How gardening helped my depression
It can only be a good thing that people are talking about mental illness and health – Princes Harry and William opening up about their experiences after their mother’s death, the Heads Together charity and the documentary, Mind over Marathon.
My family, like most others, has suffered from one form of mental illness or another – my grandmother was bipolar, nearly everyone has suffered from one form of stress or another and I went through a period of depression a few years back.
If you don’t have the illness and are the partner, carer, friend or family member of some who does, it can be just as painful and leave you feeling helpless.
I’ve always admired Monty Don for talking about his bouts of depression, something I’m only able to do now in retrospect.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to move or do anything with depression, let alone plan an agenda of creating a garden. I found it easiest to not think, force myself to take the crucial step of getting the wellies and coat on, and step out of the door. This was usually incredibly difficult and often didn’t happen at all, leaving me feeling totally useless.
However, on the days I did manage to venture out, I’d often end up being outside for six hours or more until I was exhausted, but a damn sight more at peace. The physical tiredness led to a good, healing proper night’s sleep without my overactive mind getting the upper hand.
Mental health issues are estimated to affect a quarter of us at one time or another (I suspect this is vastly underreported), but services to help people are not always available in these days of cuts.
Studies suggest that 30 minutes of gardening can have a positive effect on mental health and it has been argued that if ‘horticultural therapy’ was actually prescribed by GPs for mental health issues, substantial savings could be made to the NHS and therefore the economy.
Seedsman Thompson & Morgan is also encouraging people to try gardening to improve their mental health. The blog by Sonia Mermagen is really worth a read.
Visit www.thompson-morgan.com/gardening-for-mental-health to find out more about how your mental health and well-being can be improved through gardening.