March 2019 – Important Lightwatcher Story

contented cat

I understand Spring is a common season for people to suffer with depression. You look outside and think how the days are getting longer and light brighter but you just don’t feel ‘happy’.

From my experience there is a lot of undulation around how much yellow light we perceive in the early Spring. One minute the blue light is bright enough for us to perceive more yellow light and the next it isn’t.  I find sometimes the sky looks slightly turquoise in the spring because I am picking up green (next to blue in the spectrum) but not so much yellow. (one colour down from green on the spectrum). When I pick up less yellow I find my mood goes down and I don’t feel so connected to my feelings, the people around me and the world.

I can also perceive less yellow in November and/or December but because there is a lot of red around I don’t seem to feel so detached. Red is a grounding light.

What to Do.

Find things that help you feel more connected. I find it is a good time to sort out the family videos and look back on happy memories.

Stay with positive feelings and input if you can. It is not good time to watch a really sad drama on TV!

Know that the feelings of detachment will pass and you will feel your lovely feelings of attachment again.

 

A Guitar Loop – Face the Blue Light Blues!

I can see too much red in the autumn and winter and too much blue in the middle of summer. Spring is only time when I feel I might be seeing the right amount of blue for my brain to be able to relax.

When I see the blue light of spring though, the light is starting to get brighter and my first instinct is to hide myself away. I think I can’t ‘do’ the brightness. But the brightness knocks away on the door of my heart asking to come in. I know really that this particular blue light of spring has enormous energy and power contained in it for me. I feel if I don’t do my best to harness it I might go crazy!

I hope you enjoy my loop. The pictures that I have chosen take you on little journeys we have been on as a family in our endeavour to face the blue light!

 

Autism Mis-diagnosed – Could it be Colour Sensitivity?

snow owl

My son is 11 and has a lot of sensory processing issues, his most challenging ones being visual and sound.  When we go to see doctors, paediatricians and occupational therapists no-one knows how to help us. They don’t seem to have seen this type of sensitivity before (especially the visual processing) and they don’t seem to have seen sensitivity outside of autism.

So . . . where do they refer us? Autism testing.

I told my son about the assessment and he was quite indignant that he didn’t want to be mis-diagnosed as having autism and so he he wrote a letter to the doctor.

Dear Dr,

I am Luca and I am 11. I have an appointment to come and see you and Mum and Dad say it is about behaviour and autism.

I don’t think it will help me to come to be assessed because I think lots of people are being mis-diagnosed with autism when really they are colour sensitive.

I am sensitive to colour and pattern. I see colour and pattern different to other people. And it makes my brain do funny things. I can’t think very straight when I am in a room of a particular colour. And when people show me things on paper or on the screen I might not be able to process them. Or when people ask me questions I might not feel well enough or have enough energy to answer them. I don’t even like looking at people’s faces much or do eye contact because of the colour and patterns on people’s faces.

When I am in a room of the right colour which is really a type of white, I can concentrate much better but I might still struggle if the light outside doesn’t feel right for me or if it is sunny or if there is a blue sky.

When I go for appointments to see doctors I feel like I can’t really be me. My Mum has to speak for me and I feel trapped by the colours in the room and on people’s clothes. I can’t really show people who I am.

I don’t really mind being assessed for behaviour things or autism but I am not happy to be assessed in a place that is not right for me and then get mis-diagnosed. I feel at my best in December when the light is dim, after dark and in my house which is all neutral colours and patterns.

My Mum helped me write this letter because of my processing problem.

I hope you understand and take me seriously,

Luca

 

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 the violet light has woken up. Violet light is there 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 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 May 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.

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!

To read more about mine and my son’s experiences of colour sensitivity please see my book:-

I Can’t Sit on That Red Chair – The Relationship Between Sensory Processing Difficulties and Colour Sensitivity

 

 

 

Colour Sensitivity – Me and My White Kitchen!

Luca Cooking

We have lived in our house for 20 years and in that time we have never had a new kitchen. Our kitchen was a sort of yellowy cream yellowing with age with wood trim, slightly pinky walls and a very geometric patterned floor in reds and browns. I know – it doesn’t sound to good does it?! But you just get used to these things.

When I tried to cook in our kitchen I felt a strange sensation in my legs, a bit like I was being pulled down into a swamp.  And I would feel less and less energy in myself until I would feel like screaming and giving up. Often I wouldn’t finish cooking a meal. My husband would have to come and rescue me! And then I would get very cross if people weren’t appreciative of my efforts because I had suffered so much to do it.

Now I know – I was feeling a sensitivity to the geometric pattern on the floor and the dark brown colour of our gas hob.

When I tried to wash up in our kitchen I would feel a jangly sensation in my body. I would also go very hot, would feel achy and my face would always itch. I tried using washing up liquid without perfume but it didn’t help.

Now I know – I was sensitive to the grey colour of the stainless steel sink and also to the finish of the stainless steel itself. When light falls on stainless steel especially brushed steel it moves in a certain way creating rings and lines that were giving me a feeling of unease.

