My education in gardening began the day I started treatment for major depressive disorder. My prior relationship with plants went something like this, once a year I’d get an image in my head of a flourishing vibrant patch of dirt from which something like this would appear:
That’s just to give you an idea of the skill level we’re talking about here. A whole lot of heart, big dreams, but not much potential in the gardening department which is partly why I wasn’t quick to volunteer to lend a hand with this undertaking. Shortly after Erik installed the pond liner, pump, and a few goldfish the project lost momentum. Here’s Oliva trying out her baseball mitt last year in front of litter box pond:
Remember that while this distraction was in the works I was also attending an intensive outpatient program. The days were rhythmic and predictable: group and individual therapy from 8am-12:30; 1-5pm was reserved for reflection and homework. We were asked questions like “what can you do to care for yourself?” or, “what steps will you take today when you become anxious?” Sometimes even just a simple directive was given, “practice self-compassion” or “be mindful today.” I wanted so badly to feel differently that I clung to every exercise and really gave my heart over to the process. I spent my afternoons reflecting and practicing the things I learned that morning and when I needed a break I’d research water gardening because I knew the pond was one of Erik’s dreams and because I needed to busy myself and get out of my head. I found a local place that specializes in pond plants and gathered water lettuce, lemon bacopa, water lilies, horsetail rush, and water hyacinths. Looking back now I can see that water planting was an easy way to practice mindfulness. I watched in disbelief as the submerged organisms flourished and supported each other. The fish grew longer and plumped up as the floating lettuce and hyacinths multiplied like clover over time.
See the bird perched on top of the spitter? So now there was this beautiful little aquatic centerpiece surrounded by a big ugly sandbox. I knew what I had to do next. Tune in tomorrow for another installment and thanks for following along!