Does Candle in the wind smell like strawberries?

Skittles famous ad taste the rainbow captured many people’s imaginations…

Have you ever tasted the rainbow? Is your Monday yellow? Does Candle in the wind smell like strawberries? If you can even remotely relate to any of these statement’s you probably have Synaesthesia. If not, you probably think I’ve lost the plot.

Synaesthesia is a condition whereby, two senses overlap. This can come in many forms. Some people, like myself, visualise days of the week, or months; as specific colours. Others can hear a piece of music, and associate a particular scent, or colour with it. Synaesthesia affects around 1 in 200 people. However, this is hard to measure as there are so many different combinations and sensory connections. Also, often people don’t disclose their sensory simulations as it might sound outlandish or they don’t realise it’s not a thing.

Find the grey areas

I first realised, at Middle school that my days of the week were colours, Monday was always yellow, Tuesday was blue and so on. It wasn’t until years later that me and my friend somehow got onto the subject, and she did the same thing. However, it is an involuntary attribute so neither of us chose the colours or anything. We became curious and found that it’s actually something quite a few people experience. And that there’s loads of different types. I read about a woman who lost her sight, as it gradually came back, she began to develop Synaesthesia. As she experienced colours so differently, she could only identify them properly, with the element of sound. She began to whisper the colour out loud to regain the ability to connect the visual image with the word. Another story of someone who can actually taste dialogue! There is almost something magic about your senses being able to communicate. Someone being able to personify a letter or smell a number is pretty incredible.

Learning to love your senses

Could Synaesthesia prompt a new way of learning/ teaching? If people can associate pear drops with a score of music, couldn’t bringing sweets help to learn the notes? If someone personifies number could this not be made into a story to help work out equations?  There are so many different sensory sequences that could be devised to support different learning styles. For a while now there have been sensory driven play areas and toys to help children’s cognitive processes. My almost, two-year-old Daughter has been to a few sensory play areas that focus on lights, colour and touch. She absolutely loved them and is picking up colours quickly (especially pink- cliché I know!). Sensory toys have also been particularly good for children with disabilities, helping them to focus, be stimulated and to help them to feel calm.

A sense of good

Your senses being heightened is not deemed a bad, or particularly strange thing so Synesthete’s should embrace their purple sevens, enjoy your chocolate smelling Tchaikovsky!

By Claire Exley

The Emotional rollercoaster of being a Mum

I can’t get no sleep

It’s 4 am and, in the dark, silent bedroom just as I began to drift off, I hear the beginnings of a cry from the end of my bed. The soft whimpers are coming from my baby who is all tucked up in her cot. I roll, exhaustedly off the edge of my bed and drag myself over to her cot. She looks up at me with her big, wet blue eyes and cries until I reach down and carry her downstairs. I fumble around for the light switch amidst the tiredness and begin to prepare some milk, taking a handful of Minstrels to give me a much-needed sugar boost.

This is the start of babyhood/motherhood. When they are small and extremely dependant on

sleep, milk and cuddles. I (fairly) recently had my third child. She’s almost two now and I am twenty- eight (despite feeling fifty- eight sometimes!). Motherhood, I’m since learning is a mind field. My newest edition can be defiant, wilful and bossy. Yet she is also sweet, beautiful, gentle, funny, thoughtful, clever… the list could go on.

Emotional Motherload

Children get every one of your emotions skyrocketing. From the moment you see the little extra line on the test, your tear ducts become overworked. The birth bit is a mad over-whelming occasion, I’m basing this notion after all three very different but, equally as emotionally turbulent births. The coming home with the newborn phase is a mix of ecstatically happy moments; consisting of your perfect little bundle of joy, everyone rallying round, soft blankets, new teddies and Moses baskets, and a new kind of overpowering, breath-taking love. The other side of this being, tiredness, soreness, questioning yourself as to whether you are doing the right things, feeling alone at times, unexplained tears. This dissonance of emotions seems to be there throughout parenthood. Just when your toddler has tipped ALL of the flour out of the packet, with a powdery face and a mischievous giggle, there’s a trail of paw-prints where the cat has helpfully walked through it, the kitchen in complete disarray, then your child says ‘I love you’ and reaches out for a hug. Suddenly, after the mania that ensued (after flour gate) your heart melts. The frustration and madness you felt lifts. In a second. From anguish to cherish in such short succession, is what makes being a parent tough and terrific.

Me, Myself & Mum

As a girl in my twenties it can be hard to feel secure, established and know my direction. No longer a teenager, yet I still don’t feel like a proper grown up. Not all the time at least. This feeling is ever more complex when you have children. I have found being a Mother the hardest, yet the best thing in the entire world. They are your world. A little extension of you. They are who you give your life to, in the sense that you strive to make them, feel happy, secure and loved. Sometimes, when you are so caught up in mum things you forget you are a person in your own right too. I have felt like I am playing catch up and trying to get to know what I like, what I want, just me. A few of my friends who are Mums too; feel the same on this. I remember one saying she didn’t receive birthday presents for her anymore, only for the baby. Family bypassed her (on her birthday) and bought only for her little boy. Which she loves and appreciates but it adds to the sense of losing yourself.

