Depression, Anxiety, Fatigue? Have Seasonal Eye Checks!

Having spectral sensitivity, I constantly feel that my vision is compromised. I have tried working with coloured tints but find that a pair of tints only works for a short time. When the light changes, they no longer work. This year I had not tints that worked from July to September so I decided to return to considering my prescription glasses.

Over the years I have been to the optician’s and have received a number of different prescriptions. I decided to scrutinise these. One said I have astigmatism in my left eye, another in my right, another in both eyes. Opticians have disagreed over the severity of my astigmatism and then one optician identified a squint. I looked at my prescriptions and wondered what I should do.

I had noticed previously that when when I wore glasses, the shape the frames made always felt like a rectangle going smaller over my right eye. I wondered why this was but guessed it was just the best I could do with glasses. However now since reconsidering, I feel pretty sure this happens when my squint comes into operation. Next I thought about my astigmatism. I like working with charts on my computer which are always in grids, and it is obvious when my astigmatism is a problem. I can no longer manage the grids.

My astigmatism and squint symptoms are definitely seasonal. They change with the changing light. So I decided to observe my symptoms as the year progresses, create my own prescriptions and buy cheap experimental glasses online.

So far I bought some glasses for my astigmatism in September (0.25 strength in both eyes) and they worked! Then they stopped working at the end of September and I had no glasses again. I happened to have another pair with a 0.25 in one lens so I played around with 0.5 strength by covering my eye with 2 lenses at the same time. I could see this was good so I bought a pair of 0.5’s. They are working into October in the mornings. Once the light gets brighter around lunch time, I need something else. I dared to buy some low strength astigmatism glasses with a prism (as prescribed by one of my opticians). These work great when the light is bright. In fact, I am wearing them now and my binocular vision is so good that I am able to write a blog post in October. Previously I haven’t been able to do this.

As the year develops, I will continue to observe my vision and prescribe myself any other glasses I think I need.

When my vision is compromised, I struggle with focus, tracking and scanning between distances. I have very good visual acuity and these symptoms are all very subtle. However, due to my sensitivity, these symptoms are enough to stop me in my tracks! I struggle to focus on daily activities, I struggle to read comfortably and to plan ahead, and I struggle to think outside of the box, analyse, assess and see things from another’s perspective. I feel like I am stuck, living only in one dimension and unable to move.

Have seasonal eye-checks, even just one in the summer and one in the winter, and you might be surprised by what you find. Alternatively, monitor your symptoms and prescribe your own glasses!

I Have to Wear White!

My son, who is 12 will only wear grey. And I will happily and confidently say “My son will only wear grey soft clothes – no waist bands, no pockets, no collars, no buttons.” I don’t flinch as I say these words.

Then this year I have learnt that I need to wear white soft clothes. I need to block UV, wearing bamboo clothing. And this clothing only comes in black, grey and white. I can’t wear black or grey so I have to wear white.

The other reason I have to wear white is because I am colour sensitive and most colours don’t make sense to my brain. I see them, I even appreciate them, but they don’t make sense. So even when I don’t need to block UV, I still wear white.

When outside I can wear pink or pinkish purple shoes and coats and a blue hat but that is it. I mostly wear pinkish shoes, a white hat with a piece to cover my neck and a purple scarf. I feel conspicuous, strange, eccentric. I feel like people may think I am trying to make a statement when I am only trying to make myself feel comfortable.

What do I boldly say about my son – “He will only wear grey.”

What should I boldly say about myself? – “I will only wear white.”

How come we find it easier to let children off the hook for being different but when it comes to adults we tend to move into judgement? As adults we have more conditioning to undo. It is a tougher ride but being ourselves, no matter how different we feel, is the only path to real freedom . . . and I, for one, have chosen to walk that path.

Are you worried about feeling different? Is there anything blocking you from being your real self? I would love to hear your stories. Please comment below.

The Wonder of UV Blocking Clothes!

Every year right in the middle of the year, my light sensitivity symptoms become more severe than usual. I start to feel that I am constantly overheating especially if I go outside on a sunny day. And even if I stay inside, I feel that something too powerful for me is coming in through the window. I avoid standing less than a couple of metres from a window if I can do this, or I shut the curtains. It is not just the heat feelings. I also feel agitated, nervous and have digestive issues.

