Aphantasia and anxiety
I am 46 years old, based in Australiam, and only discovered that I have aphantasia last year. I work as a Sport Psychologist and have worked extensively over the last 20 years with athletes and performers – many of whom experience significant and debilitating levels of performance anxiety or nevousness during competition (sport) or performing for others (dance, singing, music). One of the key components of anxiety is worrying. Typically, worrying takes the form of “what ifs” questions that individuals ask in their mind and for whom the consequences (of the what if) are thought to be undesirable or unpleasant. One of the strategies for coping with anxiety is to be in the moment -focusing on the present rather than worrying about the future.
During these discussions with my clients I often reflect that my experience of performance anxiety and also more generalised anxiety is highly limited. Not only do I not experience noticable levels of anxiety, it seems to me that I am also the least anxious person that I know and I spend almost zero time engaging in worrying. I also often live in the moment and I wonder to what extent that is because I can not see any sort of visual image that represents the future of the undesirable “what ifs” that others create in their mind’s eye.
Thoughts and experiences of others with aphantasia?
Well I definitely see where you’re coming from, however I am a big worrier and generally a very nervous person whom also has aphantasia. I’m not sure if my anxiousness is a result of other things, but I find that I worry about the future more because it is entirely unknown: I cannot see it, I cannot predict it. It also makes me worry more about the past because I feel like I am going to forget everything, which causes the same thing when in the present because if I am having a nice time, I will be thinking things like "I am not going to remember this moment" or "I will forget this feeling/place." The issue lies with the fact I’m not sure what other underlying things are going on in my brain, but it certainly is an interesting consideration.