Synaesthesia

I see numbers, days of the week, months of the year, and words in colour. I did not know that this had a name until quite recently; it is a neurological phenomenon called synaesthesia, which means that the senses are over connected and joined up.

Synaesthesia can be both a blessing and a curse. On one level it brings order and cohesion to a world that is, on the whole, bewildering in its complexity and chaos. This sense of order is closely aligned with my interests or obsessions. For example, when I was obsessed with the actress Kate Winslet, certain days and months would take on extra special significance. Winslet was born on the 5th October 1975, in Reading, Berkshire. October is coloured black in my mind, between white September and brown November. The 5 is a biscuit yellow. Because of Winslet’s importance, this coloured way of seeing things added an extra layer of order and meaning to my obsession, augmenting its depth and richness in my mind. The town Reading is bright red, shining extra large and bright because of its significance, next to black Berkshire.  The two words Kate  and Winslet are both orange.

Yet synaesthesia can also make my life seem surreal and absurd. The synaesthetic landscape is so bold and three dimensional that it merges with what I see to become another layer of reality; a parallel universe. Time is a lived and concrete reality for me, not an abstract concept. It is terrifying in its realness, and the way it thrusts itself so boldly forward into the future.  Currently I am among the white twenties (28 years old), which will terminate abruptly with the start of the blue/black thirties. I don’t want to leave the twenties because they feel homely and secure – I have got too used to their colour. Synaesthesia is comforting, but it also makes me more aware of change. A general fear of change is one of the hardest things that I have to deal with. If an event is planned, I visualise the event alongside its day or month, which take on an extra special meaning. If things don’t go to plan, it feels as though a gaping hole has opened up in my life. I experience a sense of profound loss and worry. It feels as though I have been left with no meaning and that something perfect, beautiful and well ordered has been destroyed.

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