One good thing about anosmia

One good thing    


I have been recently asked to make a contribution to a documentary about anosmia. One of the questions I was asked was this: can you say something positive about the condition?

I have been asked this question lots of times, and it comes up frequently for discussion on Facebook pages. There are plenty of anosmics who see a positive side to their disorder, everything from not smelling nappies to avoiding the sweet smell of overripe trainers on a hot day. I never included myself in this category, believing that there is something about the great, colourful, complex, squawking zoo that is our smell world that makes every single bit of it important. I would no more do away with the smell of trainers on a hot day than I would wipe out all the mosquitoes in the world -- if I could -- because mosquitoes are also part of the ecosystem and they exist for a reason. "Bad" smells also exist for a reason. They are there to alert us to danger, help us work out what might be toxic, and send a warning signal.  No, for me there is no upside in not having access to certain smells.

In considering this question today though, I had another thought about my smell dysfunction, and in particular about smell training. When my ENT suggested I try the technique, I was sceptical. Was that all? Was this a fob off? And there were no instructions. So it didn't feel like much.

But investigating smell training, reading about it, seeking every fact I could find on the subject, taking a course at the University of Dresden and talking to the researchers who believed in it, changed things for me. Challenging myself, mastering new techniques, trying to discover new ones; all these things became the "positive thing" that I have been thinking about today. When I got the idea to put up my website and open the Facebook group, I asked myself one question: what would I have liked when I was in my darkest hour of living in a world without smell? And in trying to provide that for the many people who, like myself found themselves in this unhappy place, I found something positive. 

Now, in a funny way, my anosmia is part of what defines me, but I don't see that as a negative. I really enjoy what I do here, and I am happy to share my knowledge with you. If I can help you, that makes me feel good. My late mother always told me that the best way to make yourself feel better when you feel blue was to do something nice for someone else. So here I am.

That's my one good thing. 

If you are new to this, and you still can see absolutely no upside to anosmia and its undesirable siblings parosmia, phantosmia and hyposmia, I have one more thing I can tell you. Recovery, if you are lucky enough to have even a bit, can take time. Emotional recovery, if your loss is permanent, may take much longer. But time is a great healer. Believe that.