"We need different things to thrive and blossom" - Laura's story

11/01/2022

Thirty-one year old Laura describes living with bipolar disorder and emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD) as like “being on a carousel while riding on a rollercoaster at the same time”, but explains how gardening helps to soothe her soul.

Hello! My name is Laura and I have bipolar disorder and EUPD. I was diagnosed with EUPD at 21 (after years of anxiety and depression) and it took 9 further years until I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

It was a tough fight to get the bipolar diagnosis, but I knew in my heart I had it. Now I am diagnosed it means I am on a mood stabiliser and can access the right support. It is hard to deal with the fact l will always have a mental illness and I am still in the grieving process for my old life. I am also working towards building a new life for myself.

To try to understand the conditions, I describe them as being on a carousel while riding on a rollercoaster at the same time. The highs, the lows, the upside downs while my head spins around and around. On my worst days I can't get out of bed, have suicidal thoughts and am consumed with a feeling of complete doom.

My moods are so unstable and, because of that, at the moment I am not in work as I wouldn't be able to cope. Consequently, I often have a lot of time on my hands. I realised I wanted something to put my passion into. I have tried lots of hobbies but the one that stuck was gardening. I would like to share how it helped my recovery.

  • In 2021 I discovered gardening and it has really soothed my soul.

In 2021 I discovered gardening and it has really soothed my soul. I used to be someone who hid inside during the summer months. My dad used to say I was like the little boy in The Secret Garden, living in my bedroom in the darkness. Nowadays I am definitely more like Annie Lennox, the girl in the book who follows a robin to a forgotten garden and who brings it to life.

It all starts with one little seed. I held it in my hand and wondered how it would ever turn into a radish. I mean, as if! I'd never grown anything before and that's something Monty Don does, not me. However, I held a little hope and planted it in the plant pot. Then I kept sowing other seeds and when I finished, I looked at the empty plot and assumed nothing would grow.

  • I think it compares to us humans quite well. We need different things to thrive and blossom. I often feel like I ask too much of people because I need a lot of support and reassurance. Not once have I thought that about my beautiful radishes.

All vegetables, flowers and fruits have different needs, like different conditions, and take different times to grow. I think it compares to us humans quite well. We need different things to thrive and blossom. I often feel like I ask too much of people because I need a lot of support and reassurance. Not once have I thought that about my beautiful radishes. It is a pleasure to nurture them and see it grow. It's amazing what can happen when we believe in ourselves and others believe in us too.

The most magical moment is the first shoot peeking out from the dirt. I am in awe of it and reminded that spring is here. Spring brings new starts and new beginnings. In a world that often feels so dark, it reminds me that there is hope, even if it's just a tiny spark. From small shoots, they grow and develop and either become beautiful flowers or tasty vegetables. I grew them, me! With a little help from the rain, the sun, and the compost - my love grew this from a tiny seed. It made me believe in myself.

If you don't have access to a garden, you can still enjoy the wonders of gardening. Windowsills are a wonderful place to grow herbs like coriander and thyme and you can even grow flowers like geraniums. You don't even need fancy equipment. Things like egg boxes and milk cartons can act as containers to start your seeds in.

It really helped me to be outside and have a hobby. Sometimes on the bad days, just being in the fresh air with my hands in the compost helped me a lot. It's sad when things stop growing. Spring and Summer brings vibrancy and promise, Autumn brings the gorgeous reds and oranges of the leaves. Winter seems dark in comparison but it's not. In winter we plant our bulbs, so that at the New Year when we feel low, we will have flowers.

When I was really poorly, I had read that snowdrops were due to flower so I went walking all the way around my neighbourhood to find them. When I did, I shed a tear. It reminded me that there are better days and I won't always be in the dark.

Instagram - @lauraingreygardens

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