My Spectral Sensitivity Story

Young Childhood and Primary School

As a child I often had stomach aches, felt allergic to foods, had hay fever and felt ‘not safe’ in the world. When it comes to my sensitivity to colour, I remember being given my sister’s pass-me-downs, and because they didn’t yet fit me, they were stored in a wardrobe. I sometimes spotted something I really liked and couldn’t wait to wear it, but by the time I could wear it (several months later), it seemed to have changed colour and I would say that I don’t like it any more. I was also a very unpredictable and picky eater. I would always really dislike seeing a meal on the plate and couldn’t stand going to a restaurant where the plates were bigger. I would just burst into tears at the sight of the large oval plate. Sometimes I liked things and sometimes I didn’t. When questioned about it, my siblings would knowingly say “It’s Friday today. Jennie doesn’t eat peas on Friday!”. I just about managed primary school because I like learning and found the learning possible, but found all the times when we were all together – in the playground, assemblies etc. – made me very anxious.

Secondary School

I remember finding September, when I started school each year, feeling like a very strange month. The colours and patterns of trees and leaves and grass all felt strange. By the time I had cycled the 2 miles to school I felt even worse. I couldn’t face assembly so used to take ages to walk to school with my bicycle, so I missed it every Tuesday. I felt anxious all the time at school and struggled with the learning. Things weren’t in nice neat boxes any more like they were in primary school. There were too many letters and numbers on the blackboard and not enough light. There were too many complicated concepts and no-one to put them in order for me. I used to feel that I just had to get out of the classroom and at 14, was diagnosed with agoraphobia. I would go into the playground but would feel no better. I would go into the cloakroom and wrap myself in the coats and hug a heater until I felt better. I often went to the place my mother worked when I couldn’t manage school. She was a laboratory assistant in another school. I would sit in her nice light office and she would give me jobs to do. I remember being given hundreds of tiny white cubes to count and sort. I found this deeply comforting. Little did we know then that this was helping me to re-organise my brain.

After this . . .

I would say I became a bit of a shadow of myself, never knowing when the anxiety would be present. I took O levels, A Levels and went to College. I’m not sure how I managed those years. Maybe the environments were a little better for me and also I was choosing to study.

Adulthood

As soon as I went into the big wide world, anxiety hit again. I was a primary school teacher now and just couldn’t keep everything in my head that I needed to be there. And there were too many children and too much clutter! I only managed this for a year. By my mid 20’s I was suffering with symptoms that felt like burn-out. At 29 I married and by 31, I had a virus that led to post viral fatigue and I had this for 6 years. I got myself better from this and back to what I felt was full health. At 39 I gave birth to our son, Luca. When Luca was one I was diagnosed with Hashimotos (swinging thyroid condition). A few years later I was told this had corrected itself (based on blood tests.)

Next . . .

I just got on with life as best I could, now working as a one-to-one music teacher. I still had about 10 mild symptoms that I didn’t understand.

Then in May 2017 (when I was 49) I found a bookmark on my computer for Irlen Syndrome. I had a look at it and thought maybe it might explain my extreme light sensitivity. I arranged for a diagnostic. When the lady came and gave me all these different coloured tints to try, it was a real challenge for me. I only had to pick up some pairs and lift them up towards my face, to know that they were wrong. I could feel strange sensations in my arms and my head. Sometimes the diagnostician would notice that I would actually move the glasses physically to one side of me, without me realizing. Then trying the glasses with my eyes closed I would say all sort of things:-

“These make me feel like my eyes are tightly stuck closed”

“These make me feel like I can open my eyes.”

“These make me feel like I can breathe better”

“These make me feel that I have more contact with my feet.”

“These make me feel taller,”  

“I can’t even bear to look at the colour of these.”

When we found a pair that felt right, I felt amazing. I could see things in an integrated way for practically the first time. My binocular vision seemed to be working perfectly. And no lines were jumping out at me. Everything was just soft and I felt soft. I felt taller and stronger and more integrated. Things didn’t seem so far away. I remember noticing that I went right up to things like the work surface in the kitchen. Things seemed in line with each other. Even places, like the corner shop, didn’t seem so far away.

One thing was strange though. I remember saying “But green still doesn’t look right through these glasses.” And that was really when the penny dropped about my relationship with colour. I realised that focusing on colours didn’t feel right to me, contributing to my unexplained nervous system symptoms.

I ordered my glasses and when I collected them 2 weeks later, they had the same wonderful integrating effect. But 2 days after this they stopped working. I thought the light was getting in the sides so stuck on pieces of cardboard, but it didn’t help. The spectrum had changed in my perception. I went on to have another 2 Iren diagnostics that year and had 2 more pairs of glasses, but the same thing happened. They quickly stopped working.

