Anonymous asked: i'm really curious, what is it like living with synesthesia? I've googled it before but I think it'd probably be much more educational if it were to be explained by someone who actually has it. Sorry, I don't mean to be a bother xP
Of course! It’s such an interesting thing to discuss since so many people with synesthesia are completely unaware that they think differently from the majority of people. Because most synesthetes are born with it, it’s sometimes very difficult to explain, even when they are aware that they have it.
In general, for every sensory experience, a synesthete will experience an involuntary, irrational association in another sense, which you probably know from Googling. So for me, as a grapheme synesthete, if I see the number 5, it will always be the same thing as if I had seen the colour red. 5 and red clearly have nothing to do with one another, but for whatever reason as a child, my mind connected these two things.
The first big factor in living with synesthesia is projecting vs associating. I am an associator, so I can’t speak much for projectors. The difference as far as I can tell is that whereas I can still see that the 5 is printed in black ink, a projector might literally see red on the page.
An example that I think works very well for how association synesthesia works, is to think of a word that has one very strong meaning. Think of the word red, for the sake of consistency. In theory, it should make you think of the colour red strongly enough that those school posters from the early 2000’s work.
That’s a pretty accurate idea of what it’s like as far as the physical aspect of having association synesthesia. Of course, it’s not just for grapheme, it’s for everything else. The same thing happens for me when I hear sounds, taste something, or smell something. All day associated colours, textures, and tastes pass through my head.
Usually they’re pretty mild and become background noise adding a little extra vibrance to everything. At its best, it can also be really helpful for memorization because I can remember the combinations of colours and other senses that things brought to mind.
At its worst, with prolonged and unpleasant experiences it can push me much quicker into sensory overload where I can’t concentrate anymore and wind up with a killer headache. This happened over the summer when work was being done on our roof at work. The colours and textures it created in my mind were so jarring that they cancelled out anything I was trying to concentrate on. It was like being blinded by neon green and black light. When this happens, even a more neutral set of sounds becomes distracting.
Even with this, I would be terrified to live without it. It’s all I’ve ever known and I would imagine that it would feel like losing vision or hearing to suddenly not have it. It’s a huge part of how I connect to music, speech, movement, textures, and people.
I hope this answers the question! Thank you for asking, and feel free to ask.