Throwback Thursday: A Sensory Struggle

Jaluna 1

Hey guys! Hope your day is going well! Today, I want to talk about something in my life that has bothered me since the time I was really small. I also want to talk about how I’ve learned to love it, to some degree, and just ways to work around it.

If I haven’t told you this already, I have congenital anosmia. It’s a very rare sensory condition that leaves me unable to smell anything. And I mean ANYTHING. I’ve been around skunks shooting their musk not far from my group and everyone else just started gagging.

I haven’t always been so open about my anosmia, mind you. When I was little, I thought it was normal and I’d learn to smell like I learned to talk. As I got older though, I started to realize everyone else knew the smells around them, but when they’d ask me if something smelled nice, I couldn’t answer. And that’s happened a lot.

There are plenty of awkward things that congenital anosmia causes in my day to day life. I can’t tell when food is cooking, so I salivate less than normal. I can’t wear perfume because I can’t tell if it goes well with my body chemistry or not (yet people kept buying it for me in middle school!). When I was young, I thought I was being harassed by another girl who kept telling me I needed to shower- which, as it turned out, was because of how much I was sweating without realizing it throughout the day. She was still a bully, but my family finally gave me the truth about the issue: I often smell, because I can’t tell when I’m sweating if it evaporates quickly enough. I also just didn’t know sweat smelled at the time, shockingly. The final embarrassing issue? I can’t tell the smell of my discharge when I have a yeast infection… So I have to bring my underwear to my dad to have HIM smell it. Luckily I found other ways…

For me, my lack of sense of smell used to torture me to no end. I hated myself for being different like this. I wanted to have it fixed, but it’s not something you can just cure. They don’t even know what lead to me being born like this.

Still, there are upsides I’ve learned. I’ll never have to be uncomfortable if my partner is sweaty and smelly from hard work. I’ll never have to hate the smell of diesel, or the scent of a gas leak (okay, that part’s pretty bad actually). I’ll never mind someone whose been musked by a skunk or even just musk flowing through our window. I’ve basically learned that while there are great scents I’ll never understand… There are also bad scents no one wants to express, that won’t bother me in the least.

Actually, I have a couple things on my bucket list related to my anosmia:

  1. See that corpse flower in New York bloom
  2. Eat a durian
  3. Try out real French ‘stinky’ cheeses

We all have a different perception of the world, but some things are still the same. While I can’t see without glasses and can’t smell for my life, I can touch, I can feel, and I can enjoy things just like you!

Today, I have a request for you to post in the comments: Tell me your favorite scent, and try to describe it for me who has never experienced smell. You’ll find it’s quite difficult- but I’m sure we’ll see some interesting things from your attempts! 🙂



A young adult who writes as a way of life, and treats all her characters as her children.

One Reply to “Throwback Thursday: A Sensory Struggle”

  1. Its rather sad you can’t smell the really nice things like perfume or flowers. But like you said on the plus you don’t gotta smell the yucky things.

    I picked a random perfume I had. Its a roll on by Pacifica called French Lilac.

    Hm…it obviously has a floral like scent. It smells really delightful. I guess almost a sweet kind of smell.

    Yeah, you’re right it is hard. XD

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