I still have multiple symptoms every day. They range from mild to not so mild. I move from feeling that I am struggling to function, to feeling able to engage and connect in some way that makes me happy. I find it has become easier to help myself with my issue with colour. I live in a neutral house and wear colours that match the light in the moment. I use tinted glasses and lighting to help me. I find my difficulty with pattern is much harder to work with, though. Outside, how I see leaves and blades of grass, and the outlines of branches on the sky all feel disturbing to my nervous system. Inside, how I see piles on carpets, the relationship between furniture on walls, creases in curtains, patterns in wood and vinyl floors etc are all disturbing to my nervous system. It seems that it is not just about focus because I can wear prescription glasses to make my focus feel pretty good. It is as if sometimes lines stand out too much. Sometimes, it is as if I have tuned the TV into HD and then gone up a setting from there. At other times things seem to blend too much and it is as if I can’t tune in HD at all. I started to call my experience of colour ‘general tonal discord’

A Revelation

In 2019, one of my music students mentioned a physiotherapist who he found very helpful. In fact he called him a healer. My ears pricked up and I felt that I should meet this man. I booked an appointment for March 2020 but of course with the pandemic at the time, I didn’t make that appointment. In fact we didn’t get to meet in person until one very cold December day in his physiotherapy room on the Dorset coast in 2021. This meeting changed my life because someone finally recognised the challenges of being me, but also my gifts. And he discerned that my difficultes were a result of the conflict between my challenges and gifts. I hadn’t accepted either. I am still on the journey . . .

Why My Son Likes Cities

How I see the spectrum often makes me feel that I am watching TV in HD and then someone has turned the setting up one notch further. I feel that the branches on the sky are a little more pronounced than is comfortable and all of my 3D perception is very subtly altered.

My perception of sound is also altered meaning that sounds stand out more than is comfortable. I am constantly aware of every sound around me. This means the world can feel a bit harsh or stark. I tend to prefer to be in places where there is less clutter and less intrusive sound. Struggling to process movement also adds to my difficulty with being in busy places. And I struggle to engage with practical activities such as cooking.

Now my fourteen year old son is different to me. It seems that he may have the experience of waching TV in low definition. Things aren’t unclear or fuzzy but they seem to be more blended. He doesn’t like clothes with tags on because he says they look tatty. He worried that he had wrecked our plastic kitchen chair when he dropped some raspberry on it from his apple and raspberry crumble. He can’t seem to see stains as separate from the object that they are staining. He is distressed by a spot of blood on anything. He checks all our cutlery for marks before eating his lunch. He struggles to engage with practical tasks such as spreading pate on his crackers.

My son’s perception of sound is also altered. He is fine with mechanical sounds like a spinning washing machine but really struggles with speech and can’t tolerate one note of singing. I wonder if sounds are too blended for him. He is happy listening to a YouTuber who has removed all the gaps in his speech so sounds like he hardly takes breath! He doesn’t struggle to process movement. He likes it. He thrives on having buzz around him as long as he doesn’t need to engage with it practically.

I am much more likely to be over-stimulated. My son is much more likely to be under-stimulated.

And this is why my son loves cities! Well, for a short burst of time anyway!

I Bought Myself a Spectrometer!

Hi, I have been making a lot of videos about how I perceive light and colour in a different way to those around me. I have often wondered if I am ‘seeing’ differently or ‘processing’ differently so I bought myself a spectrometer!

My Discoveries & Thoughts

I perceive light differently I constantly perceive subtle changes in the colour spectrum in the atmosphere. For instance just looking at the sky I can perceive when there is an increase in violet light or decrease in red light. I have been testing my observations with my spectrometer readings, and I find that how I perceive the light does not always tally with what my spectrometer picks up.

My brain sometimes processes the relative intensity of wave lengths in a way that is atypical. This means that I might perceive some wave lengths as less intense or more intense than I see on my spectrometer.

(incidentally my colour sensitivity is so extreme that I can’t look at the intensity of a colour spectrum so my husband removed the colour and sent me a black and white line graph for my observation.)

I feel the change in the light as much as I perceive it visually. I know if there is more violet light because I will feel more intuitive or suddenly have a desire to eat crunchy food. I know if there is more red light because I will feel more grounded and have a desire to eat softer foods.

My imbalanced way of seeing the light moves me and shapes me. It sharpens my intellect, helps me tune into my emotions and heightens my creativity and intuition.

I live by the light meaning that from when I get up the morning I have half an eye out to check what the light is doing. How I see the light affects all my choices of the day – what I wear, what I eat, what I do and how I relate to myself and other people. When I perceive more violet light I am more creative and intuitive. When I perceive more red light I am more into my home projects.

