Gardening The Roots Of Depression

Being vulnerable enough to be open about mental illness helps create beauty from the roots of shame

The 7 Keys Lessons Gardening Has Taught Me About Life With Depression

I am a Natural Gardener & Chef, Certified Personal Development Life Coach, and Content Developer, who just so happens to suffer from Clinical Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, and a touch of OCD. So curiously digging to the root of a problem, finding a solution, testing until it works, and sharing it with others is what I do.

When gardening the a’ina with aloha, we work spiritually and consciously to bear healthy, productive fruit. So it comes to no surprise most gardeners end up following the same natural philosophy of life, and personally develop healthier lives along the way.

After years of therapeutic healing, I came to understand the sources of these disorders arrived from many traumas from

  • Adoptee searching for identity & worth
  • Family system of Codependency
  • A generationally marginalized matriarchal system
  • Assault as a child and adult
  • Shame based Religious beliefs
  • Surviving Cancer
  • Domestic Violence
  • Personal addictions
  • Homelessness

Each event carried their own special trauma effect from one event to the next. Compounding one trauma after another until one day over 20 years ago I first broke.

I couldnt get up off the floor. My children helpless as to what to do, called my Brother and he knew I had to be hospitalized.

That day was the worst, and best day of my life. I was so full of self hate, internalized shame and felt truly worthless as a human being. Then when I started to heal, I finally got to take off all that pain and breathe!

I don’t ever remember feeling pain free and became so filled with joy that I was finally rooting out the shame and could accept I was not at fault, and I was worthy of joy. I also had more traumatic experiences but I had tools to help get through them healthier.

I was not crazy, my personal surroundings and the world was. Our world system is increasingly making and designed to keep us dazed, confused, off balance, and it does.

When I came to understand the sources of my anxiety.

Clinical Depression, PTSD, nor any other label or acronym of Mental Health ‘disorders’, should not be labeled shameful, but they are. Thus keeping the shame based cycle alive and kicking where everyone knows their place in the madness….but once you wake up, the gig is up. Now you’ve got to wade through the mess of the world wide awake and dealing with all you see and NOT revert to madness!

You can’t do this alone. It’s not easy being sane and authentic when you’ve never experienced it. It’s a daily action job that must be done inside or back to the trenches you go! It’s no different than having Diabetes or any other physical ailment.

Yet, those diseases get treated without judgement and shame. Not so with mental illness. The stigma evokes judgement and emotions of disdain, pity, fear, and shame to the Nth power

Funny thing is, my story is not so unique. Millions of people today, and probably since the dawn of man, live this life inside and fear someone will find out.

Why? Because people are afraid, and what we fear as a society, we judge and destroy.

But alas, we live in the age of enlightenment. The age where we realize there are safe, humane, and effective ways to treat mental illness with traditional or alternative methods, including a body, mind, spirit treatment component as well.

I call this my ‘Calling A Spade a Spade’ method by cutting straight to the heart of the chaos and pain by seeing where it all began and how we learned to be dysfunctional. It’s taking personal responsibility for our Wellness by accepting that once we see, we can begin to heal.

We can choose to Face Everything And Run, or we can choose to Face Everything And Rise. F.E.A.R. it’s what you make it!

The healing began 20+ years ago, but continues today, and will to my last breath. We are not perfect, and trying to only makes it worse. Progress not perfection is the goal. There are no days off with this disorder, but there are a tons of good days now and to come if we allow.

Why am I telling you this?

Ask anyone, ‘How are you?’ The answer is always OK. If were all OK, why is everyone always looking for something or someone to heal them? Herbs, Reiki, prayer, alcohol, sex, relationships and drugs. You name it. We want it.

We’re NOT ok and we know it, and this is why so many come to Hawaii. Photos may look happy and carefree, but they packed their issues and brought them here. Many have found a place they fit, many more haven’t. The Island balances it out.

I am not alone in this battle nor ashamed, and neither should you be. Because of all these experiences I learned true forgiveness of others and myself through the true spirit of Aloha.

Since my arrival in Hawaii, I’ve learned 7 key lessons gardening has taught me about life and living with depression;

  • Be grateful for a loving and authentic Ohana, whether blood or hanai, furbaby, or feathered friend
  • Give gratitude to the a’ina and her bounty by respecting her spaces
  • Heal and care for the a’ina that heals and cares for us,
  • Grow healthy foods to thrive in wellness so the a’ina thrives too,
  • Feeding our mind, body, and Spirit daily through balanced actions of Gratitude
  • Surround yourself safely with people who have proven trustworthy
  • And share that experience, strength, and hope by ‘talking story’ with as many the world as we can while we live and breathe aloha.

How is this done?

Courageously face everything and rising to the occasion of accepting it including,

  • Seeing a medical professional and get a full physical and testing
  • Seek qualified therapy for education, understanding, and acceptance
  • Learn and practice healthy non addictive self care daily including gratitude self talk
  • Get any safe outside help necessary to help you heal
  • Eat to Live! Eat Organically grown, Non GMO, unprocessed foods for proper nutrition and optimal health
  • Move daily with exercise of your choice. Gardening is great exercise, reflection and peace of mind time. Plus you know how your food is grown. Whatever, just get up and move!

We must make a commitment to our wellness above all others, and our wellness will be our comforter during those overcast days.

Even though life was a little rough, walking THROUGH them without giving up produced a series of positive life experiences. I came to know exactly who I am, lovingly accept it, and live the way that makes me happiest.

It’s an investment in ourselves and our future Generations we can’t ignore if we want to break the chains of Generational sickness.

Susan Peters-Chesley

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