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.

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.