"Nature heals" - Trevor's story
After two breakdowns, Trevor was afraid to go outdoors. However, his love of nature and photography led him on a path to recovery.
I was born in London but I’ve always had a countryman's heart from an early age. I loved being surrounded. Where we lived in London had the Selborne nature reserve across the road. My dad had a key as he was part of the management team, so as a kid I was always in it hearing woodpeckers drumming in springtime or seeing a fox walk my way and walk under the hide I was sitting in. I just loved nature and my love for it has only got stronger as I’ve got to know how much of a strong healer it is in my adult life.
You see, I’ve had two mental breakdowns - one in the ‘90s, and one when I was living down south in 2013/14. I was working in a supermarket bakery and my manager was making me use the ovens which I wasn’t insured to do. I wasn't eating or sleeping properly either, and after a while my body couldn’t cope.
I just lost control. It wasn’t violently, I just didn't have a clue what was going on, and in the end I had the Wimborne mental health team and a paramedic fast response car at my home.
One day at work I broke down crying and couldn’t stop. My partner came to pick me up and work didn’t see me for ten months after that. I kept spiralling further into depression, anxiety and paranoia until one day when I was in my parents’ house, I just lost control. It wasn’t violently, I just didn't have a clue what was going on, and in the end I had the Wimborne mental health team and a paramedic fast response car at my home. I ended up begging to go into St Ann's hospital as I couldn’t think of any other way out of it. The mental health team finally took me there.
I’ve never met such caring and professional staff. I can’t remember how long as I was in there, but I was in there twice. We did meditation, a morning walk and took our medication.
Unfortunately, when I discharged from St Ann's I was scared to go outside. My parents got me to my doctor who knew of my love of nature and photography. She suggested I set my iPhone timer for 5 minutes’ walk along Bournemouth gardens, take some photos and go home when my timer went off, then write in a diary what I saw and how felt. When you’re going through breakdown you never think you’re getting better, but if you look back at your diary you can see you are improving.
When I was staring through the lens of my camera, I was concentrating on that one moment in time, and my worries faded into the background and gave me some headspace.
What I found when I was going through my breakdown was that there was no ‘off’ switch to my worries; they kept spinning around in my head. But when I was staring through the lens of my camera, I was concentrating on that one moment in time, and my worries faded into the background and gave me some headspace.
I’ve now been off medication since 2016 and I feel stronger than before since 2019. I decided to tell my story to let others know that nature heals. Since then, I’ve been interviewed on Sky News, I’ve received a letter from Sir David Attenborough, written features for the Guardian newspaper and Country Life magazine, held three exhibitions, given 18 radio interviews, have a Twitter celebrity fan base, given a talk to Bournemouth university - and much more besides.
If you feel the world is closing in around you, please give nature a chance. Nature heals.
Take a look at Trevor's nature photography.
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