When the Red Tones are Missing . . .

I often see too much blue and not enough red. When red tones are missing, nothing feels complete.

When I went back to school as a child the trees were losing their leaves and they didn’t feel compete.

The pumpkin of October didn’t feel complete and even less so with holes in.

The flames dancing around on the fire in November hurt my eyes and didn’t feel complete.

The presents and tree of Christmas didn’t feel complete. The colours and patterns of my clothes didn’t feel complete.

The colours, shapes and patterns of the food on my plate didn’t feel complete.

People’s voices, music, the sound of a bath tap didn’t feel complete.

A hug or a kind word didn’t feel complete.

Nothing felt complete until New Year when there was a bit more blue and red light and my hope of completion started to rise. By Easter things were feeling better and by my Birthday in May I could process the patterns on my new Birthday cardigan.

And then in June, that old feeling of incompleteness started back again. On a sunny day when all looked so beautiful, the garden felt incomplete, the beach, the hills, the woods – they all felt incomplete. And vegetables and meat started to become very slightly blue and colours appeared in general a bit drained, like someone was forgetting to add red to the world. I felt unsafe from September to December but now it was a different feeling of being unsafe – the light felt brash and harsh and I could feel exposed and lost. So my ‘normal’ is to feel ‘incompleteness.’

As an adult I understand it. It is all about my perception. The world doesn’t change like I think it does. My perception does.

My experience has taught me to trust and taught me to have faith. These are the two things that are constant in my life. These things are unchanging.

Living with Spectral Sensitivity – Our only Constant is Change!

I have chosen the term ‘ambient colour sensitivity’ to describe mine and my son’s experience. I think this best describes our changing perception of colour which transforms how we momentarily perceive line, shape and pattern. Our experience changes the way we feel emotionally, feel in our bodies and the way we think. Our nervous system is also affected, confusing our brain and heightening our other sensitivities.

We have a feeling of incompleteness to our sensory experiences. A colour can suddenly appear too bright or too dull as if some hues are missing. A sound can suddenly feel harsh as if the softer tones are not there. A taste can suddenly be too sweet or too sour as if some elements of the flavour are absent. When we wear tints that give us a balanced perception of colour, our sensory experience feels constant.

When our colour perception is improved, ‘nothing is missing’. There is a feeling of completeness. On the basis of this discovery, some may say that we have Irlen Syndrome. However, whereas with Irlen syndrome, a person can usually find one or two tints to balance their perception of the spectrum on a constant basis, we are not able to do that. A few seconds, minutes or hours after we have found the right tint, we perceive the spectrum to have changed and can no longer wear the tints.

In short . . .

Whereas most people have sensory constants – where experiences can become familiar and predictable – we have no constants. Our only constant, therefore is change.

Whereas most people have a ‘complete’ sensory experience – where their brain does not question whether there is ‘something is missing’, our best version of completeness is learning to live with ‘incompleteness’.

We live by the light meaning that from when we get up the morning We have half an eye out to check what the light is doing. How we see the light affects all our choices of the day – what we wear, what we eat, what we do and how we relate to ourselves and other people.

I have chosen the term ‘ambient colour sensitivity’ to describe mine and my son’s experience. I think this best describes our changing perception of colour which transforms how we momentarily perceive line, shape and pattern. Our experience changes the way we feel emotionally, feel in our bodies and the way we think. Our nervous system is also affected, confusing our brain and heightening our other sensitivities.

We have a feeling of incompleteness to our sensory experiences. A colour can suddenly appear too bright or too dull as if some hues are missing. A sound can suddenly feel harsh as if the softer tones are not there. A taste can suddenly be too sweet or too sour as if some elements of the flavour are absent. When we wear tints that give us a balanced perception of colour, our sensory experience feels constant.

When our colour perception is improved, ‘nothing is missing’. There is a feeling of completeness. On the basis of this discovery, some may say that we have Irlen Syndrome. However, whereas with Irlen syndrome, a person can usually find one or two tints to balance their perception of the spectrum on a constant basis, we are not able to do that. A few seconds, minutes or hours after we have found the right tint, we perceive the spectrum to have changed and can no longer wear the tints.

In short . . .

Whereas most people have sensory constants – where experiences can become familiar and predictable – we have no constants. Our only constant, therefore is change.

Whereas most people have a ‘complete’ sensory experience – where their brain does not question whether there is ‘something is missing’, our best version of completeness is learning to live with ‘incompleteness’.

We live by the light meaning that from when we get up the morning We have half an eye out to check what the light is doing. How we see the light affects all our choices of the day – what we wear, what we eat, what we do and how we relate to ourselves and other people.

Let me show you how your relationship with the light can be your superpower!

Our CVI Family at the Seaside!

CVI stands for Cerebral Visual Impairment and it is the closest diagnosis we can find to the experience of ambient colour sensitivity that my son and I have.

To avoid brightness, UV and business, we decided to leave for the seaside at 8:00 am and as the sea is quite close to us, by 8:45 we found ourselves walking down the seafront of the popular Dorset town of Lyme Regis.

Previously I had carefully packed 3 rucksacks with cameras, binoculars, snacks and drinks and chosen the right colour coat for myself to wear on that day. Also I had to choose some combination of hat and brim to keep out the brightness and UV. My son was in his usual grey, and I was in my usual white bamboo trousers plus pink coat and the hat of the day which happened to be purple. My husband was in his usual blue shorts and white t-shirt. He would wear colour and pattern if we could only manage it.

We have 3 seats in the front of our car (an old Honda FRV) and my son sat with his phone and headphones listening to his techno music to block out the sound of the engine and the wheels on the road. I sat trying on tinted glasses to find the optimum pair for that day and my husband concentrated on driving!

