This Friday, 27th February is Anosmia Awareness Day. Ordinarily, this is a date that would probably have passed without too much comment at Lippie Mansions, but this year is different. Very different.
Most people think not being able to smell is just a little thing, but please let me tell you that it is not.
When I lost my sense of smell last year, I
had literally no idea just how devastating a condition it would be, and
just how much my life would be changed as a result of the cold that
caused my olfactory nerve to die. I've had to give up reviewing
perfumes, and beauty blogging has had to take a bit of a back seat to
learning to deal with my condition. There are so many things I can't
eat, there are activities I simply can't do, for example, I can't go to a
coffee shop, I can't stand near someone who has been smoking. I've had
to avoid eating out. I can't drink wine, I can't just go to a sandwich
shop and pick something up for lunch. Even brushing my teeth makes me
puke! I can't tell when my oven is on fire - and this has happened
recently. I can't tell when food is spoiled. Worst of all, for me, I
can never predict the things I'll have a reaction to, which means I've
lost control over my life, and it has been an incredibly difficult 12
months as a result.
On top of anosmia and its attendant
conditions parosmia and phantosmia, I've also suffered from a crippling
depression, and no little amount of social anxiety as a direct result of
losing my sense of smell. I never expected this to affect me so badly,
and to say it has been difficult to deal with would be a mild
understatement. Without the help of my family, my friends, and
especially Fifth Sense,
I'm not sure how life would be right now. There was a point last year
where I didn't really know if I could cope for much longer, as there
simply didn't appear to be an end in sight, and my medical diagnosis
was, basically, "wait it out, you'll laugh about this one day". I'm
still not laughing, and I'm not sure when I will.
have been exceptionally lucky in that my doctors have taken me
seriously, and I've been fairly informed in my own right about the
condition because, as a perfume writer, research about olfaction has
always been of interest to me. I'm now getting the medical help I need,
but Fifth Sense
have helped me in many ways that my doctors couldn't. There was a
conference for fellow anosmics and parosmics like myself last November,
which helped me when I was very much at my lowest ebb, and I can now
pinpoint this event as the date where I was able to start turning my
is getting better these days, but I still have a way to go, and I will
need more support from my friends, my family, my medical team, and yes,
Fifth Sense, which is why we're trying to make this year's Anosmia
Awareness Day the best ever, because not everyone who suffers as I have
has been lucky enough to have the support system I've been able to
This year, Fifth Sense are trying to raise
funds to help others who are in a similar situation to myself. There
is very little research being done to either look at the causes of
anosmia, or into cures for anosmia, or even into gadgets to help
anosmics get by in every day life. If you have a penny or two - every
little helps, no matter how little - to spare, then, please, consider donating to Fifth Sense this week. If not for me, then in the hope that you never catch a cold that turns your life inside out too.
In addition, all this week, Fifth Sense
are asking you to tweet the smell you think you'd miss most if you lost
your sense of smell, by using the #LongLostSmell hashtag, please get involved! I shared mine on the Fifth Sense Facebook
page last week, but there have been some amazing tweets on the subject,
and I've loved reading them - and occasionally weeping over them - over
the last few days.
I'll also be featured in the Guardian this
weekend talking about my experiences of anosmia and parosmia, so please
keep an eye out for that, oh, and I'm working with Basenotes on something rather amusing too - I'll keep you posted!