This whole premise ties into my next point of Mother guilt. Do I stay at home with the baby till he or she is five? Or do I go back to work sooner? Should I be working to pay for someone else to raise my child? These thoughts are difficult to tackle. What is the right age to return to work or education, is there a right age? Going back to work is useful socially, mentally for you to regain some of yourself and to add to the financial pot at home. Yet, childcare is expensive, you want to be there for your little one, so what do you do?

I think this is different for everyone, but I think a balance is good. Still raising your child alongside working. Whatever hours/time frame suit the individual.

Mums the word

Therefore, Mother’s need to be supportive of other Mothers. Getting together with other Mums helps! Knowing that you are not alone in these feelings, is so reassuring because the mind can be a lonely place. So, instead of mums the word, start to embrace spreading the word. Seeing how others feel, may well help you feel relieved. Sometimes we worry so much that other people wont understand but it is amazing how many people think like that and share similar stories. And it’s a great excuse to get together, make each other coffees and have a bit of girl time!

Is anyone a Saint?

St Valentine was the Patron saint for lovers (and epileptics) he advocated affection, stood for people’s adoration of one another. Today we continue that tradition of love but in a rather different way…

Paper hearts

Now; couples and marriages and even friends feel obliged to shower each other with an array of cute, ‘romantic’ tokens of affection. Restaurants, pubs and shops are adorned with confetti, balloons and paper chains of red love hearts. All with the idea of romance and love behind it. A money making bunch of hooey designed to make us spend under constraint.

Despite questioning this mad notion, that love has a schedule. I still hope for a card or some flowers, some kind of sentiment to determine romantic feeling. Why? Because I’m a sucker for love! Everybody wants to feel wanted, desired and special.

As much as I am cynical about the whole premise of having to have a day to show this, I kind of agree.

A day to celebrate your gratitude and infatuation for others is a good thing. It may be a card companies wet dream and a florist’s best day for revenue, but then why begrudge them that when we create the opportunity for them by buying into the hype.

Fill up on love

Most of us do feel obligated to get our significant other a card on February 14th and nine times out of ten that card or bunch of flowers creates a little joy. It is marketing ploy by big companies to make more money, but so what?!

In the busy day to day of work commitments, children’s assemblies, piles of laundry, and holidays how often do we devote a bit of time for romance? Some people are not romantic at all. Yet, there are still men racing to the petrol station to grab a bunch of flowers for their Mrs. And no, it’s not a trip to Paris for two, or a pair of diamond earrings. But that’s not the point. The point is, that the man made the effort to show some adulation to his other half. And better yet we can blame the company created day to justify our romantic outbursts (if showing affection doesn’t come easy to us!)

The idea of creating a day whereby it’s acceptable and favourable to be a little bit soppy, to show the people you love; that you love them isn’t so bad after all. It may well be contrived, and I (along with many others I suspect) will continue to have a cynical moan about it. But I cannot dispute that it’s nice to make that time for people you care about. Anyway, if anyone asks it’s the card companies’ fault, not mine!

Psychosomatic issues

Mind over matter

Somatic or is it just semantics?

Mental health awareness, in the UK, is becoming more apparent, and less of a taboo through social media and mental health organisations, such as Mind. According to 1 in 6 people suffered with a mental health issue in the past week, moreover, depression, drug use and anxiety are lead causes in widespread disabilities. These claims are a clear indicator that mental health can have extremely detrimental effects on a persons life physically as well as psychologically. Psychosomatic conditions; are the connections between physical and mental health problems. Some ailments, that can be hard to decipher the root cause of, are often linked with a patients mental health. It is thought, that some debilitating conditions are exasperated by an unhealthy mind.

Life in balance

Depression is an example of how physical and mental health overlap. it affects 3.3 in 100 (Mind, 2019) people. It can often be diagnosed, after a series of initially, unexplained aches, pains, extreme exhaustion, skin conditions and issues with sleep and sex. The effects of the mind can cause an array of issues, as aforementioned. An individuals serotonin levels (chemical neurotransmitters in the body) are decreased when they are feeling low, therefore sadness and mental wellbeing are as much of a physical concern as they are a cognitive issue. Anti- depressants aim to tackle the chemical imbalances within the person, this form of treatment is primarily considering the patients physical anomalies. Other forms of medication are prescribed to treat severe Psychosis and other mental health issues, that are otherwise difficult for individuals to manage. This can involve sedation in extreme cases. Anorexia Nervosa is a prime example of a concurrency between mental and physical anguish. The sufferer will have extreme thoughts around eating, weight and body image which will encourage them to self mutilate by starving themselves. This will in turn create several adverse affects such as hair loss, loss of periods (if female) and weak immune system. This type of issue requires both psychological and physical intervention in order to create a stable well being forth individual.

