This is not a gardening blog. Just as well because I am not a gardener. But which of us is not encouraged by Spring? It’s a cold one here in the UK. The January gloom that descends every year, swiftly followed by feverish February, has finally departed. Snowdrops and winter aconite have made their appearance and those that know about gardens are starting to head out there and mull over the tasks to be done. Soon bluebells will be covering the woods and it is time to feel hopeful again.
Nurturing life is a creative activity. The trouble with mental illness – and there are many troubles with mental illness – is that when things go well I’m like the town mouse who forgets to store up seed for the winter because, hey its always going to be summer and let’s party! By the time I remember that it isn’t always going to be summer, I can’t concentrate on storing up seed, and things start falling to bits. When winter hits, and there’s no seed in the cupboards because I was too busy partying and celebrating summer, then I start beating myself up for being disorganized and blaming myself for being useless, then I feel bad and can’t bring myself to go to the Doctor because he’s useless too and so on. In between metaphorically partying and mentally beating myself up, I am not nurturing but engaging in extremes. So I have developed some rules for my mental health gardening.
- Protect emotions from snow as snow puts pressure on branches and bends them. Stay warm. Be kind.
- Check all stakes and supports – accept encouragement where its offered rather than thinking ‘you have no idea what my life is like,’ even if the person doesn’t have any idea what my life is like I can give them credit for trying.
- Plan ahead – make the best of the good days when it feels like anything can be achieved
- Prune tendencies to lock myself away – accept help. Everyone needs a bit sometimes.
- Feed seedlings something sensible. They don’t like sugar!