I can honestly say pre accident I was always in the mindset of a glass half full. An optimist even when things were going wrong as they sometimes were wont to do. I was brought up to be strong anything else was considered a weakness which is why my mental state post accident completely threw me off balance and occasionally still does!
The thing about depression – even writing and admitting to the word now is distressing, it creeps up on you slowly, taking you unawares to a sinister dark place. In the early days and months after, I was still quietly optimistic of my recovery. Pain was ever present, however the edge was taken off by the vast quantities of prescribed medication. These in themselves caused their own set of problems in addition to those of my broken body.
At first I really was grateful to still be alive – I was so lucky as everyone kept telling me, and doing so well. Outwardly I was, my broken bones were slowly healing, with relentless daily exercises I regained some mobility although walking unaided was still a long way off and unbeknown to me then would require more major surgery.
Inside I was drowning, pain my constant companion, grinding deep in my groin whenever weight was put through it. Moving my leg was haphazard at the best of times or in certain positions non existent no matter how hard I tried.
As the months wore on, life for those closest to me carried on more or less as normal – other than supporting me in my recovery when time allowed. I on the other hand started to spiral ever downwards becoming resentful of their active lives. My forced inactivity was slowly debilitating, not only to my body but my mind also was no longer able to find even one positive. I was stagnating, getting left behind, nothing interesting to say anymore. My progress had all but ceased.
Gardening should have saved me, at times it did briefly, but the beautiful garden we made from a neglected three quarters of an acre site with its lush streamside planting, deep borders, kitchen garden, wildflower meadow and pond became my frustration.
The garden sloped from front to back down to the stream over the bridge and up the other side to our boundary backing on to fields beyond. For over a year the spring fed stream area – my favourite, was out of bounds to me unless I was accompanied, my hand held like a childs to steady me and prevent me from slipping.
I could only watch from the sidelines as my perfect partner worked alone in the little time he had to try and keep order, a never ending task! Occasionally on a good day I could contribute but by mid summer the pain was unbearable.
At rock bottom I could see no future, the dynamics of my marriage had changed drastically – my husband had become my carer, I felt dull, old, lifeless, ashamed of what I had become, my pathetic attitude. What was wrong with me? Other people were dying, losing limbs, homeless and more besides, my life by comparison was good!
My days were often spent in bed, the only place the pain would ease – so long as I stayed still. I would lock the door, shut the curtains let the phone go to voice mail and ignore the doorbell. Seeing people was hard work the same question every time… ‘How are you today?’ Same answer ‘Fine’ conversation over. I had nothing to add, I no longer did anything of merit be it working or in my role as a wife and mother.
Thoughts of running away somewhere remote where I could hide from the world and my family and friends expectations of me were uppermost almost daily. Google was my best friend for research. It was at this point I was advised to start counselling sessions by my immediate – eight months later, needs assessor who had luckily for me realised from our conversations where I was heading.
Counselling was not the cure, but it did give me coping strategies and brought me back from the brink of an abyss. Only when the debilitating pain eased the following year would my glass start to be half full once again.
Three years on from the brink I still flounder and panic when life gets complicated as it must. I can have weeks where for no reason I become melancholy, unable to focus, distracted, tearful, frightened, my confidence plummets. It is at these times my gardening really does save me, on my hands and knees working often in solitude I can lose myself, forget for a time those worries of the mind.
Removing dead and decaying plant matter today exposed the shoots from the first of the bulbs for next years display. The sight of which prompted my half empty glass to become half full once more at the promise to come.