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Interview: how my synesthesia affects my life

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Lauren

Hi holly (who is a cozy red dots),
I am 10 and I have a strong (wont bother to spell it so I will put this * when I mean the topic we are talking about k?)
* is something that helps me. Not in math though :/ some people thing I'm CRAZY but that's not the case. They just don't know. If we could just reach them life would be easier. But I like being unique, I would not want five of my friends to have it. One person I would like to have it though, Derek I think he may though he's a lefty and bad at math. I am a righty but I write weirdly and I can write well with my left hand. I would loooooooooove to meet someone (other than a old person) with this!!
-Lauren (tiger prints with a orange run around it)

Holly Cairo

My name is Holly, too! I don't know how you see your name, but mine is orange and black like halloween (which is annoying because I don't like Halloween or the fall.) Like you, my words are defined in color by the first letter, but they also can be affected by the second letter too. My h's are orange and my o's are black, so that's where my name gets its coloring, but my L's are crayola green and my Y's are bright yellow, which have no effect on how I see my name at all!

I have been synesthetic all my life. I am 18 now, but I couldn't put a definition to these experiences until about a year ago when I just so happened to be talking to a substitute teacher about all these things I "saw" and he told me to look it up. I was blown away by how well I could relate to the articles I started reading. I'm glad I figured it out at a somewhat older age, though, because i think it helps to understand it more. I think if I found this out as a child it would have scared me a little bit!

One thing I'm interested to hear your opinion about is the fact that I see my months and days of the week in colors, too, but they are completely unrelated to my synesthetic alphabet. I find this so strange but so cool. For instance, my September is a sort of deep green when I perceive it as a month but my S's are yellow, so that is how the actual "word" appears.

I'm glad you opened up about this. It's scary and intimidating at first, but it's such a good feeling to let the burden go and be open about it :)

Warm regards,
Holly (with the orange H!)

marissa

hi,i have synesthesi and Just found out I'm not the only one,in the past i didn't knew about synesthesia but i always see words,numbers,names,peoples and all things colour

Jackie

Hi

This is somewhat like AA! My name is Jackie and I am a synesthete!!

I have always had it but only recently realised it had a name. When I hear names I see colours, but I thought everyone was the same. It was not until my family kept saying I was stupid because I didn't like the name "Jonathan" because it's a black name or George because it's brown (and dull)that I realised I was the only person to see names like this. It's just good to know I'm not alone.

kim

It really is mind boggling to me that this thing I have done all-or most-of my life is a real thing that other people do, too! I see the days of the week as colors that never vary, and numbers have gender and personality, and loud noise or music fills the room with visual images, and certain words have a taste, and every time I talk or someone else does I see the words spelled out like a living, virtual book.

Vani

I'm also a synesthete, but I haven't anyone about this due shamefulness.

When I was young (and until now) I had had the tendency to associate voices with visual images, and word pronunciation with pictures:

Svinya is a foreign word for pig, yet for me it seems a regal, petit, and young girl. Also, my classmate's voice tends to be a brewing thundercloud whenever I hear it, and I only look at him weirdly due to it.

Oh well


-Vani Gaily

Jane

I have Synesthesia, and I liked reading your article. I can totally relate.
David is purple and soft. Richard is a circle, and multicolored. But you got S right!

Ava

Hi I'm Ava I just found out I had this I'm 11 years old. I see sounds ( the colers are beutiful) and I can see the colers of letters. But words are different like my name is a dark purple that's really smooth even though A is red and v is a yellowish green. I found out yesterday that I had it though I can't remember not having it. Thank you for wrighting this... Now I can prove that I'm not crazy!

Lydia

I have it too! I have color synesthesia. I can sometimes taste music, even. I also have Aspergers Syndrome.

