Tune into small wonders

In 2009 I burnt out and was diagnosed with a Functional Neurological Disorder. I would twitch and jerk in response to sound or touch. I looked like a peculiar air drummer, with no rhythm. These disorders, which in other people can cause a whole host of symptoms, including paralysis, seizures and blindness, are not structural. Tests come back normal. They are ‘functional’, that’s to say our brain’s function is affected and it sends the wrong signal to parts of our bodies. Which is ironic because we can’t function. I took six months off work and spent a month virtually confined to my flat or the nearby pavements.

There was very little information available to help me, and the diagnosis journey took several months. I found my own way to get better. Cranio-Osteopathy, Acupuncture and Counselling became my holy trinity. My practitioners and boyfriend were my lifelines, each helping me inch my body back to better health. By the time I was diagnosed, the neurologist and psychiatrist discharged me. They told me to continue with my own approach.

Living in London near the Thames, I took daily walks and set myself the challenge of taking one good photo every day. Some were manmade objects – textured rope on the dock, architecture or ‘street photography’, snapping at people sitting on benches.

More life-affirming were the small wonders of nature. I became obsessed with them, and they gave me a reason to get dressed and go out for my daily walk. Walking triggered my ‘twitches’ so this was no mean feat.

I saw leaves sparkling with perfect rain drops, verdant moss, weeds growing in pavements, swans and grebes nesting and pots full of vegetables on houseboats. On days I couldn’t leave the flat I took pictures of houseplants or gazed at the London Plane Trees filling our window with green.     

My life was in limbo, but around me, plants were growing; the seasons were changing, and there were moments of pure joy to be found. Seeking out these positives played a huge part in helping me heal my body and mind. During this pandemic, when our world is forcibly shrunk, I recommend you tune into the small wonders of nature – be it in your garden, park or on your well-trodden local walk.

7 thoughts on “Tune into small wonders

  1. Thank you for sharing your story Hannah, you’ve been through a long journey and successfully. It’s very inspiring to know it’s possible to self heal with a little support and therapy. I too have learned that appreciating the small things can really make life more enjoyable!

  2. Hannah, your history is…well I baulk at using the word inspirational because it can either sound trite…or..sort of demeans the huge commitment and determination of your traumatic journey. But the key role of the natural world in all sorts of ways is, I believe , the reason that global warming, climate change and the impact on the natural world is the most critical issue of our time.

    1. Annie – thank you so much for your lovely comments. Yes, there are many reasons to address climate change and as you say, not least because we will all suffer if we don’t.

  3. A journey which was worth telling us all. There’s too many people out there who suffer silently and they may look ok on the outside but struggling on the inside.
    Finding things which you enjoy is sometimes the greatest healer and the best medicine. Knowing there is so many people out there with all kind of mentally or physically problems and they stay silent as they think it makes them weak….this is not true,reaching out to people who care, love ones,friends and even strangers helps and there is no shame of this.
    Your story will help so many people.

    1. Thank you so much Sharon. Yes it’s so important to reach out and I hope in time there will be less stigma and more acceptance and understanding.

  4. Hi Hannah
    Like it. There’s a lot to learn from small children; they see tiny things, petals, skeletal leaves, moths, whirligig beetles, daisies, violets, grasses waving at eye level. They are not very interested in the huge displays, that’s just ‘no ball games’ territory!
    Even adults enjoy miniature flowers and the detail in leaves etc, but often only if they have a windowbox or indoor plants; it can feel a bit like a zoo. Lying down in a meadow and just looking is a real treat; no need to identify things, arrange or deadhead them. Or lying under a tree, looking up at the branches, the leaves and the gently moving skies, like an early Mondrian. A bit of mud on your clothing perhaps.
    This is an education that leads to a relaxing of your own tensions. There’s a world of difference between being childish and being childlike. Never lose the latter. There’s a world there for you to enjoy and share.

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