A Colourful Alphabet…
I started to notice in my 20s that when informing someone that I liked a month because of the colour, or that I didn’t like a colour because it tasted gross, I would get funny looks.
People would ask, “What do you mean July is Yellow?”
I would give a funny look and reply, “Do you not see in colour?”
They would reply, “Yes, I see in colour.”
Then I would say, “It’s not the same thing as your surroundings in colour, but everything has it’s own colour or a taste. M is red, the month of May is light blue, peach tastes like puke. You know, things like that.”
Some people would say, “Weird.”
And I would say, “How unfortunate for you.”
The conversation ends. Perhaps I could never explain it very well.
After having a similar situation pop up recently, I decided to make a post about it with a visual explanation. However, maybe its just one of those things that if you have it, you get it. If you don’t, you don’t.
But here I go!
To keep the post shorter, I am breaking this subject up into 2 parts. This is part 1 – all about words and numbers.
First to get things started, I grabbed these sentences from Live Science and WebMD.
Live Science says:
“Synesthesia is a neurological condition that causes the brain to process data in the form of several senses at once. For example, a person with synesthesia may hear sounds while also seeing them as colorful swirls. The condition isn’t fully understood, but it is thought to be genetic, and it affects more women than men.”
The full article by Alina Bradford, Live Science Contributor, can be found here.
And WebMD says:
“It’s fancy name for when you experience one of your senses through another. For example, you might hear the name “Alex” and see green. Or you might read the word “street” and taste citrus fruit…It stays the same over time. If you see the letter “A” in green today, you’ll see it in green 10 years from now.”
Full prognosis can be found here.
An example of the letters/numbers and their corresponding colours. I did not choose these colours. They just are.
Now, to. be. clear. When I look at a block of text I see black font on a white page. It’s not in a colourful form. If I’m halfway in my head, like when I’m typing, I can see an imaginary haze or aura of colour. The difference is when I internalize the word an image forms in my head, then there is full on colour.
Think about when you read a book. You aren’t seeing the words in front of you, instead you see the images of the story playing out.
Here are rudimentary examples of some some words.
I will use my name, Mandy. Here is what I expect most people experience, black text on a white screen:
This is what I experience looking at the same text on the screen. There will still be black text, but there will also be a suggestion of colour:
This is what it looks like in my minds eye, it’s just an essence or a blur of colour:
Overall, I would say my name is a red word.
Let’s get a little more complicated. November is both a word and a month, so I technically get two different effects from the one word. The colour of the month dominates the colour of the word. You can see that happening where the essence of the month is only golden yellow compared to the actual amount of letters that are yellow or orange. Not sure why. It just is.
Overall, I would say November is a golden yellow.
The spelling of a persons name make a huge difference in how I identify them an individual. For example, you can spell Shawn/Sean/Shaun three different ways and none of them are interchangeable.
It can drive me a little mad sometime when I’m introduced to a person and I’m verbally told that his name is Shawn (this is the default in my head as it’s the first way I learned the name). So I get to know Shawn, and the colours interweave with his identity. I eventually see that he spells his name SEAN…
Everything is shook. What the hell man! *sigh* So I need to erase EVERYTHING I know and associate with him and start all over again.
Here is what the names look like in text for me. They all look similar at this point but in my minds eye, it’s very different:
Here is what they look like in in my mind eye:
Words can get very complicated. Even more so than what I’ve presented. Luckily numbers are a lot more straight forward. At least from 0-100 haha. Here are some basic examples:
Just for fun, this is what a bar code of 0 and 1’s looks like to me. I actually hate working with 0 and 1’s the most because I feel like I’m in a black and white world:
The most interesting part of numbers (and my greatest frustration), was when I was in math class. The numbers I had to solve were only in black text on white paper. For some reason I couldn’t see the colours while doing math and I hated it!
Well, that’s all for now. My mind is exhausted trying to dissect something that has always been there but is oddly vague. To any others with Synesthesia, is my experience similar to yours? What are the differences?
Next post I will be discussing hearing and tasting colours.