MEET YAZMIN SALAZAR
NAME YAZMIN SALAZAR a.k.a. the "Girl Who Can't Smell"
PURPOSE Congenital Anosmia
LOCATION Phoenix, Arizona
CONDITION Congenital Anosmia
THE DIAGNOSIS JUNE 1993 (About 26 years ago) - I've never been able to detect smells. Growing up, I couldn't understand why everyone else reacted to food, flowers and trash. When I was eight, I remember I had won a “scratch n sniff” sticker pack at school and I kept scratching each sticker thinking they didn't work. When my friends all came over and started sniffing them (and saying how good they smelled), it was then when I figured out something was wrong with my nose and I couldn't smell.
I told my mother I couldn't smell when I was 11 years old. Naturally, she was confused and took me to see our family doctor. At my appointment, the doctor seemed surprised yet indifferent about my worry. I don’t even recall him mentioning the appropriate medical term (which I later found out is called anosmia). He checked my nose, shrugged, and said everything looked fine. He recommended additional testing but didn’t think my lack of sense of smell would affect me at all.
What he didn’t realize was that my anosmia WOULD affect me. A lot. I had been living mostly unaware of many dangers such as gas leaks, potential fires, harmful chemicals and spoiled food. Since I couldn’t smell any of my own bad odors either, I experienced many embarrassing situations. My self-esteem and social development were impacted. Growing up, I felt misunderstood, left out, and disconnected. I felt very different and couldn’t relate to others. Throughout puberty, I was always paranoid about smelling bad and developed social anxiety. I felt isolated and didn’t make a lot of friends.
INSPIRATION - I'm inspired to help all of the young people out there who may also one day figure out they have anosmia and can't smell. I am raising awareness for them. I want them to know it's okay to be different and that there are people out there who have also gone through the same struggles as them.
CURRENT HEALTH - My mental and emotional health are in a good place now.
My social anxiety. I’ve learned to be more outgoing and unafraid of judgement. As a young girl, I always wanted to fit in, but it was difficult for me. I've turned to humor and it's squashed many of my insecurities. I've become more social and love relating to other anosmics. I've learned to express myself by writing about my experience living with anosmia on my blog.
FEARLESS WORDS OF WISDOM
Learning to love yourself is one of the best things you can do. Never be embarrassed to be yourself. Also, reaching out to others for help can be empowering. At first, it was very difficult for me to ask other people for their help in discretely smelling my breath or warning me of any bad body odors, but in the end, made a huge difference for my confidence and quality of life.