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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Apparently I have Synesthesia

I came across some information on the internet (of course, right?) and discovered that the calendar I've had in my head my whole life is apparently not something I share with everyone else in the world, like I had previously thought.

Ever since I was little, I have always had this calendar (illustrated below in my not so great drawing) and every date has a spot. If someone says May 8th, there's a specific spot for that. If someone talks about a wedding on a specific date, I automatically "zoom" to that spot in my calendar. I can't picture doing it another way and I can't not think of the calendar.

I was amazed when I came across a thread of people talking about this calendar and some of theirs go counterclockwise just like mine. You will note that December is the only thing on top and the summer months are all together on the bottom. It's almost like a clock, but not quite. July "belongs" at the 6:00 spot because it's the middle summer month, yet December still belongs at the 12:00 spot. The "inside" is just hollow, by the way.


I also have an amazing memory. Not only can I recall many, many childhood events (I remember one time having my diaper changed and I was in the hallway between the two bedrooms; another time I was in my crib and I could hear my pulse when I was on my side so my mom came in and sang "Tomorrow, Tomorrow" to me), but my sister and I can both remember specific days: what day of the week it was, what the weather was like, what we were eating, etc.

I can remember birthdays, phone numbers, and for some reason the employee numbers at work (I do work in HR, but still, I don't try to memorize the 4-5 digit numbers, it just happens). I associate these numbers with faces. For instance, my friend, C. Her birthday is May 8th. Every time I see or think about her, my mind tells me "May 8" but it's not like it takes over my mind -- it's just there. I can remember that my 7th grade locker combination for the top and bottom lockers: 42-14-40 and 9-39-11. It won't probably ever go away. It's stupid trivial stuff! When I was in school, I could study by staring at my notes and I would memorize them and when I was taking my test, I could see the notes: the style of writing, when it got to a new page, etc. in my head. I could also memorize sheet music the same way: I would see when it got to the end of the line and to the top of another page. I mentioned my sister. She can also remember birthdays and phone numbers, but she also has another type of synesthesia: grapheme, or color synesthesia. Every number or letter for her is a certain color and it's been this way since childhood for her. She doesn't "get" my calendar and I don't have a color/number association.

Synesthesia is more common in women than men and it can be hereditary. There aren't any documented cases of men passing along the trait to their boys, so it is thought to be "X" linked.

More about Synesthesia from Wikipedia. If you click on the link, you will see that it is involuntary and thought to affect 1 out of 23 people (so not too terribly uncommon, but it's not like everyone has it either).

I also found some blog posts on Synesthesia. Here's the one that me going, "OMG, I am not the only one with a calendar in my head?": Link and another: Link

Anyway, I think it's cool!


Simple Complexity said...

I have something like that, but not with numbers. I suck with numbers and my short term memory sucks, but long term, I could recall details like you wouldn't believe. I could tell you the way the weather was, the smells, the feeling of how things were, the way I felt, who was there, what we were doing and anything around that time. I have away of putting dates, it's almost like your calendar but not quite. I group months, so when I think ahead I go to that group, pull up a month, go to that date, if there is nothing on it then I put something on it if needed lol Almost like doing it on a comp. I never thought about it before. Oh and I remember things that I shouldn't, that I've been told that there was no way I could remember them b/c I was too young, but I remember them.

Hubby now he's awesome with numbers. He remembers things immediately, he can remember SS#s DL#s, can do math like crazy and can recall anything with numbers faster than I've ever seen anyone do before.

Loralei I can already tell has a mix of both. She is awesome with numbers but is also with remembering things from when she was little, things that most kids don't remember and in great detail too. She's very observant as well like me and so she recalls in detail things from the past. It'll be neat to see how she develops it over time

Birdee said...

What a cool post. Your calendar is a lot like my calendar. July is my most dominating month. Mine lies flat with December to the south east. July lies directly west. Feb-June are light (in color and weight) and there is a heavy dip from the middle of September to December. It’s also landscaped, but I won’t get into that.
I also associate EVERYONE with a color. Like you say, it doesn’t dominate my thoughts, it's just there, but everyone in my world is a color. Probably why I can't dress my LO in light Blue very often, Light Blue doesn’t match his color. Yet I always put my first son in blue, because he is blue. My lo is orange. (I do dress him in blue lately because his dad likes it, but it's hard to pull the blue shirts out of the closet).
I am yellow; I am attracted to purple people, VERY attracted to purple people (most of them anyway).
Wanna know what color you are?...

Funny thing is some people are either a color or a color tone. Some people have more than one color.
You are dark blue, but I also see warm tones like orange (Tones don’t have a color, just a feel) Heh, you’re a warm blue ;) .
Cars have genders too. And I can tell which cars are egotistical a** Holes! Oh and I see dogs in men. (puts a whole new meaning to “Men are Dogs”) but when I see a man (not often does this happen with women) I see what dog they would be if they were a dog, or actually pet, just usually a dog, but I’ve seen some birds out there, and the image in my head is so powerful that I think sometimes I squint my brow, looking deep into them, wondering “Are you sure you’re not a dog?”. LOL, Do you think I’m crazy now?
I’m going to have to go check out your suggested websites now.

Sarah said...

Thanks, Birdee! That is awesome. I hope dark blue and orange is good! <3

Miley said...

all I can say is "holy crap - YOU TOO?!"
Sheesh, that makes me feel better.
My calendar kinda rotates... like the month I'm in is always at the top. and it doesn't link december to january - it's like a moving rainbow?
I have a freakish memory too - it weirds people out a LOT. I also have the number thing. I can tell you the tax id# for a doc's office that I entered into the computer when I worked at a health insurance company 9 years ago.
Once, I went to there for an appointment and someone asked "what's our tax id?"
I told them.
stupid diarrhea of the mouth.

Birdee - I associate everyone with a color... Well, almost. From those who believe in it, I'm told I'm feeling their aura.

Sarah said...

woman:confused, welcome to the blog! I am glad to find others like me because it's fun to be able to relate and not feel like a freak! LOL.

Kelley said...

Hey Sarah, I'm glad you found my blog (slightly relevant) and were able to relate to everyone else who has commented there. It's oddly comforting to meet with other people who see the world in a similar way, isn't it? Thanks for sharing your experiences and blogging about synesthesia, too!

Birdee said...

k-so I just wanted to doubble dip.
But a guy at work made a comment about how he was worried how he'd be treated when he moved to our state because of our color (being black). I thought "nope, nope, your burgandy"
Funny how I dont even see the skin color as much as their aura.(If that's what it is) =D

Birdee said...

*his color (not our color)