Saturday, 4 April 2009

Vanilla Gravel

Last night, an old friend asked me why I had not updated my blog in some time.

“I am afraid that you appeared to be the equivalent of an online coma victim, so I am sorry, but I deleted you.”

It seems that euthanasia is alive and well in the digital world yet it still remains a controversial subject here among the flesh and blood of the living.

So, why have I not been writing?

It could be because I am engrossed in shaping and forming my first novel.

It could be because I am working on music projects at the moment.

Or it could be because, for the past five months, I have been stark, raving bonkers.

Let’s go with all three shall we?

Yes, let’s.

I have decided to leave the two most interesting subjects out of the three offered above, because they will tell their own tales once they have been finished.

The latter of the three is the one I have decided to make the subject of this very late in the day blog entry.

It cannot tell its own story, so I have to tell it myself.

I have Synaethesia.

Explained simply, it is a neurological condition whereby one’s senses can become muddled in quite a delightful, creative, yet ultimately confusing way.

The most common form manifests itself in grapheme-colour form. This is when people associate letters, words, days of the week and so forth with certain colours.

Less common, is the form that I have which basically consists of every single thought, word, object, verb, adjective and idea having its own colour, form, texture, sound, smell and taste.

A classic example I use it that one of my favourite sounds is that of footsteps on crunchy gravel. For me, I taste vanilla ice cream (the good quality stuff with vanilla pod grindings in it) and see blue skies and hear sparrows.

However, if one were to ask another person what the sound of gravel under foot might conjure, they would most likely associate it with eating a chocolate chip cookie (because of the sound) and grey skies (because of the colour of gravel).

Well, my mind does not work like that, I am afraid.

As a child, I was sent to a string of child psychologists and psychiatrists. I was a very difficult little madam. I would not socialise with other children because they were noisy and confusing and had too many colours. I had terrible tantrums and the craziest of obsessions.

This was the Seventies folks, and there wasn’t a whirling array of brightly coloured umbrella terms that I could be tick-boxed into. Back then, there were no such things as ADHD, Bi-polarism, Apergers, were lucky if you got Scizophrenia as a diagnosis. Of course, these terms were all well known among the most erudite of mental health professionals, but I did not come from a family that frequented Harley Street.

I was, however, rather lucky. The kiddie psych that my parents eventually settled with was NOT from Harley Street, but I suspect she hung around the back doors of the eminent doctors there, to get her autograph book signed.

She did test after test and concluded that I got my senses muddled when I tried to describe things. She had heard of the term Synaesthesia, looked into the research, did further tests and eventually concluded that this was all I had. Nothing to worry about.

“She’ll probably grow up to be an artist or a musician or a writer.”

I grew up to be all three...but in a rather lackadaisical way, with very little talent in extracting the wonderful imaginary world in which I inhabited so that others could see it with their own, non-Synnie eyes.

Sadly, Synnies are often as normal as normal gets and don’t exhibit any more signs of genius than any given member of the non-Synnie public.

However, we are never bored. A train ride through Birmingham can be as exciting to us a day at Thorpe Park on fast track.

The downside is when one is bombarded with too much experience and trauma all in one go.

I have had a lot of trauma and unresolved grief in the past two years. Plus, I am trapped in a job that I simply despise. I have felt trapped, confused and disillusioned for a long time.

We Synnies are prone to mental illnesses when that happens. Just a bit of short circuit if you will. Imagine taking all the LSD in the world and then having to go to work.

When my brain short circuits, it is like that.

It is Dante’s Inferno under the Duvet.

It makes Lovecraft appear as cuddly as Bungle and Zippy.

It makes life impossible unless you sit in a darkened room with no outside stimuli until the mind and body begin to quiten down and sounds and sights and senses can be slowly re-introduced.

The old fashioned term would be “Nervous Breakdown”.

Doctors hate that term.

But they love telling you that you are suffering from depression and anxiety. They love handing out pills made of pure rat poison that are “supposed” to make you better.

They love telling you that what you really need (CBT and NO DRUGS!) is tantamount to comedy and are you having a laugh?!

They are happy to send you away, knowing full well what these kinds of drugs can do to a mind like mine and they don’t mind one bit that all of your creativity and gushingly outstanding visions of a beautiful world is reduced to gravel under a steely sky.

Thankfully, there is a happy ending.

I crunched on gravel for the first time in months, yesterday... and I tasted the faintest hint of vanilla rushing like a tiny Summer wave from the back of my tongue to the very tip until it washed up against my cheeks and made them tingle.

As to the pills? I suspect they are washing up and out against the sides of the nearest sewerage outlet as I type.

I hope the local fish population doesn’t suddenly get the urge to end it all as a result...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I could actually taste the gravel too. Interesting, I always thought such olfactory fugues were an inexplicable thing of mine too.

Welcome back to the in-your-head-but-alright world!