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.