We thank Ellie for sharing this blog with us. It is an interesting story on how nature has and is helping you overcome anxiety.
My interest in the natural world came back to me at a time in my life, when I really needed something to occupy my mind. During this period the state of my anxiety was at its lowest ebb and I did not know where I fitted in. As a result, I was regularly frustrated, upset a lot and spent large amounts of time in my bedroom. I locked the rest of the world out. Even though at this point, I was on medication and was seeking counselling, I was yearning for anything to break this cycle.
In the latter part of 2012, I was undertaking a job centre six-month employability course in Harborne, Birmingham at the QAC college. Whilst I was there I lived in supported accommodation with several others, and often felt very homesick. However, it was during this time, I began seriously asking the question, what do I want to do with my life. I met some amazing other students who knew exactly what they were planning to do with their lives. I felt envious of them and I feared that, I might end up doing a job that would give me no passion or joy.
As the winter nights began drawing in, a carpet of snow covered the large garden adjacent to the house. Each evening before I went to bed, I would regularly look out the window upon this pristine snowflake threaded ground. The landscape surrounding me echoed my seasonal state of mind, cold and isolated. My only comfort was writing, it was the only thing I knew and all I lacked was a subject that would fill this void of expression so deeply embedded within me.
One night after reading, I had quick glance at the winter palace outside and closed curtains, turn off light and huddled into bed. A few hours later, I heard what could only be described as a murderous scream, I jumped out of bed and looked out the window. I saw something but I could not make it out as it disappeared into the night, some people who I lived with were frighten but I was intrigued. This sound made the feel a rush of adrenaline and woke up a sense of excitement inside of me, which I had not felt since I was a child.
Then it happened again the following night and I rushed over to my window and threw back the curtains. It was looking directly towards me, it had a feather duster tail, and lanky legs with black socks on and rather prominent snout. The mysterious creature was Vulpes vulpes, a vixen fox calling to tell potential males, that she was ready to mate. It was fascinating witnessing the natural history of this species play out in front of my very eyes.
The fox’s call lit a flame in my soul and reignited a passion which I thought had long since gone. It was a call from wildness to rewind myself with my old child and teenage self. I felt like that 14-year-old girl again who had once been so excited to see a sett of badgers in her garden. That spring and summer of 2013 was spent going to my local woodland and learning about a whole array of invertebrates from butterflies to grasshoppers. I finally knew what my calling in life was to do, it was to work with wildlife and to share my knowledge of nature with others, through my writing.
By encountering nature, I discovered an inner personal connection with it and in return it gave me an inner peace, a focus. However, I do still have bad days with my anxiety, but they are less often than they once were and have reduced as result of going out into nature. I wanted to tell you this story not for pity but as a sign of hope in what can feel like a dark world at times, where the light seems distance. If you are going through anxiety at the moment, try to go outside even if it’s just the garden or walk with your dog to the park. I know from my own experience of anxiety, how difficult it can be to take that initial first step outside, but I can assure it will be okay. Immerse yourself in the wonder which is nature and who knows you too could experience the call of the wildness.