Shelley's story

Shelley shares the true impact parosmia has had on her life

Shelley's story

Shelley, who lives in the US, developed parosmia after a Covid infection. It has stopped her from socialising with friends and even eating with her family on many occasions.

Parosmia has made my social life non-existent

When I first developed parosmia in particular, I was terrified to go any place where there was food cooking, even walking into a gas station or convenience store was nauseating. I love cooking and that was a definite NO.

Even now, I sometimes just stay in our bedroom when my family is eating just so they do not have to see the awful look on my face that arises from the rancid smell. My social life is completely non-existent; I just do not have the desire to put myself through smells, and the feeling that everyone is watching you, waiting for a reaction to things. 

I have isolated myself for weeks at a time as well. I had to step away from my 22-year career as a stylist/salon owner because I could not even walk into our salon without gagging. At that time early last year when I developed parosmia after a Covid infection, no-one had even heard of it in my circles, so I just let my business partner and stylists know that I was going to try something different.

How parosmia impacts on wellbeing

This isn’t just an inconvenience; it is debilitating at times. And no-one is exaggerating these symptoms; people are becoming extremely depressed. I have even read some want to end everything because they feel like they are losing their minds along with two other senses. 

My advice for supporting people with smell loss

If your family member, friend or loved one is going through this, be patient and understanding when they may miss a holiday or not meet for dinner/drinks, whatever the function may be. We are still learning to deal with this ourselves, so explaining it or experimenting with eating and trying things with others is very scary for now.

AbScent membership has been a great sounding board

Just knowing I am not crazy is a huge help! Getting to vent to people who 100% relate is a relief at times. The sharing of other stories who are struggling with mental health the way I fear I am, is helpful to hear as well. It makes me want to try so hard to not fall all the way down that rabbit hole of depression. 

Recently developed a smell disorder?

Just give yourself a break, read about it, join the AbScent Parosmia Facebook Group or the AbScent Network and navigate as much as you can on AbScent's website. Do not put yourself in bad situations to please others. Give yourself some time to figure out your safe foods and then experiment from there.