In the spirit of fall, my wife and I decided to have a candle-making date night. We ordered a candle-making kit which came with everything we needed, including a scented oil to add to the candle. The date started off so well, with lots of focus and laughing and random dance breaks. When it came time to add the fragrance, we realized we should have tested it beforehand. As the scented oil went in, the steam from the boiling water carried it into the air; immediately I had a headache and felt very angry. My wife was so confused, and my words were not working because anger had taken over. I had to sit outside for several hours, while she tried to get the smell out of the house. I would like to say this is the first time a fragrance has given me a headache or caused a grumpy mood, but it is not. It is more than just not liking a smell or thinking it smells bad, I have a sensitivity to smell. If this story resonates with you or reminds you of your child, the rest of this blog is important for you to read.
Our olfactory (smell) system is a powerful one. As many people know, it is common for fragrances, odors, and other smells to be associated with memories or specific people and places. Sometimes, those associations can be happy ones, like the smell of turkey reminding someone of family gatherings, and other times they might be hard, traumatic, or sad associations, the lingering cologne of a lost loved one. While a typical olfactory system can already cause distress or regulation, an over or under-responsive system can add another layer of distress, danger, or dysregulation within the brain and body.
With that in mind, we want to help you explore and support your olfactory sensory preferences and possible sensitivities!