Tag Archives: hallucinations

Olfactory Hallucinations

For the past week or so, I’ve been smelling a smell and I can’t find the origin of the scent in my apartment.

It smells like perfume worn by an older woman, that kind of sickeningly floral smell with almost an herbal quality to it.

I have extremely sensitive sinuses, I generally can’t be around perfumes of any kind (soaps, detergents, deodorants, colognes, even actual flowers sometimes) without them triggering sinus pain and headaches. Naturally, when I began to be overpowered by the perfume smell in my apartment, I began taking steps to find the scent.

I sniffed blankets and pillows touched by my guests, I took out the garbage, I smelled the laundry my boyfriend just did (in case someone else’s dryer sheet had been left in the community machine), and I smelled all of my own clothes as well.

The verdict?

I can’t find it. I can’t find the smell coming from anywhere in the apartment… yet sitting on the couch it smells very much like I’m sitting next to a 70 year old woman, and the scent is overpowering.

At this point Corey is joking that I am psychic and perhaps these phantom smells are coming from the ghost of our apartment’s previous tenant.

I’ve reached the conclusion that the phenomenon is most likely (as I’m the only one that can smell it) phantosmia, or olfactory hallucinations. After all, we can experience hallucinations through the feeling of touch or through sight, is it really any different to experience them through smell?

This is not the first time this has happened to me. Usually I smell garbage though, a funky odor I can’t seem to find or get rid of even after I’ve taken out the trash. I don’t know at this point if the odor of perfume is really any better.

These sorts of hallucinations are probably most likely known for occurring with brain tumors, but they are also fairly common with schizophrenia and other mood disorders.

For the record, phantosmia refers to the hallucination of a smell in the absence of any other odors. There are other types of olfactory hallucinations called parosmia that is the misinterpretation of a smell into another smell. Pretty much the equivalent of when your dishwasher is running but your brain believes people are whispering in the other room (but with smells).

In any case, I hope this goes away soon. I’ve been under an intense amount of stress the last couple weeks, so I imagine that might have been what triggered it. It is just extremely inconvenient to be sitting on the couch dreaming about wearing a gas mask (HA! but I’d probably still smell it…) because, well, this stinks!

Don’t Step On A Crack…

So I’ve been somewhat m.i.a. after hurting my back late last week. I’ve only ever hurt my back once before (trying to pick up a five gallon glass carboy full of fermenting homebrew wine a year or two ago) and that time I immediately knew the error of my ways.

This time all I was doing was washing my hair and all hell broke loose. The funny thing was that I began having spasms on one side of my back, but they stopped after a few minutes. Then, hours later, they began again on the other side, twice as intense.

Thursday began a dance of two steps forward, one step back… lying in weird positions, surrounding myself with pillows, hot packs, cold packs, and eating a lot of cookies.

This might not have been such a big deal, but Corey was working on a film competition so he wasn’t home.

Out of all of this, the pain was pretty bad. Not being able to sleep was even worse, but what scared me the most was what effect this situation might have on my mood.

Up to the point of wrenching my back, I had been experiencing some pretty significant depression with massive negative thoughts and urges. By some miraculous twist of fate, the first two or three days my back was out of whack my mood was… well, fine. Even being alone didn’t seem like a big deal, which was unusual for me.

Then, Saturday night happened. I had barely slept in days, and beyond my pain and exhaustion crept an increasingly intense feeling of paranoia. By the time I was able to get into bed (a generally safe feeling place) I was met with audible hallucinations.

I admit, I was expecting some sort of rebound depression from the pain I was in the and from the sleep I wasn’t getting, but I wasn’t exactly expecting full-on psychosis.

My back is doing quite a bit better (though sitting in this chair typing is a bit uncomfortable) and my mood has switched back to an alternating I’m fine / now I’m desperate and crying on the bus pattern. Laughing one minute, crying the next.

This week I’m meeting with my psychiatrist, so I’ll keep  you posted on what happens (though I’m pretty certain of what course of action I want to take at this point).

Now You See It? Now You Don’t!

I experienced something odd earlier this week. I’ve been waiting it out to see if it happens again, but it hasn’t.

Hallucinations are not usually in my repertoire, or, well, I guess they are (based on my latest research about them) just in a different fashion.

I don’t see the things that most people with hallucinations do apparently, because even when I’ve seen faces in the sand or ugly carpet at the movie theatre, they aren’t usually demonic or anything. They aren’t frightening, just odd, and it feels very much like I’m living in a world created by Jim Henson. Door knockers may take on a persona, but they never seem to talk back, so it doesn’t seem to be much of an issue. I’ve attributed this largely to an overactive imagination that constantly wants to take shapes and turn them into other shapes, even though they are (apparently) technically some kind of hallucination.

That said there are very few instances in my life I’ve seen something that absolutely wasn’t there, and when I have I generally have the excuse of having a fever, or that they were caused accidentally by a medication I was taking, or whatever.

Monday was a little bit of a different story though.

I was walking to catch the bus with Corey, and I swear I saw him holding a plastic grocery bag. I thought it was odd (because I couldn’t think of why he’d be bringing a bag to the bus) but when I turned to ask him about it I was mid-sentence before suddenly realizing he had no bag at all. He never did.


So that is weird, I would say, but not life-threatening or, really, much more crazy than what I would normally admit to. Maybe the image I was seeing was one produced solely by my head, not by my eyes, maybe I was confused or some wires got crossed.

Anyway, I probably wouldn’t have thought too much more about it, but something similar happened again later.

One minute I saw him taking off his shirt, then I was distracted by something else and looked away. When my attention returned to him when he sat next to me, he was wearing a shirt.

“Why did you put your shirt back on?” I asked.

“What do you mean?” He replied.

“You took your shirt off,” I said, “why did you put it back on?”

The verdict?

“I didn’t take my shirt off.”


In both situations I could have sworn I saw what I did, and in my head when I replay the memory, it looks just as if I’ve described it.

So like I said, I spent the rest of the week waiting to see if anything else out of the ordinary occurred, but it didn’t.

I suppose if I’m going to be subject to any sort of hallucinations, very bland “oh he’s holding a bag… oh no wait, no bag” hallucinations are the safest, I’m sure. Everything else I’ve read about on the internet involves being visited by various shadows or bugs or people and it all sounds particularly threatening feeling.

But disappearing plastic bags and reappearing shirts are probably the least threatening things I can think of, so really I feel much better already.

What does concern me a little are the implications. Obviously if this is something that begins happening on a regular basis, there might be an immediate issue in need of resolution. As things are currently, I’ll just add it to the “weird shit that happens to me sometimes” list that I’ve been building to show to my next psychiatrist.