I’m not ashamed to speak up about my mental illness… Are you?

Every so often I will see something that reminds me I am alive and worth keeping that way.

Recently it is this…

I pass this tree every week when I drive into the city. My kids ask me about it. What it means. Why did someone paint it?

Although they are 4 and 5 years old I explain…

You know how I get really sad or angry or tired sometimes and can’t explain why I feel yuck?

They nod and listen as I explain that sometimes people feel embarrassed to talk to other people about feeling sick inside.

Instead of going to the “talking doctor” (what the kids call my psychiatrist) they bottle it up and get sicker.

The trees are a reminder to everyone that it is important to ask for help. And to ask people you know if they need help if they don’t seem alright to you.

When they are older I’ll share the full story of why the Blue Tree Project began in Australia…

https://www.farmweekly.com.au/story/5882660/blue-trees-symbolise-serious-message/

https://www.bluetreeproject.com.au/

But for now I’ll drive past the blue tree and let it remind me…

That I matter to people who love me no matter what my depression tells me.

That as insignificant as I feel my support, encouragement, words or shared experiences are important. If me being open about my mental illness encourages anyone (perhaps even my children) to speak up and ask for help then that means a successful life to me.

Has anyone else seen a Blue Tree in their area? Feel free to add a link to your blog and photo in the comments, I’d love to see the photos.

❤ Nat

Sharing pictures that have managed to bring joy (regardless of depression)

Woohoo! It is Blood Lilly time again here in Western Australia.

The bright red is a bit of light in my day. Even the black dog can’t ignore how happy and beautiful they are.

It isn’t just the pretty things that help remind us to keep trying either. How about a challenge? Something to keep you distracted and busy and break into those unhelpful thoughts… Plant identification.

Can anyone help? This one isn’t something I’m familiar with. Perhaps a Barleria?

Then there are the things that make you laugh. A friend once told me that in deepest despair and the depths of depression something made him laugh. It was a massive discovery. To be capable of laughter is a sign hope exists.

This discovery cracked me up…

Nothing says Australian like an old Ute carrying steel kangaroos complete with cutout weapons and topped off with our beloved flag. Perfect!

And finally a little closer to my heart were these

Drawings for Mother’s Day which remind me I am needed and cared for. Don’t you just love the gigantic lips 😂!?

Joy and love and laughter and beauty. Things that make life well worth wading through the dark times for.

Planting a garden of happy memories. For Szarik with my love and gratitude.

Ten years ago, with a little bundle of black and tan fluff at my feet, I read a poem called ‘Lend me a Pup’. It spoke of God gifting us with a journey with a dog and letting them go when it is time.

I cried reading it, not truly understanding.

Until today.

Today it was Szarik’s time. We have been blessed with ten years of joy and love and chaos and loyalty.

As a self confessed cat person I never wanted a dog. Until the moment I saw a little German Shepherd pup playing hide and seek under a shrub. That was the day Szarik joined our family.

When grief and sadness feels overwhelming I go to a safe place. For me this is the garden. It is a space where I can sow specific happy memories. Not just for those who are gone now but for the living too.

For my Grandma I plant all things red which is a colour that reminds me of her.

Red curtains. Red Robin on her tea cup. Whenever a Red Robin appears in my garden it feels like a reminder of her love.

Nan is perennial Stattice. It has always grown around the farmhouse and she loves it. Tough as nails just like the woman I admire, it thrives in the heat here and gives us masses of purple flowers.

Today I stood beside the garden arch in what will be Szarik’s garden.

Passionfruit and Jasmine are planted ready to share the arch. Elderflower is starting to flower nearby too.

But that isn’t him.

Eventually I chose a memory that lets me remember him without feeling sad. We had a peach tree once under planted with blue Muscari bulbs.

It was a mystery why it kept shrinking. Until one day we saw a certain puppy break off a piece and drag it away to chew up. He loved the taste of fruit tree wood. Especially peaches. At times he would eat grapes off the vines too and tomatoes if the gate to the veggie patch was left open. That is how I want to remember him most of all. Cheeky and adventurous and always happy to share whatever food was on offer (even cucumber).

The gentle guardian who was endlessly patient for our kids because they would sneak him snacks and who always sat with me in low times even when the bickies and tea were finished.

One day this will be an orchard. With a blue Muscari carpet.

One day. ❤

A rare visit from the good kind of Devil reminds me there is always a reason to live.

Even when you are in the grip of depression, there can be moments of light.

These are the moments I cling to, cherish and want to share with the world.

To remind myself and perhaps even one person reading that living is worth the effort.

Recently driving home from work I stopped to investigate a curious object on the road…

A Thorny Devil!

Thankful for the gloves in my work bag, I scooped him (or her) up from the road where sunbaking was going to mean being squished for sure and moved to a safer spot.

Although native to Australia and apparently plentiful, I have only seen a Thorny Devil once before in my life… Behind glass in captivity. This meeting was a pleasure and blessing.

I took photos and videos to share with my children. Miss 4 decided this gentle lizard would be christened “Super Hero Lizard” because in her mind the vibrant camouflage colouring was a costume. In this moment her enthusiasm and joy was infectious and I basked in it.

So to anyone reading I would like to offer you a thought.

When depression has you gripped tight and you can’t seem to think of a reason to want to live perhaps you can borrow my reason…

Because there will always be moments that you will not want to have missed.

It doesn’t matter if the moment is huge and momentous or something smaller like simply rescuing a lizard and feeling happy.

What is important is the knowledge that even if the black dog is telling you it is hopeless and pointless to live that is a lie.

Tomorrow you could feel joy for a moment. That is worth living for.

