'Numbers have colours', and other things my brain has decided for me.

Oh, what’s this? Another peek inside my head, that you definitely did not ask for? You bet your sweet, healthy brains it is! Today we’ll be learning about my experiences of Synaesthesia. Hope you enjoy… 

(Photo: Rebecca Brooker; watch gifted from MVMT, dress gifted from JOY)

Let’s start with a quick definition, before we get to my diagnosis. Synaesthesia (wow, yet another condition I have to live with, and will always struggle to spell) is a neurological trait or condition that causes ‘a joining or merging of senses that aren’t normally connected’. The stimulation of one sense then triggers another – for instance, some folks can hear colours and see sounds. A fabulous tweet went round recently; Julie McDowall told followers about her Synaesthesia and offered folks the chance to learn what their names tasted like. 

The response was enormous – obviously, because the one thing we humans love more than things we can directly relate to is a bit of freaky but non-threatening science. And yes, I scrolled through the replies for quite some time not just to marvel at Julie’s brain, but to find another Grace – turns out my first name tastes like a soft turnip grown in Julie’s grandma’s garden. I’ll take that! 

As for my mind, while I can’t quite taste words, I definitely can tell you what colours represent every letter in the alphabet, numbers up to 100, and each day of the week. Nothing is certain, though; some of these colours have changed slightly as I’ve grown older. For instance, the number 1 used to be a vibrant, warm red, but now it’s a deeper scarlet; Mondays used to be bright Spring time turquoise but, as the daily grind has worn me down over the years, they’ve cooled down into a morose navy. 

(Photo: Rebecca Brooker; watch gifted from MVMT, earrings and dress gifted from JOY)

Another thing I discovered just recently, but really I think I’ve always known on some level, is that I also have a deep-rooted need to personalise objects. It was actually a colleague who realised this aloud, after months of hearing me refer to products in the store as specific gendered pronouns (‘this guy here is a bit of a show off, a slow frother; he doesn’t fizz up as fast as she does…’). 

This would perhaps explain my deep upset over losing the first car I ever drove, just recently – I mean, she was a hunk of metal at the end of the day, but I’d always say ‘hey, babe’ as I fired her up for the drive to work in the mornings, or even tell her how long my day had been when I picked her up from the multi storey at 7pm. Oh, and maybe that’s why I get quite emotional throwing arguably useless items away – I definitely give addressed envelopes personalities before ripping them up to recycle, I feel deeply sad for knackered glasses cases that I can't find a use for, but keep on my shelf to save them the heartbreak of a landfill (the horrendous human destruction of the planet does not help this feeling, either). 
I quietly thank brands who give their packaging second lives – such as Vego, whose chocolate spread jar becomes the cutest cocktail glass, or recycling heroes Lush doing their 5 Black Pots scheme – for saving me this pain. 

(Photo: Rebecca Brooker; watch gifted from MVMT, earrings and dress gifted from JOY)

I feel I should add in a little warning here – please don’t expect me to ‘perform’ this thing for you. Sometimes I’ve found when a friend throws a number or word ‘request’ at me my mind freezes up, perhaps because it knows it’s weird and fears being mocked. Or maybe that’s me, telling my brain to quieten down and ‘be cool’, for once.

Not that I don’t think this condition is cool. It definitely is. I actually believed, growing up, that everyone had it. I thought I couldn’t be the only one who liked certain numbers and letters more than others, based on how they presented themselves in my head. Surely, all the other kids would agree that the number 6 is green, and doesn’t get along with 5 as much as she does 7? If that's not 'normal', then I can't help but wonder what else I do differently to my peers... 

It’s so bizarre how we can never truly ‘know’ our own minds. Oh sure, we can get a good grip on them through different forms of therapy and general self care, but sometimes the essential make up of your brain can still surprise you. I personally love that I may never master my own mind; the mystery and magic can be exciting, no? 

Do YOU have Synaesthesia, or something similarly freaky? Comment below, or tweet me and we'll marvel at our brains together!


  1. Hi, I have the exact same form as you. All the letters and numbers also have personalities and appearances. For example A is short, fat, yellow and in charge (atleast he thinks he is) B is tall, blue, an older gentleman, c is short, red and best friends with B, D is blue and tall and a posh character, e is a green underdog.

    Numbers also have same format.

    All objects have a gender and personality.

    I have the time special syneasthesia too. I also hate being asked on the spot. We are not performing monkeys ��


    1. YAY! I'm so excited to find others who have this too. But yes, it's not something you should feel the need to use as a party trick. You can keep it to yourself if you want! Right now in isolation, I am adopting plants, naming them and giving them unique personalities. But then, that could just be my cabin fever... x

  2. I was just helping my mum paint inside when I started talking about the feminine and masculine of numbers, and then I mentioned how they have colours and stuff and she was like, "sound like you have synaesthesia. I've always seen numbers and letters with personality's and it seemed normal. (personally i think 5 *light pink would be closer with a more soft six *mustard while 7 *red had a rough personality. lol i never looked at how weird my brain is for this (also can we please see hoe 8 is so androgynous xx

    1. I love this. I feel the gender differences with numbers too! and some words seem more hot/cold than others. Brains are fascinating! xx


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