Expression is a Joy When You Can Connect

My son and I experience the spectrum differently to most people which affects the way we connect.

From January to the end of March I am struggling to see and feel enough blue light. I find it hard to process my own thoughts and what other people are saying. My 12 year old son keeps talking to me about his programming projects but unless I really focus and try super hard to understand by asking questions, the information feels like a blur to me. It struggles to get into my brain!

Then suddenly at the end of March, it as if the fog lifts. I can see and hear more clearly. However, rather ironically, when I see enough blue, my son stops seeing it. I ‘see’ this as a strained vacant expression in his eyes. He also becomes less hands on with things and appears less connected in his feet. I know he wants to take an interest in other people but he really finds it impossible to listen to any of my ramblings or suggestions! He is better playing with his friends online where the fun, humour and creativity manage to jump the gap between his desire and ability to connect.

At first when my son starts to struggle to connect, I feel all sorts of feelings – annoyance, anger and disappointment. But when I ‘get’ it, I realise these feelings are misplaced. My son is already in pain – feeling the pain of struggling to connect. He doesn’t need me adding to that. I have to accept him as he is, be patient and wait to hear his bright voice and see his quirky smile again. This will only happen when the light is more favourable for him. And lets hope that by then, it hasn’t become less favourable for me!

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.

Read more . .

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!

My Power Comes from Imbalance, not Balance!

I wanted to be balanced – I really did – but that is not my destiny.

I live in a nearly continuous state of imbalance because of my reaction to the light spectrum. In fact, if the light ever feels balanced, I feel quite lost and don’t know what to do with myself!

Today for instance – another cloudy rainy day in the UK. Thankfully I perceive enough yellow light to feel open hearted. However, I don’t feel grounded (low red light), I struggle to feel I belong (low orange light), I struggle to feel support (low green light), and struggle to feel part of a team (low blue light). I always have my friend, the violet light, though, energising, inspiring and pushing me on to higher and greater things.

I can do much with my perception of yellow and violet light. I can get to the heart of things and put on my analytical creative hat. I can work with data and make deductions and build theories. I wouldn’t become the crazy analyst if the light was balanced. I am pretty sure I would be doing something a lot more mundane!

Balance is nice if you can get it but maybe a little ordinary. It is imbalance that leads you into the extra-ordinary and and if you hold its hand, it will take you on the most exciting journey!

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.