hyperactive thoughts and terrible autobiographical memory, help?

adogan9 asked 2 weeks ago
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I learned I am aphantasiac this year in February in my psych class. It was quite a shock to learn people could imagine things. I have been thinking of this since then. I have a horrible memory, I can’t remember if what people tell me, or what I tell people. I can’t remember being at certain places, and I don’t feel like it was me being at a certain place, which makes me very sad. I feel like wherever I go, or whatever nice time I spend with someone, I can’t remember anything about it. I can recall details from pictures or if I talk about it with someone, but I can’t feel as if I was there, I can’t remember what it felt like. I’m not great with names and faces either, but the memory thing is really bugging me. I feel a lost sense of self, and it gets really hard to connect various parts of me. What is the hardest is when I’m far away from people because I can’t recollect my feelings when I was with them, only thing that matters seems like that moment. And if that person is unavailable or doesn’t give me the same feeling through text or facetime, I can’t remember anything and it’s scary. Any nice thing from the past is completely erased and I can only feel what I feel at the moment. Nothing else seems real. I can’t also dream in pictures, it’s sort of like a stream of words. My thoughts are hyperactive, and I believe I’m a great analytic thinker. I can see the world quite clearly, perhaps because I don’t have another world to think about. Overall, I’m not happy with the situation, and I wish I could do something to be able to remember how people and places made me feel. If anybody has similar experiences or any ideas on how to have better autobiographical memory, or how to enhance memory, please feel free to share. Thank you.

Zach Dobosh November 17, 2020 06:09 pm

What are the reasons you think it is important to feel differently then you do in the moment? Are there any steps you take to help capture important events and memories?

I am fully aphantasic as well, and the main reason I would like to generate feelings is so I could better cultivate feelings of motivation and success for difficult endeavors ahead. But since I have difficulty eliciting feelings based on thought alone, I’ve instead defined and dissected the emotions I wish to regularly feel and have organized strategies to help prime them with triggers. Examples: I listen to cinematic orchestral tunes, like Audiomachine and Two Steps From Hell, while working to invoke motivation and focus; I’ve cultivated different breathwork practices, such as physiological sighs and Wim Hoff breathing, to quickly trigger relaxation and train my arousal control in response to stress; I’ve habituated laughter in response to stress and disappointment to diminish their burden and improve my overall happiness; and I’ve spent a lot of time defining and redefining my ideal future and goals to help develop awareness, motivation, and belief in these outcomes.

Frankly, I am happy that recalled memories and imagined threats & embarrassments don’t have a strong influence on my emotional state, I see it as an advantage when it comes to being present, and fully experiencing the moment. I also value my rationality and recognize that it benefits my abilities to engage in civil discourse (especially regarding sensitive topics), objective analysis, and systems thinking.

Surely, it would be nice to relive peak experiences and fantasize stupendous realities but I’ve personally decided to focus on leveraging strategies and tools to beneift my handicaps – like journaling to capture my thoughts and feelings from special moments in time. Do you journal or save a lot of photos and mementos? The more immersive the memorabielia, the more success you will likely find in "reliving" memories and feelings. Im sure it won’t be long until a pair of Google Glasses can record special events which we could later replay on demand, from the first-person perspective!

Janette Nash November 18, 2020 11:46 pm

That sounds totally like SDAM to me – I have both – I’m 5 senses mindblind, no inner voice and no inner monologue, and I don’t dream. From groups I’m in, it seems that most people with SDAM also have aphantasia, though only about 1/3 of aphants have SDAM. There are benefits to it, I find. No regrets, no grudges, living completely in the moment. The problem is that if our loved ones die or leave, they are permanently lost to us, unless one has a mind’s "nose" or "ear" to recall them. (I don’t).

Allie November 20, 2020 12:01 am

I often have to ask my partner about trips we have taken. I just recently realized that I don’t remember things because of my lack of visual memory. I remember concepts rather than visuals. But I recently realized that I can compensate for my visuals through language and tactile memory. So, I hope there may be ways you have not discovered yet that might help you retain memories. But I am not sure because everyone certainly seems to have a different set of ways to compensate. I wish you all the best in your quest to understand!

Max Barber November 20, 2020 06:58 pm

Hi Adogan9,

I absolutely relate to how you feel. I found out I has Aphantasia 5 years ago, and at the time I thought it was quite cool to be a bit different from everyone else, but these days, like you, i find it makes me really sad, I feel a total disconnect to everyone else, colleauges, friends and family, because when they are not in sight they really don’t exist in my mind. The more I think about it these days, and maybe it is as I get older and my memory diminishes a bit anyway, it seems to be worse.

I don’t know what we can do, one thing I really would like to do is actually talk to other people with Aphantasia and discuss stuff like this. Not actually knowing anyone seems t make me feel even more isolated.

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