June 20, 2022

Survival Garden

By Sora Ahsan
Survival Garden

What a 'clicky-bait' title, right?!

Not long ago I clicked on a video titled "Survival Garden" out of curiosity and let me tell you, it was a rabbit hole that I should have never gone down - but interesting to say the least. 

I've struggled my whole life with what experts might call "depression" or "bi-polar disorder" and while I am rational and open enough to admit and accept that some of my ways can be a bit ... oh, "Bi-Polar" like, I do not pay much mind to it because its just how I've always been. What I do pay attention to more, is my reaction to these tendencies - these fluctuations in my mood - and how my world and the world around me is altered due to these reactions. 

The tree on the right in the photo is my lemon tree. (I once heard you can propagate fruits and vegetables and I decided to try it) This was my first ever attempt at growing -  despite growing up with Grandparents who always grew their own vegetables -  and I couldn't wait to get an endless supply of lemons from my very own tree.  I recently learned that I will never get a lemon from this tree - it just "won't work" I am told. I was disappointed when learning this, but I am okay with that. I am ok just to see it grow and survive - to see it benefit Mother Nature in other ways.

This beautiful little tree has been through 4 Winters in South Louisiana - where it can sometimes (not too often) drop below freezing in the early months of the year - and last year I did not move it into my garage after a really really cold(below freezing) night. It started to look very sad - depressed - eventually losing all it's leaves and the branches became brittle and broke off if you touched it ... it was dead. I let it die in the cold.

 I couldn't bring myself to pull it and throw it in the compost pile, so I left it. I let it sit there, in all it's pitiful and naked glory, next to it's companion - the Pepper plant (to the left) which also suffered the same fate. But, somehow, some way, they slowly started showing signs of life without me doing a single thing(No watering - Nothing.) Leaves and new branches started to grow, and after some TLC, the pepper plant is giving us some spicy peppers and the lemon tree has nursed and fed plenty of giant swallow tail eggs and caterpillars - Isn't that something? 

My personal life has been extremely difficult for me for the past month or so. There were ( and are ) so many changes happening and the life I once knew is no more. My younger ones will enter into 'Big School' (a very difficult decision) come August (I've been homeschooling for more than 16 yrs!) and I may be entering into the work force ( for the first time in over 20 years ) along with many other things that I just can't bring myself to type - and my body is not taking these stressful changes well.

So what do I do? I do what I typically do, what I know, I dip. Its starts slow and then all of a sudden, I plunge. I fall. I shut down. I go to this place - that all too familiar place - where I will physically, mentally, and emotionally shut down and leave the world around me. I wilt. I lose all my leaves. I become brittle and break easily at the slightest touch and eventually I am just there - in all my pitiful and naked glory - dead to those around me and the outside world. 


Some how I start to show signs of life again...somehow I start to grow my leaves back. Somehow I begin to live again. And Sometimes, I will come out of this state of being with a burst of energy - an insatiable appetite to create and to live and to be - and this burst of life coming from me can be difficult to adjust to 'to get back to normal' ... especially after being in such a deep dark place for days and weeks (sometimes months) on end. 

I lost a good bit of time. I lost old ways of living (or am in the process of losing). I miss my older kids (they're alive - just wanted to say that to avoid speculation) and my friend. My left eye is all jacked up again for the second time...but I am now able to slowly nurse and feed the areas and beings in my life that need to be nursed and fed. I am able to continue on - covered in a new set of vibrant healthy leaves (or armor) until the next freeze.

Pardon me for the long break, for the projects that have sat on my desk (untouched) while I was mentally and emotionally absent, for the packages (still here) that needed to be mailed, for the emails that needed to be returned, for the updates that needed be updated...it has been a really really rough 5 weeks (más e menos)

...but, Somehow ...  just like Mother Nature - just like the garden and my lemon tree - I survived.

 Life in general truly is a 'Survival Garden' for so many of us.  There are times when we flourish and get a great harvest from this life  and then there are times when we struggle in place...when all we can do is protect our roots...hang on and just be.





About Depression - if you are experiencing a loss of interest and no desire to do general day to day tasks -  to the point it is hindering your life -  please reach out for help. I know it's hard and sometimes just the thought is too much work, but please do.

And if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please please reach out to a family member or friend or even better, a medical professional who can assist you and help you. 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 

1- 800-273-8255 


About the photo - My babies used to play on this old swing set, but they've grown too much to enjoy it and I don't want to remove it. One of the hurricanes last year took out some boards on the roof of it, but it's still standing so I gave it a new function/purpose. Someday it will have vines growing in and out and over and through. As time goes on, it will be covered in greenery and flowers and this place - that used to produce so many giggles and smiles and racing heart beats - will entertain new life and be a center point for Mother Nature to do her thing. 




  • Amee on May 06, 2024

    This was a comforting. I felt every word and got really sleepy and tired all of sudden. Like it was telling me to just breathe and rest.

  • Meg on July 05, 2022

    Thank you for sharing this! I so understand the deep need to go underground, to hibernate in order to rejuvenate and come back. I have struggled with depression my whole life from sexual abuse as a very young child. I learned to dissociate. What helps me is when I am having an episode is to sink into it. I know I will come back, but that behavior makes others uncomfortable. Having to fake it is one of the hardest things and honestly makes it worse. I understand my responsibility to my children and never indulged in a few days in bed when they lived with me, they are grown now. But, now since we can accept that mental health is a disease like any physical disease, why can’t we accept that the body needs the same rest to heal? Let’s normalize bed rest for a bout of seasonal depression the same as bed rest for the seasonal flu! We don’t require that someone with the flu medicate and pretend they are fine, we let them heal. I know it is different for everyone, but I am with you, I need to go deep because when I do get to, I always come back stronger.
    Take care of yourself and thank you for sharing so much of yourself, you are a blessing in my life.

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