Sara Jean

Hi! I'm thirteen, and just this year my friend Ruthie (who did a school project on synesthesia and finds it absolutely fascinating) gave me a test sort of thing to see if I had synesthesia. She asked me if I associated numbers with colors, and I told her that 1 was blue, 2 was usually light red, 3 was pink and white, etc. A couple of hours later, she asked me about each numbers color, and they all matched up. (I was thinking "of course they do!") Later that day, I searched "synesthesia" on wikipedia- I had never heard of it before. For me, every word or word sound has a shape/picture. Some are simple, but others I can't even explain. Most are blue, like play-doh constantly being molded as I read, listen, write or speak. I'm a writer, and there are a few words that I dislike using because the shape brings bad memories, is shaped like a curse word, or is just plain ugly. Numbers have personalities and stuff, as do most letters. Colors evoke different moods; for instance, pastel orange makes me feel nauseous and makes the back of my head tingle. Grey is a very warm, soft color. Up until I was about nine and I mentioned remembering some history fact because of the shape of the word and my mom looked at me like I was crazy, I had no idea it was unusual. It's so much fun to read about other synesthetes!
~SJ (two letters that are total opposites but are good friends, and balance each other out)

Caitlin

Hey,
I'm glad I'm not the only one out there. (I have to agree with you the other web-authors synesthesia alphabet is wrong) I have a weird synesthesia where I can taste the things I smell and see music. Also most of the numbers and letters have colors and personalities. I'm glad there are lots of other people out there like me.
btw- my name is Caitlin (teal with a texture of the waves)

Anya

Hey, my name is Anya. I am 11, and I have sound-vision synesthesia. I just found out, after I read the book a mango shaped space, but my mom doesnt believe me. Anyway, I would LOVE to talk about your alphabet.

Karen-Ann

Hi! My name is Karen-Ann,

I learned I was very different when I was quite little. As 6 is a free spirit spit fire with a pretty smile, and I told my mom I wanted to be like 6 when I was older! She thought I was being silly. I was serious! I am left handed, female. My brother also has these tendencies although very different from mine. He tastes numbers. I do not. I am 18 now, living with P as a woven texture and a dirty pink-tan. I find that my violin teacher hits a note that is lustrous flowing purple and tastes like honey, but the garbage mans truck creates a sound that infuriates me with a blast of olive and (since there is no other way to describe it for me) "oil". Thick and wretches my stomach. The sound of our tv turning on gives me buzzing fluffy firework, a taupe I love. My boyfriends name is Greg, and it is a color I dislike as it is bitter at the end and a light blue that seems ghostly. 1 is always closer than 2 or 3 and on though my words generally have more than one color- I intertwine 4 as my e as 4 is a hue of blue that is soft but distasteful. So words like "eye" become dirty because i replace a kinder blue e, with a dirtier 4. Though the two e's are ruined because y, and the whole word your, is terribly fuscia. I find that driving with the radio on gives me anxiety as some song I see scroll in my head, and classic rock often infront of my face. It's very distracting. And a low beat I hear often tastes like, nothing I've had before. So it's hard to explain, like musky earth. Like smelling worms. And it's unpleasant. A is reddish purple, but fades back when there are many words with a's so reading it makes it hard. Thank you for sharing as I love to relate to somebody. My brother lives in California now, a lilac color with reds and a creamy yellow and gold. Haha my mouth is watering. I though, live in a small town. Here, there aren't many like us! Honestly, how could anybody discredit 2 who is manly and smells like cigarettes, or 3 who is female but like an older brother. Always tastes like root beer and sun.

hplovecraftfan (not my real name; yellow and green, detested combo)

I already knew I had synesthesia when i read this, but whenever I read this sort of article, I find out something neat. Apparently I am not the only one who uses synesthesia to solve sudokus. I don't mind playing them fast though. The thing about sudokus is, for me, all the interlocking columns of numbers often create a very strong atmospheric effect. Once it was kind of like a skin care commercial, with an impression of a clean smell and an image of water droplets; another time, when the puzzle involved a pair chain of yellow 8's and green 9's, i had the mental image of a sunken pirate chest. These images can have very strong emotional feelings. Also, once when i was playing othello, all the pieces started looking like a cookies'n'cream bar (this was towards the end of a game). I could sort of taste it-the only visual-to-taste synesthesia i've ever experienced).
Usually, my synesthesia is not intrusive per se-it's there, it's everywhere, but i'm so used to it it's not distracting. When it is distracting, it's usually because I'm in severe pain-for me, touch sensations have colors. Also, once, recently, when one of my friends made an exaggerated smiling facial expression (with his face), I saw, superimposed and opaque yet transparent like it always is, a walmart smiley face. This extremely disturbed me, but it took me several minutes to realize what had happened.
I also found here that I'm not the only one to have bichromatic graphemes. It's always the same two bichromes for any one of those particular grapheme, but which color is the dominant of the bichromes can vary. For instance, C used to be primarily pink with a yellow "background;" now the colors have flipped, like you flip an image's colors with photoshop.
My synesthesia colors words mostly from the first letter's color. I mostly memorize what words look like and read them beginning, end, middle by shape recognition. I discovered that that was what i was doing by analyzing my synesthesia patterns.

