What You Probably Didn't Know About Synesthesia
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Health and Wellness

What You Probably Didn't Know About Synesthesia

Seeing songs and hearing colors aren't just side effects.

What You Probably Didn't Know About Synesthesia
Justin Hymer

My mind is nothing short of being an anomaly. Ever since I was a toddler, I've found myself experiencing life in a way that makes practically no sense to most other people but somehow makes complete sense to me. I can see sounds. I can hear sights. I can taste the night sky and feel the breath of light. This is synesthesia: the involuntary combination of senses that feeds my creativity and gives purpose to my identity.

Before I attempt to explain the abstraction of my synesthetic experiences, I should probably let you know that I have perfect pitch. I don't fully enjoy using that term, though, simply because the term "perfect" would imply that I'm some sort of inhuman robot (or the next closest entity, a drum corps timpanist). But, because of this attribute, I'm able to recognize certain tones, chords and progressions as immediately as one would recognize letters, words and sentences.

This is where synesthesia kicks in: I begin to view certain colors and textures in the back of my mind as I absorb sounds from the environment around me. In fact, I have been able to map a correlation of the notes in Western tonality to certain colors that I encounter, which I compiled into a list below.

C - forest green
C♯/D♭ - dark royal purple
D - reddish coral
D♯/E♭ - bold royal blue
E - light amber
F - bold ruby
F♯/G♭ - dark burnt sienna
G - kelly green
G♯/A♭ - burgundy/pomegranate
A - light raspberry
A♯/B♭ -
navy blue
B - bright lavender/wisteria

This also serves as a map for how I process chords and colors based on tonics (regardless of inversion or relation to the minor key), but many forms of context, including relation to key signature and unresolved suspension, always determine how I perceive these colors and textures as well. For those who don't know what the heck I'm talking about, let's just say that taking piano lessons at an early age has enhanced my synesthetic imagery.

Now even though I undergo these experiences internally, I show almost no trace of emotion externally. And that is where people often make the wrong assumptions about me. Synesthesia stems from one of my more primary attributes: Asperger's syndrome. Yes, I'm on the autism spectrum. Because there is so much artistic chaos manipulating my mind, I oftentimes struggle with verbal communication and social interaction, which usually come across as weak, awkward or too much for the receiver to comprehend.

This is also the reason why I continue to experience so many tension headaches. I unintentionally interpret and analyze such a vast number of my surroundings that my brain has no way to deal with the excess but convert it into pain. In addition to that, I process everything so vividly that it can turn into sudden anxiety or depression. But, because people don't always understand what's going on, they more often than not label me as insecure, weak and unfit for living in this world.

Well, I hate to break it to you, but I'm not weak. I'm simply misunderstood because most people are duped into believing that what they notice of me on the outside is reflective of who I am inside. We need to stop classifying other people as inferior just because we think they look bad on the exterior. We are all different in body, mind and spirit, but that shouldn't give us permission to stop generously giving love without condition. Once we come together and embrace outward diversity, then even our outermost interdiffusion will become as vibrant and intriguing as synesthesia itself. Imagine how colorful that will be.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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