January 20, 2014

Paul BClear, bright, calm – that’s the river and the weather in this photo, and the opposite of how I’d been feeling in the days before I took it.

It was October 2011 and I was off work with depression. A stressful couple of months had slowly, sneakily reversed the progress I’d made since having counselling for my first bout of the illness. One night it came back with a vengeance.

My brain felt so full that it might explode. I was angry, confused, miserable and shattered. This mental turbulence kept me awake at night and my tired brain couldn’t cope during the day – a cruel and exhausting cycle that trapped me in darkness.

He arranged to take me out for a hearty walk by the canal

I vowed to myself that I would get out of the house every day and go for a walk, partly to get some exercise and fresh air and partly for a change of scenery that might distract me from the cyclone in my brain. My dad must have recognised this was what I needed too, because he arranged to take me out for a hearty walk by a canal out in the countryside.

Looking back on that outing, there were a number of small things that helped me.

It was in a place I didn’t know, so there was a sense of exploration and discovery – a new experience and the best kind of distraction.

It was a bright, sunny autumn day – one of those crisp, cool days that makes you want to take deep breaths, which helps you relax and appreciate what’s around you. 

autumn walk canal

Images of that day are still crystal clear in my mind

Being a keen birdwatcher I had taken my binoculars, and remember some of the birds I saw that day, and where I saw them. As we got out of the car, there was a great-spotted woodpecker that flew from a tree and landed on a telegraph pole a few yards away. Further along the walk, near the river, we saw a sparrowhawk zipping low along a line of bushes. And we saw fieldfares, which had arrived from Scandinavia for the winter.

My memories of that autumn are otherwise pretty murky, but these images are crystal clear in my mind even now. I think that shows the value of trying to do something you enjoy, however small, if you can muster the energy.

The different setting took me away from my problems

autumn walk canalThe fact my dad had organised the day helped too. I didn’t have to think – just take it in. And the company certainly helped. Being able to talk to someone you trust and who understands you is so important, and the different setting took me away from my problems somehow, and gave me a boost that defied my weariness.

There’s a reason holidays are marketed as a chance to ‘get away from it all’. It’s because that chance is something we all need and crave. This walk wasn’t a holiday, of course, but the change and escape was what I really needed.

What do you think about the issues raised in this blog?

Share your views with us on Twitter

Or sign our pledge wall to show your support and find out how talking tackles mental health discrimination.

Share your story

Too many people are made to feel ashamed. By sharing your story, you can help spread knowledge and perspective about mental illness that could change the way people think about it.


What superb, limpid writing!

What superb, limpid writing! You are so fortunate to have this relationship with your dad. Long may it, and your improvement, continue. XXXXXX


Totally agree about getting out or having ME time , no matter how little time we have its worth being good to ourself. It can be difficult motivating oneself as I've found . After a divorce , coping with being on my own maintaining a house etc has been a challenge , especially as I'm also a teacher and my memory retrieval has been effected , my mind just shuts off when things get too much . I've changed my diet, lifestyle and practice reiki but some days i want to cry and feel the pressure is unbearable . Putting sunshine photos on my phone reinforces that Summer is on the way . Friends don't always have time to talk and that's the one thing I miss !!! I want to write a book someday ... Just need to start but there again that's the issue .. Starting ! Motivation and getting through the bad hours . We can do it :)

