The first time I tell people I can’t smell, I get the same reaction. “What? How is that even possible?” “But, can you taste?” or the classic response, “So, you can’t smell any of my farts?” (No, I can’t smell your stinky smell and I’m so glad I can’t either). It’s very frustrating!
The first time I told my mom I was met with a mix of doubt (which was hurtful) and then ultimately after some convincing; concern. I was around 11 years old. I remember I was sitting in the living room and I was feeling a bit frustrated. My mom asked what was wrong and I told her that I felt weird and that I felt weird because I didn’t feel normal. “What do you mean, you don’t feel normal?” she asked. I told her I didn’t feel normal because I couldn’t smell. My mom looked at me and said “Whatttt???” It’s as if she had a big question mark on her face. “What do you mean you can’t smell?” “Ay, I can’t believe it!” I didn’t know what else to say. She asked if I was sure. She also asked if I had hit myself on the head. LOL. I told her I was very aware of my lack of smell, that I couldn’t get a reaction whenever I tried smelling flowers, or her cooking, or even my own breath. That whenever I “smelled” it was as if I was just breathing in air, nothing else. She was a bit shocked, and after explaining myself further, her confusion then turned to worry. She decided to book an appointment for me to see a doctor. I really didn’t want to go see one, but I was also curious to know if it was some type of disease or problem I would have to get checked for. So after feeling like it was my responsibility to get a diagnosis, we went the next week.
I remember feeling heavy with embarrassment knowing deep down that I would be met with disbelief again. We arrived at the doctors’ office and after sitting in the waiting room for what felt like an eternity, my name was called. In the exam room, my hands were shaking and an overall feeling of anxiety ran through my body. The doctor finally came in and looked at me. He probably thought I was going in for your typical prepuberty issues (ha ha). He asked me what was wrong. I told him I had come in because I had finally realized I couldn’t smell. No surprise, he reacted with a “come again?” He too had a big question mark on his face. He asked, “what makes you believe you can’t smell?” I told him about not being able to smell any of my scratch n sniff stickers/markers/perfumes/foods and he reacted by saying “hmm.” He checked my nose, and then my ears and confirmed everything looked normal. He recommended additional testing but didn’t think my condition was serious enough. He probably thought my condition didn’t even exist and I was just told to go home and that was that.
After my experience with the doctor, I learned that this condition wasn’t important and I learned to be extra careful and selective about announcing it to anyone. What’s the use? What’s the use in telling people about this invisible “secret” that holds you back? Being anosmic is like being blind, but still being able to see the world. You know you can experience it, it exists, but you can’t experience it 100% like everyone else. Anosmics still have to try to live in this world conforming to society’s rules. It drives you to the brink of paranoia. For example, you have to be extra hygienic, ensure you don’t smell so you’re not seen as the weirdo whose body or breath stinks. You have to make sure your home is extra clean so whoever comes over doesn’t have an unpleasant experience. You have to ask for other people’s opinion on whatever your cooking so your reassured it tastes “normal.” It can be very overwhelming if you let it.
So my experience with telling others about my condition is ultimately frustrating and annoying. I tread carefully and just mostly keep it to myself. Although with my blog, I can express everything and anything about my anosmia (which is the biggest relief ever!) What about you? Have you had any unexpected reactions to your anosmia announcement?? As someone who doesn’t have anosmia and who’s friend may have confided this info to you…how did you react??? Let me know in the comments below, on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.