This year I started to look into the idea of UV blocking things. I started with a UV blocking umbrella which I used in the garden on a sunny day. I noticed I felt more calm and no heat problem as I would usually get. I didn’t suddenly need to run inside. I lingered and felt that I could think straight and actually have a conversation. Pleased with my findings, the next thing I bought was a UV blocking beach tent. It hasn’t had much use yet but I know it has potential. Needing a larger space, I then bought a UV blocking gazebo (as in the picture). We had a simple white gazebo before but somehow the idea of it was always a lot more pleasant than actually using it! I would immediately feel my symptoms worsen as I stepped into it but I didn’t know why. With our new gazebo, the temperature is about 5 degrees lower than in our last one and the light, heat and UV is reflected. I have been drawn to sit in this gazebo on some sunny days and found the experience very pleasant.

So now I had my experience outside all sorted out, I needed to work on my experience inside. I would walk into to a room in the middle of summer and not really know what to do with myself – the symptoms were so unpleasant. So we bought some UV blocking window tint and had moderate success and stress trying to apply it to a couple of windows! It made an immediate difference and makes what I see through the window appear softer without losing any of its life. The tint I chose is very light – the sort they use in museums to stop paintings and other artefacts from fading. We plan to tint the windows throughout our whole house now.

So this brings me to . . .the wonder of UV blocking clothing! First of all I read about it, and the articles I found suggested it was a bit of a gimmick. They said that all you need to wear to block UV is fabric with a fine weave, and dark is best. Well, I had nothing to lose by trying some so I bought myself a white UV blocking top. It was a high UV day when I tried it on. I was struggling to use my computer one afternoon and I have a pop up office downstairs where I sit about 2 metes away from a window. I put on my new top and instantly felt better. I felt less hot and more calm. I usually wash things before I wear them when they are new but once it was on, I wouldn’t take it off! I didn’t take it off until bed time and then it was straight on again in the morning!

Next I bought myself UV blocking trousers. Now I wasn’t sure about wearing white trousers but being colour sensitive I can’t wear black or grey, and colours were limited. When they arrived I gave them a disdainful glance and left them in the box for a week or so! Then one day I was sitting at my computer with my usual mild stabby pains in my gut and thought, “maybe I do need to wear UV blocking trousers. Maybe I could eliminate a few more symptoms.” So I put them on and they were wonderfully comfortable and as with the top, I immediately felt my symptoms improve, and wouldn’t take them off! I felt more grounded and present in my legs and my gut felt more calm.

Now I wear UV blocking clothes most of the time. My theory is that because I experience the spectrum as imbalanced, UV is affecting me more than others. It is particularly problematic on days when I don’t perceive enough red light. And I don’t think it will just be in the summer because I have always had unpleasant symptoms all year round.

And this is the wonder of . . . UV blocking clothes!

My Light Sensitive Son – A Poem

My son is 12 and super sensitive to the light. The only thing I been able to do is to try to identify who he is and what he needs at different times of the year.

My Son

In January he comes to find me,
In February we like to write.
In March he likes to play outside
But by April he is nowhere in sight.
In May he shuts his curtains
And programmes his way through the day.
In June he hardly speaks,
Only Unity, C Sharp all day.
In July he likes late night picnics
And will go to the beach or the park.
In August he goes on badger hunts,
Wearing his torch after dark
In September the garden is spooky,
In October the leaves are too red,
In November he asks to do music
Now the rhythms make sense in his head.
In December he does animation
Because he can now think straight.
He creates the most heart warming stories;
It was definitely worth the wait!

I Really Feel I am Out When I am In and In When I am Out!

Someone asked me yesterday, the first thing I would do when we come out of lock-down. And, surprisingly, I couldn’t think of anything!

I always feel ‘out’ because it is about having an outward feeling.

I feel like I am ‘out’ when I look out of the window and notice the changing light and seasons.

I feel like I am ‘out’ when I connect with people all across the world through my writing – ideas and thoughts that come to me in the moment.

I feel like I am ‘out’ when I connect through my music – again in the moment – that little piece of inspiration unique to me – that I choose to share with others.

