<editorsnote> As a writer and all around artist, I am really struggling with attaching words to describe how I experience life now aware that I have synesthesia.
I know what I know, I see what I see, I just don’t (yet) know how to explain that to people.
Think of it like this, how would you describe a color to someone?
We are all in some form of universal agreement that green is green (unless you are color blind).
What if your “universal agreement” was actually an independent contractor agreement and your job is to come in and use your independent contractor skills alongside a group of people who are under “universal agreement?”
How would you communicate what you know that you know?
Of course, there is the world where I consciously choose not to foster a fancy fuck, but I do fancy fucking care, and much like the diagnosis itself, I am now aware at how life changing this is not only for me, but for those too who may not know they have it. </editorsnote>
For visual reference, this is how I experience life.
Experiences and feelings are dynamic, layered, and I can very easily isolate information playing off one sense from another.
It’s like pong, but for your senses … and with way cooler visuals.
Synesthesia is a neurological condition in which information meant to stimulate one of your senses stimulates several of your senses.
I am 37 years old, and have had synesthesia for 37 years.
I mean it makes sense that I experience life differently, I just had no idea my “x factor” had an actual diagnosis.
My senses are like shepherd’s pie.
My mashed potatoes, gravy, peas, and meat are all in one giant lump of deliciousness.
Most notably, I see shapes around people (that have recently been identified as energy fields) paired with vibrational tones that I physically hear.
(This is how I was diagnosed. I described the shapes I saw [thinking I was talking about body language] and discovered that it’s not! They’re actual shapes!)
Feelings can register as tastes, and (as I’ve discovered) all five of my senses are merged.
Every person with synesthesia experiences it differently.
The most common form of synesthesia is grapheme-color synesthesia or color-graphemic synesthesia, where letters or numbers are perceived as inherently colored.
Monday can be blue … Wednesday can be orange … etc.
I’m still learning how to attach words to “things I’ve naturally known,” but I’m proud that FINALLY with this diagnosis, I can use (what I believe to be a superpower) to help myself and others understand their senses and quite literally make sense of it all.
This is an email I got from a dear friend (who also has synesthesia) a few weeks back …
First off, thanks for reading and thanks for reaching out.
Secondly, I can’t say for sure what you are experiencing (as we are all different), but I can say I relate to it.
I can study people and isolate tones based on the words they say. Voices have a melody to them that helps me easily identify who the person is.
<playerstat> I once recognized the voice of SIRI (voice over artist Susan Bennett) WITH MY BACK TURNED at an event. I said “I know that voice, it’s SIRI” with LIGHTNING speed.
Obvi, I immediately ran over to her and introduced myself.
I use the word “study” because I still establish a baseline and then notice when their tones change and the words attached to said tone.
Technically speaking, a “tone” can be someones literal tone, or it can be a sound effect that I’ve attached to it to easily remember “hey this person is full of shit,” or “ooohhhh this is your person.”
Bodies, to me, have a “natural” tone. Meaning I’m not the composer of said tone, I just know how to tune into it.
Think of a “natural tone” as the bass to a song. Then you (meaning the person, not me) add in your high notes, low notes, bridges and chorus.
I didn’t know (until recently) that I can isolate each “tone” in someones speech and determine more information about them.
Now that I’m older, I have a “people and tone” database from all of my experiences (specifically couch surfing across the country, and dating half of Los Angeles). I remember everything. Tones, smells, time of day … I have a photographic memory, but specifically of items I peg as “notable.” I can’t tell you what happened on May 1, 1999, but I can recall very very specific and detailed experiences as early back as age 4.
My friend who wrote this interviews people for a living.
From the sounds of it, you too have amassed an extensive database that allows you to isolate and process information faster. I don’t know which senses are playing off one another, but (I’m doing this too) study it more.
Using your own example, YouTube interviews from previous decades (that you know nothing about) and see if information now about them is accurate in terms of how you processed what you just saw/ heard/ or smelled/ tasted.
Synesthesia is a gift.
A true superpower.
Why not learn to flex those muscles and use your power?
What’s the saying, “if you want to test a (wo)man’s character, give them power.”