Stream of consciousness brought to you by a PTSD smell moment

There is some strong language and a brief touch on past abuse and attempted suicide here.

This is meant to be an educational post about me and PTSD and smells and I am writing in the moment as I have just experienced PTSD. This post is not for a “like” it is to be read or skipped. I don’t care about stats. I care about educating and expressing and speaking my truth.

I’ve been therapized my entire life from OCD to anxiety to PTSD with cognitive behavior therapy to somatic therapy to talk therapy to hypnosis. Nope I don’t want any suggestions on any other therapies right now. I know they are out there but I have no transportation and so I just want to explain this experience.

Most people have a nice scent they like whether it is their detergent or fabric softener. If I go into a house that uses downy everything smells like it. Which must be nice. Because then you aren’t smelling the smell that you don’t want to smell. You have your comfort smell. I don’t have a comfort smell. I have chemical sensitivities and so does my daughter so everything we use is unscented. Unscented cleaners do NOT get out the smell of scented ones. And EVERYTHING is scented. My daughter used a hand soap while she was out and it is now on her clothing, which soaked, was put in washer, still smells, which then leads to me cleaning the washer and hanging her clothes to dry for days to then do the process all over again. Then her hands still smell because scented soaps DON”T COME OFF. So everything she touches in her bed, mine, everywhere, anything I can still smell THAT smell. Oh yes, we use lemon juice, and vinegar, and every trick in the book but everyone LOVES their smells and I cannot get them OFF!!!!

A smell gets in the garage…will it get into the house? A smell gets on my scooter…will I then smell it in the house? Then will it get on my clothes because I have to use my scooter? Then will it get in my bed because then I will have to wash everything in my bed. All of this my body cannot do because of my muscle disease and YET I will do it until I destroy myself because I CANNOT STAND strong smells.

This is not just about cologne. Now cologne while I am out will be an immediate trigger for me. But other strong smells while out I can try all of the coping skill that copious amounts of therapy can give me until I just cannot do it any more and want to scream from the top of my lungs. That is my cue to give it up and just go.

When a strong smell gets in my house though it is completely different. I cannot get away from it. I cannot drive long distances, get a break, go to work. I am stuck with this strong smell and it makes me literally lose my mind. You may not like that phrase but it is the truest phrase I can give. My mind is gone. It is lost. As am I. I am mindless. I am panicked. I must get rid of the smell. I must find the source and get rid of it and anything that has come near it. What if I can’t. What if say…termites ate up my baseboards and men need to come in and treat the house and fix the baseboards? Well. Termites ate our baseboards 4 years ago. Can I find a non cologne non fabric softener man to come and take off baseboards and somehow fix them using no chemicals that will then trigger PTSD, chemical sensitivities or send me into a seizure or anaphylactic shock….nope. So here we are with taped up eaten base boards. There IS NOT SOLUTION. Our garage door broke years ago. It takes chemicals to fix it. My wheelchair tire cannot be taken off without chemicals so i drive it totally bald because i cannot have strong smells in the house.

I will tell you why. That is why I am writing this blog. To tell you why I cannot handle the smells.

I was molested. For years. And years. And years. I could not get the thought of him off of me. I could not get the smell of him out of my nose. I could not get the thoughts of him out of my mind. I could not be rid of him. He gave me PTSD. I am stuck with PTSD because of what he did. It is not fixable. It is manageable so they tell me but PTSD I have not seen anyone cured of it and I sure am no where near. So I cope with my mindfulness and my walks and my pretty pictures and I do the best I can to balance that out in my mind what no medication and no therapist has been able to do.

So when I have a smell, a strong smell, that I cannot get rid of that triggers PTSD or seizures or chemical sensitivities and I am left to deal with it with my deteriorating body it makes me want to die. It is an immediate get me out of here now response. It is why I intentionally crashed my car into a tree when I was a teenager. It was a trigger that sent me over the edge. Now, at this time, I am able to control that suicidal moment of thinking with all of the coping I have learned. It takes a long time. I will admit to you that the minute I am confronted with a smell trigger the first thing that happens is I want to be dead so I no longer have to deal with it. It is THAT BAD. It CANNOT be minimized. PTSD and smell triggers are a nightmare.

