A day at Brockholes

 Ben Hall

Myplace participant, Michelle, shares how our new online ecotherapy sessions gave her the confidence to visit Brockholes Nature Reserve for the very first time.
Brockholes by Michelle

Brockholes by Michelle

I had been off work since December due to anxiety and depression. I was making good way to returning to work in March and then of course Covid-19 hit. I found myself in an extremely bad place and, like may others, was struggling. My confidence had been destroyed, the anxiety and depression was back worse than it had ever been before.

I discovered Myplace in May after attending a session through the Lancashire Recovery College. I had always loved nature and was finding a little bit of comfort by watching the birds in my garden and going for walks so when I saw that Myplace was about nature and wildlife I thought I would give it a try. I was extremely anxious about attending an online course and having the camera on so people could see me, at this point I couldn’t even talk on the phone due to the anxiety. I was so nervous I even got my mum to sign up to do the taster session with me!

The old anxiety crept back in, and the "what ifs" started creeping up on me. What if they don’t have me? What if they don’t like me? What if they think I’m weird? What if they laugh at me? Again, the "what ifs" were destroyed after the first session. I was surrounded, virtually, by like minded people who “got” me and every Tuesday night feels like Christmas eve, as I can’t wait to do the Wednesday session. We have a laugh every session, we support each other every session, and we learn each sessions. I learnt about the 5 ways to improve wellbeing, Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning, and Give.

Every Tuesday night feels like Christmas eve, as I can’t wait to do the Wednesday session
Brockholes by Michelle

Brockholes by Michelle

During the sessions we often talk about Brockholes where the “real life“ sessions are held. I had never been to Brockholes as I couldn’t take my dogs which is understandable due to the wildlife there. My dogs give me the confidence to go out and I had got into the habit of avoiding anywhere I couldn’t take them so I was isolating myself from a lot of things even before the pandemic. I really wanted to visit Brockholes as it sounded so wonderful when the group talked about it and wanted to put what I had learnt into action. I decided that when I felt ready I would go and visit.

Honey bee on a flower by Michelle

Honey bee on a flower by Michelle

I don’t know why and can’t explain it but I woke up that morning and decided to go to Brockholes. I was terrified as I pulled into the car park and found that I was almost sprinting round. I reminded myself of the five ways to wellbeing and decided to slow my pace and Take Notice. I suddenly saw things that I had learnt about during the sessions – the wildflowers, the trees, the butterflies. I used an app that had been recommended to me during the sessions to help me ID these so I kept learning.

I found the place where the sessions are usually held at Brockholes and spent 10 minutes doing a bit of mindfulness that I had learnt from Myplace. As I walked around the reserve I found my confidence was growing with each thing I saw and even found myself pointing out tiny frogs on the pathway to other people so they wouldn’t tread on them so I was connecting and giving! Before I knew it I had been there for five hours so I would definitely say I was being active!

Oxeye daisy by Michelle

Oxeye daisy by Michelle

I can honestly say without Myplace I would never of gained the confidence to visit Brockholes, I certainly wouldn’t have known to do the five ways to wellbeing. I left there feeling hopeful, that although I know I have a way to go, I can do it. I don’t know when I will wake up feeling brave again, and that’s ok as I need to take each day as it comes, but I know that I will return to Brockholes at some point.

Could Myplace support you or someone you know?

If you are struggling, we can help.

We have developed free, online ecotherapy sessions for anyone aged 16 or over.

Our Myplace project has been running successfully since 2016 and since that time we have supported over 1000 people to live healthier, happier lives through regular contact with nature. Let us bring nature to you.

Find out more or sign-up to our online sessions today.

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