Living by the Colours I See in the Light – The Joys and Challenges of Having Ambient Colour Sensitivity

Nothing is Right Day

tired animal

Today I feel that nothing is right.

It isn’t right to be outspoken and it isn’t right to keep quiet

It isn’t right to be with people and it isn’t right to be alone

It isn’t even right to be right and it certainly isn’t right to be wrong!!

My Theory

There is a lot of blue light today giving me gritty determination to push forward my own ideas. However there is less red light so I feel less secure in myself and my ideas. The two feelings clash and confuse and confound me.

Mummy, Please Teach Me to Live by the Light!

 

child praying

I didn’t grow up living by the light. I grew up like most other people getting up in the morning, thinking about what I was going to do, where I was going to go and then trying to fulfil my plan for the day.  I was completely oblivious to the light and how it might be making me feel.

But now I do live by the light and  today I was thinking about how difficult it is to live in a way that feels so different and unusual.  Then I wondered what it would have been like if I had grown up believing that it was a completely usual things to do.

I imagined having a conversation with my mother when I was 3 and this is how it went.

Mum – Jennie, come with me and look out of the window and tell me what you see.

Me – I see houses and trees and the sky.

Mum – And what colour are they?

Me – The houses are red, the trees are green  and the sky is blue.

Mum – Do you see anything else? Can you see the light? Is there another colour out there?

Me – Well, there is a sort of funny blue feeling

Mum – Ah, you see blue. And does it make you feel something?

Me – it makes me feel cuddly

Mum – How do think you would feel outside today?

Me – Not sure, maybe a bit lonely.

Mum – I see. Well, light is very important. We all live by the light. You know the sun is very important and the moon?

Me – Yes

Mum – Well, the light makes us feel different ways. It can make you have different moods. And it makes you choose different coloured clothes and eat different food. So we don’t all do the same thing every day. We all have to live by the light to really feel good.

Me – Oh, I see, so that is why I chose my blue dress today. it wasn’t really me. it was the light!

Mum – Yes, Exactly!

 

The Blue Light of Surrender

black-white-1444737_1920

It’s June and I thought June was about lunches at the garden and picnics at the beach but not always for me.

The Light

As a light-watcher my perception is that June can be a bit too blue! I go off my green veggies and brown meat and feel glad this year that our home is neutral and that I don’t have to do my usual trick of taking pictures off the wall and removing patterned table-cloths!

How Do I Feel?

I am finding it hard to feel connected to myself or anyone or anything.

I Feel Lonely

I feel as if I am the only person in the world right now.

I Feel my Pain

I feel all the pain that I haven’t been feeling the rest of year about being me and having all my ridiculous sensitivities and I feel it really head on. Usually I am incredibly positive and can always squeeze out the best in a difficult situation but right now I am struggling with this.

I Hate Asking for Help

I hate asking for help at the best of times but right now I really hate asking for help. It is as if those words “Please . . . ” grate on me and it is hard to get them out. Perceiving less red light I just don’t feel so secure in relationship and it is really hard to trust that someone wants to help me.

What Do I Do?

I have to dig even deeper into my ‘spiritual’ resource. If I can’t find what I need at the surface then this is where I go. I wonder what spiritual quality I need to help me through this time. And the word that keeps coming to me is ‘surrender.’

I need to surrender because I just can’t work it all out and make it all fine at the moment. I need to remember that ultimately I am not in control – God is.

The Violet Light and the Waterfall of Words!

waterfall

The last couple of days we have had high white cloud and I always perceive a lot of violet in this light. I perceive less of the lower and middle frequencies which makes me feel quite un-grounded and very buoyant!

In this light I have thousands of words in my head! It is like endless torrents and waterfalls of things that must be said. My heart feels wide open and my thinking gains a clarity that I don’t experience in any other light. My son (11) is the same. After a long day on the computer he comes down, eyes bright and full of ideas and opinions and feelings which he must express. I only see this energy in him now – in the middle of the summer.

What Do I Do?

Well, in the past, the bright light has meant ‘Hide’ quick, hide yourself away before you do anything silly and say anything ridiculous and bore anybody or offend anybody.’ And I literally have hidden from the light (sat on the settee with my hands covering my face) and hidden from myself (have spoken nothing and been completely mute).

However, this year, I feel a change in myself. I won’t hide any more. If this is the light when I feel the most energy then I am going to feel that energy. I am going to express that energy. I am going to follow that energy wherever it takes me even if it is to the ends of the earth and back.

I will not be frightened of my own energy any longer.

Are you frightened of yours’ ?

No Tomatoes in Late May Please!

raspberry

How the light is every day changes my taste, my desire to eat certain textures and also temperature.