Aisling

Hi Holly! I really related to your comments about being a bit shy about mentioning it to people. I've only recently discovered that my brain has 'crossed wires' when my boyfriend read an article about synesthesia, thought it sounded interesting and sent it on to me. I had to read it a few times because I was sure I was missing some vital detail about what exactly this condition was meant to be. I've never really been very consciously aware of disliking Tuesdays because they are an ugly lime green (don't cringe!), and not thinking my Christian name and surname go well together because my first name is red, and my surname is orange! I would love to know if any of my friends have it, but in trying to explain it, it sounds like the most ridiculous thing ever, and I feel like the few people I have said it to think I've completely lost it! It almost sounds made up!

Over the past few days, looking at other people's alphabets has made me laugh. I know it's a case of individual perception, but I can't help thinking something is just inherently wrong! Like your yellow S! Mine is blue, I can barely conceive of a yellow S!

Well, I just wanted to say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading your piece! I've really learned a lot over the past few weeks!

Best wishes
Aisling (I know you'll agree, red!)

Neta

hi i'm 12 and i have this. (i'm not even going to attempt to spell it, but i will say that it's a yellowish-orange) and your alphabet is totally wrong. "a" is a blue, like the sky after it's rained and the rainbow has passed, not red like the word "envy". i'd like to talk more about this!
-Neta (which by the way is a blue-brown)

Carina Cosby

I have been a synesthete all my life without knowing it. I assumed everyone saw numbers as boys or girls. It wasn't until my daughter said "I like the number 2...she's really nice." My son looked at her like she was crazy. I then had my daycare provider ask the other kids in daycare what they thought, and I asked people in my office. Everyone acted like I was crazy. Finally, someone looked it up on the internet and said "You have synesthesia."
So, it's nice to know that my daughter and I are not crazy. I wonder why more people do it with colors rather than genders like I do?

Barbara

the number 5 is always red and female, one thats very full of herself! Whats the word? Cocky? 6 is a green, laid back kind of guy; but with a secret no one can figure out... not even me.

Emma- tastes like silver

Wow, just wow. Honestly I never realized what I had was at all different from normal people until i read a mango shaped space. Unlike you though I taste sounds, and also personify things.I' not sure why but the word juice always has been a baby to me. When i was younger i used to rock them and sing to them like dolls, and my mom used to get mad at me for carrying juice around, and me because she was drinking a baby.
I honestly just discovered this recently when my mom told me so called normal people aren't like me. I think they aren't normal. Some letters and words have like a hue of color, its not heavy but just tinted. Its a shame for people who don't see the world like we do.

aedin

wow ive never realised that this was actually a phenomenon, i thought it was just a strange notion i had taken as a kid! i see numbers as coloured, some definite colours such as a yellow 3 or a green 5, but some are just tinged, like a salmony pink 2. you have a strong sense of colour in text, whereas i don't really get that as much as i do with numbers, although it does help with spelling as some letters just clash. i find this really interesting! ive read that it's hereditary but none of my family realises what im talking about. ive had this for as long as i can remember and it does help me remember phone numbers and words, though id love to know how to harness it further, any ideas??

