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.

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

Being Highly Sensitive – Our Only Constancy is Rhythm and Pattern

I don’t have colour constancy so my brain is always trying to decide what colour something is. Are my pink trousers really pink today or are they red or are they orange? They haven’t changed much from yesterday but there is some subtle change to the hue which alerts my brain that I am now seeing a different colour.

I don’t have sound constancy so my brain is always trying to decide what sound something it. My heater is clicking in the corner of my room. Is it the same click as yesterday? Or is it slightly brighter, duller, louder, quieter? Again, not much change from yesterday but my brain still has this insatiable curiosity about the quality of sound.

I don’t have touch constancy so my brain is always trying to decide how something feels. Every day I touch the cushions on my settee and my brain wonders if they feel the same as yesterday. Are they a little softer, a little too soft, a little harsher? Again not much change from yesterday but my brain cannot help itself but ask the questions.

And then there is smell. Do the chips cooking smell the same as yesterday? And taste? Do my chips taste the same as yesterday? Yes, my brain will not be happy if it hasn’t considered these things.

Exhausting – you must think! Well, yes it is! But I have a solution.

I need to work out what the pattern is. How does my cushion feel in January, February, March . . . ? What does the kitchen tap sound like and how does it make me feel in January, February, March . . . ? What colour is my strawberry jam in January, February, March . . .?

Then when that time of year comes round again, I won’t be shocked. I will be expecting each variation of the stimuli as I move through the year. Constancy, any way you can get it, is comforting. Lack of constancy is disturbing and makes us feel insecure.

I don’t have constancy for any of my sensitivities so the only thing constant in my life is rhythm and pattern.

It’s Harder for Some of Us to See Out and for Others to See In.

I have wondered my whole life why my face appears so unrelaxed when I catch sight of myself in a mirror. And it is more than this – it is as if I am struggling to connect through my eyes. There is just the odd occasion when I look in the mirror and think ‘Oh, there you are, so you do exist after all!’

Now I know that it all has to do with my difficulty in always perceiving enough blue light. I am not talking about violet or green or any other colour – no, specifically blue. I always have this feeling at this time of year from half way through February to the beginning of April. I discern enough violet light (I know that because my brain is so active, intuitive and creative,) but I am struggling to perceive blue light. I know this because I can feel quite alone and struggle to be a team player.

As I see my own and other people’s energy, I am able to find clues to connection and disconnection, that others may not have. When I perceive too little blue light, I literally see a band of low energy going across my eyes. I find myself trying to connect with people through eye contact but not really feeling the connection I want. I feel open-hearted, but it is amazing how cut off you can feel when you struggle to connect through your eyes.

I have to learn other ways to connect – voice, feelings, touch, smell, taste, movement – whilst I am waiting for the blue light to come back!

ADHD and Seeing Too Little Red and Blue Light

As my tendency is always to see higher violet light than is usual, I know now that I can sometimes see too little of any other colour on the spectrum.

This is happening right now at the beginning of March. With the high violet light, I am seeing too little blue light. I am feeling as if I am struggling to connect with anything. I have really high energy in both my hands and feet but that energy doesn’t feel connected with the rest of me.

My energy feels low in my lower arms and lower legs and the reason is that I see too little red light. I don’t feel grounded and present in myself. This energy pattern causes a block between my energy to do something (connection with the world being felt in my hands and feet) and my emotional connection (felt in my abdomen, heart and throat).

When I perceive both red and blue light as low, I feel a particular kind of disconnection. I find it harder than usual to connect with my purpose.

Signs and symptoms: I feel agitated, need people around but get stressed with much interaction. I think people are being abrupt with me when they are not. I feel grumpy, easily stressed and over-stimulated. My only release is to flit around doing a bit of this and a bit of that. I need to move when I think, walk when I speak, and am just about managing to stop my brain from whirring too wildly.

I wonder if this is a little of what it feels like to have ADHD. Are people with ADHD finding it difficult to connect with their purpose?

My solution: I do something that feels really meaningful to me like writing this post. Although I don’t feel fully connected, I at least feel the energy in my hands and feet, and I have to accept that this is my way of connecting today. I connect by speaking my truth.

Help! I Over-see Contrast!

I have been trying to get to the bottom of my issues with processing pattern for three years now. First I thought it was astigmatism, then I thought it was my binocolular vision. But something didn’t feel right about those ideas. It isn’t just lines or grids that I can’t process. It is the pattern of blades of grass and branches on a tree. Or looking at the shelf above our fireplace, the sharp edge of my desk, or the food on my plate.

Some days the problem is there and some days it isn’t. It all depends on my perception of the spectrum. If the spectrum feels more balanced, then pattern feels more integrated. If the spectrum feels unbalanced, then lines and patterns seem to stand out.

My experience of the spectrum is that if I perceive a little too less of one or more colours, then I have an unbalanced perception of colours around me. For instance, if I perceive a little too less red, then all colours will be affected and some of them , especially white, will lack warmth. A sky, for instance may appear more stark than it would do with more red light. This stark feeling is hard enough, but if I then look at a pattern of brown branches on a tree against the stark white, the contrast becomes too great and I feel disturbed by what I see.

My difficulty with pattern is more pronounced between the brighter months of February and October, although it drops off and things appear visually softer from around July. I can only describe the feeling like watching the television on a setting beyond high definition. It is not comfortable and confuses my brain.

If you relate to any of my experiences, I would love to hear your story.

Help! I Have No Colour Constancy!

Colour constancy is learnt when we see things again and again. If we see a red apple, our brain files that piece of of information. Next time we see a red apple, we recognise it. We don’t usually mind if it is a little more pink than the last one, or a little more crimson . We don’t usually mind if the light we are seeing the apple in, is a little more blue or a little more yellow. To most people, it is still a red apple because most people learn colour constancy.

But what happens if you don’t learn colour constancy? What happens if every time you look at an apple that someone else says is red, your brain challenges that suggestion. What if your brain says “Is that really red, or is that orange or even slightly green ?” What if your brain says “I know that apple is red but in that light it really looks yellow and in yesterday’s light, it looked orange.”?

Well, that wouldn’t be too bad if your brain was happy to just flick through all these colour possibilities, but it isn’t good if your brain just can’t process all the confusing information. And this is what it is like for me and my son. When we look at a colour, our brains tell us whether it does or doesn’t doesn’t match the light-waves. If there is red in a colour, but we don’t perceive enough red light, then our brain gets confused and we get all sorts of nervous system symptoms. These could be going hot or cold, getting a headache, a sore throat, feeling tight in our chest, getting indigestion or feeling knocked out of ourselves.

It is easy to think that these symptoms are just stress or some other health condition but we have tested this over and over again and they are always caused by the light.

Might you have symptoms you don’t understand? Could you have Atypical Spectral Sensitivity too?

We would love to hear your story.

Living with Atypical Spectral Sensitivity Keeps You in Touch with Your Needs

When I don’t perceive enough yellow light, I know I need to find a kind voice and a kind face, to help me feel more loved.

When I don’t perceive enough green light, I know I need to let myself be supported and actually let in the feeling of support.

When I don’t perceive enough orange light, I know I need to try to be a team player and find ways to help me feel that I belong.

When I don’t perceive enough blue light, I know I need to find special ways to speak my thoughts and opinions.

When I don’t perceive enough violet light, I know I need to find little ways to stay in touch with my intuition.

When I don’t perceive enough red light, I know I need to think things, say things and do things, to help me feel more secure.

When I do perceive enough yellow, green, orange, blue, violet or red light, I need to remember to indulge in feeling how good it is to feel connected to all the different aspects of myself!

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