In the introduction to her book, author Emma Mitchell comes clean about the depression from which she has suffered for the last twenty-five years. The Wild Remedy How Nature Mends Us is a diary that shows how through nature Emma manages her ‘depression’ and her life.
Emma’s description of how depression manifests itself is so poignant: “Some days my brain feels as though it is mired in a dark quicksand of negativity; on other, layers of thick greyish cloud seem to descend, weighing down my thoughts and burgling my motivation. However the depression manifests itself, I find it difficult to move, and the urge to stay indoors beneath a quilt and near to Netflix is strong. I know if I do force myself to get up from the sofa, then the gloom can lift a little, and if I step outside and walk in the wood behind our cottage, the dreich thoughts may not leave entirely but they certainly retreat into the wings.”
She writes beautifully and descriptively with no sense of self-pity. Emma acknowledges that literature is peppered with references to using nature as a way of easing melancholy and is the first to admit that it may not help all, but it does help her. The book is a joy to read it is both interesting and informative and full of discoveries both for the reader and for Emma herself. Set out as a diary, that starts in October when the weather in England turns and the first frosts appear. Emma’s adventures, in both the landscape where she lives and beyond are not big ones. She observes nature and draws us in with her observations. The creatures and plants are often small, birds, insects, rodents but for Emma they are important and noticed. She is both a keen observer and illustrator. All the drawings and photographs in the book are hers. Emma grew up in Liverpool but spent many summers as a child on the Pembrokeshire coast where she explored rock pools.
As she says, ” When I was small I didn’t know much about marine wildlife, but I knew that I could find VERY interesting things in rock pools: things that darted, scuttled and snailed about; that I could catch in my net if I was careful and they’d continue to dart: scuttle and snail about in my bucket.’
I grew up near Birmingham and holidayed in a caravan in Sandersfoot near where Emma stayed. Reading her description took me back to my own childhood, with memories of being curious about rock pools and what excitement and mysteries they held.”
Emma has a degree in Zoology from the University of Cambridge. The book has a good bibliography that references papers such as ‘The role of the seratoninergic system on mood and mood disorders’. I highly recommend this book, if you are a nature lover or not, if you suffer from depression or not it will draw you in and inform you.
Published by Michael O’Mara at £14.99 : you can buy the book HERE
Book Review: Juliet Bawden