When I tried to eat in our kitchen I couldn’t taste my food. I would keep saying to my baker husband “Are you sure you put salt in the bread?” because I just couldn’t taste it. I would choose sweet things sometimes just because I could taste them better.

Now I know – Firstly I was sensitive to the blue light in our fridge so even looking for food in the fridge made me feel unwell and much colder than would be normal for a person to feel with the fridge open. Next I was sensitive to the appearance of the colours of some of the packaging under the poor lighting of our kitchen. Next I was sensitive to the orange pine colour of our kitchen table. And finally I was sensitive to the green rim of our Denby pottery plates. No wonder I couldn’t taste my food!

Solution

We finally have our new kitchen. It is not all clinical white as that would be too cold and not good for us at all. We have light ivory cupboard doors that have a certain warmth. We have surf white work surfaces which make every coloured package on the top appear more to their true colour. We have a white composite sink and white tap. We have a white glass splashback and upstand and a white glass hob and white oven.  All the whites are slightly different – a little blue, a little green here and there – but I like this. Our floor will be a polished concrete effect vinyl and our walls F & B All White paint. Our lights are all dimmable.

Yes, it does look cool (!) but more importantly it feels amazing. I fully interact with the kitchen, happily going in the cupboards and drawers, using the sink and the hob etc. Whereas my kitchen used to repel me, now it it draws me in and hugs me. I feel very alive and I tend to do things more slowly than I used to as this feeling of calm overtakes me. I no longer rush to get out of my kitchen. I relish the time I spend in there and look forward to it taking me on many happy cooking journeys.

My son (11) who takes sensitivity to a whole new level and literally would spend no time in our kitchen and not even eat with us now goes in there and dances around happily wanting to learn to cook and do everything himself. It is the most amazing thing to see.

So . . . how do you feel in your kitchen? Is it helping you to nourish yourself or hampering you?

To read more about mine and my son’s experiences of colour sensitivity please see my book:-

I Can’t Sit on That Red Chair – The Relationship Between Sensory Processing Difficulties and Colour Sensitivity

 

 

 

 

Colour Sensitivity – What Does it Feel Like?

blue sky

Colour Sensitivity feels like being a human spectrometer! I pick up every change in the colour, quality and feel of light.

I am not colour blind and I do see colour very clearly but it just changes a lot.

On a November day I may be driving and suddenly notice the sky appears quite turquoise and the grass appears quite bluey green. The seagulls appear whiter than last time I looked and the cattle more reddy brown. I feel as if I am driving though a painting.

My Explanation

Typically in November the red light in the atmosphere is starting to increase. This is fact. So why is the sky turquoise? Because I am seeing less yellow light and so my sky is made up of red, orange, blue, violet and green. The seagulls appear more white and the cattle more reddy brown because I am not picking up yellow. Why am I seeing less yellow light? At certain times of the year when the light is dim compared to mid summer I seem to see from either end of spectrum, picking up more of the blues, indigos and violets from one end and more reds, oranges and greens from the other end.  Yellow appears to be low sometimes.

However . . . just a month previously yellow was bouncing off the walls. I couldn’t bear to go to Bradfords (a local Building Suppliers) because all the yellow lines on the car-park jumped out at me. Why was this? Because the light was that bit brighter (being earlier in the year) and so I was still picking up yellow. But now I wasn’t picking up enough red (as this increases later in the year)  and lacking red makes yellow far too bright for my brain.

And in the Spring, I go through the same pattern in reverse. In February I lack yellow and in March it jumps off the walls again!

Then as the light gets even brighter the colours balance themselves until mid summer when I really start to lack red and feel that I see too much blue. Again it is fact that there are more shorter lightwaves (blue and violet) in the atmosphere in the summer and less longer ones (red and orange). Colours appear drained and/or strange. I can sit in Waitrose car-park and think “Did people really choose these paint colour for their cars?!”

So . . . too much yellow, not enough yellow, not enough red, too much blue. . . This is my daily experience. No colours are constant. Even the grass changes its colour on a daily basis.

The best I can do is live with the change and embrace it. I don’t focus on colours I don’t like or that feel uncomfortable to me. I focus on the ones that make me feel good.

If you would like to know more about my experience of colour sensitivity please check out my book:-

‘I Can’t Sit on That Red Chair!’

 

 

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 thins 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.

Sensory Processing – Integrating your Senses through the Right Side of Your Brain

 

supermarket 2

Today I suddenly realised why when we go out as a family I can get quite cross because no-one else is excited like me by simply being out. We drive along and I see the fields, the sheep, the hills, the sky . . . and I am excited! I start to chatter about them and no-one really responds. Today I got it  . . . no-one else is really feeling excited like me. My son has a visual processing problem so he is really struggling with everything he sees at the moment. And my husband . . . well, he might need a little more going on in the environment to get excited! I mean he might get the same excitement that I get from seeing the sky, from seeing Victoria Falls. I, of course, in such an environment, would be completely over-stimulated!

It is one of the gifts of being highly sensitive . . . feeling so easily excited, and one that I think we tend to forget to enjoy. We are too busy calling everything ‘over-stimulation.’ I love the fact that I can feel happy so easily. Admittedly I can feel miserable pretty easily too but I can usually find my happy place again. I live on this sort of emotional swing.