So last night I had a nightmare of being raped and no one saved me. I woke up covered in sweat in a complete dissociated state and there I remained most of the day. I left the house to get one picture and came home to smells that I am still dealing with after 3 hours so that I can go to sleep and know that in the morning they will be gone. I HAVE to get rid of them because…

I cannot get rid of the PTSD. I cannot take away the pain, agony, memories, nightmares, nausea, of what was done to me. I cannot undo the past. A smell that I am trapped with just triggers a thought and a feeling that I am trapped again with something I do not like and must get rid of. During this I am not me. I am a panicked unstable frantic nonlogical unrealistic child like fearful self. All of my therapist have known this. I have gone into great detail just as I am doing here. I have written posts about how I have scrubbed my skin raw. All because of strong smells.

So yes. I have a shirt that says don’t touch me. I have a sign on my scooter that says don’t touch me. I don’t want to be touched. I don’t want one more smell to get off. I don’t want one more thing to be rid of and try and wipe clean. I am wounded and those smells are salt. Straight salt.

I hope for compassion understanding at least. I rarely get it. People rarely get me. And they do not go out of their way to respect this about me.

I am sitting here right now with the smells of liquid soap on the items on my table wondering how, after alcohol, vinegar, and soap have not gotten the smell off how i will get it off. I am wondering as the laundry is going if the clothes will actually be free of the smell or how many hours I will be up fixing this. That is why I don’t let people in the house anymore. They ‘forget” and whatever. I am so over the whole devil’s advocate thing where people make excuses and try to see the best in others. This is not about them. This is about me and how I do not matter enough to them for them to remember. It’s pretty simple.

So my house has tons and I mean tons of work to be done on it. But the smells…

Every day they are a PTSD trigger.

Every single day.

Every day at some point I wish I were dead. Or as I put it in another post long ago, I just wish I weren’t living THIS. But death is how I honestly feel. I could reframe it in a prettier picture frame but that would not be honest. The truth is, PTSD makes me wish I were dead a lot.

Then I get a nightmare. I get overwhelmed. I get flash backs and something simple like I need to go to the dentist, or my daughter has an appointment or I have to do ANYTHING or my husband has to go away and I slip into a tailspin headed for a crash landing like you’ve never seen. At the last moment I always PULL UP.

This is how it feels to be me with PTSD and smells. It is complicated but really it is not. I find it simple. I just wish those who knew me even tried to grasp the concept of WHY. There is not always a why in life. Why the man chose me to molest. Why my entire family found it more important to abandon me than hear the truth of the past. Yeah. I will never know the why of those things and I do not ponder them anymore. Others do. But this is not a why question. This is an education of me. This is a why answer.

I have PTSD.

I abhor strong smells.

I especially abhor strong smells in my house.

I have a muscle disease, seizures, chemical sensitivities, lyme disease, and a bone disease. I don’t have the strength to get off smells.

But I could not get that man off me when I was a little girl.

So I have to get the smells off now.

You’d think someone would be able to lessen this right. A medication. A therapy. Acupuncture or blah blah blah.

I am currently stuck with this smell issue. All I can do is go out and take pictures of birds and try for just a moment to not fucking thing about it.

Here are the two birds that greeted me today. My husband says that animals don’t see me as a threat and seem to be safe around me and that is why birds and animals come up to me and let me go up to them. I am not sure why. I just know that I am every so grateful that they do.

I had o idea that the crane’s legs were blue. They looked at me. The stepped forward, curious. Then gracefully and slowly walked away. I loved that moment. It made me happy to be alive. It made me happy that I did not die when I crashed my car as a teen and happy that I get to live another day even if sometimes with PTSD it is almost like torture.

44 thoughts on “Stream of consciousness brought to you by a PTSD smell moment

  1. Reblogged this on NANMYKEL.COM and commented:
    I am clapping. Bravo! You said you didn’t want suggestions but it will trouble me if I don’t suggest one. I can’t believe a neurologist could not destroy your sense of smell. It sounds like the total loss of smell would be more than worth it. Surely your family must grieve the loss of you, brave woman, nature woman!