When we reached Lyme Regis we went to our usual carpark and parked under our shady tree. We got out of the car and my son asked for his No.3 tints and I put a sunhat on his head. He went straight to find his camera (a big old DSLR one.) He put the strap over his head and straight away was taking a picture of two seagulls on a roof near to where we had parked. It was the sort of picture most people would miss, not thinking it was exciting enough. But not Luca. He finds the pictures others don’t see.

We paid for the carpark and then walked down the steep hill into Lyme town. I was commenting on how pleased I was with my new pink ski jacket. Yes, it was about 17 degrees and I was wearing a ski jacket! Temperature is not something I process easily. We walked down to the front and on a big wall from where we could see the whole beach laid out before us, I started to unpack my glasses! I had some prescription glasses, some purple glasses with prescription, and three different sets of polarising glasses. I was desperately looking for polarising glasses with the correct tint because I had realised that I couldn’t look at the colour or the movement of the sea. My son was becoming impatient wanting to move on but I knew I had to either find the right glasses or filter out the sea somehow. Having come to the seaside, that thought was depressing so I dug deeper into my bag. And I found a pair of pinkish purple polarising glasses. I put them on and Ahhhh, I could breathe! Everything just went calm and I looked at the sea and it had transformed from ugly and angry to beautiful and tranquil . Now I stood a chance of enjoying the rest of our trip.

Next I knew I mustn’t lose control of things when it comes to Luca. He has limited energy when we are out and if we walk too far, he might not have the energy to get home. We walked along the seafront and there were more seagull pictures to take. And Luca has a particularly clever way of tracking them and and keeping them in focus as they move across the sky. Everyone was happy . .

My husband has a way of being drawn towards the Cob that juts out into the sea, like a bee to a honey pot. But this always means a longer walk and always means going through the business and clutter to get there. Suddenly there is sand and cafes and lots of people, meaning lots of clutter, noise and smells. And yes, once again we found ourselves drawn towards the Cob. And once more I wasn’t happy! I started walking faster which is always code for ‘I want to get out of here quickly!’ so we found a quiet side street and I immediately felt that I could breathe again. And there on a wall nestled between the rooves was a seagull’s nest with a parent looking after their young, so my son was happy now too!

So what was next? Hunger, of course. I suddenly realised I needed a snack so we headed down to the pebbles as my son doesn’t like the sand and, as I said, the beach was too busy. We spread out our picnic blanket and I got out my sandwich. My husband got out his little pack of Nairn’s chocolate oat biscuits. Then my son said “You can’t eat those!” He doesn’t like the smell of chocolate or strawberry jam. I looked around and you could see beach for a good quarter of a mile in both directions! “Can’t Luca move from the smell?” I wondered. I broached the subject but he said he was tired and he had nothing to sit on. And also that he wouldn’t eat his sandwich on the beach because last time he was harassed by a seagull! So our snack became a quick bite and then we needed to find shade away from the beach. By now moods were lowering and I was feeling disappointed. Why hadn’t I thought to bring 2 picnic blankets?

By the time we had walked to the top of the park that backs onto the beach and found some shade, the day was getting hot and the UV levels were getting higher. I was starting to feel the affects of the light spectrum in my nervous system, especially my hands and arms. Now I just wanted to get home. We had been out too long. We had walked a little too far. We had got a little too hot and there was a little too much visual clutter. We quickly found our escape route from Lyme – a pretty alley-way between cottages that leads nearly back to the carpark. On the way, I managed to share my disappointment and receive some solace from my trusty team. At the end of the alley-way, there was just one more hill to climb – the steep one we had so happily come down on our way into the town. This was one too many hills for my son.

Having made it back to the carpark, the car was nice and cool. It was 10:3o am. Lots of people were arriving for their day at the beach and we were glad to be going home from our hour at the beach! We started the drive home. My son said “That was good. It was a bit difficult but I think it was worth it!” That was all I needed to hear! I breathed a sigh of relief.

Living with CVI is one challenge after another. And just when you think you have completed all the trouble shooting you need to do, something changes. It could be the season, weather, or time of day all affecting how you perceive the colours, line, shape, edges and movement around you. In fact you have no constants. When you have ambient colour sensitivity, your only constant is change.

To read more about living with ambient colour sensitivity – a type of CVI – please take a look at my book.

Video Snippet – The Grounded Feeling of the Red Light

Seeing more blue light and less red light most of the time, I am looking for the red light in the atmosphere to balance my perception of the spectrum. I notice if I see less red light, that I feel less energy in my legs and feet than I usually do. When I perceive more red light or I find I can wear glasses to either block blue or enhance red, I suddenly feel more grounded and more secure.

Video Snippet – Seeing Outside of the Visible Spectrum – Thinking Outside of the Box!

Some days the light feels very strange. The roofs I see from my window stand out in their darkness and other black markings on birds appear differently to how they usually do. On those day the light also seems very bright. This might happen on sunny days in the middle of summer but can happen when there is lots of white cloud at other times of the year too. I can find myself squinting inside, even on a January day.

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

Video Snippet: Stormy Days – There is a Lot of Energy Out There!

On stormy days I feel intense and often agitated. I struggle to think clearly and in the end I just have to get on with something and the more intense it is the better!

Video Snippet – Sometimes the Colours Look Wrong to My Brain!

Every day the colours change as the light changes. Sometimes colours look ‘wrong’. Sometimes they look ‘right.’ This greatly impacts how I live my daily life.

Video Snippet – The Bright Cloud of Spontaneity and Freedom

There are many kinds of cloud and bright storm clouds make me feel so hemmed in that I just crave freedom.

Video Snippet – Being the Pusher!

In certain types of cloud I feel as if my energy is being compacted and the only answer is to be the pusher – to push through with some project or idea.