My Sense Of Smell, Or Lack Thereof

I think everyone takes their sense of smell for granted. I think it's easy for them to forget that it's one of the most vital senses, right up there with sight or hearing. I say 'vital' because it's a sense that lets you know when something is wrong, be it with your body, your surroundings, a gas leak or even with the food you're about to eat. On a related note, your sense of smell also affects the way you taste food.

My sense of smell, or lack thereof, is largely undiagnosed, so to speak, though there are speculations by every doctor I've mentioned this to. According to my research, it's either because of a faulty olfactory nerve, or a badly deviated nasal septum. I know for a fact that I have a deviated septum, and it is very bothersome, to the point where nosebleeds were once a regular occurrence, and breathing during a cold becomes a very difficult chore.

It wasn't until I was halfway through primary school that I began to notice that I had an impaired sense of smell. I used to pretend that I was like everyone else, copying them when they were groaning and pinching their noses when someone farted. It's such a small thing, but it is really alienating, because I'm not able to enjoy the same kind of experiences as them. You really feel like an outsider during those moments.

I've since learned that I can recognise a very few (strong) scents, including onion, sea water, and nail polish remover, though I have to be really close to the source. Anything softer or less potent, I have to practically shove them up my nose and breathe it in several times just to be able to catch a whiff. I love sniffing fresh vanilla beans, ginger, cinnamon, and pretty much every spice on the planet, but I can't distinguish saffron from star anise, or cinnamon from cumin when doing a blind test. It just smells warm, but that's all I get. Same thing applies to herbs, perfumes, candles, shampoos and everything else that possesses a scent. Sadly, even after working with chocolate for three horrible months, I still cannot recognise the smell of cocoa.

Just so you know, if you're a smoker and I'm visiting you for the first time ever, please don't worry about using air fresheners, I'm not going to notice it. And if your cat has taken a whiz on your carpet, I'm also not going to notice that either.

The pros of having little to no sense of smell:
1. I can clean the cat litter easily, because the smell doesn't affect me as much. Unless I've forgotten to do them for a few days and accidentally closed the door to the laundry behind me, that is.
2. As a vegetarian, not being able to smell burning flesh is a blessing in disguise.
3. I can tolerate even the strongest of blue cheeses, whereas others are turned right off it as a whole. More for me!
4. I don't need to spend money on perfumes, candles or anything scented.
5. I don't get cravings just by smelling something, which makes it really easy to stick to a diet.
6. Garlic and morning breaths are foreign concepts for me. It's a shame it doesn't work the other way around when I want to eat garlic popcorn and plant a wet one afterwards.

The cons of having a bad sense of smell:
1. I have to pay particular attention to my body hygiene to make sure I don't stink up a storm. This means regular showers, deodorant on most days, neutral/gentle scented shampoos, conditioners and body washes, and washing my clothes frequently to ensure they smell clean.
2. I need to depend on people nearest to me to detect whether food is off before I use them, and this includes milk, eggs, tofu and whatever else with a short shelf life. It's a seriously inconvenient practice.
3. I don't wear perfume. It doesn't make sense to wear them, let alone spend lots of money on them, if I can't enjoy the experience.
4. If there is a gas leak, I would be in deep shit, because I'll burn the house down while trying to light the stove.
5. I don't get to experience and enjoy scents everyone loves, like chocolate and coffee. I am always filled with longing and envy when I watch other sniff the air and sigh in happiness.
6. I have always wanted to be able to smell freshly mown grass, a new book, my shampoo, and hell, even my partner when I cuddle him.
7. I never get flowers for myself, and rarely ever do I receive them. I say I dislike them because they're a waste of money and they die easily, but there's also another reason - I don't think I'm worthy of them when I can't smell them.

I'm on the hunt for some perfume though, so I can put as much effort in smelling nice as I do in my appearance. It's a very hard, not to mention confusing, task for someone like me. I can't tell whether it's a nice scent, or a bad one. All I can sense is its potency. I can't recognise the top notes, the base notes and all that other mumbo jumbo, it all blends into each other. I have no idea what is is I'm smelling. That is why Sean accompanies me in the search, and he helps me by smelling the scents, and the ones he likes most, I spray some on my pulse points and have him check it throughout the day. Apparently he likes floral/fruity scents on me, because "it makes (me) smell as sweet as (me)". I hate having to drag him with me, and I feel like I'm taking up too much of his time. Looking for a perfume shouldn't be so hard, but it really is, and so many times I feel like throwing in the towel.

You guys have no idea how lucky you've got it when you complain about smelling cigarettes. Sure, it stinks, but would you rather not being able to smell even the bouquet of roses you got for Valentine's Day? It's technically a physical disability, as it is a physical condition that limits a sense.

Please don't take your senses for granted.


Both images were sourced from


  1. This was really sad to read and I'm so sorry that you've had to cope with that. I think it's definitely something that we take for granted and I couldn't imagine not having that.
    Pretty Mad Things .. x o

    1. Thank you, it is hard but I count myself lucky that it's not something worse, but it saddens me when people make offhanded comments like "Ugh, I wish I was like you and couldn't smell this crap" because you have no idea how much I would love to have that ability.

  2. I have a pretty shocking sense of smell, I don't think it's as apparent as yours as in it doesn't really bother me much but it's something I'm aware of. I can smell perfumes as such but only if I basically squirt them up my nose haha! I think mines a bit more selective than yours in that some smells are fine for me and other ones I cannot smell at all. None the less, I'm sorry that this is something you have to deal with.

    Sally ~ DiagonSally

    1. Lucky you're able to smell things better than I can. Have you ever gone to find out why it's like that?

  3. Ah I can't imagine how hard it must be not to be able to smell everything xx

    Gemma |

    1. It's very hard! Sure I've adapted, but there's lots of things I've got to deal with as well.

  4. This is such an interesting post, I'd never thought about what it'd be like to not have a sense of smell. You have definitely opened my eyes!

    Kirstie | Behind The Scent

    1. Yeah, not a lot of people actually stop and think about how much they should appreciate their sense of smell. Same goes for their eyesights and hearing.