Name That Smell

**I wasn’t going to publish the following post. It’s actually a partial re-post from my early days of blogging. The insecurity I live with makes me believe that my posts are, in some way, asking for pity or encouragement, which is not my intent. I mostly write to work through thoughts….and maybe help someone recognize that because some of us suffer from depression, it doesn’t make us non-human. We aren’t going to go on a rampage. Some of us suffer in silence–we are the person sitting at the desk next to you, the person in line with you, your hairstylist, the person living in the dorm room next to yours, your postal worker, your friend……
Sometimes, it seems like the universe is trying to tell us something. Or maybe coincidences are just that. Since yesterday, every turn I made (or article I read) there is a sad story about depression. I have been to the point of surrender–or escape–anything to not have to experience the way I was feeling. I decided to fight, instead of surrendering. I want others to know, if you can recognize your depression, please seek help. Knowing that you are depressed is an indicator that you are aware of your feelings, and maybe—somewhere deep inside you—there is a fighter—a warrior. While I have setbacks, I keep getting up to continue the battle.
Again, I am at this point in recovery because I sought help. I have been very compliant with my doctor’s wishes. I haven’t taken my recovery into my own hands as I have done in the past.
Please don’t take my advice as that of a professional, in no way am I trying to represent that. However, please know that you are worthy of the fight.
While this post centers mainly on the anxiety I deal with, anxiety will eventually turn to depression if I allow it.
I get knocked down, but I get up again.

You know the smells that take you back to a particular point in your life? Or remind you of a particular person? Burt’s Bees Beeswax & Banana Hand Creme, triggers thoughts of my dad.


I usually put this on my hands right before I go to bed. I love holdingΒ my hands up to my nose and taking a deep breath. It’s kind of a way to say goodnight to him.

Yesterday, I was reminded of another smell that transports me to another place, and it’s one I don’t like. The smell of hospitals or medical labs.

I thought I was Ms. Tough-Woman-Strong-Pants, visiting the lab yesterday, thinking—no big deal—I believed I was strong.

The lab is in my oncologist’s office, and is one of those places with a waiting room behind the door of the main waiting room. The main room is filled with bald cancer patients, some carrying portable oxygen tanks, waiting for their torture appointments. I’m made to wait in this room until I want to cry and make a mad dash for the door. Why are so many suffering? Could this be my future?

Just as I was prepared to flee, my name was called. I was hoping the process would be quick and I could get out of there, only to find myself sitting in another waiting room, further into the bowels of the office. A place consumed with the smell of antiseptic and fear.

One of my personal coping techniques to temper anxiety, is deep breathing. Obviously, a hospital or lab is not a place this technique works well for me.

Frankly, my anxiety took me by surprise, I was only having blood drawn. Needles don’t bother me, it’s the smell—the smell I link to panic. I know the source, and thought I had conquered that fear a long time ago. I had to buck up when I became pregnant, and obviously I survived the blood draws every time I turned around, the poking, prodding, and nights in the hospital. My world didn’t end, and nothing bad happened. In fact, just the opposite–we were blessed with three unique little humans.

Apparently, I link the smell to a new fear—cancer. A fear I thought I had control over.

While in the second waiting room, I could feel the sting of tears while drawing in a deep breath.

Tears of defeat.

The process of one step forward, two steps back.

I found myself staring at a painting of a flower. I examined the placement of light on the petals, as if it were shining in the morning sun. I thought about photographing a flower like that, and how I could reflect the light to create such a beautiful photo.

My name was called again, and my mind became occupied with the number on that dreadful scale, repeating my name and birth date–reminding me of my age, my blood pressure results, answering the cancer type questions, and getting poked—which I didn’t feel by the way—bonus!

I went home. My world didn’t end, nothing bad happened.

I’m trying to be proud of the fact that I didn’t spend the last two months stressing about this time of year. I’m amazed that my mind found an alternate source to keep myself semi-calm. Scans are a regular part of my life now. Learning to deal with anxiety is a stinkin’ pain in the rear. I don’t want anxiety to be a regular part of my life anymore.

