Watering the plant

My old approach to depression and anxiety was to take a wilted plant (me) and try to engineer exactly how to force it to stand up straight again. “Reinforce the stem!” “Correct droop 30 degrees!” “Leaves, uncrinkle!” And then I went about implementing those changes, essentially by rigging up a traction apparatus to hold the cracked, desiccated plant in the correct shape and flattening the crumbling leaves with my palms.

Of course what the plant really needs is simple: water, sunshine, perhaps some fertilizer. It does not need to be micromanaged, and no amount of rigging and instructions can take the place of water. Most of the desired aims achieve themselves when the plant is hydrated– the plant stands straight and the stem is turgid. But some of the aims were mistaken– perhaps it was time for the dried leaves to be shed.

When you’re in pain or you sense something is deeply wrong, what you need is probably not to be corrected. You need nurturing to grow back to health. Of course there are times when a plant needs to be pruned or splinted, but when it comes to emotional issues, top-down corrections are probably missing the point. What the plant really needs is life itself.

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