soon as I am able to I will make another journey to the Amazon to take it.

Aphantasia Shaped My Personality

As I started to ruminate this more I realised that this inability to visualise and imagine situations has likely shaped a huge part of my personality, and what I lack in this visual aspect of imagination I make up for in other skills.

I started to scold myself for not being grateful for what I have when there are people who really do suffer from debilitating pathologies yet make the best of their lives.

I asked my mother what I used to do as a child – what I used to play with. I don’t remember ever playing with toys as I didn’t understand what to do with them. I didn’t tend to draw or make things as I was terrible at it. She told me that I didn’t really play with anything, I couldn’t sit still long enough to do anything.

Everything in our life such as our preferences, skills and emotions fall on part of a spectrum. We are all a sliding scale of different traits which form our personality.

Searching for the Cure

Something I have noticed from talking with people that contact me through the blog is that most if not all of us seem to be on the search for a “cure”. We are on a constant search to categorise ourselves and diagnose ourselves with different Disorders.

Now I don’t know whether this is to gain a sense of belonging within a community of, “misfits”, or if it is simply the desire to be right about the labels we put on ourselves.   

My Psychiatrist has referred me to an ADHD specialist centre and so I am awaiting contact from the centre to have a more extensive study done. I am very excited about this because I will be able to speak with experts about my theories and the various questions that I have.

I am also on the waiting list to start an Emotional Development course to try and learn how to understand and manage emotions that are hitting me like a ton of bricks after years of completely avoiding all emotions.

I have also started with a second therapist and am planning to see a Neurologist to see if there is any Neurological reason for my lack of imagination and ADHD.

Cosmo Caixa Science Museum In Barcelona (Feb 2020)

The Future Looks Bright

I am positive about what the future has in store for my mental health, and I hope that I can encourage people to start to dig into themselves and start to search for the roots of their problems – and more importantly the solutions.

From March I will start recording my Podcast and Youtube channel so it will be much easier to follow my journey and keep up to date with what I learn. I hope to always keep it interesting and fresh.

I have 3 documentaries and some really interesting videos that I am almost ready to upload to Youtube so stay tuned!

If anyone has any questions or anything they would like to know or like me to investigate then please let me know and I would be happy to answer.

Contact Me

You can contact me Via:

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The Quest For Wisdom Youtube Channel

Conorsquestforwisdom@gmail.com

Or by leaving a comment on here.

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This blog and other related projects such as the upcoming Podcast and Youtube Channel are now my full time job and they require a lot of time and money.

If you like my content and would like to help me to keep creating more then I would be so grateful for any donations through my Patreon account

Conor