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.
I have been thinking about all the things that influence our state of well-being outside of our brains, and our own brains are challenging enough for some of us! Or – is there no such thing as anything outside of our brain because our well-being is all intertwined with our relationship with the world?
With or without knowing it, we are all constantly influenced by:-
- Our visual perception
- Our perception of sound
- Our perception of smell
- Our perception of taste and texture
- Our perception of touch
- Our perception of balance
- Our proprioception
- Our perception of colour
- Our perception of light
- Our perception of temperature
- Seasonal Changes
- The Weather
- The Moon
- Our Health
- Our Cycles and Rhythms
- Our feelings and thoughts
- The quality of our family relationships
- The emotional climate around us
- Atmospheres of places and buildings
We can’t really separate out these stimuli and and the affects of them on our well-being. I got up today and saw there was sheep on the hill ouside our bedroom window (that weren’t there last time I looked) and felt comforted. I went to the other side of the house and the clouds were as black as black. I felt slightly less comfort but a sort of excitement as the light was bright on the garden, but the sky was dark. Then someone used the tap downstairs and I felt less comfort again, and rattled, and closed the door of the room I was in. Then my husband came in and told me how dark the sky was (!) and I automatically turned to look at it, without thinking first. The colour hurt my eyes. Now I have the sound of hail on my window which sometimes I love, but today I am not so sure about.
And so my day will continue . . a mixture of influences from my own thoughts and ideas, to the weather, light, colour, my son’s feelings . . . I am intrinsically connected to these things. There is no point is seeing them as rude interruptions or nuisances. They shape who I am and what I am going to do. I need to welcome them with open arms and let them move and inspire me.
What I do know today is that this exciting weather is giving me the energy and inspiration to write this post.
We are not islands when it comes to our wellbeing? What is influencing you today?
I wake up every morning and sense in myself what is happening with my relationship with the light, and how it is likely to affect me that day.
I have made a discovery this year about the green light. I can often find green hard to look at, and so assumed I had a tendency to see too much green light. However, I have come to realise that sometimes I don’t see enough. Just now in February as the light is not at its brightest, and I perceive a lot of blue and violet light, I don’t see enough green.
As I feel green light in my shoulder, neck and jaw, seeing too little green light can leave me feeling pretty crabby! I feel that I can’t relax my neck and shoulders and I have pain under my occiput. And worse than that, my sensitivities are heightened through the roof. I particularly can’t tolerate the sound of the taps in our house and today listening to my husband take a shower, felt like torture. I tried putting music on, moving somewhere else in the house, but nothing worked. I felt the sound like a drill in my head, sending a jangled feeling all through my body.
Even writing this post, I feel jangled by the sound of my keys and the light from the screen.
The good thing is though that I know now that my most jangled days are when I see less green light. And knowledge is power.
The hard thing is asking for help on a day when I struggle to feel support. And my day feels all about survival. How do you live in a house where there are everyday noises when you feel so sensitive?
I don’t like dragging people down into my problems. I like my family to be happy and to have a calm home. But on days when my sensitivities are extreme, the most I can hope for is that we support each other and help each other through our feelings of helplessness.
It is not my sensitivities that nearly break me on the low green light days. It is having to let go of my pride and my need to make everything OK and everyone happy all the time. I have to feel enough in my broken state.
When I don’t perceive enough yellow light, I know I need to find a kind voice and a kind face, to help me feel more loved.
When I don’t perceive enough green light, I know I need to let myself be supported and actually let in the feeling of support.
When I don’t perceive enough orange light, I know I need to try to be a team player and find ways to help me feel that I belong.
When I don’t perceive enough blue light, I know I need to find special ways to speak my thoughts and opinions.
When I don’t perceive enough violet light, I know I need to find little ways to stay in touch with my intuition.
When I don’t perceive enough red light, I know I need to think things, say things and do things, to help me feel more secure.
When I do perceive enough yellow, green, orange, blue, violet or red light, I need to remember to indulge in feeling how good it is to feel connected to all the different aspects of myself!
Living by the Colours I See in the Light: The Joys and Challenges of Having Atypical Spectral Sensitivity