I won’t be revealing the place that the smell of Β tequila takes me, but I’m thankful that I have more good smells sending me to wonderful places, than I do bad smells.Β 


About April

I'll come back to this when I find out who I really am. I've been through some extremely rough patches but they have made me a better person. I blog if my brain is functioning first thing in the morning.
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17 Responses to Name That Smell

  1. aviets says:

    Excellent post, April. I love your introduction with you thoughts on depression, and your desription of your testing in the hospital is so vivid I felt like I was there. Which, actually, I would hate to be because I, too, despise hospitals. Really not looking forward to spending most of the day in one next week when our daughter has gall bladder surgery. -Amy

    • April says:

      I used to be unable to enter hospitals without a full blown panic. Anyway, our minds are interesting places. It’s amazing what we can teach them. I’m sending you the same little prayer I said before my surgery—May your daughter have a speedy recovery, may her doctor receive plenty of sleep the night before–may he have a steady hand–and be in a good mood. πŸ™‚

  2. I can’t help it, I am drawn to your humor through out. And I’ve always heard that smell is the biggest trigger for memory. I tend to believe it.

    • April says:

      There are times when humor escapes me, but many times where it has saved me. I have a problem with memory, I read an article about how we remember some things vividly while others not so much. Usually, the memories that stick with us are attached with some type of emotion. I have been trying to create drama every time I have to remember an important something. Doesn’t work. Even though I complain about technology, I’m so thankful for my little brain, covered with a bit of plastic.

      • I believe that about memory and emotion. Which makes me wonder what emotion is attached to some seemingly insignificant memory???? Though it’s right there…. what does that mean?

        • April says:

          Okay, you’re asking too much of my philosophical side. πŸ™‚ I would like to know the answer to that one because I have memories which seem to be totally useless as an adult, but the emotion attached to them is why I’m so insecure. I need to grow up!

  3. Gallivanta says:

    Thankfully there are lots of good smells for you! But I like your very pertinent point that deep breathing in certain places isn’t what one wants to do because the smells, or the environmental air, are not the best for you.

  4. reocochran says:

    This was simply beautiful. You went from how Burt’s bees products remind you of your Dad, then to the very scary place, the clinic, reminding you of cancer and loss, I appreciated how you did this post. I almost pass out when anyone draws my blood. I have to bend down and breathe deeply while they firmly hold my arm in place! I had to, for years, take my youngest daughter from age 13 until 21 to Children’s Hospital for her JRA (juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.) I wanted to keep her company and she was still on my insurance plan. She was so brave. I entered her in a contest about heroes, that she was my hero. I said that while other teens are trying to get out of work and chill, my daughter doesn’t try to back down, ran during soccer games and later placed 10th in the OCC cross country races in her senior year. (We won and got featured in the Cols. Dispatch) She is still a ‘trooper’ but has decided to quit her 15 years of meds. It has been quite stressful and actually deteriorated some of her organs. I guess what I am saying is I relate about health concerns and fears. I am not depressed but have known several people, including my friend for 40 years who let depression become her ‘disability.’ She cannot work. I feel bad for you but very proud that you are trying to deal with your anxieties! Smiles, Robin

    • April says:

      Your daughter sounds like a very strong person. She is a great example of perseverance. I envy the people who don’t suffer from depression. I feel about even right now, and that’s a great thing. Although I know that there may be other triggers, I won’t let it beat me!

      As for your needle-phobia….when our daughter had to have vaccines, it would take me, and two nurses to hold her down, and a third to give the shot. Guess what she is going to school for? Nursing. She wants to be a Hospice nurse. I’m proud of her, but she could have given me a little break when she was younger. πŸ™‚

      • reocochran says:

        This response (about your daughter who hated vaccines) gave me a chuckle! Thanks for this, April! I think her choosing to be a Hospice nurse is a wonderful gift to those who are facing death. You have done a great job, when you discover the way your children give to others. You are an incredible woman and it is okay to be sad or depressed. You are handling it, through many ways, I am sure. I am glad we are connected… Thank you for the compliment about my daughter, too! Smiles, Robin

  5. reocochran says:

    I just nominated you for an award called The Shauny Award. It is interesting because I feel that you and he have some common feelings. I also think his life is courageous, taking it one day at a time. I hope you will read the post, 3/15/14, and possibly accept the award. You deserve it, April! Thanks for reading my posts and recent kind comments. Sincerely, Robin

  6. suzjones says:

    You know April, I had a conversation with a friend the other day who had read my blog for the first time. She said to me “As I read, I just wanted to hug you”. I was concerned about this because I don’t write for sympathy. I am like you, I write to get my thoughts out on the page.
    I understand you totally πŸ™‚

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