Once I understood endocrine disruptors, everything about Chemical Sensitivity started to make sense. Since I was a teenager I lived with terrible migraines that have interfered with my quality of living. My dad had severe Chemical Sensitivity for sixteen years before passing away in his early fifties. If you saw either of us in person, you wouldn’t have any idea that either of us had a disability. In a general sense disadvantages that cannot be seen seem to not exist, and this needs to stop.
Why No One Has Sympathy for Invisible Illnesses
We are hardwired as a species to ignore things that we cannot directly sense. The idea that someone else can experience excruciating pain whenever exposed to something as innocent as lotion seems like an abstract concept. Pain is not something we can communicate well since all pain is different. Therefore, by default, we cannot fathom the pain others experience if we cannot directly experience it ourselves. This has caused me a lot of harassment and resentment over the years.
Chemical Sensitivity is still being studied within the medical community for the range of symptoms associated with exposure to a wide variety of chemical compounds. Whenever I hear someone asking me about chemical sensitivity, there is usually criticism associated with the vagueness of the disorder because “everything is a chemical.” How convenient is it to have an illness that no one can perceive but yourself? Believe me, I know how vague it is, but the truth is that not a lot of people understand what is going on with Chemical Sensitivity because there are just way too many variables and the extent of the disorder is beyond anyone’s comprehension or sympathy.
Though it doesn’t have to be this way. Chemical Sensitivity as I have experienced it is a strong reaction to endocrine disruptors found in most petroleum based products. Now that is clearly more concrete, but outside most people’s comprehension. It took me YEARS of studying environmental toxicology to even comprehend how these certain chemicals are affecting me in my every-day life.
Endocrine Disruptors Mess up EVERYTHING
Forgive me for simplifying this: Basically, endocrine disruptors literally mean “things that mess with your hormones.” Hormones are the chemicals in our bodies that run everything. Without them, we are simply a collection of stagnant cells that wouldn’t survive very long. Hormones are the things that tell your heart to beat at a certain speed, or your blood to race fast or go slow. They release feel-good chemicals in the brain when something good happens to you, and cause you to feel negative emotions as a way to teach you to avoid bad things in the future. Hormones tell you when to eat, when to sleep, when and with whom to reproduce, how to feel more or less stressed agitated or literally any other kind of feeling.
Science is only starting to go in depth with the study of hormones, but research has been around for at least the past 50 years documenting why and how we do things based on these chemicals in the body.
Petroleum Products are Everywhere
When I say petroleum based products, I’m talking about oil… you know that black stuff from the ground. We fight wars over this substance for a reason. Oil runs along almost every single aspect of our modern lives. It’s in the food we eat as preservatives. It is in the cars we drive, the plastics we use throughout the day, the products we put on our skin, the medical equipment we use to stay alive, the roads we use to travel, and the energy we use to power our houses. It’s in every. Single. Facet. of our material lives for at least a century, and only within the past couple decades have we been able to take a step back and look at how these man-made chemicals are impacting our health.
At least one-third of Americans experience symptoms of chemical sensitivity related to the exposure of these petrochemicals. They come in the form of headaches, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, obesity, infertility, mental problems, and a host of other symptoms that we still aren’t even sure about. Let me be clear: endocrine disruptors alone are not the sole instigators of every ailment we are experiencing. However, it would be foolish to believe that these products we are using every day are not in some way adding to our declining health. There still needs to be more research on what and how we are reacting to certain products. I know it is super hard to separate out every individual trigger and reaction. Some day though.
How I Managed to Fix my Chemical Sensitivity
As for me, I had a breakthrough last fall. My migraines were more intense during certain periods of the month more so than others. Through pure coincidence, I was finally able to balance my estrogen levels, and the headaches went away entirely. I still get them every now and then, but nowhere near as bad as before. Looking back I want to laugh at how simple it seemed.
Estrogen is a hormone. I was being exposed to endocrine disruptors which. These happened to be these powerful chemicals that were making my dad sick as well. In the past, I believed the two weren’t linked. Now I am super glad to know that I found a way to manage my headaches. I know not everyone is lucky enough to find a breakthrough as simple as mine. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give up on the search to find out what chemicals are causing what reactions.
And for the love of god, please stop saying “Well everything is a chemical.”