Explaining mold in particular, but also MCS and Lyme can prove to be a very difficult thing. Especially if your brain isn’t functioning properly. How do you explain it kindly so that people understand? And how in the world do you not turn it into a ten minute ‘short’ version of your story? And most of all, how much do people really want to know, and how much is just polite asking that they really just want a one sentence answer for? I don’t think I can answer all those questions, as most a specific to each individual situation, but here are some things that have worked for me.
Lyme is a more well-known illness, so often that is an easier way to go. I’ll say, “I have a combination of toxic black mold poisoning and Lyme disease”. That usually goes pretty well for those who want a one sentence answer.
One of the most common reasons I am asked about my sickness is because of my mask, and for those situations saying that “I have something called Multiple Chemical
Sensitivity, so things like perfumes, car exhaust, and plastics make me sick” usually goes pretty well. That, or with the mask I just make a joke about Star Wars. “I’m trying out for this part” or “I’m Darth Vader’s daughter”. 🙂
The reason for these short answers isn’t because I don’t want to explain it to people, it is just because at the grocery store you can’t really stop and give the cashier a ten minute explanation. If someone seriously wants to know how and what and why you have this, and how to help, that is usually the signal that you can go a bit deeper, they do want to hear. The first follow-up question I usually get is whether or not it is a life-long condition, or f I was born with it. I usually explain then about our house having had toxic black mold that made us sick, and explain that since the mold poison made me so sick, my body can’t handle other toxins it usually would be able to- like chemicals. The next step of course, would be the whole story. 🙂
But what if they want to help? Or what if your grandma wants to get you a birthday present, but doesn’t know what to get, because she doesn’t know how to off-gas new things so that your chemical sensitivity doesn’t flare up? What if they want to hang out, but don’t realize that their air fresheners in their house make it so that you can’t? How to you help them understand that a lot of times when you walk into a building you have to walk right out, even without a visible thing for them to see that is causing it? The answer to those questions is here. The link will take you to an excellent, easy to read, short explanation that tactfully addresses each of these things, and others.