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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#17 Lucid Dreaming To Solve Your Problems

This past month has been completely and utterly overwhelming. Both physically mentally and spiritually. Through therapy and lucid dreaming I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulder and at the age of 26, I have finally turned from a child to a man.

I had been repressing emotions, trauma and total confusion for all my life. I had always been searching for the missing piece which I had always known but always denied.

Through therapy and an almost bewilderingly perfect chain of events that I can only describe as destiny, I have been referred to a specialist center to start a 7 stage diagnosis for Autism Spectrum Disorder / Asperger’s Syndrome. Whatever outcome I get from these sessions I will be happy to get some answers that I have always been searching for.

Autistic spectrum Syndrome
One way of representing the “spectrum” that we all fall upon.

All my life people have told me to stop searching, to stop probing, to just accept who I am -to accept that I am different. I love being different but living life without an identity is horrible.

Feeling like a stranger in your own country, amongst your own friends and then in every country you visit, is a horrible and lonely feeling. Not knowing yourself means that no one can really know you.

This depression has finally been lifted and bit by bit I have started to regain some of my childhood memories, which had been hidden in my subconscious for all this time.

Lucid Dreaming

When I was little, I used to lucid dream* all the time and I used to enter into my dreams all the time and control them and search for answers. I could go on little quests and adventures and find answers for things I didn’t understand.

*A lucid dream is a dream in which you realise you are dreaming and are able to control and manipulate your dreams. They can be amazing but can also be horrific lucid nightmares

This all stopped when I started drinking around the age of 11/12. For the next 15 years, these dreams only happened to me in the form of nightmares or sleep paralysis due to drug or alcohol withdrawal.

Now for the first time in 15 years, I have started to lucid dream again. I have been using these dreams to discover new things about myself, to ask questions, to find answers, and to search within my soul.

Lucid Dreams

4 pills – My First Lucid Dream

It was a game where people were given a bag of 4 pills:

  • One makes you super smart
  • One makes you super horny
  • One makes you super-efficient
  • And one makes you want to kill yourself

The game was only supposed to last 24 hours, but the pills never wore off.

Everyone was hunted by an army of people and their powers are almost magical they had visions.

Everyone ended up going crazy and then more and more pills start appearing and even though people see the devastating effects they can’t stop taking them

All the people in the dream ended up killing themselves through their actions

The world was chaos

As I started to analyse the dream as it was happening I realised that it was a manifestation of the world we live in. Everyone was fiendishly grabbing and taking things which they knew were killing them. Noone seemed to care about the consequences of their actions.

During the dream, I started lucidly recording my voice on my phone as I entered in and out of the madness and went on to give a speech about capitalism and its flaws.

I realized that greed is the root of all evil and capitalism is the root of all greed.

I will upload the full recording and transcript of it elsewhere.

Lucid Dream #2 – The Ceremony

The next lucid dream involved my family and all my friends and family members that I know. Everybody was taking some sort of substance that was opening their mind and each person was going through a journey of self-discovery. I was witnessing through each person’s eyes their journey of self-discovery in a sort of Ayahuasca-esque ceremony.

One by one I started to unravel and understand the problems of each person that I know and love. I felt anger, guilt, hurt, shame, happiness, sadness, regret – but most importantly forgiveness.

Self Forgiveness

This was my brains’ way of processing my journey of self-forgiveness and forgiving those to whom I have done damage. I am not sure how long this process lasted, I’m not sure what parts I was awake for what part I was asleep but I ended up with a nearly 20,000 words document detailing all of my problems in detail as well as those of every member of my family and the people I love.

I had released all my thoughts my worries my fears my reasoning and my logic onto paper and I had said all the things I needed to say.

There was no need for me to tell all these people the things that I had written, there was no need to cause pain to the people I love. Writing this was my way of releasing myself from my past.

Another day passed and then I had another lucid dream in which I saw my grandfather who died roughly 10 years ago.

Saying Goodbye and Moving On

I never got a chance to say goodbye to him as he died suddenly, and I don’t even remember his funeral. I was 16 and I have no memory of his funeral. I wasn’t even aware that this was eating me up inside but through this dream, I was able to give him a hug and say goodbye to him before watching him shrivel up and die.

I knew I was dreaming but my brain was giving me the opportunity to say goodbye once and for all. For someone who hasn’t dreamed properly for over half their life, this experience was incredibly profound.

#3 Writing Poetry in a Lucid Dream

In the next lucid dream, I saw a childhood friend who I haven’t seen for over 15 years. Whilst dreaming I wrote a poem and this friend spoke the poem out loud to me. I had my phone by my head and so I lucidly recorded my voice as I spoke the poem and in the dream, she recited it to me.

I then went on to record an 18-minute mantra which will be the mantra for the Quest for Wisdom. The philosophy behind which I will carry out all my actions. When I woke up, I was incredibly confused. I wasn’t sure what was real and what was not, I wasn’t sure if I was insane. I vaguely remembered recording some audios.

Lucid Dreaming or Going Crazy

I was scared as I went to listen to them. I didn’t know exactly what they were going to say. If it was a rambling bunch of non-sensical words I would have to believe that I was crazy and that there was something wrong with me. Luckily everything I had recorded was logical and made perfect sense to me. The poem I had created was in perfect rhyme and very profound.

I wasn’t sure whether to share this process or not with people. But it seems that at some stage in their life a lot of people must pass through this process of forgiveness and maturing from child to adult.

I have always known that age is irrelevant, but I realised that in order to mature from a teenager to an adult you must face all your problems head-on, accept them, work on them, apologise if necessary and then finally forgive yourself for your past.  

Everybody has regrets from the past, or feels shame for some of their actions. Some people wish they had tried harder in school, some people aren´t happy with their life and blame their pasts or their family.

I seem to be around a lot of people that are going through this process and it’s a confusing and horrible time. It makes you feel hopeless, lost and misunderstood.

Forgive Yourself for Your Past

You need to accept yourself for who and what you are, ask forgiveness for any damage you have done to yourself or others, and start to work through any personality traits you have which are damaging.

If you do not go through this process, then you will never grow up. You will remain childish and self-centered until the moment you decide to solve your personal issues.

I always had a fear of being part of the 27 club, but now I know that I am guilt-free and have a clear conscience there is no reason for this to ever happen.

I can now move on with my life, happy and content, and free from guilt and shame. The things that have always held me back.

People say you can´t change the world.

Well, I say WHY NOT?

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To read an article about Aphantasia and my inability to visualise mental images click here

#18 Coming out with Aspergers

Coming Out With Aspergers

Written on 03.03.20

All of my life people have told me I was different, I was
unique, that they felt like they knew me before having met me but this weekend
was the final piece to the missing puzzle which has been sending me wild for 26
years.

26 years and to the day to be exact. When I was younger, I read that a man reaches his optimum peak both mentally and physically at the age of 26 and so that’s what I decided to try and do.

I decided when I was about 10 that I would sort my life and problems, mess around having as much fun as possible, and then be married and with kids at 26 – but luckily this changed.

Everything that happens in my life is very specifically planned
– I want something and I obtain it, and to me there is nothing in-between. The
steps to get there are just simple steps to follow.

Emotional Development

I went to an emotional development group recently and we had to describe ourselves using the phrase “I feel like….” and mine was “I feel like a robot”. And it’s really how I feel and how I am happy feeling. I feel like a computer that is devoid of anything unlearned.

I completely lack empathy unless I have personally experienced the situation. I struggle to imagine how I would feel about something, and I struggle to imagine how my words and actions will make people feel – unless I use a process of logic or someone explains it to me.

This makes things easy to accomplish. I set a goal and I do what needs to be done to achieve that goal and its as simple as that. My life is robotically set between different stages of obsessions that I will DO at 100% until I learn everything I need to know about that skill or interest.

I LOVE LEARNING

Through putting myself in the most uncomfortable and weirdest situations possible all my life I have learned a great deal about human emotions and the incredible limits of the brain and will power, but I don’t feel or experience them in the same way as a “neurotypical” person – and I know that.

I understand that people feel emotions and that certain things affect them in certain ways, but unless there is logic involved then I am completely lost.

Aspergers Symptoms

Like a computer I run with numbers and logic and for this reason I have no filter and often end up hurting people’s feelings by saying things in a brutally honest way, but with the kindest intentions.

Why would someone not want to be told the honest truth about their flaws?

I beg my friends to tell me when I’m doing something wrong
because I simply don’t understand. The last thing I ever want to do is hurt
anyone that isn’t a bad person. I realised that people try and avoid the truth
sometimes because it is too painful to accept and so people would rather just
deny it.

Cutting Relationship Ties

Aspergers

I have cut a lot of relationship ties recently that cause me mental damage because I do not receive the same undying love and loyalty that I would give to anyone that I trust and respect.

But I have come to understand now that people aren’t perfect, and I have to stop loathing other people, and most importantly MYSELF, for imperfections. No-one is perfect and we all make mistakes continuously.

There is nothing wrong with making a mistake and learning from it.

Feeling Betrayed

Sometimes people make mistakes, they betray people and then feel awful about it, but I had never been able to truly grasp this concept of betrayal. To me it is the most painful and sickening thing that someone can do. However, I came to realise that people don’t often realise that they are betraying someone in such a horrible way – and the damage they have caused.

My life is black and white you either do something or you don’t, you love someone or you don’t, you want something or you don’t, something is either on or off (0 or 1 in Binary Code). But not all people don’t work like that and people have been trying to explain this to me for years.

I tried to summarise this in a sentence that would make
sense to me and I came up with the sentence below which helped me to understand
what people meant.

Life is black and white, but the grey makes us human.

Through a close “spectrum” friend of mine – who I haven’t
actually known for very long but feel like 
I have known forever – I have learned through observing him that we
share all of the same strange behaviour traits. We operate in exactly the same
way.

We can communicate things to each other almost
telepathically that make absolutely no sense to anyone else. We portray what to
other people is perceived as extreme confidence and charisma but what is really
on the inside total fear and confusion.

Last month I was pre-diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome and referred to the Aspergers unit at Vall D’Hebron in Barcelona for a 7 stage full evaluation which will cover the Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Depression, Bipolar, Borderline Personality Disorder and various other disorders.

The Aspergers diagnosis to me is not important – and Borderline Personality Disorder is what has been mentioned to me, and the disorder with symptoms that I am increasingly experiencing as I mature. I spent my life hopping through period of extreme happiness and extreme depression (manic behaviour), as well as a whole host of other dangerous and toxic behaviours.

Every time something good happens to me I instantly sabotage it because I am addicted to being in pain. Its what feels most comfortable and natural to me.

Aspergers Diagnosis

Whilst the Aspergers diagnosis isnt important to me, what I care about is finding the right person to work with afterwards to help me develop emotionally and learn to communicate better.

Aspergers, Borderline Personality, Bipolar – whatever the label put on my personality disorder doesn´t concern me I just need help and a lot of it.

Now I understand why I spent my life happily living in my
own bubble drinking and drugging myself to the eyeballs unable to cope with a
world that was too intense and incomprehensible to me.

I understand a lot about so many weird and abstract things –
like how cultures intertwine and the subtleties of the grammar of foreign
languages – but the simplest and most obvious day to day things that are right
in front of my face don’t even exist.

What is obvious to some people is extremely complex to others and vice versa.

I also do not know how much of my lack of visual memory has to do with these disorders, or trauma or anything but I am excited to work through it and improve this aspect of my brain.

Read about my experiences with Aphantasia here

Coming Out With Aspergers

In bed checking myself out with my friends Stethoscope

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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.

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#15 Aphantasia – My Inability to Visualise Mental Images

A few weeks ago, I discovered something that blew my mind and has changed my perception of everything. Now that I think about it, it seems obvious and I feel stupid and like I am missing out on some of the joys of life. However, it has spurred me on to delve deeper into the brain and see if it is possible to overcome this “affliction” – known as Aphantasia.

I cannot – or should I say do not – visualise things in my head. I did not know that it was possible to formulate an image in your head. When people used phrased like, “imagine that.”, “picture this”, “remember when we were”, I thought that this was a figure of speech, a metaphor, a saying….

When I close my eyes it is black – ALWAYS

Aphantasia and the Lack of Imagination

I was absolutely gobsmacked to find out that most people will actually visualise themselves when they recall a memory! Or that they can even visualise new images, scenery, situations etc. I thought that the genius authors who create entire fantasy worlds inside their heads, (such as JK Rowling, JRR Tolkien, Philip Pullman etc.), were the exceptions. I thought that they could create these worlds and that was why they were genius authors.

The only time I have any visual imagery when I close my eyes is when I take psychedelic drugs. Maybe this was part of my fascination with drugs when I first started taking them. Given that I can dream, and I can hallucinate, my brain obviously knows how to imagine and create images.

So why can´t I do this when I am sober and lucid?

Imagination
What If You Can´t Imagine?

The Inability to Visualise

When I try to visualise something, occasionally for a split second an incredibly dull image at probably about 2% resolution will flash, but only when I have my eyes open. I seem to have no ability at all to formulate a new, “imaginary”, image – just to flash up a split second of an image I have already seen.

The typical phrase is, “picture yourself on a beach”, which to me means, “think of how you would feel if you were on a beach” – in my case hot and uncomfortable. It blows my mind to think that people can literally visualise themselves on a beach.

Unable to Recognise Faces

I have always really struggled with recognising faces (known as Prosopagnosia) and I put this down to always being drunk when I met people. But I now realise that I simply can´t – or don´t know how to – picture people´s faces. If they have distinct features such as glasses, a beard, unusual hair etc. then I think I use this and then their voice to recognise them.

When people change their hair or shave their beard it really throws me off. If I see people out of the place in which I usually see them, for example, a work colleague outside of work, it usually takes me a bit of time to work out who it is.

I don’t even know what I look like – which may sound strange – but I can´t even picture my own face. When I was little my mother used to tell me to stop looking at myself in the mirror. I imagine that I used to look at myself because I was confused.

Aphantasia and Memory

I also have an absolutely terrible memory because there is next to no visual aspect of my memory. For key events in my life if I try to imagine them I can sometimes get a split-second snapshot of the place where I was – but there are never any people in the, “memory”.

There are whole chunks of my life which I have no accessible memory of. My friends often say to me “do you remember when we…”, and the answer is usually no. Even when I do remember the situation I just remember it based on the facts and events, there is no visual memory involved.

I am also not even sure if the memories are real – I certainly wouldn’t bet on it. I associate a snapshot blurry image with a whole sequence of events. A whole holiday will be summarised in one image, a major event in my life will be just one split second image and I can never even see myself in the image. The images also don’t have any colours in them because I am not sure what colour things are.

I, “remember”, for example, that I was in my parent’s bedroom when they told me that I had to get rid of my first bike because I was too big for it, and I was devastated. I remember being sad and I know the bike was red, but I don’t remember it.

It is bizarre but I also don’t even know what colour my parent’s bedroom is, or even my old bedroom in my parent’s house. This is even stranger as I know all the walls in my house are painted in very bright colours.

Factual Memory

My memory seems to be totally based on fact – things that I KNOW happened. There is no imagery involved to help these memories. Equally, there is no timeline involved with my memory – everything seems equally far away and equally close at the same time. If I want to think about what I did a few days ago I think about what I KNOW happened near to that time, and then I use that information to try and logically work through events.

I tend to categorise stages of my life based on which drug I was addicted to at the time – which although sad, actually helps me a lot to work out the timeframe of when something occurred.

Meditating without Imagination

I found out that other people could visualise things in part through meditation. When it was asking me to visualise things, after a few sessions I realised that it literally meant to visualise it. I tried doing this and it genuinely hurt my brain as I couldn’t summon any image and the exercises seemed wasted. I thought the point of mediation was to think of nothing.

Reading and Writing with Aphantasia

Shortly after this, I was at a storytelling event reading the first part of a children´s book that I am writing. Afterwards, I mentioned that I was searching for an illustrator and I started speaking with some people who asked me what the characters looked like.

I said I had no idea, I thought the illustrators were the ones who would create the characters. I know the concepts of what I want to be drawn but I have no image at all in my head about what it would look like.

When I said this, everyone looked at me strangely…. “How can you not know what they look like?”.

The Book Of Kells
The Book Of Kells in Trinity College Dublin is supposedly the oldest book in the world

When I read or write I do not picture anything, I do not know what the characters look like. If it was written that a character had black hair I would know they had black hair and I would associate character name with black hair but I wouldn’t, “see”, this. I always skip over all descriptive parts as they mean literally nothing to me.

I used to think the descriptions of things were just authors showing off their linguistic skills. For this reason, I think I have always been absolutely terrible at following fiction, and even following films.

When I was a kid I was a bookworm and read non-stop, but I would finish books and still not know who the characters are. I can watch films over and over again and each time its basically like a new film. Sometimes, halfway through a film or book, one scene or chapter will strike a chord and make me realise that I have read/seen it before.

My family still laughs at me because when I was little I loved Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and used to watch it, then rewind it and watch it again every day. For those of you reading from outside the UK – you need to watch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!    

Aphantasia Study

I started investigating about this inability to visualise and came upon an article which mentioned a study run by Professor Adam Zeyman in Exeter University.

I contacted him to ask for some information and I found out that they had coined the term Aphantasia (the inability to fantasise) – which apparently 2% of the population experience, (yet hardly anyone seems to realise). Some people have total Aphantasia and can’t visualise, recall music or sounds or imagine a taste or smell.

Thankfully I can imagine music, and I can imagine peoples voices and sounds. I am so grateful that I can recognise and recall music and sound because I think I would be incredibly miserable without this ability. Songs can trigger certain feelings and emotions within me and might remind me of a certain time when I heard the song but there is almost never any sort of visual aspect to the recollection.

I asked Professor Zeman if my Aphantasia is linked with ADHD and he said they were unsure yet if there was a definitive link. I also spoke about it with my Psychiatrist and she wasn’t sure either, but she has put me on the waiting list at an ADHD specialist centre for a more extensive examination.

The Inability to Imagine Smells and Tastes

Even more baffling to me was the fact that people can actually imagine a smell or a taste. I used to always think it was strange when people dry retched when thinking of sick, or bad smells or tastes. I always thought this was a massive over-exaggeration but now I realise that people can actually imagine these smells or tastes.

The concept of imagining a smell or taste to me is absolutely bizarre. I know if I like the smells of things or if I don’t but I have absolutely no idea what they smell like. For example, I know what perfumes I like the smell of but I have absolutely 0 notion as to what they smell like.

Trying to Cure Aphantasia

Now that I know it is possible to visualise things, I have started practising recalling memories, and trying to look at things and take note of the details – to hopefully enhance my memory. I have also started playing brain training games and generally just trying to conjure images of things.

I am hoping that with practice and maybe some sort of training I will be able to learn to visualise to some extent. I will keep everyone updated on my progress and with what I learn about Aphantasia!

Get In Contact With Me!

I would love to hear back from anyone else who has Aphantasia and little or no ability to visualise or imagine. I have been speaking to all my friends about it and so far, I have found one person who also doesn’t visualise and wasn’t aware that other people could.

When we were speaking about it he said to me, “Yeah but no-one can LITERALLY visualise themselves on a beach”…. So I had to break the news to him.

Please get in contact via any of the methods below or chat to me on Instagram, I will always reply and no question is ever stupid or embarrassing!

Any advice, suggestions, criticisms, ideas etc. are always welcome. I encourage criticism as it forces me to better myself and adapt my new content.

You can contact me Via:

Facebook

Instagram

The Quest For Wisdom Youtube Channel

Conorsquestforwisdom@gmail.com

Or by leaving a comment on here.

Support My Work!

Become a Patron

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

Taken In Temple Bar – Dublin

#14 Living In The Present With ADHD

So it’s a new year, a new decade, and a new chance to rectify previous mistakes or do things better. One of my goals this year is to practise living in the present with ADHD and battling to learn to relax and control the never ending stream of information that plagues my mind.


Interestingly, I find that the more time I spend being creative, the more troubled I am with negative thoughts, anxiety, and depression. LIke everything, I think it just requires a bit of patience and some hard-work in the meditation department.

I always think it is a shame that our years start in January, which for the Northern Hemisphere is one of the coldest, darkest and most miserable months but maybe it´s too late to have the changing of the calendar debated in Parliament.

With each new year comes the glimmer of hope for a better year, (even those who had an amazing 2019 want more), but also more pressure to perform, to improve, to seize opportunities, and most importantly – more Fear of Failure.

Yes its just another day and another year but I like to categorise my behaviour and my mistakes and would like to leave 2019 as 2019 and try to carry through only the positive aspects of my life.

Cliché yes, but if being cliché is a crime then lock me up and throw away the key.

More importantly, I simply do not like odd numbers unless they are a multiple of 5 or a cube number, so even writing 2019 annoys me. 2020 is a very pleasing number so already I feel better about it!

Positive New Year

I entered this year feeling very positive. I have moved flats to a new less toxic environment, I have new flatmates, new opportunities, and new projects nearly ready to release, yet the burden and fear of really exerting myself and opening myself up to the potential defeat of a failed project is constantly playing on my mind.

Logically speaking I welcome failure. I know that it makes us stronger, that we learn from it, that it’s a part of life and growth but then intrinsically it TERRIFIES me.

fear of failure
The first ever happy poem I have written (click to head to my Instagram and see some others)

ADHD and The Inability To Complete Tasks

One of the classic symptoms/traits of ADHD is to have multiple projects or ideas in progress but the complete and utterly soul-destroying inability to complete anything.

This, of course, is not something that is limited just to people with ADHD but is common amongst young people in general. This led me to start thinking about WHY this is because I am DETERMINED to destroy this trait/behaviour.

The Unholy Trinity

I came up with the unholy trinity governing my unfinished projects:

  1. Fear of Failure
  2. Neophilia (The obsession with novelty / new experiences)
  3. Lack of concentration

In this post I am going to talk a little bit more about Neophilia and the obsession with new experiences and then in future posts I will go more into depth into the other contributors of the unholy trinity.

Click here to read my introduction post about Neophilia and the Fear of Failure

The Addiction To New Things

Now, I am not sure to what levels, “normal”, (I have actually learned from Instagram that the PC word for normal people is Neurotypical), people experience Neophilia, or how much it has to do with ADHD or my personality, but for me it is a massive factor in my life.

I try my hand at everything that I possibly can, go to every event that I get a chance to, travel as often as possible, always in search of something. Some new experience that is going to change me and cause me to stick with it. Something, anything, that stimulates me continuously and makes me happy.

Sadly this never happens and I am left unfulfilled and looking for the next, “fix”, in life. This really gets me down as I feel like I can almost never live in the present and enjoy things for what they are.

Once the novelty inevitably wears off then I am done, and my concentration and ability to focus goes from 100 to 0 quicker than a fart in the wind. I forget about what I have done and move onto something else.

Filling the Void

This future thinking attitude is reminiscent of my times sniffing Mephedrone / smoking weed and even drinking alcohol constantly. An addict is never satisfied with their hit and is always thinking of the next one like THAT will be the one that really sorts them out. In the mind of an addict, living in the present does not exist.

I never learned to be satisfied with what I have and am always thinking of what will be next. It feels like I am constantly trying to, “complete”, everything and push it as far as it will go, and this reckless behaviour is damaging.

I don’t want to continue with this toxic behaviour and constantly be on the search for something to fill the void. All of my life I have tried to solve my problems with a hit, a fix, of whatever is available, be that drugs, alcohol, sport, or new experiences.

Nothing is particularly fun when you aren’t fully happy with yourself and you are trying to fill an emptiness inside yourself.

I am on a Quest to find inner happiness and contention so that one day I can hopefully relax and be at peace. To be able to relax for a moment and just be happy with what I have, and what I am surrounded with is the ultimate goal, but it seems infinitely far away right now. Living in the present with ADHD is an ongoing struggle.

Living In The Present With ADHD – Mindfulness / Meditation

living in the present with adhd
Meditating in a Cave (no I haven´t joined a cult)

Learning – or should I say practising – living in the present is one of my ultimate goals this year and will probably be my toughest challenge.

This year I will be exploring the limits of the brain through various different intense types of Meditation and Yoga. Recently, I learned about many different, (somewhat crazy), techniques on a mountain hike and cave meditation day trip.

I dont want to reveal too much about this yet, but I will of course keep everyone up to date with what I experience.

I have started doing 10 minute meditation/mindfulness sessions each day on an App called Petit Bambou, (click here for Petit Bambou Android and Petit Bambou IOS), I feel like I am making some progress.

But AGAIN I am thinking of it like progress, like something that can be completed! You cannot complete meditation Conor!

I often find myself trying to guess how much longer is left in the session because its borderline painful trying to concentrate. However, after some sessions I have really felt a clarity and peacefulness that I have never had without taking drugs.

Like everything, I imagine that living in the present with ADHD will get easier and more natural with practice, and so I am hopeful that as I improve and become more comfortable doing this, I will be able to reap the benefits.

If anyone could recommend any other Apps, Youtube Channels, or anything that they think is useful I would be really grateful!

Get In Contact With Me!

I love to hear feedback from people about what they have taken from my writing, and I love answering questions. We are not alone in this!

My aim through my work is to talk about my problems in a way that resonates with people, to help people realise that they are not alone, and that other people experience the same issues.

Please get in contact via any of the methods below or chat to me on Instagram, I will always reply and no question is ever stupid or embarrassing!

Any advice, suggestions, criticisms, ideas etc. are always welcome. I encourage criticism as it forces me to better myself and adapt my new content.

You can contact me Via:

Facebook

Instagram

The Quest For Wisdom Youtube Channel

Conorsquestforwisdom@gmail.com

Or by leaving a comment on here.

Support My Work!

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

Reciting some poetry and part of my children´s book Mr and Mrs Wobbly

#13 ADHD and The Addiction to Everything

I was speaking with a friend recently and we were talking about how our 20s just seem to be getting tougher instead of easier. She said to me, “literally is anyone actually happy?”.

We are bombarded with so much information nowadays, and social media means there is literally no escape from the horrible things that are happening in the world. From Elections, to Wars, to Poverty, to Cyber Bullying we see it all and I don’t think many people in their 20s are really mentally prepared to handle it all.  

Bursting the Bubble of Happiness

For me as I trundle through my life trying to understand and control my brain and ADHD, I feel that every so often I reach a stage of happiness and then a bubble bursts, I discover something new about myself, and have to start all over again. This feeling is exasperating as I just never know when it will end. How many more bubbles are there to burst?

The more I learn, the more confused I get, the more issues I find out about myself, the harder it is to live my life knowing these things. Sometimes I feel that I am burdening myself with too much at once, but then other times I feel like it is the only way.

I am determined to overcome my addiction to everything, my “addictive personality”. I want to be able to relax and enjoy stimuli like a normal person, but I know this will be a long process.

Not Knowing How to Handle Emotions

Having spent my whole teenage years and early 20s drinking and taking drugs as much as possible I feel I never learned to handle emotions. Any time I felt any pain, hurt, rejection, shame, guilt – I turned to the bottle.

Untreated ADHD made it absolutely impossible to understand and know how to deal with emotions. It is a constant bombardment of every sound, every feeling, every thought all at once. It is completely overwhelming and unbearable at times.

Avoiding Pain or Negative Emotions

After I quit drinking and spent some time sober – self reflecting and analysing – I thought I was “cured”. I felt happy and fresh, I was distracted, and I was living in a beautiful city. What I didn’t realise was that this pattern of pain avoidance continued. I continued to avoid my pain or negative emotions from my relationship break-up with any possible stimulus.

negative emotions

Sex, drugs, exercise, dating apps (validation), or anything else that would give me a little buzz. I was much more cautious of drugs and had this under control but the other stimuli which fed my addiction to pleasure were still rife and I was oblivious to this.

The feeling of addiction is essentially just an addiction to Dopamine. We can experience this Dopamine rush from any stimulus that is exciting to us.

Addiction to Video Games

Interestingly enough, my Psychologist mentioned to me the role that Video Games have with people with ADHD and Addiction problems. She explained that a lot of people experience the intense Dopamine rush from video games at a young age, and this can actually change the brain chemistry.

Although they can be very beneficial in many ways, they can feed an addictive personality and lead to the quick reward system behaviour of addicts. Studies have shown that people with ADHD have no problem sitting and concentrating on a video game because of this quick-reward system.

I realised that when I was young, before I had a chance to become addicted to alcohol or drugs, I was insanely addicted to video games. I spent every second playing or thinking about video games. This is just another coping mechanism to hide from your brain, and a way to feed the pleasure system.

ADHD & Nicotine Addiction

After quitting alcohol, I hopped straight on to nicotine and started smoking shisha alone for at least 2 hours a day. My whole day revolved around smoking and getting this massive hit of Nicotine.

I was too naïve to understand the power of nicotine and after a few months I started to feel sick all day every day, until I smoked, due to the withdrawals. I was angry, irritable, negative and obsessed.  Having this addiction to anchor me meant that I could avoid my emotions still, as this had taken over my life.

I had to quit smoking shisha after a year and when I went cold turkey, I decided to punish myself by quitting caffeine at the same time. The withdrawals were horrible – I had no energy for weeks, gained a stone (6.5kg), had the horrible feeling of loss – which I can only describe as the feeling of a friend dying – and was majorly depressed.

ADHD & Addiction to Work

As I overcame this and saw the addiction unrolling and my life returning back to normal my brain began to rapidly search for any new distraction and I started working insane overtime hours (by choice), 7 days a week. Working 70+ hours a week in an office completely drains you mentally and physically, so I had no time or energy to deal with the emotions I was experiencing.  

As I never learned to deal with pain, rejection, guilt, shame, or any of the other negative emotions that people learn in their teenage years, I feel like these are all things that I have been intensely experiencing recently.

I am sick of running, self-medicating, acting selfishly and hurting people around me. It is time now to accept that sometimes I will be miserable, sometimes I will be depressed and that is okay!

I am also sick of letting ADHD control me and not being in full control of my mind. I am sick of searching for quick fixes and quick highs.

Learning to Live In The Present

In a recent meeting with my Psychologist we spoke about living in the past and future. She explained to me that living in the past causes depression, whereas living in the future causes anxiety. This made total sense. The regrets of the past can only bring us pain, and living constantly in the future causes us to panic, fear failure, and try and protect ourselves from any potential pain.

learning to live in the present

The real struggle, and what I am trying to learn to do now, is to live in the present. Question my motives for doing everything, question how my actions will affect other people and question if what I am doing will have a positive effect on my life.

This may seem obvious and simple for some people but I really struggle with this. ADHD generally makes you think of a million things, sometimes very abstract and unique things, but often this means that you can miss the obvious. Sometimes its easier to think of the bigger picture but impossible to think of what´s directly in front of you.

I am trying to avoid anything that does not make my life better, and anything that is a quick easy high. For normal people that is the obvious things like drugs and alcohol. For an addict with ADHD it is absolutely everything, from Whatsapp messages to over-exercise. It will be a tough learning curve but with the new year coming up I know it is time to take the plunge.

Get In Contact With Me!

I love talking to people about their experiences and stories, and I love answering questions. We are not alone in this!

I love to chat to people that feel overwhelmed and misunderstood.
Please get in contact ASAP, I will always reply and no question is ever stupid or embarrassing!

I would also love to hear any advice, suggestions, criticisms, ideas etc. I absolutely love to be criticised as it helps me to improve and create better content.

You can contact me Via:

Facebook

Instagram

Conor Monaghan 5678 Youtube Channel

The Quest For Wisdom Youtube Channel

Conorsquestforwisdom@gmail.com

Or by leaving a comment on here.

Support My Work!

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

Strattera changed my life
Taken in the Barrio Gótico in Barcelona

#12 My Strattera Experience – Dont Mess With ADHD Meds!

I am writing this post from Brussels, Belgium where I have come to see a friend who I met in Brazil. The post discusses my my wild experience with Strattera as I came off and then rapidly back on the drug, (highly unrecommended).

After an extremely turbulent 3 months I finally feel like myself again. Or should I say the V2.1 of me since I started medication for ADHD and my experience with Strattera (Atomoxetine).

It was one of my stupidest ideas to date to, “accidentally”, not sort out my medication before I went to Brazil and have to, “figure something out”, for my last 2 weeks there. My life and my mental health were the best they had ever been, I felt completely in control of my actions, and I felt at relative peace.

Why oh why then did my irritatingly morbid curiosity decide to mess with this? I remember saying to some friends that I met in Sao Paulo that when I went back to Barcelona I would be mental for a while. I knew deep down what this would do to me, yet decided to do it anyway – just as some sort of brain experiment?

Here is my Strattera Experience….

Continue reading “#12 My Strattera Experience – Dont Mess With ADHD Meds!”

#11 Chaotic Communication and Repressed Relationships

This past week since my journey to Berlin has been yet again the most revolutionary, difficult, and inspiring week of my life. Crazy I know, that things have just continued to spiral – first downwards to rock bottom – and then they bounced right back with some serious vigour.

I began to address the toxic relationships in my life and focus on all the things that were holding me back, in order to begin to heal and move forward.


However, I was in a very manic state of mind and I did this in the most impulsive, irrational and insensitive way possible. I was completely blind to how my actions would affect people and I was selfish and unfair. The things that I said to people, I all still believe to be true, but my delivery of this information – in every case – was terrible.

Continue reading “#11 Chaotic Communication and Repressed Relationships”

#10 How To Not Be A Terrible Friend

I think this post is very relatable to a lot of people and we all need to learn for ourselves, or teach someone how not to be a terrible friend.

I am writing this post in a quirky Airbnb in Berlin after a few days of partying and much deliberation. I would say my state of mind is sad but rational.

A friendship to me means everything. It means 100% loyalty and 100% honesty. Recently I have come to notice that what I offer to people is very rarely reciprocated and it makes me sad. I find myself constantly giving giving giving, offering support, motivating and giving help and showing positivty to anyone that needs it, but I have noticed that very few people do this in return. I don’t know if this if because they don’t want to, or if they don’t know how to.

Continue reading “#10 How To Not Be A Terrible Friend”

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