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With Synesthesia, Sometimes the World Tastes a Lot Like Purple…


Zernone is a delicious-sounding name.  It tastes like the color orange, but not as good as the color blue.  The letter N is an orange  letter and the letter E is a blue letter. However, the name Zernone has both some blue and orange with a hint of that sour purple in the letter Z.


When I was younger, I thought that everyone else’s numbers and letters had tastes and colors.  When I would voice my perception of colors and letters, I thought that others saw me as odd because they saw different colors.  It was not until Jr. High School that I learned that not only was I the only who saw  that the E was a blue letter, but I was the only one who thought letters had any color or smell whatsoever.


It was not until 3 years ago that I realized that I have Synesthesia. Synesthesia (apart from being a word not recognized by Microsoft) is a neurological condition where the five human senses do not entirely separate. When we are babies, all 5 senses are mixed. As we get older, our senses separate. For a select few this does not happen.


This condition also happens mostly in the mind’s eye. The person with Synesthesia knows that smelling a color is different from the truth, but sees and feels it anyhow. Although some synesthetes have all senses connected, for most of us, only two or three senses remain as one. Jimmy Hendrix is said to have sound/color Synesthesia. The E note on his guitar sounded like the color purple.  I have what is called smell/color/taste Synesthesia. Those close to me know that I love the taste of blue. When I was younger I used to purchase blue candy even if it wasn’t the best tasting. To others blue is not an appetizing color. Actually, many restaurants avoid the color as it can decrease appetite. In learning more about my difference I have become an expert at color and smell psychology.


(One time I ate so much blue candy that the white part of my eyes glowed a blue hue) 

Synesthesia is not easy to describe, which is why I have never written about it before. But it is a part of me, which is why I feel that I must write about it now. Synesthesia is most common among left-handed females. I fall into this category. Of course, not all left handed females have Synesthesia.


Some say that Synesthesia  is a form of evolution as many who deeply meditate may acquire a slight form of Synesthesia. When meditating our main goal is to become one with all aspects of our selves. When a person has Synesthesia the senses are connected in a way that can only be felt through meditation. I personally feel that it has made me feel closer to my subconscious. It has forced me to examine my actions thus nothing that I do is ever out of character. I know who I am and what compels me to think or do things a certain way. Now that I know why crowded environments and action movies make me sleepy from sensory overload, I can control my surroundings.


My Synesthesia never hindered my growth. If anything, it made it more interesting. It makes me more of an introvert than most, but I never had a problem with that. As a child, I lived inside my mind and was perfectly happy doing so because my brain was full of colors and smells.  What is a simple word to one person is a world of infinite possibilities to me. My art and English teachers loved the way I was able to create without hesitation. How could I hesitate when to me my imagination was factual?


However, Synesthesia is a double-edged sword.  From time to time I have mistaken someone’s name because it is spelled with orange  letters when it sounds more like green.  Although art and writing were second nature to me, grammar, spelling and art techniques were difficult to grasp. In a world where tangible technique triumphs indescribable passion and wisdom, I learned when to show my Synesthesia and when to hide it. I  learned to accept my condition as a gift and also accept that others may not see it as so, which is why I rarely mention it to anyone.  I was always an honors student as long as teachers left me alone. The fear of receiving special attention and over stimulation is what drove me to overachieve.


For years I have put off learning new things because I was too harsh on myself to even try. In my acceptance of Synesthesia, I have taught myself how to learn differently.  Even if I have to draw out all the notes and create story lines for individual digits.


I refuse to make my way of viewing the world anything other than beautiful. I refuse to make Synesthesia a crutch or an excuse. It is only called a disorder because our brains are wired differently. Whether it is a disability is up to the person to decide. Much like any adversity in life. Only you have the power to make something a gift or a curse. Why should I put down something that is so inherently me?



  1. Whoever or what made you feel that synesthesia was something to hide or be ashamed of? Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so, right? Nevertheless, more people might be fascinated by what you have to say than you think…

    When my brain was infected with various bacteria from a tick bite nearly fifteen years ago, i experienced what seemed like massive (and sadly temporary) synesthesia: in addition to letters acquiring colors, printed words themselves became somehow audible. Not only that but they acquired an accent that changed according to the nationality of the author as my brain perceived her or him. For example, i recall “reading” Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt, who came originally from Ireland, and having it narrated to me in a wonderful Irish brogue.

    Even more confusing, teensy “letter people,” alphabet dwellers, traipsed up and down the pages of books as i held them, assisting in this personal Audio Book production. This was so “real”, such a genuine experience, as opposed to dreamlike or merely imagined, that after reading, that is to say, listening to a book written by someone from Scotland, I was able to imitate his difficult scottish accent without trouble, though i had never done anything like it before!

    Anyhow, synesthesia was possibly the only plus to that terrible illness, which took years to recover from, but even before it i always thought that synesthetes were very special people and that synesthesia was not a disorder only a “condition” that conferred much more blessing than curse.

    Please know that i am really enjoying your blog, despite the great difference in our ages, you a 20SB and I an, ummmm, 60SB! I have bad eyesight so i may not be able to visit often as i have to reserve as much as i can for painting etc but return i will.

    My best wishes to you and for your writing. Be happy!

    Pam w.

    • Wow, beautiful story Pam. Thank you for sharing. It really is a gift. The only curse is not being understood by others, but when you understand yourself there is no need for approval. I wish you the best in everything, however you seem to have a hang on life, self healing and gratitude. I would love to see some of your paintings. 🙂 ❤

  2. It’s interesting to know that you are inherently gifted with synesthesia. It’s a trope and most people have a hard time in creating one, Anand Bose from Kerala

  3. Pingback: It Didn’t Just Happen Overnight |

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