I have congenital anosmia (no sense of smell), ama
In english: I have a little stub where my olfactory nerve is supposed to be. My nose has all the receptors, my brain has the capability of processing smells (and I get """phantom""" smells) but there's nothing connecting them, meaning I've never smelt anything and I probably won't, unless some miracle stem cell research comes out or something.
When I say phantom smells, I mean I occasionally get really weird feelings in my nose. I can't really describe them, its like a weird strong tingling. I can't identify them to anything, because I have no reference to what things smell like. It's not like it's different each time either, its like the feeling of pins and needles in your legs I guess, it doesn't really feel like a "thing". It happened more when I thought I was curable, like sometimes I'd be making a coffee and be like, huh is that a smell???, but basically it was always just my brain lying to me.
I can "detect" stuff though. Like, when I'm near the sea I can taste salt in the air, and I can feel "heavy" gasses, I'm not sure if thats the right word, but I can tell when I'm next to a fire or spraying brake cleaner or similar. I probably can't differentiate them if you somehow bottled them though. I don't get anything for gas so if I leave the stove on, lol im dead. The tip of my nose is kinda sensitive to stuff too, my friends were smelling stupidly hot hotsauce and they were getting effected by it while I was 100% immune, so I put some on my finger and put it up my nose as a joke and holy fuck please don't ever try that, it's much worse than eating it.
I can tell my sweat is salty too when I accidentally breathe some in while exercising hard.
I still have tastebuds, I can taste food on my tongue. I can differentiate a lot of things. Obviously my range is limited though, like honey soy wings from a korean place near me tastes kinda like peanut butter. I still have foods that I like and foods that I don't like. I think I'm a bit more judgemental about how a food looks than others. I don't mean presentation, how it actually looks. I refused to eat eggs for the longest time because of how raw eggs look, and the look of jelly and jelly like things is icky to me.
Something most people don't realise is how important smell is for socialising. I struggle to read a room sometimes, I have massive confidence problems, and I struggle a lot with intimacy. Not much research is done on anosmia because it's incredibly invisible to normal people, but one thing thats come out is that people with it (congenital and those who get it later from say, a headinjury or something) have less than half the number of sexual partners in their lifetime. We also suffer heavily from depression and other mental illness because we don't get the free endorphins from smelling something nice, or triggering a pleasant memory, or something like that. Eating is basically a nonevent for me, I usually fake excitement over food to fit in, and because people like it when you compliment their cooking.
Hygeine, I'm really anal about showering before I leave the house. Noones ever told me I smell bad, and I annoy my friends asking if I do, but sometimes that means I might shower 3+ times in a day if there's even the slightest hesitation about it. I'll change my clothes if I got a little bit sweaty, if I've been working with something that smells I'll be very hesitant to do anything till I'm clean if I have the option to be. I used to be a barista and I'd get coffee grinds on my clothes and I'd always worry about not going straight home afterwards because I didn't want to smell like coffee, even though its a good smell that people like. My house probably reeks though, idk, I keep it clean but I avoid having people over as much as possible. My need to know that I'm not smelly has lead to situations where I'll go on a weeklong camping trip with my friends in a campsite with no running water or showers and I'll be the only one to insist on using the camping shower the whole trip, no matter how cold it is.
Ive had a lot of people say to me things like, well atleast you aren't blind, and okay yeah I can drive and walk down a street, but it's pretty offensive to say dissmissive things like that. It's still a disability and its not a competition. It's easy for people to empathise with the blind and deaf because you can cover your eyes and walk into a wall, or block your ears and not be able to communicate with anyone. But you can't turn off your smell like that, and the effects aren't as obvious
Ask me anything, be as intrusive as you like, I don't mind talking about it.