A red house and blood on a child’s ear… What do you do when depression takes over?

Yesterday brought with it two surprises and my black dog (depression).

Returning from work hubby led me blindfolded down the driveway to our new home.

My heart raced. I froze and just stared. He had taken the dream in my head and made a start on bringing it to life.

I was blissfully happy.

Then our five year old son got home and told us about his bus ride.

A crescent shaped cut in his ear. A fingernail. He reluctantly told us about being slapped, bitten and scratched by older kids.

He is five years old! Our kids are the only littlies on this private bus to a school which prides itself on virtues. And not one of the young adults said a word or stepped in or even alerted the driver.

My heart broke the moment he defended the teens. “It’s ok Mum maybe tomorrow they will be my friends again”.

How do you feel hope for the future when you have to destroy a child’s naievity to keep him safe?

The black dog has set up it’s kennel in my mind and in my head it is red.

Add a splash of colour!

Hello fellow WordPressians. Any chance you like a challenge?

Even though it’s a scorcher of a Summer here my mind is gloomy and grey. Finding happy memories is proving a little difficult.

Colours can trigger positive feelings and memories. Anyone who has had even a passing interaction here knows my go to colour is red.

We get the keys to our new home tomorrow and soon we paint. No surprises with the paint I have chosen…

Taubman’s Poinciana Red ❤❤❤❤

Garish perhaps. But I love it! My happy little red house on the hill. Safe haven. Bright enough to keep the gloominess of my depression at bay at times.

Enough about me. I am curious to hear about you. Up for a challenge?

I would love to learn about your go to colour when you need a lift and how you encorporate the colour into your day.

The more colourful pictures the better of course! If you could add a link to your blog in the comments below so I can read your post, I would appreciate it.

❤ Nat

PS…

Ok I have to admit part of the appeal for me is to see the reader page full of colour like a rainbow. How awesome would that look!

Need a happy memory? Check your garden.

Hello to anyone reading…

Are you a gardener? A plant obsessive?

If not perhaps you will read on anyway and let me know if this method works for you too.

One of the many benefits of learning to identify plants is how they seem to be able to trigger memories once you can identify them elsewhere.

As a child my Grandma would teach me the names of the plants in her garden. It wasn’t formal… Just simply sharing a joy and passion with a loved one.

Being able to identify a tree or shrub or flower has had an interesting effect…

Nearly all of the powerful memories I recall involve plants or gardens. It is as if my mind seeks out plant life as a marker to remember by.

Lately as I drive to work this gorgeous Cassia Fistula is in bloom. What a stunner!

I stopped to take a photo (not just because this is a favourite tree) because each time I pass a new memory surfaces!

How curious!

Two little girls having a teddy bear picnic under a yellow waterfall of flowers. Jam and cream sandwiches Bare feet. A beloved best friend.

A white and brown Jack Russell who used to trot along with me as a teen. Scorching heat. Red dirt. Bright blue sky. Yellow spinifex.

As my sister’s dog she didn’t like me much either. But she would follow me and guard anyway. My little protector. As if she sensed the chaos within. I felt safe with her.

We planted a Cassia to honour her when she passed away.

Standing in an orchard next to a man who I have always been told I mirror (“Put a beard on her and she’d be her father”).

I see the leaves of a small tree that doesn’t fit with the fruit trees. He frowns. Ah bloody hell I poison and poison that thing and it keeps coming back!

I start to laugh and cannot stop. He looks horrified to hear he has been poisoning a Cassia fistula that Mum keeps giving TLC to try keep alive.

Does this happen to you too?

I wonder if you can store a happy memory to keep by focusing on a plant?

When the Cassia at our block flowers I think I will bring my husband out to kiss me under the tree.

Worth a try surely 😊. Cmon Cassia grow please.

Going Home

Do you remember somewhere as a child you felt truly safe?

My childhood sanctuary isn’t made of bricks and mortar but of bark and leaf and earth and fruit.

The old mulberry tree has always been the perfect cubbyhouse

The house itself is insignificant compared to the gardens…

As children we spent most of our time outdoors, so it probably shouldn’t have surprised me as an adult returning home to find in being in this garden helps my stresses melt away.

This has become my goal… To establish a garden which evokes within the same calm.

What is a farm without the “aggies”?

Getting through the day with depression… Allowing yourself to embrace pleasure wherever you find it.

Hello everyone… I have missed writing here and sharing your stories (and gardens!).

Oh how I love black dog free moments. When I started writing this post I was in one. Back into the hole now waiting it out.

Those of you with depression will probably relate… I wish you weren’t able to, but knowing you aren’t alone can be comforting.

There are the moments vital to remember when you manage depression.

To record however you can. Write. Photograph. Draw. Video. Anything!

Holding onto these memories however you can is desperately important.

These are the moments to look back on when hope for respite is in short supply.

When you need a tangible reminder that yes! moments of joy exist.

They may be small.

They may be shortlived.

But they happened.

Above all… Moments like these will return in time.

Do you record small joys too? How do you remember them best?

For me it is in photographs. Curiously enough the last moment I planned to share was what gives me hope now.

I visited a brick display yard of all places and found a garden of sorts.

Today I need these photos. I hope you enjoy them too.

Love Nat

Do you focus on things to be thankful for?

Hello everyone…

Well it is heading towards Christmas… That chaotic time of year where it is easy for the black dog (depression) to sink it’s teeth in and refuse to budge.

Worse somehow are the moments where you KNOW you should feel happy but instead you feel numb or angry or just exhausted.

Black dog by Matthew Johnstone

If you’ve never read M Johnstone’s books they’re worth looking at.

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.

What are you grateful for today?

❤ Nat