Just Like Seasonal Allergies

This person I know, who shall remain nameless, said something rather shocking to me the other day. So shocking that I think my jaw hung open in a most unflattering way.

Before I get to what this person said, let me say that this is not a friend, but an acquaintance. A person with whom I have discussed my chemical sensitivity problems over the last several years. We have talked, make that I have talked, about my physical reactions when I go to Target, the grocery store, his office, a friend’s house. How the last movie I saw in the theater was Gone With the Wind… just kidding! I’ve talked about my very difficult situation of employment. I cannot work in a conventional office as I used to. And working from home is challenging to say the least.

I have described my physical reactions of headache, dizziness, fatigue, exhaustion when I am exposed to these common places. And how sometimes, I don’t “smell” a thing and still may get a migraine.

That should all be pretty darn clear, right? So, we’re talking the other day about my Web Design work that I do from home and how slowwww it is right now.

Okay, here it is. He says, “I was talking to to this woman who has allergies and works in an office. And I asked her what she thought about someone not being able to work (in an office environment) because of allergies, and she said she can do it. She just takes some medicine when she gets home.”

(Insert blank stare and the sound of crickets here)

Really? She has seasonal hay fever and sniffles and you are implying that there is some similarity in our conditions? She pops some Benadryl and everything is fine, so why don’t I try that? During certain months of the year she sneezes and splatters her computer screen. While all year long I get tachycardia and migraines followed by two days of complete exhaustion if I go buy sneakers at JCPenney.

broken-legThat’s like a person with a pulled muscle berating the person with the broken leg for not finishing the race.

No matter what, some people don’t get it!

I’m OK, You’re OK… Or Not

When it comes to the people around me, who really try to accommodate my chemical sensitivity condition, I realize I sabotage their good intentions sometimes by trying to accommodate their accommodating gestures.

Wait, don’t get confused yet, there’s more. Maybe you you should lie down on the couch.

Am I running through Dr. Thomas Harris’ levels of Transactional Analysis? I’m guilty of that with different people in my life. Who doesn’t become the “Parent” or “Child” when interacting with siblings. Right? It’s not just me, is it?

The “I’m OK, You’re OK” I’m talking about is my own personality trait of being… well, I’ll just say it, A People Pleaser. Why am I like this? We won’t go there, but I have my suspicions. Still, after nine years of dealing with and still learning about my own chemical sensitivity, I still struggle with being completely forthright in declaring my needs to others.

When I am around a friend or relative, I can see (they tell me) that they have made every precaution in anticipation of our gathering. They did not spritz the perfume, they did not slap the face with aftershave, or, and this doesn’t usually occur to people, they did not re-wear the shirt they wore the other day when they did wear cologne. I am so grateful to them and I don’t like the attention. I also do not want to make them feel bad if there is still some chemical element that any “normal” (which I’m not) person would consider.

So I try to “be okay” since they went to so much effort. Does this work? You know the answer is NO! And if you know about MCS, then you know that as I sit there conversing, my head is beginning to pulse, I start getting brain fog and eventually get agitated. Then I run the risk of saying something in a tone that I never intended.

So, I’m not OK! Let me just say that. And unfortunately, the people around me are not so OK either. I have never liked to complain because of the subsequent sympathy. I feel as though that is all I get and yeah, I just said that as if it is a bad thing. Therefore, I must make a paradigm shift in my view of how others view me. And I must develop the ability to tell people what I need.

Why is that so hard? Well, when someone comes into my house with a cloud of car-freshener stench around them, how can I possibly ask them to get a new car?

I’m going to work on it though.