    Liked by 3 people

    • YES!! I KNOW!!! I have asked about it being cauterized. No one will do it. I put lip balm that has essential oil of orange up my nose all the time to try and help but it doesn’t always work. What is interesting, side note, is that I have trigeminal neuralgia which affects a nerve that goes through my face and into my eye and jaw that is very near the nerve that affects smell. I wish they could just zap them all! I’ve asked. Thanks for caring NAN!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. This is so relatable. When I was going through EMDR treatment for my PTSD I couldn’t go near my daughter because of the smell of her shampoo. It was weird but now I know why . . . PTSD is the gift that just keeps on giving. Or is it taking? Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I am so sorry smells are so awful for you Bethany! 😦 I am someone who derives great comfort from specific nice smells. They can calm my anxiety because certain smells remind me of home, which is my comfort. I agree, doctors should cauterize to relieve you of this HUGE PTSD trigger. Sending you my love and I am so sorry life is so unbearable for you so much of the time! Hugs ❤ xoxox

    Liked by 1 person

    • I will boil cinnamon and cloves on the stove if something is really bothering me. I have done that for years. But lately even that is bothering me. And I was also told that cloves could triggger seizures so I was like UGHHHH. But thank you so much for the understanding and reading and your comment

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This really touched base with me as I have only recently come to terms with my own PTSD and it’s so rare to find someone so open and honest about it, so from the bottom of my heart – thank you.

    I also am triggered from smells and touch. I feel his hands all over me every single day and anything other than the most basic of soaps and shampoos etc, bring back the horrors of that night.

    You said it’s manageable as opposed to curable, so I was wondering how you manage it? As I said, I’m really only coming to terms with this all (many years after the event) and I would love any suggestions you might have 🙂 x

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh I am so so sorry and I do hope that this post was not triggering for you at all. I knew that could be a possiblity. It just came over me that I wanted to write in that moment of what I was feeling becaus otherwise it would be a long thought out post and it would most likely not be the rawest of truths.
      When I said manageable I meant that I have some coping skills I have learned in a few situations. The one at home I have not been able to fix or manage at all. But some things I do, help me. I focus on something. Like last night I went back to the picture of the sandhill cranes i had taken and I focused on them. I looked at each feather and the circle of their eyes. I immersed myself in the looks of them. I imagined how it would feel to touch their feathers and I went back to how it felt to be sitting right next to them.
      If it is during the day I will leave and go for a walk and search for something. Something red. Something yellow. The sun shining on a leaf. It will take a picture of it and I will outloud describe everything about it. I will close my eyes and feel it. It brings me back to a good place and takes me away from the bad.
      Another thing I do is shower and get very warm. I will lock my bedroom door. Shower. Get under my covers. Feeling safe. And watch something calming.
      This is what I have so far. I hope it helps some. Thinking of you and I am so sorry you have had this happen to you

      Liked by 3 people

  5. I totally understand…. i have had PTSD for (the doctors believe) at least 30 years. It was nearly 15 years ago finally diagnosed. I thought forever I was losing my mind. I have lots of triggers, but fortunately not smells. I can’t do the meds– I have too many allergies to medications. I went to a therapist for a while, until the insurance wouldn’t pay anymore (only 3 months)…. so I try to cope as best as I can. To a large degree, that means avoiding people (for me). People just don’t understand, do they? And no matter how much you try to explain, they just don’t “get it”…. what kind of hell you go through all the time. I know.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you for knowing. Thank you for understanding. I avoid people too these days. It is best for me right now.
      When I saw the psychiatrist a few years ago she said i had had it for 30 years i just didnt know what it was. So we went back through my thoughts and panics and behaviors and I realized that this had been going on since i was a child. I just didnt have the name for it. And it got worse as things in my lifegot worse and as the muscle disease has gotten worse it has left me more vulnerable being more triggered than ever.
      Yeah the meds….they all made me worse. Allergic reactions, adverse affects. They all sucked.
      Thank you for sharing and understanding. Very much

