How my Schizophrenia and Synesthesia Interact with Each Other

Syance Wilson

By Syance

I am Syance and I have synesthesia. The most common form of synesthesia includes colored hearing: sounds, music or voices seen as colors, numbers, and/or symbols. Many synesthetes report that they see such sounds internally, in “the mind’s eye.” Some synesthetes see visions as if projected outside the body, usually within arm’s reach.

The following blog is a transcript of my talk about synesthesia and schizophrenia for The Art of Autism and Oceanside Museum of Art’s Zoom Meeting in May called “The Color of Sound.”

You can listen to me and other participants in the event talk about synesthesia from different and personal perspectives by clicking here.

In my script, I used purple *asterisks at the end of sentences and words. I used this method designed by my mentor, Ms. Bowers, to help me “wake up my brain” to remember to take breaths (beats) between phrases and sentences during my talk. I can tend to ramble quickly. This visual method (in one of my favorite colors, purple,) helped me a lot to share my story with a good pace and clear speaking. ((Editor’s note: We removed those astericks for readability)

So, how does synesthesia impact my life?

The psychological prognosis alters the five senses I have (hear, smell, touch, taste and sight) and causes them to interact with each other. I’ve had synesthesia my entire life but I didn’t realize that it was an actual disorder (Editor’s note: The Art of Autism doesn’t think synesthesia is a disorder but an enhanced way of perceiving things).

Ms. Bowers mentioned it while we were working on the film “Normal People Scare Me Too.” Synesthesia helps me get through school and other situations by helping me remember the required criteria. Also synesthesia allows me to interchange my 5 senses. Furthermore, it enhances my passion for both playing and listening to music.

However, synesthesia can be annoying when I have “meltdowns” due to schizophrenia and the feelings that are affected by the situations I deal with on a daily basis.

Sometimes, synesthesia is helpful when I want to remember certain concepts or terms in order to pass exams and quizzes for school.

For example, when I had to study for testing at Inclusion Films, I try to connect the material I need to memorize in order to get promoted to the next level so that I could have been hired to do projects in my area of interest, like editing and scenic art. Not only does synesthesia help me remember important information that I need to learnit assists me with my ability to interchange my 5 senses.

Synesthesia causes my 5 senses which are as follows: sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing by allowing them to interact with each other. For example, when I see the color red I feel anger, aggression and fear because the sight of this color causes me to automatically feel these negative emotions, Which is why I am not a fan of the color red.

Another example of when one or more of my senses interacting with one another is when I hear music and can see certain colors and patterns while I listen to it.

Syance Synesthesia
Syance Synesthesia Markers on Paper (Each square represents a song)

When I listen to or compose music synesthesia causes me to see different colors and patterns that correspond with it. For instance, when I listen to a song in the key of C Major I see a certain shade of pink and the rhythm of this song determines the pattern I see as well.

When I compose my favorite kind of music soundtrack/ classical music (AKA: “Battle Music”) in my favorite key (D minor) I can see a maroon background that represents the key of D minor and a series of yellow or white twists – like patterns that represent the song’s rhythm.

In fact the synesthesia in this field is what usually determines whether or not I like the music I listen to or create besides the amount of vulgarity the music I listen to has.

High vulgarity towards women or negative/ discouraging lyrics equal NO, by the way.

This is why I pick my battles not only with music but I am working on similar issues when schizophrenia gets activated.

Finally synesthesia is not always a desirable experience because it also reacts with the schizophrenia that I have. The synesthesia does interact with the hallucinations I experience by enhancing certain senses depending on the situation.

The most common senses that are enhanced by the battle with schizophrenia versus synesthesia are sight, hearing and touch.

For example, if someone in my family gets frustrated or just corrects me these 3 senses get overactive especially sight which is why I close my eyes. This never helps because the sight enhancement is coming from within my mind not in the real world. It is just pure imagination.

Also, when I think of certain words sight and touch get enhanced the most because these words impact me the most.

For instance, when people call other people, or myself, “retarded,” I feel like exploding out of anger because the schizophrenia and the synesthesia are interacting with each other by helping me feel angrier than the average neurotypical person, and hearing it from different people also makes me feel stupid and depressed.

What I learned so far about synesthesia is that it can be both an asset and a liability for my mental health.

Fpr example, I have been able to receive higher grades on my exams when I sit down and study using this “disability” * as a method that helps me remember what I need to know for them.

Also, I can enjoy my life in more than one way at a time. My music choice is almost all across the board from Hip-hop/ Rap & Oldies to African Music & Classical/ Soundtrack.

But I would like to receive some assistance with the circumstances when synesthesia versus schizophrenia interact with each other. Other than this particular situation, synesthesia is not a negative disability or a curse; it is, in fact a blessing.

Syance creating art

Syance is in the Art of Autism Color of Sound Exhibit at Oceanside Museum of Art through July 11. She has a degree from California State University, Bakersfied and graduated from Inclusion Films in 2021.

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