I struggle with chronic, recurring depression. While it’s well-managed, the symptoms do creep up from time to time. Depression is an expensive mental health condition, in ways that might surprise you. In fact, during bouts of depression, I find that it costs me in the garden. This does mitigate the many mental health benefits of gardening. However, it’s an important thing to know about if you’re a frugal gardener who lives with a similar mental health challenge.
5 Ways Depression Costs Me In The Garden
Here are the five most common ways that depression costs me in the garden.
1. Lack of Energy Means Slack in the Garden
A garden requires tending. Most plants need attention weekly if not daily. When this is part of a normal routine, it’s great. In fact, it’s a healthy part of the day. However, sometimes, depression wins. When it does, fatigue sets in. It literally feels impossible to get up out of the bed to do anything at all. If that happens, then gardening doesn’t. And this can mean the plants wither and die.
2. What’s The Point Anyway?
That refrain runs through my head when I’m dealing with a bout of depression. Depression is characterized by hopelessness and pointlessness and a lack of interest in doing things normally enjoyed. It’s really hard to stay motivated to work in the garden when you can’t see the point of doing it. Again, this means that the garden withers and dies.
If we can overcome these feelings (through medication, therapy, self-care, and other means,) then the growth and beauty of the garden can remind us of the point. But, sometimes, depression takes over.
3. Low Self-Esteem or Black/White Thinking
For me, depression is accompanied by a feeling of worthlessness. Some people experience black and white thinking because of their mental health conditions. In either case, this can lead to feeling like you aren’t good enough to make a garden grow. A plant starts to die, I feel like “I don’t know how to garden,” and I just give up.
Someone who loves gardening might see a small mistake in the garden and suddenly hate gardening. We lose the joy as we lose ourselves in depression. So, we abandon the garden. Or we get in there and rip it up entirely, destroying what we spent time and money creating.
4. Reckless Shopping
Although this is more commonly a characteristic of mania in bipolar depression, people, like myself, with unipolar depression, can fall into wasteful shopping as well. For me, it’s usually online shopping. I’m imagining some other life I want to have where I’m not depressed, and I’m allowing the easy mindlessness of the scroll to convince me that I just need this gadget or that to feel better. So, suddenly, I find myself buying new garden tools, plants, or a gardening apron that I can’t afford and won’t ever use.
Ideally, I work through the challenges and overcome them and get back to doing things that I love. However, sometimes, when you push through before you’re ready, you end up injuring yourself. If you’re in the brain fog of depression while working with gardening tools, then you might injure yourself. This can cost me in medical care as well as lost work.
Tips for Coping
There are many amazing benefits of gardening. It’s just sometimes hard to remember them in the throes of depression. It’s helpful for me to keep lists of things I love, what the benefits are, little stories or photos that remind me of the good parts, etc. Then I look at those in depression to try to help myself overcome the inertia and get back to myself.
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Kathryn Vercillo is a long time writer, crafter and author of several books. A resident of San Francisco, she is committed to helping others explore, articulate and share their own individuals stories. When she’s not evaluating investing opportunities Kathryn is an avid knitter, researcher, and blogger.