This was told to me by a woman in her sixties suffering severe carer strain as her Husband has Dementia.
She has high anxiety and depression after years of caring for him. This was after she had brought up her two children and helped with grandchild sitting as well. As a result she had ended up volunteering to receive treatment within a mental health unit.
She remained there for about six weeks before she felt well enough to return home. She felt “lost” and “had forgotten who she was”. She felt overwhelmed by life and could see no way out of her emotional and physical prison even though she still loved her husband.
Whilst in hospital her adult son had taken on the caring role for her husband. She felt that even though she felt the role was too much she had lost a further sense of purpose as her son had changed how he cared for her husband.
She felt a resentment for her son even though he was helping and had given up some work to stay at home to care for his father. She felt guilty about resenting her son.
She was sceptical about relaxation methods and specicifcally about using Ecotherapy. She had not been going outside much due to her high anxiety levels.
After a few sessions inside I introduced her to natural images and using mindfulness to control her anxiety.
We then took her sessions outside. First whilst sitting down looking at nature.
Gradually we included a mindful walk and other techniques to help her.
She practiced these herself and once discharged home from the mental health she carried on using them.
Her family created a special space for her to sit in her garden to use Ecotherapy to help her reduce stress, depression and anxiety.
She became more confident and joined a carer support network to help her make new friends.
She made sure she had some time for herself each week to re-charge her emotional and physical battery.
She agreed with her Son what caring tasks he could continue with and what tasks she was still happy to do. They agreed a shared caring system for the husband.
This meant everyone felt happier and still had a part to play.
She decided that she would take a shopping trip or excursion alone or with a friend once a month. She had less anxiety and more confidence to feel able to do this.
She got a sense of herself and a life of normality back that she did not have before.
This is what she told me…
“It makes you stop and think. Everything. I’ve learnt a lot and I am very grateful that there are people like Maria to guide us on this type of therapy. To appreciate more the sky, the sun, the trees and to be grateful for the birds, animals and flowers. To appreciate what we have around us. I will carry this on all when I go home. It has been very worthwhile. I’ve learnt a lot. I appreciate things more. I have a different attitude towards things. Thank you.“
Not only that, whilst helping some patients within the mental health unit, some of the nursing staff joined in the sessions. Most of them were also sceptical and had not heard of Ecotherapy before.
They wanted to know more to help the patients. Little did they realise in doing so they would help themselves or their family as well.
One Senior Mental Health Nurse told me recently that she had found the Ecotherapy session she attended with a patient very powerful. After the session at work she had used it whilst walking her dog and when feeling stressed.
She told me she felt that her dog seemed more relaxed as she felt more relaxed. Not only that she showed some techniques to her Daughter who was recovering from Cancer . She is also finding the methods of benefit.