A few weeks ago, when it was a nice, warm sunny spring day, I planted some sunflower seeds in my garden. I have been planting these flowers in the garden for about 6 years now. The 1st year I planted them as a bit of a border/fence between the back of my garden and the road, to give me a bit of privacy when I am out in my back yard. It was a lovely crop of sunflowers and I would watch as the bees visited and had trouble flying away because their pollen sacks on their legs were so full.
Across the road is a complex for seniors. These folks told me numerous times that they very much enjoyed the sunflowers. One day my husband was outside and a women walking by and said..” thank-you for the sunflowers, I pass them every day on my walk and they always make me smile.” The next spring I was working in my garden and the folks in the senior’s complex were coming up and asking me if I was going to plant sunflowers again this year. The tradition had started.
I worked and prepared my garden a week before planting the seeds. I rototilled the dirt, leveled it and pulled out the weeds. I put zinc stripping around the edge to help keep the slugs away, and on a warm sunny day I planted the seeds. As I was taking the seeds out of the package it still amazed me that these dried shriveled things were actually going to become a plant. As I was putting them in the ground I kept thinking to myself, “these are never going to come up, there’s nothing to them.” But my rational brain kicked in and reminded me I say this every year. It still amazes me when they come up and I am still somewhat surprised.
After planting I watered them and wondered how they would do. It has rained pretty much every day since, so I have not had to water them. I go and check them every day to see how they are doing and low and behold they are coming up. I am still amazed, that some dried thing I put in the ground and watered is poking their little green sprouts through the dirt that is now their home.
As I was looking at them today I was thinking about the kids I will be talking to tomorrow at one of the High schools here.
I will be talking to the grade 11/12 psychology class about living with Dissociative Identity Disorder, what it really is, and how it affects me and my family. I will help de-stigmatize this condition and create dialogue around this and other mental health issues. I will encourage them to ask questions, and they always ask great ones.
I enjoy these presentations and the class seems to also. Last semester, after a visit from a soldier who talked about P.T.S.D., a therapist talking about self-harm, and my presentation, 3 students in that class went and sought help. I hope by telling them that having a mental illness is not a character flaw, that there is no weakness in seeking help, and that 1 in 4 youths will have a mental health issue, they see that they are not alone. I will also tell them, as I told the last group, that there is a gem inside them and when the time is right the light will shine and they will grow.
I was thinking of this when I looked at those little seed heads poking through the ground. I then thought of all the kids I had worked with over the years as an early childhood educator. I worked with many, many challenging children, children from dysfunctional, chaotic and sometimes abusive and neglectful homes. I could not change their home life, but for the time they were in my care I could keep them safe, let them know they are worthy and that I believed in them. I hope they have been able to carry that with them.
I then started thinking of the people in my childhood who were safe and let me know they thought I was worthy. These people could not change my home situation, but they did make a difference in my life, if even for a small amount of time. And, growing up I held onto that with a fierce tenacity, like a terrier with a bone and I would let no one take that away with me.
I then thought how working to prepare the garden for the sunflower seeds was much like my therapy.
When I got into therapy, it was much like a rototiller going through my life and turning it over and bringing things up to the surface to see the light of day, often for the first time. As issues came up-(weeds)- I would work through them and get to their roots, some were deeper than others and pulled them out. In time light was hitting the original surface and the real me (seeds) could start to sprout. With support, and self-care I have been able to grow to who I am now.
I know I can’t change the home life of the students I talk to. I do hope that I shed light on what D.I.D. really is, that having a mental illness is not a character flaw, and it is never a weakness to seek help for anything. I hope I help create an environment in which they will become more comfortable talking about mental health issues. I hope I give them hope and that I plant some seeds in them, so when the time and circumstances are right they will sprout and grow into a beautiful wondrous thing.
Those are my thoughts for today
Cheers and be well