Another place I went today was a supermarket – a nice supermarket – Waitrose! As soon as I step in there I am usually feeling for the temperature. Anther thing I find difficult to process is temperature change. I walk straight past the freezer aisles to the warm spot amongst the biscuits and the cereals and there I loiter. Today I thought ‘Oh, why didn’t I wait in the car?’ because we had already been out to a medical appointment and sat in a children’s centre consulting room cram-packed with every colour imaginable! But then I decided to embrace the situation. I jigged about a bit to keep warm and focused on the task in hand. I felt the bustle of a supermarket before Christmas – people and trolleys and loads and loads of stuff. And then I thought ‘To me, this is like a theme park. I could actually find it exciting!’ And my next thought was ‘I shouldn’t consider this a shopping trip – it is just an experience. I should just let myself be wowed by the colours and the activity. I shouldn’t worry how I look to others.”  And at that point I relaxed and became warm. Even though I could feel hot and cold currents of air, I seemed to be able to integrate my experience of temperature.

As I find time and time again, as highly sensitive people, we experience the world the best when we can relax into the right side of our brain!

Colour Sensitivity and Your Experience of Intimacy and Expansiveness

umbrela

I am trying to learn all I can about my experience of colour and light.

Yesterday was a hot sunny day.  My son who is 9 and also colour sensitive decided he wanted to go to the beach.  I thought ‘Well, this is the first time we have been to the beach since I have started my investigation so it might be interesting!’

We arrived at the bustling seaside town of Lyme Regis (our nearest coastal town) and I had worn a fleece and a summer beany because I am always cold and feel shivery in the sun. As soon as I got out of the car I realised that in my effort to stay warm I had forgotten to bring a hat with a brim to shelter me from the sunlight so our first stop was the hat shop! From a small collection of hats on a stand outside a little seaside store I chose a hat. I wouldn’t usually choose anything so quickly but the light from the sun felt unbearable and the buzz on the prom and the nearby icecream store was beginning to jangle me. There was no mirror, it was slightly too large but my husband said it looked good and I had no intention of taking it off so we bought it!

Under the refuge of my hat I still needed to find shade so we went up into the park that rises steeply and looks out over the sea. It is a considerable slope and there were many steps to climb. My legs felt like lead.  Strange – they were fine when I got up that morning. Ah, it must have been the light. When we reached our shady spot I felt relieved. I looked out over the bay and thought about the colours. The blue sky was ok to me through my sunglasses that have a brown tint. The sea I could tell was a gorgeous combination of blues and deep turquoises but my reaction did not match my perception. I felt unmoved by the colours. They were ok to me probably because of their luminescence – otherwise I may I felt repelled by them. I then thought about how I felt in other ways. I felt very ungrounded and pretty disconnected with myself and my family. I felt like everything was too big – the sea, the sky – and I asked myself the question ‘What am I doing here if it doesn’t make me happy?’

By this time I wanted to go home but my son reminded me that we had to go to the beach. Oh no, I looked down at the beach and all the buzz and colours and the walk in the bright sunlight to get there . . . and  then I conceded that I would give it a try.

When we had climbed down the slope and reached the streets running adjacent to the beach I felt ok but when we arrived at the beach itself I was amazed to find that the sand looked glary to me – sandy coloured and glary! Why had I never noticed this before? So many times I haven’t been happy on a beach but I hadn’t realised that it was the colour. It looked miles down to the sea and the blue didn’t look so good now as it had looked from up high in our shady spot. How was I ever going to make it? I felt upset that I couldn’t bear to go to the sea with my son.  And I didn’t want to wait while my husband took my son to the sea. Why would I? I was hot and shivery and all the colours were looking wrong to me.  I didn’t feel safe to just be left by myself. The beach didn’t feel like a friendly local little beach. To me under the glare of the sunlight and with the subtle visual distortion I was experiencing it felt more like the Sahara Desert!

A Revelatory Moment!

What if had glasses to balance the colours? At the moment I feel that I am not picking up enough red and as red is a grounding colour I am not able to feel grounded. Colours that make me feel more expanded (blues and greens) look wrong because of the absence of red. Therefore I can’t enjoy feeling expansive either.  Colours that make me feel safe – the earthy colours some way between grounded and expansive – yellows, browns and oranges – also look wrong because of the absence of red. So I feel I have no grounded place, no safe place and no exciting place to go. I am STUCK and all because of my perception of colour!

Is colour affecting your experience of enjoying the wonder of intimacy and the excitement of expansiveness? Maybe you are colour sensitive.  If my article resonates with you please check out the following

~Blue blocking glasses if your symptoms are more pronounced in the summer and if blues and violets can seem too intense to you. You can buy these off the shelf at Amazon and other shops or opticians. Try different ones at different times and you may find they block out different percentages of blue and violet. I have 3 pairs.

~Turquoise glasses if your symptoms are more pronounced in the Autumn and reds and pinks can seem to intense to you. You can get these via Irlen or Colourimetry.