Did you ever feel alone in the war with depression? There are times that we all do and the outdoors will always be there to help.
Fellow blogger and mental health advocate, Charlotte Underwood, has drawn on her own experiences to help others by publishing mental health articles and giving presentations at local mental health events in England.
Here is a first-hand account how a little doggie called sooty and the outdoors have changed Charlotte’s life.
When my father passed away in 2014 to suicide, I found myself feeling incredibly lost and without purpose. My father was my best friend, he was my rock and is the reason that I am still alive today, I can’t even count the times he has stopped me from ending my life or calmed me down when I feel like nothing will ever get better.
I found myself rather broody about six months after my father’s death, I suppose it was my body trying to fill whatever void had been left without my dad there. I was only 18 however and nowhere near ready for a child, I’m still not, but it was this moment that made me decided to get a dog.
I didn’t think too much about it, I had wanted a dog for the whole of my life but as I was raised in a cat orientated family, I never managed to persuade my parents to let me have one. So maybe I did rush into the commitment of a dog, after all, they are family for life but I do not regret it whatsoever.
The day I gained my dog, Sooty, was the day my life changed and something inside me shifted.
Over the last few years we have grown together and I have learned unconditional love and support on a whole new level.
A dog is more than a pet, Sooty has become my best friend, my soul mate on four paws and she has done so much for me, though all she really does is exist. You see, she gives me purpose and a need to do better, so that she gets the best life and there is nothing I wouldn’t do for her.
Last year I found myself extremely agoraphobic after a few years of slowly relapsing. I was incredibly mentally ill and I have to admit that I did lack the ability to really look after Sooty as well as I should have, depression is a cruel mistress.
But I’m in recovery now, I feel like I can say that at the moment I am not depressed, just a bit anxious but then, when am I not. A big part of my recovery was gaining the courage to go outside and enjoy nature more, this is something I could not have done without Sooty by my side.
You see, I don’t like to leave the house without purpose, I struggle to just simply go for a walk, so knowing that taking Sooty for a walk means that she will be happier, that really makes me determined.
But it’s not just a walk for us, it’s a chance for me to breathe and take in nature, my happy place in my mind is actually always outside as I have always enjoyed the great outdoors, ironically.
It’s got to the point where I actually feel claustrophobic if I spend too much time inside, so my body has learned how beneficial it is for me to leave the house and spend time rooting back into where we all come from. My depression has lowered because I can now leave the house, see friends, go on dates and do even mundane things like pick up toilet roll from the corner shop; something I lost the ability to do in my worst point.
I know how terrifying the world can be, I know how heavy it can be at the prospect of having to leave your room, let alone the house. Yet, it is the best thing that I have ever done, for me and my little pupper. So if you do have a four-legged friend, you’ll gain precious bonding time as well as a chance to unwind, even if you don’t have a dog, you can still do it; there is nothing stopping you, just take little steps – at your own pace.
Charlotte Underwood is a 22-year-old from Norfold, UK. She’s a growing and passionate mental health advocate and writer. Check out Charlotte: