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Awakening Creativity Mental Health Mind Motivation Perfection Positivity Risk Taking Self Confidence Vulnerability Wellness

The Art of Vulnerability – How Vulnerable Are You?

Vulnerability

I have recently been listening to a series of talks about vulnerability by an American Researcher named Brené Brown. Now this word vulnerability has really struck a chord with me.

What does it really mean to be vulnerable? Why are we so scared of being vulnerable? What is the gain from vulnerability?

Now, when I am talking about vulnerability, I must make it clear that I’m talking about emotional vulnerability. As far as I can see there is no advantage to making yourself vulnerable by putting yourself in unnecessary danger.

As I continue on my quest for wisdom I am uncovering more and more ugly truths about my personality, repressed emotions, core beliefs and roots for toxic behaviour. As I dig deeper, deeper and deeper I inevitably end at a string of negative fears or core beliefs.

  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of rejection
  • Fear of not being loved
  • Fear of not being accepted
  • Fear of being ridiculed
  • Fear of not being attractive, funny or clever enough

All of these toxic beliefs that cause us to retract from the world and seek pleasure from external sources. We medicate, self-sabotage, escape, anything to avoid the feeling of being vulnerable, of having lost control.

Practising Vulnerability

To be vulnerable is to step out of your comfort zone, to experience new things. To try to fail, to scream and to wail. Being vulnerable is taking that leap of faith and opening up your heart despite the risk of potential pain and heartbreak. Opening your mind to the beauty of the world as well as the horrors.

You see without darkness there is no light, without sadness no happiness and without hate no love. A lot of us try and mitigate the pain from the darker side of life and opt to cruise through the middle feeling a numbingly average mixture of emotions.

We choose apathy, we choose to live an apathetic life. A pathetic life

We deny ourselves of true love, joy, compassion, ecstasy (the natural kind!), and empathy because truly experiencing these emotions requires a level of vulnerability that scares people.

Vulnerability is picking apart your brain and analysing every part, trying to improve in any way possible. Laying your flaws on the floor and painfully scrubbing each one until it is clean. Vulnerability is removing your mask and trying to live an authentic life. Saying yes when you mean yes and no when you mean no. Being open and honest regardless of the consequences.

Vulnerability is empathically sharing anothers pain, not just giving a sym-pathetic smile. Vulnerability is letting go of control of your environment and trusting that everything will be alright.

Putting your faith in a power greater than you is vulnerability.

Most people have been hurt at some stage in their life and it can be very hard to bounce back. Arguably the two most important things in life – love and creativity – are the two things that make us most vulnerable. Creation and innovation of things that have never been seen or heard before is vulnerability. The word vulnerability gives the negative connotation of weakness. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Vulnerability requires bravery and the more vulnerable we make ourselves, the more we open ourselves up to the possibility of love, creativity, and authenticity.

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.

Vulnerability
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Categories
Depression Education Mental Health Mind Obsession Treatment Wellness

Letting Go of Control


“We are the creators of our own reality” is phrase that appears more and more as people turn to various esoteric and more widely known spiritual practices in order to let go of control and free the mind.

Practices such as meditation, mindfulness and manifestation, once reserved only for those who had the time, money and will to travel to the far East and learn from a master, have now hit the west with a bang and people are turning to these wonderful practices to try and connect with themselves and solve their issues with power of the mind.

The need to launch ourselves head first into these practices often stems from mental health problems and the desire to take control of our brains. The problem is that we are so used to trying to control every aspect of our lives that quite often we miss the point of these exercises – to let go of control.

Many of us try to traverse our way through life at the helm of a steam barge with very little stopping power or manoeuvrability.

We try to control our jobs, our relationships, our free time – worrying about what we are doing and sabotaging good things that come to us. We try to force ourselves to live in a certain way, thinking, dressing, talking like others to try and maintain this sense of identity and belonging.

Many people feel trapped. Trapped in a location they are bored of, trapped in a job they don’t like or trapped in a relationship that is failing to make them feel free. It is this false sense of being trapped by external circumstances that cause so many people to exhibit the aptly named escapist behaviours.

Escapist Behaviours

Escapist behaviours are often used to distract from painful thoughts and emotions in life, and are often exhibited by people suffering with anxiety, depression and or low self esteem. Escapism can also be a method of blocking out or distracting from painful experiences or current traumas.

Examples of toxic escapist behaviours include:

  • Over/under eating
  • Extreme promiscuity
  • Sex/masturbation addiction
  • Excessive use of Drugs/alcohol
  • Video games addiction
  • Strong desire to abandon your job, relationship, home, (of course there are many circumstances where it would be wise to abandon one of these things)
  • Excessive exercise
  • Excessive working
  • Most obsessions

If you notice a change in any of these behaviours it is important to stop and ask yourself why.

Letting go of control
Banksy´s “Snorting copper” taken at a Banksy exposition in Espacio Trafalgar – Barcelona

Feeling Like You Are Losing Control


The sense of losing control causes people to panic and start trying to manipulate their situation. When the mind slips and we start to experience stress, panic, anxiety we desperately try to grab the reigns and try and steer our lives in the direction we think they should head.

Counter-intuitively it is in these exact moments where letting go of control is most crucial. When we start to notice ourselves having irrational thoughts, impulses to act and make drastic decisions, or the desire to suddenly abandon or undertake a new project, we need to stop, breathe, do nothing, and spend some time alone with our thoughts.

Of course this does not mean that making big decisions or changing plans for a project is a bad thing, it simply means we must understand the roots of the decisions for change.

Ask Yourself

Is the desire to change rooted in:

  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Doubt
  • Stress
  • Anger
  • Hatred
  • Lust

Will this change ultimately improve my life and bring me closer to where I would like to be?

When we experience these impulses, or notice a change in our behaviour – such as drinking, eating, smoking or even exercising more than usual we need to try and objectively view our situation and find what it is that we are trying to run from.

Writing down dreams, recurring thoughts, and also just how we are feeling in a journal helps to pinpoint the real issue at hand. It is important to keep asking “why?”. When we keep asking “why?” for all of our behaviours we soon arrive at what are known as our core beliefs.

Letting go of control

Core Beliefs

Some common negative core beliefs:

I am not good enough – I am not worthy of happiness

I am not smart enough – I will fail at anything I try

I am unlovable – Nobody appreciates me

People are untrustworthy – They just want to take advantage

Our core beliefs are the intrinsic beliefs that we have about ourselves, other people, and the world as a whole. Beyond the ego and beyond our daily surface thoughts, they are the beliefs and values that govern how we perceive ourselves and the world around us.

By learning to recognise thoughts and impulses that come from our core beliefs we start to notice certain triggers and patterns in our behaviour.

This in itself is an exercise in mindfulness. By letting go of the urge to take control of a situation we inadvertently take control of our mind and life. The more these simple exercises are practised the more we start to feel free.

We soon start to realise that trying to control every aspect of our lives actually imprisons us even deeper inside our own mind and it becomes apparent that the villain in our tragedy is ourselves. We are the ones that are restricting ourselves and removing our freedom.

We are the creators of our own reality but the key to creation and true freedom is letting go of control and trusting that the life you desire will manifest itself.

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.

Letting go of control
The cat is called Naruto

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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Categories
Addiction Alcohol Drugs Mental Health Mind Sobriety Wellness

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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Categories
Addiction ADHD Alcohol Atomoxetine Drugs Mental Health Mind Obsession Sobriety Strattera Wellness

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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Categories
Addiction ADHD Alcohol Drugs Guest Articles Mental Health Mind Society

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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Categories
Aspergers Lucid Dreaming Mental Health Mind Philosophy TQFW Blog

#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

Categories
Aspergers Bipolar Borderline Personality Disorder Communication Friendship Mental Health Mind Therapy TQFW Blog Treatment Wellness

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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Education Friendship Mind Perfection Philosophy Relationships Society Wellness

We Are All Selfish – Embrace Your Narcissism

Recently I have been constantly self-analysing and beating myself up with the thought and realisation that I am in fact selfish.

Merriam-Webster defines Selfish as “To be concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself: seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others”.

This sounds great as we all think, “well I think about the well-being of others all the time, I can’t be selfish?” But what if you only care about how others are affected, or how your actions towards others are perceived because it directly impacts you each time?

#selfish

To be selfish or narcissistic is one of the worst outward “traits” that a human can have, but as I started to think through this concept, and discuss my concerns with my Psychologist, I began to realise that we are in fact all selfish and in this game of life for ourselves.

I started to wonder why this was, what causes us to WANT to survive, to be the best, and to selfishly desire to have children for our own benefit.

Survival of The Fittest

I began thinking deeply about Evolution, Genetics, and the, “Survival of the Fittest”, theory, when I was away in Brazil and it fascinates me to think of us as animals first, conscious beings second. I now view my own actions, the actions of others, group mentality, and the classic traits and emotions of humans as mere products of our animalistic instincts driven by a desire to win.

Pondering the ways in which humans are selfish led me to consider the fundamental differences between the sexes. I focused on the biological differences between males and females, and became convinced that biologically both sexes are selfish – but for different reasons. I realised that selfishness and competitiveness were two very similar traits, and almost always go hand in hand.

Nowadays there is a lot of talk about how Sex and Gender mean nothing and are not representative of a person’s characteristics, but I feel that this simply is not true.

Of course I absolutely love the fact that nowadays people start to question their gender and question everything that society has taught them about Gender Roles and their sexuality – and view it not as a monochromatic hetero / homo sexual classification – but as part of a spectrum.

I believe that nothing in life is a simple yes/no and our entire personalities lay dotted on various spectrum. I want, actually, I urge people to question absolutely everything that they experience.

Biological Differences Between Males and Females

However, we cannot ignore the biological and evolutionary differences between males and females, neither should we be trying to minimise the differences. We should embrace the differences between the two sexes, and learn how to better understand the differences in the functions of the brains and bodies.

Equality does not mean that we are equal psychologically and physiologically, it means that we are equally capable of pursuing the same goal when given the right opportunity.

Males and females have evolved with the same fundamental selfishness and competitiveness. What differs are the end motives and methods of achieving this. In the vast majority of communities and societies all over the world, males have evolved to be, “dominant”.*

We know that males are not more intelligent than women, we know that they are not more resilient, we know that they are not less prone to catching illnesses, we know they are not fitter, i.e we know that there is no physical reason that males should be dominant.

*There are examples of some tribes that still exist today with a Matriarchicical society, and throughout history, there have been various examples, however, these are few and far between.

Mosuo Tribe China
The Mosuo tribe are an ancient matriarchal community of Tibetan Buddhists who to this day live in a female- dominated society.

In fact, even back in the days of hunter-gatherers, and when humans were more reliant on hunting and fending for survival, physical size would not have been an obvious advantage. The aforementioned traits of fitness, resistance to illness, ability to survive without food for longer periods of time (metabolism), as well as intelligence and the ability to recognise and avoid danger,  are far more genetically beneficial traits.

This got me to thinking that yes males are physically bigger than women, but as far as I can see this has nothing to do with their comparative success – or the dominance of powerful positions in society.

“Learned” people, (since as far back as records go), tend not to do manual work – and so we can assume that physical size has nothing to do with success. Mathematicians, scientists, scholars, politicians, (the traditionally powerful positions), were almost always occupied by men and this has continued to the present day. None of these jobs have anything to do with physical size.

As we have ruled out physical size as the differentiating factor, (and the factor that is often quoted as the reason for inequality or to undermine women), we are left with the only other obvious difference which is that women bear children, and biologically and evolutionarily WANT to have children.

Female Selfishness

Females have evolved as intrinsically competitive and selfish because of their biological desire to be impregnated and have children. I believe this is an animal instinct that, (the majority), are born with. As females have, (historically), had less of a platform to defend themselves openly, have had less confrontational careers, and have spent less time dealing with external conflicts, (those outside of family conflicts and conflicts that arise from raising children), they have evolved to be more calculating and less confrontational.

This is why females are often accused of being more, “bitchy”, “backstabbing”, “cold”, and “emotionally manipulative” than men. Females have evolved to try and eliminate the competition around them in a more subtle way than males.

Females have evolved as fiercely competitive as their options have always been limited. There are fewer opportunities for “success” for females, whether this be the success of bearing a child, or now in more modern times, the success of a fulfilling life and career. They have a limited amount of time to bear children – and thus protect themselves and their genealogy, as well as limited career opportunities in most countries.    

Male Selfishness 

Males, on the other hand, are also intrinsically selfish and competitive but have evolved with different methods for achieving success.

Males have historically done most of the fighting in wars and occupied most of the conflict – resolving positions, such as politicians and military personnel, etc.

Because of this, males – on the whole – prefer to resolve conflicts face to face and use, “brute force”, either physical or verbal.

The male hormone testosterone causes males to seek partners and affects emotions such as anger and rage. Males are on the search for power so that they can have their choice of females and they must eliminate competition in order to achieve this.

