Taking time to smell the roses

So, this morning I was interviewed live on local radio. Ostensibly it was about my role in my new job, but as it’s Mental Health Awareness week I was asked about why I think that my workplace is beneficial to people. As of last month I work with volunteers on a 3.5 acre allotment, which runs a veg box scheme. Our volunteers come from all walks of life with some of them having some degree of learning or mental health difficulties. But, it was actually my own mental health difficulties that lead me to want to work in such a place myself. When I had a complete breakdown a few years ago, what I remember from that time, apart from the sheer awfulness of it, was feeling as though the only light on the horizon was my little garden. Most days I didn’t have the energy to even walk in, never mind, dig it or tend to it, but simply laying in front of the open patio doors on sunny days, or sitting outside with supportive friends who came to visit, brought a chink of light and hope to awful days, and as a result I feel that my garden played a vital role in my eventual recovery. As such I’ve become a bit of a believer in the power of the outdoors to help with mental health issues. But, like everything, what works for one person may not work for everyone. Hence my interview on the radio when I had to qualify my belief in the restorative power of nature making reference to my own experience. But, despite the fact I’ve always been pretty open about what I euphemistically refer to as ‘the time I was poorly’ talking about it so freely on the radio not knowing who was listening was pretty scary, but the more we open the lid on mental health issues and talk about the way we all deal with them, then hopefully we’ll all feel the better for it.

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