I read a lot of books, particularly books about gardening and nature. When I was asked to review The Wild Remedy: How Nature Mends Us, A Diary by Emma Mitchell, I couldn’t resist! Today, I am also launching the online book tour for this wonderful new book, which is an absolute honour. The Wild Remedy is a diary written by author and illustrator Emma Mitchell. It is a very open account of using the natural world around us to help beat depression. Emma has suffered with depression for 25 years and after moving from the city to the countryside back in 2003, she has been documenting the nature around her. Just by being outside and connecting with her surroundings, Emma’s battle against depression is being won, thanks to the restorative benefits of the natural world.
I suffer from depression. My Black Dog (Black Dog is an analogy for depression and I have attached a video below that will help you understand the term better) arrived in 2013. I was pregnant at the time and it was classed as prenatal depression, which of course became postnatal depression once my baby had arrived. As a child I had grown up in a hamlet. As a married adult I moved away to a town. It was when I had moved from this small village-like town and into a large, dirty overcrowded town that my depression manifested. I had no green spaces to escape to (something I had been able to do my whole life) and I couldn’t even touch soil to garden with, as we only had a small back yard. Everything turned black.
We quickly moved back to the smaller town and I could find green spaces once again. My depression started to hold me less tightly. It still existed, but it was clear that connectivity with nature was a natural healer. My body and soul craved what I had known my whole life. I needed to be outdoors, in clean fresh air, surrounded by the glorious wonder of the natural world.
In 2015 we moved again from that village-like town, into a slightly bigger town but we were still very close to nature. Our back door step went onto fields and we were just half an hour’s walk away from our local RSPB nature reserve. I also gained a massive garden, where we could grow our own food and flowers. I still have dark
days weeks, but these are few and far between.
It’s amazing that many of the people I see every day have absolutely no idea how crippling my depression can be. It often makes me an horrendous person to be around. My husband, kids and friends have often been on the receiving end of my Black Dog’s bite. Emma calls her Black Dog, The Grey Slug. An excellent analogy, as depression makes everything in your life so bland and it makes life move so slowly… it’s a slimy grey time!
As I opened the pages of Emma’s new book, I found an instant connection with Emma and her story that she was about to tell. I felt like I knew her on a personal level and this comforted me.
The Wild Remedy: How Nature Mends Us – A Diary
The Wild Remedy is a visually appealing diary. Each page gripped me. Emma’s witty stories, her passion for the natural environment, her gorgeous lurcher dog Annie (I too own a lurcher), her beautiful illustrations and her ability to be honest and raw about her depression makes every single page of this book an honour to read.
After Emma moved the countryside in Cambridgeshire, she began taking regular walks across the fields and woodland surrounding her cottage. She spent time drawing, photographing, and collecting specimens of the natural world around her. The pages of this hand-written diary is adorned with Emma’s photographs and drawings. It has to be one of the most beautiful books that I own.
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• Goldcrest • I took a break from Instagram to begin work on a new personal project: recording my encounters and finds in the wood behind our cottage, in the Fens and further afield with words, drawings and watercolours. As I took our puppy Annie for a walk a week or two ago a flurry of movement in a blackthorn bush caught my eye. It was a goldcrest (Latin name: Regulus regulus) Britain’s smallest bird, feeding in tiny insects and completely unaware of my presence. This small encounter left me elated. What have you spotted in recent days and weeks?
Each walk that Emma took lifted her mood, proving that the nature she was surrounding herself with was just as necessary to her healing as any prescribed medicine or therapy. There are scientific explanations for this within the pages of the book, for those readers wondering why nature is the greatest medicine.
I was expecting the book to start with the month of January, but instead Emma opens her diary with October. For anyone who has experience of Seasonal Effectiveness Disorder (SAD) you will know all-too-well that October is a dreaded month. The weather rapidly cools, days are shorter and energy boosting Vitamin D levels deplete. It’s a month that anyone with depression dreads. Emma’s journey discovering the natural remedy for her depression starting in the month of October is a necessary one.
Woodlands and Coastline
Emma makes it clear that her experiences of natural healing are not just confined to the land around her cottage. She writes of her travels to the British coast, where she meets with friends, collects fossils and photographs her natural surroundings along the beach. Early on in the book Emma visits Walton-On-The-Naze coast, just a short journey to the next county from her home. Knowing that Emma is from Cambridgeshire, it means that she is not too far down the ‘road’ from our home, making Walton-On-The-Naze a relatively short journey for us too.
I was inspired by Emma’s tales of this particular beach, and I wanted to discover it for myself. I started to plan an adventure to visit this beach for my family. Within 3 days we all loaded into our car (dogs included) and drove to Walton-On-The-Naze, where we spent the day fossil hunting and photographing the area. Other than using my mobile phone to capture some photographs, we had a tech-free day. We didn’t check our emails or take phone calls. The kids and dogs ran free, and we all had a blast. We even found some fossilised shark teeth! My children collected lots of shells to bring home to turn into wind chimes. It really was the best day. My mood lifted as we enjoyed precious family time together, making memories.
Emma’s photography inspired me to take my own pictures of our beach finds, which I am actually quite pleased with!
If you too personally suffer from any form of depression, Emma’s book must be added to your book shelf. Her eye-opening account will certainly inspire you to get outdoors and bathe yourself in nature. You may think that you are not an ‘outdoorsy’ type of person, but after reading Emma’s book I can guarantee that you will want to give it a go.
Put your coat on, step outside and take a walk. Don’t walk blindly or in a rush. Slow down, take in your surroundings and absorb the world around you. If you live in a city, visit your local park or take the bus out of town. Take notes of what you see, start your own diary, and feel yourself heal.
Buy The Book
The Wild Remedy: How Nature Mends Us – A Diary is available from all good book shops and online. It has an RRP of £14.99.
The book is hardback with a paper sleeve and has 192 pages. The Wild Remedy is published by Michael O’Mara Books Ltd. ISBN: 9781789290424
If you would like to follow Emma Mitchell, see more of her wonderful artwork or check out her other book Making Winter: A Creative Guide For Surviving The Winter Months make sure you follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
The Wild Remedy Book Tour
Today is the 1st date of the book tour, which I am honoured to be hosting for you today. If you would like to read more posts for The Wild Remedy book tour, please check out the following websites to see what they have to say. I’m sure they too will have loved Emma’s book as much as I have and have their own personal experiences to share.
A copy of The Wild Remedy was gifted to me by Michael O’Mara Books Ltd in exchange for this post. All thoughts, opinions and experiences are my own. I would also like to take this moment to personally praise Michael O’Mara Books for sending me this book in completely zero-waste packaging, beautifully presented.
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