Females are biologically and subliminally on the hunt for males with power and/or stability in order to protect themselves and be able to procreate and provide their children with the best chance for survival. As our societal concepts of power and gender roles begin to change, more people are now opting for, “non-traditional”, relationship, such as younger males within the relationship, more “powerful” women, and even polyamorous relationships, (which I will discuss in a separate article).

Eliminating Competition

What I am trying to get at here is that intrinsically, before we even begin to analyse specific situations, we begin to realise that we have evolved to be selfish, in order to eliminate competition in the most efficient way possible.

The train of logic is this: the more selfish you are, the more you are willing to eliminate competition and this results in higher levels of success. Narcissistic tendencies can be seen when looking at almost any powerful figure, past or present. There are of course exceptions to this, as with any rule, but take a moment to think of the most successful people you know and their attitudes in life.

How have they achieved power if not inherited? I argue that even the world’s greatest philanthropists do so for self-gratification, and to give themselves a fulfilling and meaningful life. This point reminded me of the Friends episode discussing this topic:

In our modern societies these concepts of females just being child-bearers and males being the, “bread-winners”, (i.e those that provide for their families), is slowly but surely ebbing away. I think it is fantastic that people nowadays are more conscious of what they truly want, and are beginning to push the boundaries and limits imposed by society. However, whilst the mindset of the people is changing, the genetic information stored within, and the intrinsic human desires and needs have not changed.

Helping People Is Selfish

I began to feel exasperated because although I want to do good and I want to help people, I couldn’t release the guilt I felt about just doing things to satisfy my own desires. I now inadvertently have become somewhat of a life-coach to people, and I receive messages almost every day from people asking for advice. I love to help people, I love to offer advice and share my experiences with anyone that will listen, BUT, this within itself is selfish.

selfish blogging

I want to help people because it makes me feel good inside. If it didn’t make me feel happy and wanted, would I want to help people so much? This caused me many weeks of torment as I battled mentally with this realisation. I felt like my whole life was a lie, and that I couldn’t be a good person because I was just gratifying myself in the form of helping others.

As I began to rationalise this I realised that ALTRUISM DOES NOT EXIST. I could not come up with a single example of true altruism. I realised that everybody that does nice things does so for some benefit to themselves: self-gratification, the advancement of a career, to demonstrate how “good” they are, to attract a partner, etc.

True Altruism Does Not Exist

True altruism does not, and cannot exist. The closest example I could come up with was a fathers love and desire to care for his child. The connection between a mother and a child is the strongest connection in the world but this is something that is physical as well as mental, and something incomparable. A mother’s love for her child cannot be called altruistic, because that child was and is part of her physically – thus it is just protection of what is hers.

true altruism

A Fathers love for a child is something less natural, as males can impregnate multiple females within a short period of time, and can continue to do so their whole lives.

The father can never carry the child inside of him, never has any physical/hormonal changes to his body, never breastfeeds, etc. and so the love and desire to care for the child grows more organically .

However, my bubble was burst when I realised that intrinsically – and subliminally – a Father views a child as something which will care for him when he is older, or continue his genealogy.      

I am not a father – or an expert on this matter – but thinking of it objectively and thinking of us as animals at a base level this makes perfect sense. The love of a child can be attributed to the survival, protection, and reproduction of the genes of the parents – thus it is selfish.

We Are All Selfish

I reached the conclusion that I am, and we are all selfish! I found solace when I reached this conclusion because I no longer felt guilty for wanting to help people. We may all be selfish and in this game of life for ourselves, but we can try to make life better for others whilst we follow our own path. Our selfishness can be used positively, and also minimised when needed.

I am sorry for this long article, and the tangents which it follows but it was something that was driving me crazy and I wanted to write about it and share my conclusions.

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I love hearing back from people, I love to hear criticisms and new ideas and I love to hear people´s opinions.

All feedback helps me to improve and create better content!

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Taken in the Barrio Gótico in Barcelona

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To read another article about how Political Correctness and Social Media Warriors are crushing the ability to integrate as a society click the link below:

Dear Social Justice Warriors – Please Stop Telling People What They Can and Can´t Say

Categories
ADHD Aphantasia Creativity Drugs Mental Health Mind TQFW Blog

#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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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.

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Conor
Categories
ADHD Aphantasia Creativity Mental Health Mind TQFW Blog

#15 Aphantasia and The 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.

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Taken In Temple Bar – Dublin