Looking back my love of plants started from as young as I can remember. I always had an interest in tropical and unusual plants. My Dad was from Mauritius and as a child, I never fully appreciated the plants growing in the garden of our tropical Island home. But I can now see where my love of all things tropical began and why I constantly try to replicate this here in the UK.
Life on Hold
But it wasn’t till in my late teens / early twenties that I really appreciated the true power of plants and the impact they could have on your life. Whilst studying and working, I became very ill with depression, to the point that I had to stop. Stop studying, stop working, just stop. I felt like my life was slipping away from me, this wasn’t how it was meant to be.
So on days that I could not work or do much of anything, I found purpose in looking after plants at home, watching the tomato seedlings on my window cill grow as I nurtured them. They reminded me that life is ever growing and changing and that I too could and would grow stronger again and recover.
It was at this time, after a long struggle, in 2008, that I was first diagnosed with Bipolar Affective Disorder Type 2. To be honest I was relieved to know there was a reason why I was feeling the way I was and now I could get the help I needed to manage my illness.
I haven’t really told anyone who didn’t need to know about my mental illness due to the stigma attached to it, but 11 years on I’m more comfortable with that part of myself. I now feel it is the time to share how both bipolar and plants have helped shape ‘who I am’ and how I use plants as my therapy. I hope in sharing my STORY through my blog ‘Seeds TO RecoverY’, that it will help others to understand, and for those struggling themselves; know you are not alone, someone understands you and there is a way through.
Learning to Grow
Like growing plants, my bipolar has been a learning experience. You plant a seed in a pot and water it; it either thrives or it doesn’t and so you try something different; more light, a plant feed, regularly watering. The same is true with bipolar. You try a therapy, a medication, a new routine and see what works and what doesn’t, it’s about finding the right balance. And then every now and then, despite your best efforts and believing the conditions to be fine, the plant struggles or dies and you have to start over. I often find myself having to start over in life, which is extremely frustrating and this time comes with added challenges of agoraphobia and increased anxiety levels.
Having lost my job almost two years ago due to mental illness, I now find myself having to rebuild and start over again, which is a slow journey. I take comfort and find it quite fitting to compare and talk about growing plants with bipolar; because just as ‘mighty oaks from little acorns grow’, I too am sowing ‘Seeds TO RecoverY’ and will one day soon, stand tall again!