      Liked by 2 people

      • You are welcome. When other just don’t understand, it is terribly isolating, and even though we know there are lots of other people with it, it is comforting to hear others’ experiences and know that your people are feeling and going through situations similar to yours, also in silence. Yes, they (doctors) said that they knew I definitely had it at 17– that was when I had my first “out of body” experience, but don’t how long before that? I have sympathy for what you go through– I can’t imagine smells being triggers. That would be horrible.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. I felt sad too. Thinking about your daily struggles. None of us want to patronise you by offering sound-bites about therapies etc. You’ve got it covered. It’s not like you don’t try. You don’t stop trying. We just don’t like to hear that you have been suffering in spite of doing everything that you can to help yourself get through. Sometimes, you just want to be heard. To express yourself at full volume. We hear you. 💕Thank you for educating us all. In spite of all your difficulties, you are a huge voice, and your voice is being heard. We are listening. You do matter and your needs do count. I hope you find answers.
    Those birds are incredible. The nature and wild life around you is so beautiful. I wondered if the animals are drawn to your beautiful energy, and your chemical-free presence?Animals and nature don’t smell of nasty chemicals. They get a sense about us too. Perhaps they feel safe around you because you appreciate them? And carry no ‘warning smells’ to make they want to flee?
    Honour those raw, honest emotions … be true to yourself … get them all out in the open. Because it is not ok that people are getting ill like this, that people want to perpetuate lies, or molest children, that chemicals are poisoning our systems.
    We have to find the cause of all the suffering and address it, head on. If no one shouts out, how will humanity ever open their eyes? Stay true to you. Flowering things up is so last year. The year of authenticity is here. Thinking of you. You are powerful beyond knowing, Bethany. Never give up. The answers will come,🌻

    Liked by 2 people

    • This is wonderful. Wonderful thoughts on the animals. Wonderful thoughts on being chemical free and not making them want to flee. And they seem to know I am safe and just want to love them and appreciate them.
      Thank you for all of this understanding and encouragement. It was needed and appreciated.
      Everyone who took the time to read this and listen to me and comment really did help ease the pain of it all.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I was sorry to hear that your PTSD is so acute now. It was once this bad for me, so I can relate. The medications I take calm me down but maybe also take away the ability to have good feelings. I hope you have some smell-free days. This sounds like such a difficult thing to control! I, and am sure all your readers are very glad you are alive! Your posts often rejuvenate me and help me remember to look for blessings and beauty. I hope you are having a good day. Sending a hug O. Sandie

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thank you for that. I am glad to know that my posts help you with the blessings. I will keep them up then. I never know if I should keep posting those or if they just annoy people. So I truly appreciate that feedback! Thank you.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. I just woke up and am going through reading and approving comments.. i see it but haven’t read it yet. Would you like me to red it then delete it or not read it at all. I want to respect what your wishes are. Either way i want approve it, so noone will read it.
    Maybe you just needed to get it out? And then thats all that was needed?
    Woe is me is ok though. There is nothing wrong with expressing your pain. If you’d rather share something personally you can at


    • Thank you. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for the rawness and realness and honesty in everything. It has been deleted. But you have helped me to not feel that after 40 years I should just BE OVER IT. And you have helped me to understand the depths of this and that their are others who do really truly understand me in ways that no one else ever will. You have made me feel understood. I am so sorry for everything that happened to you and I will not write on those details but know you can email me anytime and even writing what you did was so fucking brave. You amaze me. You inspire me. You matter.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I’m so sorry my love. I know how you feel about the smells. I was smelling something not to long and it brought back memories of me and Barry and it took me a minute, but I managed somehow to move on. My sister Megan can’t do smells at all or loud noises so when I go over there I have to remember not to put on anything smelly or talk to loud. Just know that I love you and I’m always here for you. I’ll always look out for you. Sending you a hug all the way from NC.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The cranes see your light, feel your energy of love.

    When I got off meds, every strong smell made me sick, except cigarettes!?!?! Go figure. The nausea was so intense. Any light hurt. Noise was painful. But oh the smells—I would feel like vomiting or passsing out. This ended for me after a year or two. God bless you – it’s terrible you have to live this way.

    But oh how I love that the animals come close to you. They show you who you are: love and light.


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