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.
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.
Let’s be honest here… Reading about someone’s epic fails is sometimes more fun than spectacular photos that make you feel inadequate 😂.
So here’s one I prepared earlier in the week. All dosed up on medication for my autoimmune arthritis and walking better than I had in months… it seemed like a good idea to pack a picnic and take the kids for a bushwalk.
We chose Helena Pipehead Trail in Kalamunda National Park. 13.5km along the Helena river and past the dam on return. On paper it sounded good…
Medium difficulty. Mostly graded tracks. Good boots. Gentle exercise for my joints. Even better for my depression. Get outdoors. Exhaust the kids. Sunshine. Nature. River. All good?
It was great too. Until we took the wrong turn on an old track down to the river.
Hubby decided it would be easier to climb up through the bush than to back track.
Our kids took one look at the scrubby bush above and said no way Dad.
And yet… I agreed. I can walk! Woohoo let’s push ourselves and climb up a steep hillside with a 3 and a 4 year old. Hmmmm!
The less said the better really. Miss 3 got her ponytail caught up in a particularly challenging climbing vine. My knee gave way and I went sliding down through mud to the kid’s delight.
Native bush plants and my kids were introduced to some truly spectacular curse words. For those not familar with West Australian bushland we have some truly horrible spiky plants. Lovely to look at. An utter pain to trapse and scrabble through.
When we finally reached the track and stopped to admire the view we saw a different kind of display… Is that a wrecked white car?!
Nursing bruised knees and covered in mud and scratches, we gave the kids piggyback rides back to the car and decided to try again next week (and stop at the chemist for some painkillers for me).
Trying to find positives I looked inside. No matter how much of a fail the walk was it did help for a little while. Exercise and sunshine does give me a time out from depression. Even a small reprieve is worth seizing.
Thankfully we passed these Hoveas on the way home which made the trip worth it don’t you think?
Some days things just don’t quite go to plan do they? If you have a failed nature experience to share I’d love to hear it. Realistics unite 😊.
There are days where hard physical work is a godsend to keep my mind away from difficult thoughts (Don’t you just love depression … And yes that was a bitter sarcastic tone you heard).
And then there are bad days. Mental illness doesn’t always visit alone. Sometimes it has company. My depression has a companion called autoimmune arthritis. I don’t like either of them very much.
What has this got to do with treasure?
On days where I’m in pain and feeling low I have a choice. Let the hopelessness bury me. Or allow myself be human and be kind to myself. Yes I am faulty. Flawed. Weak. Hurting. Lazy. Uninspired. Self absorbed. But aren’t all people at some point?
So I pamper myself with a treasure hunt. Do you work away in the garden and miss the little things sometimes? I do.
Feeling sick is a wonderful reason to take time to enjoy your garden. Go for a very slow wander and inspect all the plants. Search for flowers and mushrooms and all of the things that on busy days you may miss.
On bad days it helps to slow down and make time for yourself. Be gentle and forgiving to yourself as best you can. And focus on tomorrow being a new day to try again.
After all you never know what treasures are waiting in your future…
Today the sun came out for me. My meds began to work ever so slightly. I could breathe. My friend and her kids came with us to our block of land. The joy of a road trip with friends. No rush. Nothing fancy just enjoying a happy moment.
And then we stopped the cars…. What on earth is that? Walked for a closer look…
This is only the second Echinda I have seen in 33 years of life. None of the kids had seen one before. I went to scoop him off the road thinking a car had clipped him and off he waddled! I had no idea Echidna could waddle so fast!
How we laughed. The kids peered out the windows and demanded to know why this was not a hedgehog.
These moments make it all worthwhile. Treasure. Just waiting for us all to stop a while and look for it.