At some point in May I always see a burst of more red light. As the light is quite bright I already see the medium and higher light-waves more strongly so the light can appear more balanced to me until the blue starts to dominate in June and the red drops off again.

Seeing the nice red light yesterday I thought “Yum, I can eat tomatoes today!” I looked at the tomatoes and the red appeared fine. I cut the tomatoes and put some olive oil and seasoning on as I usually do and the tomatoes didn’t appear so fine. They seemed to be jumping off the plate with energy! I gave them a good hard stare and thought “Hmm, is this energy I want in myself?” I looked at the other things on my plate – the marinaded pork and new potatoes and thought how calm they looked.  “Are they boringly calm?” I thought ” Could I spice things up a bit with the very energetic tomatoes?” “Could I blend the energies?” Well, I gave it a try – but unfortunately to my peril!!

An hour or so later I had that bloated feeling that I might get if I had yeast or too much sugar. Now I know tomatoes could have mold on them but somehow I knew it was the energy. It was not a match for me. I had no other gut symptoms but I did have a headache. I had felt similar to when the postman turns up in her orange high viz jacket. Something pulls me to look at the brightness but I know it is not a match so I hide my eyes. Well, I should have left the tomatoes in the fridge and saved myself some pain and angst but it is a long learning curve when it comes to energy and food.

As if it is not enough to have to eat by colour and texture!  Oh no – I need to eat by energy as well and especially as we approach the middle of summer when the light is at its brightest.

So what are you eating this summer? Can you see the energy of your food or can your sensitive child? Is the energy a match or is it a mismatch? 

Colour Sensitivity – Lightwatcher Story – February 24th 2019

hiding from glare

February and the light is getting that little bit brighter. In fact it feels suddenly a lot brighter . . . because in my perception the violet light has woken up. Violet light is strong for me in the beginning and middle of winter too but there is nothing like the violet light of February. It feels ‘harsh.’

The reason the February light feels harsh to me is that seeing more violet light when the light is still generally not at its brightest means I see less red light to soften the blue. As the light gets brighter the red light appears in my perception again around March and April only to disappear again as we head into the brightest month of June.

How Does This Affect Me?

Colours look at their best

At this point between the darker light of winter and brighter light of midsummer.  Even though the red is low for me, I can still see enough red to perceive colours very well except for perhaps acid yellow and pale grey.

My other sensitivities are at their highest.

I am particularly sensitive to sound and white noise drives me crazy – the filling of our water tank after a bath, the fan of my computer, our kettle, the rattling of plastic bags. All these sounds make me feel jangled.

I have a lot of energy!

My brain feels like it is going at 100 mph and there is nothing I can do to slow it down!

What Do I Do?

  • I celebrate the beauty of the colours
  • I examine the things that causing me disturbance in the house. For instance we changed the water pressure to make the sound of the header tank filling up more bearable.  And I am trying to find a new kettle!
  • I try to focus on one thing at a time.
  • I try to filter out any clutter whether that is thoughts or physical clutter in my environment.
  • I ask other people to be as calm and slow as they can with me and to not give me too much information at once.
  • I eat food that feels comforting and has a softness to me.
  • I wear clothes that have a soft colour to me.

Most of all I enjoy my crazy flitty intuition that can lead on me exciting little journeys!

Colour Sensitivity – Lightwatcher Story – February 1st 2019

Snow – wonderful snow!

For me and my son, snowy days are the best days.

We woke up to about 4 inches of snow today and Luca wasn’t really feeling that well so I guessed we wouldn’t be going out. But at about 10:00 Luca suddenly said he thought he should go out – that he would feel better if he did. He started doing that sudden needing things all at once thing that children do when they are excited! I feel like I am suddenly being blown around by a whirlwind!

Anyway we wrapped up warm and ventured into the snowy wastes! It has been a slow burn over the years for Luca liking snow. As a toddler, he disliked seeing us sledge down the slope away from him and burst into tears. As a smaller child he didn’t learn the art of wrapping up warm and so was always grumpy with cold. When we had ice he seemed quite distressed which we only understand in the light of knowing about his visual issue with water and glare. So this year is very special. Luca has decided that he REALLY LIKES SNOW. And more than that – snow makes him feel really good as I find too.

Outside today I noticed that Luca’s eyes were open wide and I could see their real beautiful blue in the light. And his pupils were small, as were mine and my husband’s. Usually Luca’s pupils are bigger that ours’ as he is trying to shut out the light. He appeared wide open to the experience of being outside in the snow. He was even happy to have me look at his eyes and happy to look at the camera. This was so unusual.

Now as a light theory person I have a theory. It is simply that white reflects all the colours of the spectrum and so looking at white is our most balanced experience of the spectrum. When we perceive the spectrum as BALANCED our light sensitivity disappears.

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