My clothing issues

This is my entire collection of safe clothing: about a dozen pieces. I have nothing else I can wear.

By Linda Sepp.

Many of you have over-stuffed walk-in closets full of clothing. Every day you choose from a wide assortment of seasonally appropriate clothes to wear to work or out to play.

I can put everything I can wear into a regular sized (plastic) grocery bag. Look above to see a photo of what I’m wearing these days.

I live in Toronto, Canada, and depend upon Ontario Disability Support Program for all my income (ODSP is provincial welfare for the disabled) because I have severe Multiple Chemical Sensitivities/Environmental Sensitivities (MCS/ES).

In addition to these fine clothes, I have another pair of underwear, a tank top, and a t-shirt which was being washed when I took this photo.

This is my entire collection of safe clothing. I have nothing else I can wear.

Some of these pieces are so shredded they will not withstand another wash (the purple tank top, the blue shirt, but the grey leggings might have one more wash in them, the socks are developing holes which get larger when washed, not sure how long they will last–it’s is my one safe pair).

I wear all these items at the same time to be warm enough, taking off the robe, black summer capri pants with worn out elastic waist, and blue shirt only when I go to bed.

The other clothes (and the t-shirt not pictured) I wear 24/7 (except for the 12 or so hours I must wait for them to dry after a rare washing).

Even with all these on, I am frequently cold because this house is very drafty, and the floors get very cold. I do not have any safe slippers. I cannot move around much, and don’t generate much body heat. Turning the heat up doesn’t work, the system is old, and my gas bill would skyrocket. The heat alone costs more than what I receive for ALL shelter costs. Rent and hydro are additional expenses. Rent is not being paid.

I have to wash things with safe water. For now that is glass bottled spring water which is usually $12 a bottle. I have recently been given a price of $9.95 a bottle. This means it costs me about $10-$15 to wash the tshirt, or undies and tank. More for the pants or leggings as they are bigger and need more water. The robe does not get washed. Most of these things are no longer getting washed. I am too cold if I am not wearing them all. And I don’t have the strength to battle the heavy glass bottles.

ODSP has refused to fund the medically required whole house water filtration system I have required since February 2009. I get sick every time I shower or wash dishes and require a day to recover. I can’t wash clothing with it because the chemicals from the tap water remain in the clothing and disable me as long as I wear them.

ODSP also won’t fund the medically required safe drinking water.

The collar of the robe is getting dirty and sweaty and is starting to burn my neck. That’s also why I washed the t-shirt tonight.

I’m not sure how well I’ll be able to wash just the collar, without spreading the dirt to the rest of the robe. I’m not very co-ordinated these days.

If I wear clothing that isn’t chemically safe for me, my skin will burn, and / or within minutes it will also start to feel like I am wearing a lead or cement suit that gets heavier with each passing moment, sucking me underwater. My body aches, and it becomes almost impossible to lift my legs.

If that is fibromyalgia or more like MS, I don’t know. I have been diagnosed with FM also, but often have MS symptoms, as do many others with MCS.

When I wear safe for me clothing, sit on safe for me chairs, and have safe air to breathe, my FM goes away!!! I do not ache and have trouble moving.

Tap water is not chemically safe for me. Regular extile chemicals are not safe for me and many cannot be removed during the natural life of a
garment. They range from pesticides during growing or after in shipping containers, to processing chemicals, dyes and finishes, to frangrances (air “fresheners”, incense, soaps, etc) used in the factories or warehouses or retail outlets.

Just like someone who is allergic to peanuts must avoid peanuts, so must I avoid synthetic and petroleum based chemicals in order to function. Otherwise I can be completely disabled.

Finding truly chemical free clothing is difficult, and VERY expensive. Many prescriptions drugs are also expensive, but health plans cover those. My chemical free needs are not covered by any health plan, yet are crucial for my survival. I cannot work, I can barely look after my most basic of needs. I am completely housebound, dependent on others to shop for my organic food and supplements (I cannot take prescription medicines because of the chemicals they contain)

Unless I receive safe clothing and safe water soon, (and a safe portable machine to wash the clothing in) I will deteriorate to the point of no return, and I must leave my home of almost 18 years in April, yet have no place safe to go to, nor clothing to get there in.

Linda Sepp

December 13, 2009

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4 responses to “My clothing issues

  1. Many people reading this will have a difficult time grasping how or why linda would get into a predicatment like this.
    Those who know me may be surprised that at one time I had two sets of organic clothes…the only clothes I was able to wear out of my closet.
    And they had been washed until they were rags.
    The water was toxic to me and I couldn’t wear clothes washed in the city water, no matter where I traveled. Bottled water in plastic made me sick too. When I carried filtered water in mason jars, many times they shattered at my feet (wearing docotr scholl wooden sandles….
    I got out of the toxic environment and am living a new normal.
    Linda is brave to tell her story and get help. Many people helped me…I am glad Linda is getting good help finally…but she needs it right now.

  2. Connie, it is so good to hear you were able to come out from where I am. It really sounds like the key to regaining the ability to wear some clothing (that might even be more affordable) is to be living in a safe environment with safe water, food and supplements to rebuild health and ability. Sounds like a plan!

  3. Linda,
    Is there a place where clothing can be sent?

    I noted that there is only one manufacturer that will work for you–

    I am just so sorry–

  4. Celia, thanks for offering. Right now I don’t have safe water to wash clothing with, and may not have a place to be soon, so don’t know what to say…

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