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How nature helped me in my PTSD recovery

Over ten years ago Ceri was diagnosed with PTSD. Here she writes about what caused it and the steps she's taken in her ongoing recovery.

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.

A bird feeding

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.

A person standing in a river

Ceri wades into a river for photo opportunities


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!


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Ceri, from mid Wales, is a mum of two and a keen photographer who keeps some unusual pets. She’s also an NCMH Research Champion, helping to spread the word about our research.

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National Centre for Mental Health, Cardiff University, Hadyn Ellis Building, Maindy Road, Cardiff, CF24 4HQ

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