I feel like I am ‘out’ when I connect with others by phone, skype or e-mail.

I feel like I am ‘out’ when I help people find their voice from the cosiness of my dining-room.

When I go to the beach on a sunny day I don’t feel more out than all of the above . . or I might even feel more in! I can be surrounded by loads of people but never exchange a smile or a word. I feel more ‘out’ speaking today, sharing a little piece of my heart with you.

Colour Sensitivity – This is Me!

This is me on 1st February this year on a trip to the seaside to play Crazy Golf. Because of my unusual way of processing the light, in February the only colours that resonate with my colour sensitive brain are pink, pinkish purple and pinkish red!

I usually really dislike photos of myself but not this one because this is Me!

Lessons from Lockdown

I have learnt that my life isn’t really about things and doing. It is about feelings and being. It is not about absolutes. It is about the subtle.

Expression is a Joy When You Can Connect

My son and I experience the spectrum differently to most people which affects the way we connect.

From January to the end of March I am struggling to see and feel enough blue light. I find it hard to process my own thoughts and what other people are saying. My 12 year old son keeps talking to me about his programming projects but unless I really focus and try super hard to understand by asking questions, the information feels like a blur to me. It struggles to get into my brain!

Then suddenly at the end of March, it as if the fog lifts. I can see and hear more clearly. However, rather ironically, when I see enough blue, my son stops seeing it. I ‘see’ this as a strained vacant expression in his eyes. He also becomes less hands on with things and appears less connected in his feet. I know he wants to take an interest in other people but he really finds it impossible to listen to any of my ramblings or suggestions! He is better playing with his friends online where the fun, humour and creativity manage to jump the gap between his desire and ability to connect.

At first when my son starts to struggle to connect, I feel all sorts of feelings – annoyance, anger and disappointment. But when I ‘get’ it, I realise these feelings are misplaced. My son is already in pain – feeling the pain of struggling to connect. He doesn’t need me adding to that. I have to accept him as he is, be patient and wait to hear his bright voice and see his quirky smile again. This will only happen when the light is more favourable for him. And lets hope that by then, it hasn’t become less favourable for me!

How Does it Feel to Have Atypical Spectral Sensitivity?

A person with atypical spectral sensitivity is aware of both their reaction to their visual and non-visual photoreceptors, and highly sensitive to their brain’s interpretation of what they see and feel. They detect the slight rise in red light in autumn, the lowering of blue light in the winter, the change between predominance of red and blue light in the spring, and the lack of red light in the summer. They feel the harmony of colour combinations all around them as soothing, or the discord of colour combinations as jarring, to their systems. They detect the slightest change in luminance, changing all the colours they see and the way they interact with each other, constantly, throughout the day and seasons. They have an extreme experience of contrast. experiencing a dance between colours becoming subtly darker and lighter, altering the way they see and feel line, shape and pattern.

Read more . .

Living by the Colours I See in the Light: The Joys and Challenges of Having Atypical Spectral Sensitivity

The Light Can be Kind, The Light Can Give, The Light Can Take Away!

I was wondering today why our 12 year old son, who has atypical spectral sensitivity, comes to life after dark but only in the middle of June and October to December! Why doesn’t he come to life after dark at other times of the year? I have been so puzzled because after all, even being colour sensitive, in the darkness, colour should no longer be an issue.

Of course, I have realised today, it is because the light has given to him or been kind to him on those days. In June, even though the light is very bright, it feels more balanced to my son and so he has a better day. He feels good and can enjoy doing more things that he is passionate about. The brightness and balance somehow inspires and energises him. So by the evening his energy is actually in credit. He has extra energy to enjoy.

In the winter, the light may not be giving so much but it feels kinder to my son. In the dimmer light, the feeling of imbalance no longer rattles him in every cell of his body, like it does at other times of the year. So by the evening he is keen to find his torch and go walking in the fields in the dark. Or he is up for a badger hunt! Or he wants to go on a late evening picnic! On these sorts of evenings we see our son as he really is – confident, chatty, energetic and full of humour. He suddenly relaxes in the kindness of the light.

How is the light treating you today? Is it being kind, giving or is it taking away?