My Anosmia Taught Me A Valuable Lesson
As an anosmic, questioning what anosmia is is something that usually pops up in my head quite often. It’s kind of like a mini existential crisis that creeps up on me now and then. What is smell? How come I can’t experience it? Why do I have anosmia? What is it like to smell?
I usually get these ideas when I’m hanging out with olfie friends and one of them starts talking about a recent experience they had about something (or someone) that/who smelled pleasant or unpleasant. I’ve noticed it’s usually a recurring topic amongst them. As always, I’m always the last one to get any of their jokes referring to smells because obviously I can’t smell.
One of my olfie friends was recently talking about how good one of my girl friend olfies smelled. I immediately noticed how the olfie’s eyes lit up when they were asking if it was a new perfume. The olfie was taking huge sniffs of air all while having a big smile on their face. I could tell they were really enjoying how their brain receptors were receiving that particular scent’s smell signal.
So I asked them, “what in the world is happening to you right now?” LOL! My olfie friend started saying things like, “omg you don’t know what you’re missing out on.” “It’s like, I could just smell her all day.” I’m like calm down. First of all, take a deep breath…I mean no, don’t do that anymore. Ha! Compose yourself. What is it that you really like about the smell? Well, then they go on to describe that it has “fruity scents,” or that it’s smells good “like bubblegum.” I’m like but what does the process consist of? Like I don’t know what you’re talking about. Then theyre like it’s kinda like “when you eat a candy and you feel a rush of love.” Ohhhh, that’s pretty interesting.
So… what is it like to be somewhere where it smells bad and you can’t do anything about the smell? I then stir the conversation that direction… “A bad smell gives you an uncomfortable feeling in your gut area.” They tell me. “It’s like when for example, you overeat and you can’t do anything about it. Ohhhh, that’s pretty interesting too. They continue explaining… “You feel nauseous for a bit, but then your nose adapts; you get used to the bad smell after a while though.” Hmm I think to myself. “The only problem though, is if you leave the area, and then come back, you get hit with that uncomfortable smell and your body’s reaction to it all over again.”
Wow, so for them it’s perfectly normal to be constantly receiving signals that dictate how their body feels. Like they have no choice in whether or not they process the world around them. I mean at least with vision, if you don’t like looking at something, you can look away. I guess with smell it’s out of your hands then. It’s like you are obligated to feel what the world wants you to feel.
One of the other olfies also points out that good smells can be dangerous, too. I’m like how is that so? They explain, “when you smell something good, your brain automatically associates a positive reaction to the source.” “So if your dating someone and they smell really good, but they’re not really a nice person, your brain can trick you into thinking that person is someone pleasant to be around.”
*Record Scratch* Say what??? Hmmm… so that may explain why I’ve avoided a lot of bad relationships then? I’ve had one less layer to cut through. I guess in that sense, I am really lucky to be anosmic.
I pause for a minute, then look around at my olfie friends and think to myself, “I really like these people for who they are.” I’m grateful my anosmic super power guides me in the right direction.
Girl Who Can’t Smell