Posted September 17th 2021
I used to work in a management job in London and had never had a mental health issue in the past. I loved my job and commuted into town each day, if I could find a seat on the tube, I’d happily settle down with a good book.
Then one day, on my way home from work, I had an accident.
The accident was frightening in its simplicity. It took me a year and a half to learn to walk again and I developed very severe PTSD. My world came crashing down.
My family were unfamiliar with the symptoms, and on waking, when I cried out in a flashback, my husband simply thought I’d had a nightmare and assured me there was ‘nothing there’.
Ten years of therapy
Thankfully, a physiotherapist realised I was traumatised and called my doctor, asking for a referral to mental health services.
I’ve since been in therapy for the best part of the last ten years and I’m not going to pretend it’s been easy. However, confronting the trauma and learning to manage the symptoms of PTSD is definitely the way forward.
Today, though I still need help to get out and I sometimes collapse, I’m in a better place.
Being in nature is healing
One thing that’s helped me a great deal is watching the natural world around me. I’ve been fortunate to have moved to a quiet, rural part of Wales, though even in the city abundant wildlife can be found if you tune in and look around your environment.
At the start of my immersion in nature, I began taking photographs in my garden, very simply and quickly on my mobile phone, which I found distracted me from my anxiety.
I put birdfeeders in the garden and encouraged as much wildlife as I could, planting trees and keeping the grass unmown throughout the spring and summer.
Last year I began journaling about the birds and other wildlife I see in my garden in the hills along the Usk floodplain.
Blue tits, robins and woodpeckers to name just a selection, made our garden their home. To make the most of this we set about recording the plants and insects.
Putting observation into writing
Finally, all of this was made into a book!
My book is a journal through a year living on the Usk floodplain, watching the wildlife in my garden. It also chronicles my journey with PTSD. It’ll be available in all the big outlets, independent book shops and Wildlife Trust’s website.
I hope my blog here and my book may bring hope to others, and that by assisting with research at NCMH we can all help each other to find out more and manage our mental health.
I would encourage everyone who feels they can do so to get involved with the research, which is always carried out in a very considerate manner. And to watch out for the wonderful wildlife around you!
- NCMH leaflet | Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- NCMH podcast | Episode 2: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- NCMH blog | My complex PTSD and how I recovered from it
- NCMH blog | Complex PTSD: I thought I was a lost cause
- NCMH blog | 10 things you may not know about PTSD
- NCMH blog | 3MDR study: a new treatment for PTSD
- NCMH blog | NCMH deputy director awarded Lord Ashcroft Research Award for new PTSD treatment for veterans
- NCMH blog | Virtual reality treatment could help veterans living with PTSD
- NCMH Conditions we study| Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Sign up now and receive new blog posts to your inbox.