Plant of the Week: Chamomile, the Nostalgic

Shallow Focus Photography of Yellow and White Flowers during Daytime
Image courtesy of Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’m tired. You’re tired. We’re all tired and sad and miserable and exhausted and, if you’re not, you’re likely the type who would find themselves in the middle of a zombie apocalypse and think it was just a bad case of the flu. All I want to do is curl up in my bed and not wake up for weeks, but the insomnia keeps me awake in this never-ending Hellish nightmare we call existence. For that reason, I love chamomile. Chamomile is a wonderful pre-sleep tea, as well as a lovely flower resembling a daisy. It makes me so happy to know I finally, after months of searching, was able to get some chamomile seeds for cheap. Rest assured, I will be planting them come next Spring. I love this flower and what it means to me. I’ll warn you, this entire article is one big personal story as to why exactly I love chamomile flowers. I mostly talk about the product of the flowers, namely the tea, but chamomile tea is literally impossible to make without the flowers. It’s just flowers and water, and water isn’t a plant, so it can’t be a plant of the week! Anyway, here’s why I love chamomile.

Me and chamomile go way back. In my college years, I suffered from undiagnosed anxiety that sucked the joy out of every hobby and relationship I ever tried to hold on to for dear life. In order to get diagnosed and, therefor, get the medication I needed, I had to slog through several expensive doctor’s visits, none of which I had insurance for. So, what delicious little treat did I turn to in my time of need while I waited for the rusty, blood-crusted gears of the American healthcare system to work? None other than chamomile tea. Either my dad or myself had read somewhere that chamomile tea was good for anxiety, since it has a natural calming effect. This is how the plant finds itself a member of the Sleepy Time Tea mix. We both knew it wouldn’t work as well as actual medication, but we didn’t have any other options and so, for a good half of a semester or so, chamomile was my go-to beverage of choice. Four scoops of sugar and a splash of vanilla creamer and some cannabis oil for fun. I took this sweet concoction everywhere I went and enjoyed every sip.

It did absolutely jack shit for my anxiety, but it tasted good.

Now, whenever I pour myself a cup of chamomile tea, it reminds me of that time in my life where I battled against an unseen, unfair force that was sort of just dropped into my brain meat without my choice or my say-so.

Hang on. Isn’t that a bad thing? Why on Earth am I celebrating this flower, then?!

As it turns out, nostalgia is one Hell of a drug.

See, during this time in my life, the reason I was fighting so hard was because I had a friend group on the line. Every day, my chamomile was my battle companion against the forces inside me that were trying to convince me that I didn’t actually care about my friends. A shitty companion that didn’t do anything but cheer me on, but a companion nonetheless. The flavor brings me back to our Dungeons and Dragons campaign, another source of my anxiety that was tied heavily to those friends. Not only that, but Adventure Time had recently ended, and so the ending song Time Adventure was my go-to melody to calm myself while drinking, you guessed it, chamomile tea. I’m brought back to those short, fleeting moments in time where only the good parts remain as potent in my memory, all thanks to some crushed up flowers in water.

I wish flowers understood human speech so that, once my flower garden is blooming full of these sweet, friendly plants, I could tell them thank you. See, while chamomile never helped my anxiety, it did give me a memory anchor. I don’t know if there’s something wrong n my brain or what, but I can’t remember most of the things in my life, especially not the happy memories. Most of my history is either lost in a weird gray miasma just out of my reach, or it sits upon a pedestal, polished and well-kept, as an especially sad or traumatic event. This flower gave me a way to remember a part of my life that is no longer with me. In the end, the anxiety won and I had to leave my friend group. Whenever I brew up a warm, steamy mug made with this humble, adorable flower, I can remember the good parts of that futile struggle that ended in defeat while, for once, forgetting the bad.

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