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Depression and Aromatherapy: Huffing Jasmine

I had a really nice watch. Very expensive. A Cartier. It was given to me by my employer when I had been with the company for 20 years. It was a wonderful perk. The company sends you to this fancy-pants jewelry store on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach and you get to pick out a watch.

They gave out the watches to all the 20-year employees at an annual dinner. I was in the darkest throws of a depression, skin and bones, unable to work and on disability. But I would be damned if I was going to miss that dinner.

So, I shined myself up as best as I could and went to the dinner with my daughter. I said nothing, ate nothing, got the watch and left. I gave the watch to my daughter. She deserved it as much as I did, considering how much time I spent at the office while she was growing up.

I have “issues” with time and a watch only reminds me of where I was or where I need to be. When I am depressed I am not in the present. I am not singularly “here” and “now.” I am in the past – reliving something awful that has happened or I am in the future – “things will never get better, it will always be like this.” A watch encouraged my thoughts to ping-pong back and forth between the past and future.

When I was in my last depression, there was only one thing that could pull me back to here and now: Jasmine. During those long, sleepless nights I walked the neighborhood with my dog. It was springtime and the Confederate jasmine was in full bloom here in south Florida.

Confederate jasmine has an exotically sweet fragrance. It is a potent scent that sneaks up on you a block away: “Wow, what is that?” As you get closer it gets stronger and sweeter. It is a vine and it is intoxicating. Your sense of smell is overwhelmed and you are fully present.

So there I was, in the middle of the night, in search of jasmine. When I found it, I shoved my nose into a cluster of the white flowers and breathed long and deep. And for a fraction of a second, I felt good. But the feeling left as soon as it came upon me and I would find another bloom, stick my nose in it and breathe long and deep again as my dog tugged on the leash.

I did this over and over. I knew which houses had jasmine wrapped around their mailboxes or fences. I stood there, 2, 3, 4 o’clock in the morning, huffing jasmine. It was like a narcotic. When my depression finally lifted, I planted jasmine outside my bedroom. Every spring the sweet scent fills my bedroom at night. I instantly flash back to that depression and then back to my bedroom, the crisp white sheets, my dog sleeping beside me and think of now. How wonderful my life is…now.

Depression and Aromatherapy: Huffing Jasmine

Christine Stapleton

Christine Stapleton has been a journalist for 35 years. She is now an investigative reporter for The Palm Beach Post. In 2006, began writing a blog for PsychCentral called Depression on My Mind. Her latest blog, Addiction Matters, draws on her 19 years of sobriety and her coverage of the drug treatment industry in South Florida.

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APA Reference
Stapleton, C. (2010). Depression and Aromatherapy: Huffing Jasmine. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 19, 2019, from


Last updated: 15 Nov 2010
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 15 Nov 2010
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