Tending the mental garden

I had a horrible dream last night, where I was trapped in the most debilitating state of depression I’ve ever experienced. I could barely communicate, engage, move, or focus. I was like a zombie, wrapped in a terrible fog. It was one of those dreams when you wake up and think you’re still in it. My whole body and in particular my head, felt so heavy. It took me a really long time to wake up properly from it.

I’ve seen quite a few mental health posts on my IG feed over the last few days and reading through them all may have triggered this dream, along with my own recent low mood. It’s not always easy to open up about the things that make us feel insecure, worthless and anxious. So when I see these posts, my heart goes out to the people that wrote them. It takes guts to lay yourself bare to the world.

An example being when people talk about hating the way they look. Comparison can rob us of our self worth. But we don’t do it to attention seek, we do it because at some point in our lives, maybe way back when we were so small, that we can’t even remember it, something happened, was said or unsaid, and a seed of self doubt was planted in our heads that has grown over time. It’s like a weed. We don’t want it, we’d like to pull it out of our heads and eradicate it, but I takes a hold, multiplies and can sometimes look like an attractive flower. We find ourselves strangely comforted by its persistence. It’s familiar and constant. Weeds are hard to kill. They’re aggressive and stubborn and it can take all our energy and every tool we have in our mental garden shed to fight them back. Every little shoot pulled out of the ground is a small victory. But unless we pull it out by the roots, and treat the area, it will always come back.

This is what life for me feels like, living with a mental illness. There are times when the garden looks beautiful. I can look at myself and feel confident and happy, sometimes even pretty. But the weeds will always fight their way through. I’ve tried so many things- counselling, hypnosis, cbt, medication, but it always persists. I thought the older I got, the less I would care, and to a degree that’s true, but the fear of being left behind, of not being good enough is always there, waiting to pop up through the ground and torment me again.

The majority of the time I feel happy. It doesn’t stop me doing the things I love, engaging with people and having fun, but every now and then a trigger will be pulled and I’m back in that garden alone, searching through the flower beds, trying to find that beautifully disguised piece of poison that so desperately wants to take over and destroy all my hard work.

I don’t know if the dream I had was a warning to make a change, seek some more help, or just a state of deep subconscious. But it’s armed me to go into battle yet again.

Strangely enough, we dug up our flower bed in the garden over the weekend, as we are rubbish at looking after it. Maybe planting in pots is the way forward – make of that what you will!!

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3 thoughts on “Tending the mental garden

  1. Myrsini says:

    Loved this one Em, totally relatable.
    Those dreams are so horrible especially when you wake up and still think you’re in it. Big hugs and thanks for sharing. Love ya

    Like

  2. PADDY MIDDLETON says:

    Very thought provoking Emma and aspects of it I can relate to. The weeds can be like nettles that have multiple roots and pop up from different places so you kill one surface point but they spring up again in other areas & are constantly under the surface. They become a part of you I guess and have been there perhaps even longer than you realise (when you first present the beginning signs of a mental health condition ).
    The really sad thing (*for me anyway) is how things like clinical depression and anxiety affects the relationships you have (& allow yourself to have) with other people and how close you allow yourself to be with others (as a form of protection ). It can be very isolating and lonely when you allow it to be. I feel I’m a rather damaged and lonely soul and constantly work at ‘managing’ my mental wellbeing , I’ve probably rambled enough here. Enjoy Twinwoods as it’s a great little event! Big *hugs* Your vintage chum, Paddy x

    Like

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