I’ve had a period of time off work due to mental ill health and was facing a return to work this week. Anxiety had already hit a record high due to difficulties with my treatment plan and struggling not to relapse back to eating disordered behaviors, which were part of my difficulties which made me so unwell. In a nutshell, I was a mess. When I become this messy I tend to withdraw from everything which makes the situation worse as I inevitably feel guilty about having achieved nothing. Sitting at home stewing on anxiety, struggling to eat isn’t a happy place to be. This time I made a plan – I’d not visited Westonbirt Arboretum since I was a child and had wanted to revisit there for some time. It’s an ideal place if you have mobility issues (or can’t walk up hills without getting out of breath, like me at the moment) as there’s loads of nice flat tracks to follow around the trails. I’ve always loved photography, but my direction in the last year has been photographing nature from unusual angles. A rather niche focus, but I find it really captures my mind and keeps me focused in the moment as I am busy looking around for different shapes/ strips of light or unusual patterns. It’s a really soothing past time for a troubled mind.
Had I not made this plan (and committed to it in my mind) I probably would have spent Sunday weeping on the sofa. (note to self: must plan more often when well). When we arrived my heart sank – there were loads of cars, people, dogs – I’d wanted to explore the forest in peace and on our own. Thankfully once we had paid to get in everyone seemed to dissipate and we had plenty of time explore the trees just to ourselves. I’ve never seen such an array of colour in a woodland and I really had to stop myself rushing round like a kid in a sweet shop. The hours melted away and it was soon lunch time. I nearly always take my own food to places as queuing upsets me (as does spending money and eating food made by others) but on this occasion I’d not bothered, thankfully they had an outdoor BBQ with a veggie option. Somehow I managed to confront all of my fears in one go having struggled with eating all week. I can only put it down to how relaxed the forest had made me feel.
We spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the golden light, enjoying sitting in various places in the woodland which was thankfully filled with lots of handy benches. In my recovery from my eating disorder I had completely stopped myself from exercising for a time, which had made me completely miserable. It was necessary to regain weight, but as a person I find the outdoors to be such a calming place for my mind. Part of Sunday was about enjoying being outside in a more mindful way, going slowly, sitting down, taking photos all of which got lost when I was unwell and exercising to burn off calories only. We have now joined Friends of the Arboretum as members, so I can continue my slow exploration in recovery and continue to enjoy the healing powers of the forest where medical services have at times failed.