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Getting older

absolutley sucks. No one tells you that peri menopause will hit you like a sack of potatoes. That it will take away all your self confidence and self belief. That hitting it below the ‘magical’ age of 45 means the doctors will say you are ‘too young’ and dismiss your symptoms as panic attacks, urine infections and anxiety and try to medicate you accordingly. That eventually you will have to pay for a private doctor to listen to you, to (almost*) respect you and to finally give you hrt. *apparently, since I’m not in a relationship, it doesn’t matter that my libido has also fallen off a cliff….

On reflection, things have not been right for a while, but the impact of the lockdowns meant that certain symptoms got missed or dissmissed. It was only after having Covid in March that things got really bad. Foul moods, panic attacks, lack of enjoyment of anything, unable to eat/swallow, night sweats, hair falling out, loss of words…. There is currently no medical proof, but from searching online it does appear to be more than a coincidence that my symptoms got worse after having covid. It’s still trial and error with the HRT, but there have been some initial improvements.

The only part of me that is not improving is my eating. First I had a panic attack where I felt I was choking, which made me wary of food. Then I stopped being able to eat food in company – probably because people at work were asking the same (sressful) questions on repeat and finally I stopped being able to swallow pretty much anything. I’ve lost half a stone in the past two months, and several more in the months before that. I’ve seen 8 doctors, due to the way my surgey works, been put on medication, had massively intrusive investigations, taken off medication, tried hypnotherapy having been told there was nothing wrong physically…. only to finally end up at a Speech and Language therapist who listened, took me seriously, put me back on medication and restricted my diet even more. At least I know I’m not going crazy. That these symptoms are not ‘just’ anxiety. I’m not enjoying hte meds or the diet, but I’m hopeful that in good time I should make it better. I also wonder, since part of the symptoms are inflamation, if Covid kicked this up a notch as well, since it appears to be a long term underlying condition that I didn’t even know I had.


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#Aphantasia – this is me

I started to realise that maybe what I (don’t) see in my head was different to others a few years ago. We were at bookclub, and talking about how we visualise different characters (particularly when they differ very much in film versions). When it was my turn I said ‘I don’t see pictures. The words just appear in my head’. Conversation moved on. Maybe I thought other people were exagerating, I don’t know.

A year or so later, I was taking a course which involved several sections on mindfulness. This meant that our teacher led guided meditations for up to half an hour during the session. You know the type – imagine yourself on a beach, imagine a light moving through your body. When I said that I couldn’t do that I was told to try harder. I found it such a stressful experience that I didn’t actually go back to finish the course.

This week there has been a discussion about this very phenomenon on one of the book groups I am a member of on Facebook. It confirmed for me that I’m not weird, I’m just one of a small minority of people who can’t see images in their head. And that this condition has a name and people doing research about it.

What I can see in my head

  • I can see a vague image of places I know well and have a strong emotional attachment to. I’m not sure I can draw a picture from this though.
  • Blurry/vague images of situations that I have been involved in.
  • Body shapes from a distance of people who I know well.
  • My visual recall is better when I am on the edge of sleep, but that’s not so helpful for the everyday!

What I can’t see in my head

  • Pretty much everything else! I’ll be working on a jigsaw and someone will ask me what it’s about. I can give a vague description, but not detailed or particularly helpful most of the time.
  • Faces of people. Sometimes this means I’ll meet someone out of context and will struggle to name them, or even recall how I know them if I’ve only met them a couple of times.
  • Anything to do with stories. The words just go straight into my head. I honestly get nothing from long descriptive passages, which might be why I skipped large chunks of Lord of the Rings. Heck, half the time I can’t even remember the title/author of the book I’m currently reading!
  • Music. I taught myself grade 5 Music Theory, and passed by learning the maths of music. I can’t look at sheet music and hear the tune in my head. I always thought my dad was magic when he could do that at church! If I know the piece I can usually play a good approximation, but the bassoon part to ‘Cuban Overture’ stumped me – lots of patience from my fellow bassoonist meant I got that one eventually.
  • Hockey. I’ll sit and watch an entire match and I can’t replay any of the goals in my head; or the hits and fights. I can watch a replay and think ‘oh yes’, but I couldn’t often describe something I’ve just seen. One of my only hockey memories is of Matty Soda on the blue line against Bison. He found himself alone on the ice during a line change, looked at the bench and grinned, then took the shot and scored. If I was to watch a video of that I’m sure it wouldn’t match at all!
  • Revision/memory techniques. All this ‘I imagine a peg with a goat on it’ memory work that kids are taught in school. I just learn things and remember them.
  • Films. As with hockey, I can’t see clips of films in my head. I’m amazed when people say ‘oh, I love this bit’ before we get there when watching a film.
  • Art. I can paint what I see, but the magic of looking at a block of stone and turning it into something else… Just wow

I’m not sure why I’m feeling the need to blog this. Partly so that I can get my head around other people being able to see things that I can’t, and knowing that when they are asked to ‘imagine a six legged horse on a desert’ they can do that, and partly to share that we are all different; maybe someone else I know has similar experiences to me and this might help.

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#30dayswild 4/6/19

A walk in the rain today

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Top Tips for NQTs going into SEN

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Finding or advertising a teaching job on Twitter with #teachingvacancyuk

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