My life in someone else's hands

The memories of 2010~ my mind no longer seemed mine... What was happening to me was weird.. Ok ~ I was in the shower!! Everything became a blur~all my thoughts became wrapped up~ entwined~ a blur!! After a tearful GP visit and a clear MRI Scan I was introduced to a word 'Anxiety' what the hell does that mean? I thought... Sessions of suoport at MIND helped me to understand that I was "Special" and felt Anxious because "I cared"... The first thing I did, almost with a sense of acceptance and pride, was to tell my family I was suffering with Anxiety and Panic Attacks~ with responses " never mind dear, you'll be fine"~ I realised no one was hearing me or listening to me...Except for the one person!! Who is Milli1on (did you spot that) ~ 1 in a million.. He heard me; Listened to be; encouraged me; instilled confidence in me~ on a minute by minute approach, as he knew this would take "Time". As a professional worker, thinking on my feet, working to pressures, targets & deadlines I had run out if steam~ enhanced by bereavement.. Mr X Invested in me~ Time, effort and endurance~ I aspired to become a keen gardener mixed with the spot of photography, with a six week session of CBT and kindness/support from Mr X.. What can I say!! Support can be received and support can be given.. In the form of a few words costs nothing.. I have learned so much about myself, because of my experiences and as scary as they have been, I still wear a smile.. I am able to Love who I am, respect who I am, respect the illnesses that surround ' people who care' and I still manage to have hope... I thought I would never get better!! My manager Ms O said "You will get through this, it takes time" How right she was... Never give up hope of being the caring person you are!! Never change the love you have for others!! Keep Smiling as I do !! "Life is not a rehearsal" Smile Smile Smile Susian :-)

Susian Smile+3x.

I thoroughly enjoyed your blogg.I'm the great pretender. Pretending everything is ok. It is a dangerous thing to do because others find it difficult to believe how I feel. Done this all my life. I too worked in a caring profession and still care full time for my youngest grandchild. If I tell people how I really feel they would be shocked by my admission ..I feel so ashamed of myself. Cant eat, sleep, go out shopping etc. Today I decided enough is enough and your blogg inspired me to try /with help/ to conquer this evil unwanted enemy. Thank you so very much. Amron x

I really enjoyed your post.

I really enjoyed your post. Like you, I find walks in the country are very helpful. I can get away from the problems that cause my depression and anxiety. I love looking at birds too.


I find travelling by bus or the overground taking the scenery of new places takes my mind off things. It is amazing how relaxing it is just watching the river and realising the bueaty of nature. I must try going back for walks in the parks in London and guess what-you do not need a lot if money to enjoy and feast your eyes!

It takes time....

All of the above rings so true with me. I suffered a very serious bout in 2012 when my marriage collapsed exacerbated by the loss of my job and a bereavement. I felt as though I had fallen so far I would never be able to get up again. But with help, some great counselling, CBT and the love and support of my family and dear friends I'm almost there. It has been over two years and I dare say it will be another 6 months before the odd waves and little setbacks disappear completely. But it is getting better all the time. Life is good once again. I have a "toolkit" I use every time that miserable old Black Dog tries to put in an appearance! It includes exercise, diversion activity, making note of what's good and making a point of setting aside time for me. It works (for me) and has helped me out of the abyss from which I once thought there was no return. I can sleep at night. My stomach no longer cramps up. I don't suffer chest pains any more and my mind is no longer a spinning maelstrom of inescapable circular, negative thought. It takes time and effort and understanding and determination but you can get there and learning to do so and appreciate what is good in life is a great reward for all the hard work you put into getting well again. Good luck and I sincerely hope you all seek and find the peace and happiness you seek and deserve.

Been there, in fact, still am.

I've read all the comments and can visualize the day that these things helped me. I'm afraid that no longer is the case, and I'm becoming afraid to venture out due to my anger caused by ignorant people. If anyone was to tell me to pull myself together and snap out of it, I'm frightened I may snap, but not in that way! I do get out for a walk round the Park, but my only other trip out has been the doctors, for either an appointment or to pick up my repeat prescription. I know sooner or later I will find a medication that actually works for me, so I haven't given up all hope.

Tired of Life

Since the Christmas break, I haven't managed more than two hours of sleep a night. I've been to the doctor but none of the medication is working and I've lost faith entirely on the NHS. I'm 25, I have quite a good job, I am (or was) quite athletic and I have a loving family. I have a constant headache, I'm making a load of mistakes at work, I'm bumping my car a lot and I'm putting on wait. I cannot begin to explain how depressed this has made me. For the first time in my life, I have no motivation and I haven't felt happy this year at all. I feel I am very close to taking every single table in my house with a full bottle of whiskey and seeing whether I wake up or not. My life is a complete misery.


Hi there, really sorry to hear that you are finding things hard. We have some support links that you might find useful: http://bit.ly/SuPp0Rt Take care, Crystal at Time to Change

What did you think of this blog? Tell us in the comments