Dear Mr. Melissa Blake:
I’m sitting here in my psychiatrist’s office, and one thought keeps going through my head: “Wow, that smell is so familiar.”
Don’t worry, Sweetpea, nothing is wrong; I’m just here for a check-up. But for some reason, I keep having flashbacks of the PTSD kind as I’m sitting here. That fresh, new-office smell wafting through the place, the smell and sight of a fresh coat of cream-colored paint on the walls, the stacks of files lining the corner wall, the soft hum of music in the background, dim lighting. It all took me back today to the first time I stepped into this office in the spring when I was in the throes of that evil depression. And honestly, I can’t quite figure it out. After all, I’ve been here since then, and it never bothered me. Well, I’m not saying it actually bothers me today — maybe that’s too strong of a word. I’m noticing it more today. It’s making me remember all those emotions I was feeling at the time.
And then a few days ago, while out to lunch, I took one look at my mom and said, “Oh wow, hospital smell.” She looked at me and knew exactly what I was talking about.
It was all too clear: The undeniable power of sense memory.
It seems our senses are always working overtime. Sights. Sounds. They all get stored in our subconscious as little pockets of time, ready to come out later and remind us of the past. And sometimes, like in my case, they reappear at the oddest of times, when we least expect it. Have you ever felt this way, Sweetpea?
But maybe it’s good to have those types of sense memory wake-up calls every now and then. It helps us hold on just a little bit of the person we were while we look in that metaphorical mirror and see the reflection of the person we are today. And this may sound weird, but it sort of makes me feel as if I can connect with that person I was last year and at least try to reassure her that things are going to be OK. I look forward to making lots of sense memories with you, Sweetpea. Until we meet… xoxo
[Photos via Le Love]
Smells always bring me back in time. I stumbled on an old box of cosmetics that I had packed away and smelled one of the perfumes in it to see if it was still good. Instantly, I was brought back to my senior year in college, and warm spring days and the river. Amazing how that works.
Hi Melissa… I really felt the letter… Damn it's like my first time with my psychiatrist as 3 and half years ago… It's to weird to go now and feel like that first day is so clear in your mind whta you used to feel, and in contrast what you feel now… I'm just a 17 year old girl but I must confess I used to feel that horrible sense of loose your mind to feel that you don't want to be alive- It's scary ah?- It was more like: Hey there I should Grow up 'cause all in me it's wrong- Anyway I just want to say I really cry with the letter it's a sort of description of mine time ago… I'll follow you on twitter follow me please @krol1008
Mia Rivel says
I am your newest subscriber, I absolutley love your blog.
Happy New year =)
The same thing happens to me with music…certain songs will always evoke very specific memories. I will try and think of this post next time it happens and be reflective about who I am today instead of just nostalgic!
Melissa Blake says
Hi Rivel — so nice to meet you!!
Melissa Blake says
Gabrielle! Yes! The same thing happens to me, especially with songs from my childhood. They remind me of being in the hospital.
So, so true. For Christmas my mother gave me a bottle of my favorite perfume I ran out of quite a while ago and never got around to replacing (life got hectic). When I unwrapped it I honestly felt like it was a sign that I could get back to the person I was before everything got crazy. I felt like I rediscovered my old self a bit.
This is such a good idea! I'm so glad to have found your blog! THanks for coming by mine.
wow, i thought i was the only one! smells take me back so much. just that one familar smell can take you back to a different time and remind you how things have changed along with yourself. i'm too nostalgic for my own good so anything that reminds me of my childhood makes me miss those times! music and smells are the two biggest ones for me.
Melissa Blake says
April, I'm too nostalgic for my own good too, so you're definitely not alone!