Allotments; the new prescription remedy

No.27 is more than just an allotment to me, it is my second home, my retreat, my hideaway and most importantly the only place where my mind goes blank, my stress levels calm and my anxiety disappears.

6 years ago I suffered terribly from anxiety, so much so that I couldn’t leave the front door on my own. Even if I was with family or friends just going outside would turn me into a shaking crying wreck until I could find a way to just breathe and calm down.
I remember at my worst having to go for an interview in London, this job was a massive opportunity for me that I couldn’t risk not trying for. The difficulty was I live an hour and a half train and tube ride from London; so what did I do? I took my two ‘safety’ objects  (having these was the only way I would go outside) in my bag, got on the train and cried and shook the whole way there with people staring. But I got there and even got offered the job. Without doing that journey, I don’t think I would of eventually overcome my anxiety how I did or be where I am today.
Back to my point, at this stage in my life I lived in a flat with no allotment or garden, it was either stay in my flat or go outside in a world at that point I found incredibly scary. Luckily I am a ridiculously determined person which meant that I would push myself outside even that meant crying, shaking, carrying water or constantly being on the phone to family everywhere I went alone.
I would say it took about 2 years to feel completely comfortable outside on my own without my two ‘safety objects’, but every now and then it still shows its ugly face and I have to give myself a strict talking to, phone somebody to distract my mind, or the best remedy; go the allotment.
I wish back then I had an allotment or at least a garden that was an outside barrier or let’s say a next step between indoors at home and outside. I know it is a hot topic for the RHS currently but I do think gardening and having my own outdoor space would of helped me tremendously and could help so many millions of people suffering from anxiety and mental health illnesses today.

A community garden or allotment should be prescribed by the NHS; It makes you believe you can achieve something more than you ever thought, gives you a focus, confidence, pushes you outside your comfort zone, gives you space just to be you, clear your mind of the worry and just breathe.
Now tell me any drug or remedy can that do all of that? There isn’t one.

This weekend, after a very busy week at work and in between a full day at University yesterday doing exam practice ahead of the 19th, I managed to visit the allotment. Roughly got 3 hours in yesterday and the same today. I leave shattered but clear-headed, even if it lasts for just a few minutes afterwards.
No.27 is now looking back in order and all the dug beds are now full. Alongside lots of watering, weeding and feeding, I sowed a row of Rhubarb Chard and a row of Spinach, planted out my Brussels sprouts, 7 Delphiniums and 2 Hellebore seedlings.

Before I left I then took some time just to take everything in, see how all my plants were growing, and what delicious delights they were producing. My mini-cucumbers have started forming in the greenhouse, the tomatoes are hitting the roof, the pumpkins and squashes are filling out, my new mint plants are smelling divine and the runner beans are flowering. The first carrots are nearly ready, so is more beetroot, the activity is non-stop.

I love it!

Roll on the 19th when my exam is out of the way and I can spend the whole summer up there! More beds to dig, but my main aim is to clear the shed and give it a good dose of No.27 personality, the bunting needs to go up and so do all the lovely pictures I have collected.
10 days and counting!

Happy Gardening!!

PS. Thank you to each and everyone of my followers and readers; you inspire me daily and motivate me to continue to share my journey, enthusiasm and passion for growing your own.



20 thoughts on “Allotments; the new prescription remedy

  1. Steve Quack says:

    Well Annabelle. Thank you for sharing your story with us. What a brave lady you are!
    I started my interest in gardening as a young 10 year old in the 1960’s and was lucky to learn from my dad, then moving on to earn sixpence an hour during weekends and school holidays for a local nursery. I was fortunate in following a life in horticulture and have known little else, although I found working ‘up the tree’ and dealing with large staff numbers and big budgets a little stressful when all I really wanted was to get involved with the environment.
    I think I’ve been very lucky having retired and spending time on my allotment where it all started.
    The advantages of tending an allotment are well documented and I only wish that more people could understand how much more their lives could be enriched and enhanced by getting involved in the environment in some way to benefit themselves and others.
    I’ll continue to watch your development through your tweets and blogs with interest.
    Oh and good luck on the 19th.

    • livingwithbelle says:

      Hi Steve, thank you for taking the time to post such a lovely comment and share your story.
      I think a lot of the time people are put off either by the time they think it takes to maintain an allotment amongst every day life, or the fact that they can just go to the supermarket and its one less thing to worry about. I do think if more young people and families knew the benefits they would at least give it ago. Even if its just for more family time together.
      Thank you regarding the 19th, a week today and it will be all done but the nerves are certainly kicking in.

  2. Allotment adventures with Jean says:

    I agree that digging in an allotment can be life changing. I receive more than organic food from my allotment, advice (no shortage of that) from other more experienced gardeners, exercise, being part of a caring community – and lots more.

  3. Mark Willis says:

    I feel the same way about my garden as you do about your allotment – except that since mine is close at hand, I can enjoy it whenever I want. I’m sure you must find that blogging and the social media are a help too – they let you express your thoughts and ideas, and remind you that there are other people out there coping with similar problems and enjoying similar pastimes. Sounds as if all your hard work is beginning to pay of now, and you will soon be raking in those bumper harvests!

  4. Flighty says:

    A good post, and lovely pictures. It’s one that I’m sure that many people can empathise with.
    You’ve certainly got plenty to enjoy on the plot, both flowers and vegetables.
    And happy gardening to you too. xx

  5. Alex says:

    I definitely get the way that being at the allotment can help take your mind off of things for a while. I suffer from depression, and currently struggling a lot with it. I don’t get down to my plot as often as I’d like to, but whenever I am there it does help. It doesn’t stop me thinking about all my problems, but just helps me focus a little on something else. I too have the anxiety issues, not as bad as not being able to leave the house, but have often had major meltdowns about being on trains, having to go to crowded places etc. Would be good to know what your things were that you take with you to help. I’ve not thought about having something to take along with me to sort of help calm me down. Great post as usual.

    • livingwithbelle says:

      Thank you for taking the time to comment, I am glad you enjoyed it reading and that your allotment helps you in so many ways too.
      I’m not great in crowded places either but always try distract myself. In regards to my two things they were related to what gave me the anxiety nothing sentimental, but a bottle of water and sea sickness tablets everywhere I went. Just knowing they were in my bag calmed me down a bit until I started forgetting to pack them and realised I’m ok without them. It all takes time.

  6. Emma Cooper says:

    I’m glad you’ve found your way to gardening, and that you find it so calming πŸ™‚ I feel the same way about my garden. It’s not finished yet, but I do love pottering about outside with my plants, and it does make your worries disappear for a while!

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