choosing fresh air, compassion, disability, environmental illness, healthy life, healthy planet, Invisible Illness, MCS, multiple chemical sensitivities, TED Talk, voting with your purchases, why did no one help me?
If you’ve read yesterday’s post or have MCS (multiple chemical sensitivities) — you’ve got a good sense of how few people are willing to give up toxic chemicals whether in the form of their cleaning products, “fragrances”, pesticides…. Let me say upfront that when speaking in this post of other illnesses, I no way wish to imply that they are any less devastating than MCS. The question is why do they get so much well deserved attention and MCS so little.
Anyone with a chronic and disabling illness knows the support and love of other humans can make a significant difference to our ability to recover. Having a reaction from toxic chemicals can cause me to have mood swings, loss of memory, difficulty speaking, fuzzy headedness, etc. So at the time a comment is made I am often unable physically to formulate a coherent response. Oh what I wish I had said when people told me I didn’t look sick, was overreacting or that asking others to give up their scents would hurt THEIR feelings.
Not having anyone else to discuss my MCS with at the time, I was left to wonder:
This question nagged me for a long time. I watched the staff at work rallying around people with sick kids, broken bones, cancer, deceased parents but not me.
Until I started blogging about MCS — I thought that lack of compassion was due to some intrinsic fault in me. Then I read other bloggers reporting similar situations with different companies, in different states and countries. So if not me, then what is it about MCS that results in so many people sickened with it receiving less than their fair share of compassion and attention and assistance?
After watching a TED talk, I think I may have an answer why. Or at least part of an answer why. I think people are basically kind, compassionate, loving beings so where were they when I needed them? Watch the TED talk and then we’ll see if you can guess what I think happened.
I have an invisible illness. Invisible things are easy to ignore.
The more people failed to help me, the more I tried to tough it out myself. Advertising bombards us with the same message repeatedly for a reason — it works at getting our attention. I mostly suffered in silence. Silence doesn’t tend to encourage more noise — it encourages more silence.
MCS is not a popularized disease. When was the last time you heard a celebrity speak about MCS. Where’s our colored ribbon to remind everyone to stop using toxic chemicals. Have you heard of anyone running a race for MCS?
There’s no big money to be made off of MCS. There is at present, to my knowledge, no drug that can be sold to cure us. No medical treatment that will get us back to work. No major non-profits putting lots of people to work. We need clean air, water, food. and homes free of toxic chemicals. What we need is essentially free. No profit to be made there. Where are the people rushing forward for that?
Shame or guilt. Most illnesses it is easy to stay blameless. But what happens when a person has told you for years that your “fragrance” is making them ill and you wear it anyway and then that person becomes disabled. Shame tends to make one avoid the “situation” and that “situation” was me.
Like the man lying on the floor in the TED talk — there are millions of us with MCS “lying on the floor” unseen. I personally am tired of being invisible. So what can you do to help? Lots and with little time — money — or effort. START THE RIPPLE.
Example: Avoiding a store because it sprays a signature scent that is saturated into their clothes is good. Getting all your friends to do the same, now we have action. Writing a letter to the head of the company notifying them the reason you are taking your money and their profits else where — things are going to change now. If one major store announces they will no longer spray signature scents due to concern for their employees health or that of their customers — what do you think the other stores will do?
Example: Write a letter or speak at school board meeting or the Parent Teacher’s Organization and asking them to provide your child with clean air. This will be an interesting conversation if they say they cannot. Request Material Data Safety Sheets There is supposed to be a a sheet for basically any chemical/product brought into a school building especially any known to contain toxic or hazardous chemicals (at least in my area). And yet to my knowledge, this is not done for perfume/cologne, deodorants, fabric softener, candles sold for fundraisers …. If the district cannot supply this information or it is found to be toxic, request the product(s) be banned from the school.
If you’ve read this post, MCS is no longer invisible to you. What ripple will you start today? Buy an organic apple? Go “fragrance” free? Write a letter/email? Tweet a celebrity asking them to start endorsing fresh air rather than toxic products?
Please feel free to brag about any and all things you have done to make our planet healthy again?