Katie

Its kind of weird , I always thought I was weird for seeing my letters in diffrent colors . The first time I told my mother that my name was blue she looked at me like i had six heads and said No katie, your same is in black . After that i dont think i ever told people that i was seeing anything other than the color they choose to see , or that my 4th block teachers voice tastes like something sour . I'm a 16 year old growing up with this and i didnt even know i had it until my friend asked me if i heard anything in particular . At the moment i was staring into space and blurted out the first thing i heard .. i said "diamond" , i was so incdedibly embaressed becasue latter she went and told her mother who had just happened to be a "brain lady" she asked me what i really ment by hearing a diamond , so i explained a few things to her . and she ofcourse cracked open one of her medical books . Turns out im not as crazy as i seem . After finding out , being 16 with Synesthesia is getting a little easier .
-katie (which is a beautiful shade of mauve .)

Elli

I get so irritated when I see letters being the wrong color! Honestly I couldn't look at your alphabet for more than five seconds.
But...it's so weird how everyone's is different. Photography is most certainly orange. Just saying.

-elli (which happens to be light yellow)

Teri Friedman

I, too, have synesthesia - I see letters and numbers in colors. I realized this when I was much younger and mentioned it to my mother. She thought I must have learned my letters from building blocks and that the colors of the letters on the blocks must have become incorporated in my mind. Sounded plausible to me, and that's what I always believed and never even thought to mention it to anyone again. A couple of years ago, my teenage daughter came across a novel about a man with synesthesia ("The Memory Artist" - can't remember the author, but it's a fabulous, fun book) and showed it to me just because she thought it was interesting. I looked at the book jacket and said, "I do that, too." She was amazed, and thus my awareness that this was a scientific "phenomenon," (not just remembered building blocks!) was born.

It doesn't really help me remember things specifically (I can remember the general color of a word, but not the specific word)and it probably even explains why I confuse certain letters and numbers(p and r, 2 and 4, for example, are all various shades within the blue-purple spectrum). It certainly explains why I occasionally interchange 6 and G (both orange) and T and 5 (both yellow), which my parents always thought was nuts and I couldn't understand why they had such a problem understanding. (I assumed, somehow, that they could see the similarity).

Words and phrases do get influenced by the first letter, so I see countries as colors (eg, Sweden and Switzerland are pinkish-red because of the S) and I generalize words/colors (eg, all countries that begin with A are light blue because that is A's color, and so I always picture the ocean when I think of those countries). It gets pretty complicated!

I've always thought it's fun and I, too, couldn't imagine not having it. How black-and-white the world would be! I even envy those who have it with other senses (I'd love to associate colors with music) but I'll gladly take what I've got.

allie peterson

So I'm not the only one.
I'm fourteen, and I didn't find out that I was any different until I was about 11. I never bring it up; people think I'm just making this stuff up to get attention. The only people that take me even remostely seriously are my dad, my sister, and my friend Malia.
When I was 7 or 8, my Mom came home from my neighbor's house. "Rena said that every letter for her has a personality," she said. "She's so insane."
"What? Of course they do."
She didn't believe me. But that was kind of a lie, anyway- or poor description. It's not that words have random colors. The essence, the air that they give off corresponds to the colors that are automatic in my brain.
A few years ago, my sister and my Dad were listening to jazz music while I was doing my homework. I asked them what they thought of his voice- was it green or grey sponge-textured?
The two looked at me like I was insane, made me repeat myself, and then explain myself. I found it was a tough thing to do.
My sister, an art history major, had heard of this kind of thing before. She told me that many author's paintings were just drawings of how they saw the unintangible.
I asked my friends if they had similar experiences, and was appauled to learn they hadn't. Most of them thought I was just blabbering, except for my friend Malia. She searched it, found the word "synesthesia," which is how I found this website.

Adriana Jones

Holly,

I think your interest in herbs is awesome. It is also somewhat of an interest of mine. Aside from that, I also have synesthesia. I first heard about this condition in a Philosophy of Science class I took in college, and thus recognized it in myself. My synesthesia is... I perceive numbers and some letters in color in my mind's eyes, and when I listen to music, the sounds leave (black and white not colored)visual impressions in my head, such as lines, waves, fuzziness, and points, and when I hear people speaking many times I see the words appearing in my mind's eye as they are being spoken. Basically, I get these visual impressions in my mind's eye when I see or hear numbers and words, and when I listen to music. The human mind is fascinating, no?

Adriana

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