I suffer from extreme chemical sensitivity which is only one of the many annoying symptoms of chronic M. This symptom is difficult to manage due to the fact I must live in the world and not stay contained in a bubble which is fragrance free. Unfortunately, if I just wouldn’t have to breathe, I might be better off. Lol. All kidding aside, breathing in toxic chemicals which are so offensive is not healthy for anyone. This is the truth. What ever happened to “natural scents”? Why do we attach artificial scents to the air filter systems, cleaning products, room deodorizers, etc etc? Most are completely unnecessary. The smell of real baked apple and pumpkin pies is sure better than a yankee candle. Simply placing fresh citrus in bowls works well to add a fresh odor to any environment.
It seems like I can’t go into stores, office buildings(medical included), public restrooms without potentially entering a mine field. I find that most store changing rooms smell so badly that I can’t even try on the clothes. I must take them home for that process. Those scents not only trigger an awful M, but I physically get respiratory distress which is another whole level of sick. And yes, I carry scarves with pure peppermint oil or apply Vick’s vapor rub to my nose. I certainly do everything to help myself, but sometimes it isn’t enough. I not only speak for myself, but I am advocating for my fellow sufferers as well.
If I visit someone’s home I need to ask them ahead of time to please “de-scent” their place. For my dear friends and family I don’t feel embarrassed but for people whom I do not know, I don’t say anything and then just “hope for the best”. If their house doesn’t waft with artificial smells, someone undoubtedly will be bathed in strong perfume! I can’t win. Even staying for a short time is not really a viable option for me. It is not that simple. Church can be a disaster zone—- perfumes and incense will send me running for the door. I can walk in feeling pretty well and leave feeling pretty sick.
Since chronic M is mostly an invisible illness, how I may look is not a true indicator of how I may actually feel. Dressing up nicely to appear in public with a smile on my face doesn’t mean I am not bothered by my surroundings and ready to head straight on ino a sick attack. I do my ever-lovin’ best to participate in every way I can to enjoy life and all its blessings, but my overly sensitive nervous system has different ideas. If you happen to see me with a strange look on my face with eyes glazed over, you will know I am headed to go down soon. So, get out of my way!!!
I kindly ask consideration, tolerance, and understanding of my heightened chemical sensitivity even though it may seem awkward or strange. Please don’t be offended if I ask you to not wear perfume or give me lotions and soaps for gifts. It is nothing personal against you. Not at all. It helps me to navigate my surroundings a bit easier so that I can enjoy stepping outside of my comfort zone. It would be much appreciated.
So this year at the Thanksgiving table, please pass the turkey, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, but not the artificial cinnamon pine cones around the centerpiece. Thank you.