A whole lot of sense

Psychological practice centres around an individuals thought processes. Different talking therapies are used as a way of discovering difficulties in the mind.Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is widely used, particularly within the NHS. Usually a short term intervention; it aims to reframe an individuals negative cognitions. It tends to work well for phobias and anxieties, both of which can affect someone physically, involuntary shaking, hyperventilating and dizziness are just some of the effects. Stress can also bring on a whole host of problems, people can experience migraines, skin complaints, stomach ulcers and many other issues that first develop due to intense difficulty in an individuals life. Gestalt therapy derives from Psychoanalysis, encompasses the notion that the key to emotional wellbeing, is to consider the person as a whole. It considers the body as well as the mind and incorporates that into its approach. It takes into account environmental factors and body language in order to treat someone effectively.

Physically draining

Conversely, extreme physical conditions, that can be detrimental to an individuals social interactions, and general way of life can have severe adverse effects on their mental state. If someone is unable to socialise and take part in activities to their satisfaction, this can leave them feeling isolated, empty and withdrawn. Leading to other depressive symptoms. According to a study (Hussain, Sikander, Maqsud) on individuals with physical disabilities and depression, there is a considerably high percentage of people, having experienced some level of depression, associated with their disability. This shows a concurrency between mind and body. Extreme physical trauma can trigger Post traumatic stress disorder; the term for an individuals mental state following trauma, this involves a series of anxiety issues that can hinder someones existence. Therefore, a patient experiencing this is to be treated both psychologically and physically in order to have a better sense of well being.

When two become one

An amalgamation of psychological therapies and medical interventions are increasing, and developing, to ensure patients are being treated holistically. Thus incorporating the body and mind concurrently. Holistic practice involves looking at ALL causes for any ailments, this would incorporate mood, sleep patterns, diet and environmental factors. They believe patients have the capability to identify and in some ways self medicate by self regulating and having some awareness of themselves as a whole. Mindfullness also encourages people to have an awareness of mind and body to encourage people to influence their mind with physicality’s and visa versa.

The need to affiliate both psychological and physical parts of a person is becoming more prevalent in todays world. Viewing a person as a whole can improve their well being on the generally and encourage an individuals own autonomy and ability to self regulate their lifestyle.

Mid twenties crisis


Being in your twenties is like being at a party with no cake; you know you are going to have some fun along the way, but right at the end there’s no candles to blowout. No icing and sprinkles. Because at the end of that party you have to grow up. Or have a clear direction in your life. Or do you?

Burning the candle at both ends

Early twenties are pretty good. Just after your teens, slightly more clued up, you can go to clubs, be independent.  You can still pull all- nighters and be totally fine, after a full English and a Sprite. Then the midpoint sneaks up on you. 25. Suddenly your 5 years off 30 and your career isn’t set or you aren’t engaged or own your own house. Or have children. And your hangover last about 3 days. Bulk buying Alka seltzer just to feel human again. Then the panic sets in. Being a woman in your mid- twenties is confusing. As a 27 year- old woman myself, I’m feeling the pressure. Pressure to have some kind of life plan.

The one with the life goals

Scrolling through Facebook and seeing people you went to school with getting married, becoming fully qualified in their job or having a baby can be daunting. It makes you re- evaluate your own goals. As a mother of three children; I constantly worry about my career prospects. And I have friends that don’t have children yet that can almost hear their biological clock ticking.

 There’s an episode of friends where Rachel turns 30 and has a complete meltdown about that fact she isn’t married or had children. She chose the career route. Having many of the emotions that most women feel at some point, twenties being the poignant time. The decider decade.

Have your cake and eat it?

To be in an established career can take years. To be a qualified solicitor tales around 10 years. If you start at 18, do you begin thinking about having children at 28? You need to have time to settle into the job after training. And what about meeting the right man? Or if you have children young, at what point to you begin your career? When they start school? There’s so many questions. So many things to factor in. all the while trying to find yourself. Trying to decide who you are.

 Balancing a career and children is a minefield too. The guilt of when to return to work. When’s it ok to leave your child with a childminder or at nursery? you don’t want to leave your child, but you also want to be able to provide for them.

Enjoy the moment

Everybody has different ideas about what they want. And when. Being in your twenties is definitely a transitional decade. Going from seeing your friends constantly, sneaking out and having your first kiss in your teens, to becoming more grown up. There’s still a lot of figuring out to do. Still wild nights, new relationships, new jobs. Ultimately, you are on the road to becoming a responsible adult! Some earlier than others. It takes time. And trying new things. If I could talk to my younger self I’d tell myself to slow down, you don’t have to rush. you will get there.

Life doesn’t have to be a rigid plan. Things can fall into place. Everybody goes at a different pace. If you spend the whole time worrying about what you haven’t got or achieved yet, then you won’t enjoy the things you do have. Sometimes it’s better to enjoy the moments we are in rather than panic about what hasn’t happened yet.

by Claire Exley