It’s been said time spent in the sun, feet on the earth, being within nature helps those with mental illness. I do this sometimes, but my time when I am feeling low is spent locked in my room away from it all. The security of my room. The smell, the darkness, and the demons. All these things are mine when I am down. Being locked away in a room is not suggested when you are feeling unwell. There are many studies that say being within natural environments can improve a person’s health and well being.
A few days ago, I spent time with my feet buried in sand whilst I watched the kids attempting to swim in a choppy ocean in the bay where there is rarely a wave in sight. The onshore wind was doing a wonderful job.
Standing on the sand looking out my mind drifted to the above thought that feet on the earth and time in the sun should help with how I am feeling and right now I don’t feel very fabulous.
Instead of being receptive of the beautiful surrounds, I am watching the waves thrash. They are not elegantly rolling in but hammering each other with what looks to me like hatred and jealously.
I have just taken this quality time that I have with my kids and my mind flipped my thoughts to a side I can never seem to escape or suppress.
I had my feet slowly sinking in the sand as the whitewash lapped my ankles. The sinking feeling is nothing new. The sun was high, a beautiful specimen of the day up above, but that ocean was churning the sand.
The kids were being thrown back and forth but smiling and enjoying the sea. You could see they had not a care. Nothing to worry about because I was not too far away to help if they needed it. It’s interesting because of regardless of how much I want to destroy myself, God help anyone or thing (kind of thinking sharks in this moment) that was to harm my children! I am a fiercely protective mother. I have at times pulled myself far enough out of a slow drowning depression due to my need to protect them.
I am not a big lover of the ocean. It is beautiful to look at. (but to me much better on a post card) Sometimes I dream of island getaway’s, but I just haven’t had a connection to it like others do. This was an outing that I decided to be “involved” in. I often say no to leaving the house. The anxiety of having to be around people if not necessary will usually keep me locked away. On this day I removed myself out of the darkened room and made the decision to be present with the kids. I was there at the beach and it is a huge deal because the kids know I am not a fan at all. I have come with a smile. I have intentions of having fun with them, exploring the beach with them. They can’t see but my mind was far from finished with me.
My sinking feet weren’t giving me the healthy feeling I had hoped for. (I do know that any kind of earthing[i] needs to happen consistently to reap benefits). So instead of watching from a distance I decided to physically enter the water and be pommeled by the angry ocean. The perception that I deserved to be beaten was due to the thoughts in my head, sadly I wanted to be physically hurt by the waves. I wanted to be tossed around like a ship in a storm.
FACT: I am the person on the beach that takes so long to get in that the people you were heading in to see are walking back to the shore. I didn’t this time, I walked through the waves with purpose. And when it was deep enough I went under. I did come up and check that the kids still had their heads above water, but I wasn’t done with being submerged. I went under again and lifted my feet off the sand I was being dragged and rolled with the repetitive flow of the waves. I tumbled with my shoulders hitting the sand and my arms out wide. I probably would describe the way I would have looked as a ragdoll with a towel in a washing machine.
I came up and did the scan. The kids had made friends with another group and were oblivious to me nearby where the angry waves were meeting each other. I was half submerged having my head and shoulders knocked about making me lose my footing. There were instances within the hateful waves that I would go under, I enjoyed the tumble, the threat that I could be swept out to sea and be lost to the ocean. It is within these moments I felt freedom, I was aware that I was a tangible form of human and not just the hidden emotions within me.
I can’t tell you how long this scan of the kids and then loosing myself in the waves went it could have been 2 minutes could have been 20. After whatever this amount of time was the kids decided to work their way to me. Attempting to use the boogie board in the choppy waves, one with goggles over the eyes and one with them on the top of the head. I could hear the joy they were having as they got closer. I smiled. Today was the day that I decided to be involved with the kids, step out of my depressed mind. Create a memory for the children. They will be able to look back knowing that I was there with them feet on the sand.
I brought the kids in, so we could scour for shells and drift wood, watch the little sand bubbler crabs disappear no matter how softly we tried to creep up on them.
It’s hard to explain that even with the storm in my head I still have good memories of this day. I spent time with the kids, watched them play and laugh. I spent time in the sun, with my feet on the earth and although when you read this it will seem painful and full of hurt. When we arrived, and I stepped onto the sand somewhere in my head was telling me that I needed to be here. I acknowledged this before my depressed brain took over, that being here would help me process, that this will benefit my mental health. I had seen the beauty of the day and my mind fought me on it. I wanted physical pain, but I knew that it was my mind that ultimately wanted the pain, my emotions were messing with me. I had used a self-development method prior to my head taking over.
I was aware of what was happening. This is a step for recovery or at least maintenance.
Painful yes but a sandy step in the right direction.