I debated whether I should publish this. I have never really talked about my mental health before. I wrote and rewrote this all week. On the light of Saturday morning (greenhouse building day!) I feel like it says what I want…
I have been away. I have been getting the odd word in here and there, but mostly I have been gardening. Well, more exactly, building my garden. It’s not quite time to put seeds in the ground. It has taken me almost a month to get as far as I have. The rest should go fast. I hope.
I have planned and studied what I can grow. I have designed time and again a garden. I want a secret garden. Since we moved to this house, I have a BIG backyard and not doing something with it gnawed at me. I began to hatch a garden plan.
Raised beds, windbreaks and flower beds. Pea gravel walkways and comfortable seats with green planters next to them. I don’t have enough money to put an arbor this year, but I am leaving space for one. I will train something to grow on it.
Here’s the thing, I still have a million ideas about my garden. I need to get done what a I can, because the best part is coming. New growth and new life, planted and tended by me. I have always felt the need to plant in the spring, but I never had the space or time (Check back here for The Lettuce Project, which entails growing lettuce in limited space).
The million ideas for a garden, is like writing and anything else I have a passion for. I never had the time or resources to do such a thing as make a garden. Yes, I have gone over budget already (Poor Diane. Sorry sweetie), but I have turned the corner on cost. I hope.
I am very hypomanic right now, which may also account for my million ideas at once (I always contend that The Informant’ showed what the manic brain is like better than I can explain). The grounding effect of hands in soil can’t be overstated. The earth has a way of centering you, almost like meditation. I find my mind is emptier when I am work the dirt.
Emptier isn’t a bad thing in this case. The bipolar brain, when it is manic, is a mess of thoughts. All of them jockeying for the front of my brain. In my mania, I am trying to build something that is concrete. A place to putter.
Perhaps that is all it is. I need to putter. To do little chores outside. Tending a garden is a good place to putter. I call it ‘hobbiting’. Hobbits were wise and wonderful gardeners, even building houses into their gardens (OMG, I so want to make a hobbit house. Maybe as a garden storage shed).
See what I mean. You have no idea what it’s like to have a million thoughts going at once. Or maybe you do. The point is, I need to find a place to center, to find a place to weather the storm.
I have moved more soil and gravel the last month than I have in twenty years. Everyday, I do a little less than the day before, but every night I feel satisfied. Does my manic brain think I should be working harder and this should be done by now (dammit)? Of course, but I have something to keep those voice at bay. I putter.
They say replacement behaviors can help the stricken or addicted brain. I always ‘pshawed that idea. Who are ‘they’ in the first place? I mean really, it’s like eating carrots in place of a cigarette. A carrot is not a cigarette (the most perfect, addictive, and insidious nicotine delivery system known to man).
Gardening isn’t a replacement for my addiction. It’s just something to do. You say, “But, Jay, that’s what CBT is.” I know. I’m shocked, too. Being opiate free has left me a lot of free time. I need to do something with it.
I mean, I am no longer busy doing things like kind of OD’ing with food in my mouth. Or lounging around in clothes you have worn for a week, writing old sad bastard poetry. You know, the things that are important when you are an addict.
Having so much free time isn’t great when you are manic (plus, if I was actually manic, I wouldn’t know it, would I?). If I am not doing something, whether it is the quiet joys of manual labor or writing, the noise gets uncontrollable.
It’s all a distraction. The growth, literal and figurative, is from ignoring that little voice. I will tell you a little secret, the reason pain pills and me clicked was that it numbed me and shut up my brain. My garden gives me something to focus on. My writing gives me something to focus on. Sometimes that’s all I need to feel grounded.