I'm a 33 year old Mum of 2 kids (my ferals who are 4 and 5 years old) who lives with major depression, recurring suicidal thoughts and an autoimmune disease (Psoriatic Arthritis).
Hubby and I own 5 acres of wandoo bush in Western Australia which we call "The Block". He says it is cursed (stinking hot, bushfire prone ground as hard as rock) but for me my garden is my escape.
Which brings us to the question… How do you be present when depression has you numb?
A common idea is a gratefulness diary. To put in words and images what you are thankful for in this moment. To record it and acknowledge that ok right now you might feel nothing but the depression will ease eventually and one day you will read the words and see the pictures and feel again.
On that note it’s time to share what I’m thankful for today…
1. Thank you to the neighbour who planted this red flowering gum on the verge. I drive past it almost every day and the red of the flowers never fails to make me slow down and look.
2. The WA Christmas Trees (Nuytsia floribunda) are in bloom! Nothing says Christmas to me like this native tree. I’m yet to grow one for my block. Tricky to establish as it is a parasitic tree but so worth the effort. One day soon this will remind me to feel hopeful and excited for the experiment to come.
3. THE Jacaranda driveway! On the drive to my block of land I pass this. It is the reason I grow Jacaranda trees and persist with getting them through the first few winters (they don’t like our frost but once established are fine). Absolutely beautiful…
4. Hobbies and work to keep me busy and too tired to worry… An assortment of succulents growing for my Mum in Law. Trenches I’m digging for the downpipes to capture water for the new tank. And of course the progress on our home. Almost there. Keep hopeful!
Best of all…
I am thankful for being able to share these places and photos with you all. Perhaps an image might give you a boost today too.
I’m thankful for my family who keep me company on my neverending “plant hunt”, encourage my enthusiasm when it is present and push me to keep trying when it is not.
Hello everyone (fellow gardeners and black thumbs equally welcome).
For those that follow Mr Propagator’s Six on Saturday you know what’s coming….
For those who have yet to meet Mr P, check out his blog here and join the SOS crew (because we’re awesome).
Righto… Into the garden.
1. Jacaranda season begins ❤.
Blue skies. Weather is heating up. Single days of 35°c but not week long heat just yet. It’s coming. Purple blossoms everywhere you look. Nothing says Christmas is coming like seeing the pop of purple in every fourth yard.
2. Gailardia ‘Goblin’
I’ve never grown blanket flowers before. This one was in the shade of an Acacia and is liking it’s “hot but not baking” spot. Such a happy flower. I will grow more.
3. Honeycomb from hive one of two.
Hubby added another box to the bee hive and cleaned out a little honeycomb for the kids to suck the honey out of.
It is amazing to see the bees break these down and reclaim the wax rather than produce more from scratch.
4. Irish Strawberry Tree.
Mislead by the common name hubby dearest decided to buy this Arbutus unedo for me. I’m curious to see if the fruit is as bad as others say. Nevermind. Look at the gorgeous new growth! Worth growing anyway because it makes me happy.
5. Mulch! Tis the season to be mulching.
Given summer here means weeks of 35°c we use layers of cardboard and paper scraps from home. Then a thin layer of pea straw held down with some mushroom compost. It seems to keep most plants alive. Fingers crossed.
6. Bauhinia (orchid tree).
Flowers from our neighbor’s bauhinia tree. Seed pods over the fence are fair game once they ripen 😊. I’ve got seedlings potted on from last year’s seed ready for our block in Autumn.
Well that’s me for this week. It may be hot but the sun does good things for my mood mostly. Maybe in 3 months when I’m over Summer I’ll feel different but for now I’m enjoying the colour.
It has been a long four year wait to begin building our home. By February we will move to our home.
And oh how my heart has longed for this day.
I’ve always believed some people (like my Dad and like me) need a connection with our environment. A piece of earth to set root and belong. Since leaving home I have been adrift. Home has been with my husband and children but the city is not a healthy place for me.
Driving to our block (5 acres in wheatbelt Western Australia) my black dog curiously curls up for a time and sleeps.
Opening the gates I come home to my garden and sanctuary.
The frog pond we dug and cemented is taking shape. The citrus are settling in and snapdragons and stattice are keeping the bees busy.
The plants hubby and I have propagated and gotten through long scorching summers. Jacarandas and Brachychiton (Flame trees) will one day flower at the same time. A mass of purple and red.
Mostly trees to cope with extreme heat and our long dry summers.
Others build the house first but we’ve had no choice but to wait so our garden has come first.
I prefer it. The windows frame views I have imagined for years.
Right now I am chaos personified. Exhausted.
But the views make it worth the wait. Help me keep patient but also hopeful. Now we know where the septics will go I can plant my next orchard.
Soon. Be patient Nat.
I will get to wake up and walk outside into the garden I love best. It’s not fancy. But it is home.
For anyone wondering… Yep I’m still alive… Just letting myself get lost in the garden for a while.
Words are escaping me lately. So I’ll go with pictures.
Arctosis “Hannah” starting to flower. Red is my favourite colour. Bright and cheerful. Our house will one day be painted red too. I want an explosion of colour. Bright. Cheerful. Happy. I want to look outside and feel warm always.
Driving to our block I saw a flash of RED. Miss 3 and I stopped and admired the first of the native pea flowers. I will find the name in time. It hit me this place is safe and home. Even the native flowers reach me within that dark place.
It feels like a lifetime I’ve waited for my scarlet leschenaultia to bloom. And at last it is here! Beautiful.
Taking my kids to the river park I spotted this little beauty! I’ve never seen a mushroom like this!
Crown of thorns. The flower is small but one day it will be an impressive shrub.
Today my thoughts are caught up in a whirl of red flowers. Too busy to feek yuck within.
Do you have a safe place you retreat to when you need to protect and guard yourself from harm?
My safe place is my garden. At times people have given me a confused look as if to say what good is a garden when you’re depressed and suicidal?
My answer is often about distraction and keeping busy and waiting out the pain but the deeper truth is my garden is quite simply a place where I don’t have to judge or hate myself.
Sometimes depression makes us angry at hurtful towards ourselves. It doesn’t help when people can’t understand and make comments such as why have you become so selfish? Courtesy and politeness cost nothing. Or you have it easy look at what the rest of the world struggles with. For me at least that just becomes evidence used within me to keep building the case against myself… “Why I am not a worthwhile human being”.
Utter bullshit we learn eventually… provided we are given support to survive and time and knowledge to learn to recognise what is happening within.
My garden doesn’t say anything. I can be a mess. I can swear or cry or just sit and stare and it makes no difference to my plants. They are still beautiful regardless.
Some days I can work until I’m exhausted and can sleep. Other days I just walk through the 5 acres and look at plants with a cup of tea in hand.
My garden is a protective space.
It gives me simple enjoyment of fresh air and sunshine.
A purpose and goal I can achieve or try again tomorrow or next week without pressure or guilt.
Adventure and anticipation hunting for wildflowers.
Peace and quiet.
Something to connect with others about which doesn’t have to involve mental illness.
Projects and interests and passions.
When depressed, I lose hope of ever feeling these things. But in my garden I can sometimes find those emotions. It reminds me those feelings are not lost just buried at the moment.
Being in my garden reminds me to turn off the phone and just exist for a moment. Just be in my safe place and let all the expectations of the world fall away.
I will return in time. I’ve missed all of your gardens in the Sixes on Saturday most of all.
For now I’m in my garden letting it protect me until I feel a little better inside.