To some degree, severe MCS/ES (like pain) is subjective. In other ways it’s a moving target, as we can be fine (or almost fine) one minute, and be completely incapacitated the next hour (day, week, or month) from an exposure, or combination of exposures. One day, a perfume exposure during lunch with friends might “just” give someone a throbbing headache for the rest of the day, but the next day, because there was also a cloud of diesel smoke, a fragrance contaminated piece of mail, someone installed wi-fi in the apartment next door, and someone else’s dryer vent was pumping out chemicals when we walked by with the dog, the same 3 breaths of perfume at the pet store we were trying to buy dog food from, could send us to bed for a week, or longer.
To make matters more difficult for others to accurately assess (and assumptions and clueless opinions are rampant where invisible disabilities are concerned), the recovery period, when most incapacity takes place, occurs when no-one is around to witness the effects, as many symptoms are delayed reactions. This means that people with severe MCS/ES are usually only seen during better moments, not when we’re at our worst.
Something else I often see is that people’s ability to tolerate change and adversity varies greatly. Some people fall apart when faced with the slightest challenge, while others can endure unbelievably difficult circumstances and suffering without ever complaining.
One person’s severe is another person’s “just another day”. And, as I found out, when we think things are as bad as they can possibly be, they can get 1000 times worse (especially where brain function is concerned). This can really confuse people, ourselves included…
That said, there are tools that have been designed to help medical professionals assess all kinds of health and disabilities. And accurate assessment is especially important when applying for disability benefits.
What follows are a few tools that can help us understand. This information is not meant for acquiring disability benefits. I’m providing it for educational purposes only.