About this iReport
  • Not verified by CNN

  • Click to view barbaraanne's profile
    Posted September 21, 2012 by
    Lyons, Georgia
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Are you living with depression?

    More from barbaraanne

    The Unexpected Things That Save You

    The Unexpected Things That Save You

    I came to a ruin — the house that I bought for a small amount of cash in a poor Georgia town. I bought it over the internet, sight unseen, region unimagined, culture unknown.<br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/back_of_house_339.JPG"><br><br><br>

    A beautiful town in Connecticut was where James’s mother lured me with the promise of family inclusion and support, after I had to close RFM. This was my living room. <br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/livingroom_edited-1.jpg"><br><br><br>

    When I needed the help she promised three years later, owing to job loss, she ran. I was going to be left to die, like garbage on the side of the road. They tried to offer James shelter in the unrenovated guest house of their new $750K home, which they bought without telling us.

    My stabilization of him created a human being his mother had never met before. Robin Williams with an edge. Covetous emotions ensued, and I was fooled into thinking I had found a second family. In truth, I was just an inconvenient means to an end, not a daughter. Everything I believed about her for three years was a lie.

    I had a nervous breakdown. Severe clinical depression followed, as did high blood pressure. James said he would have sat on the sidewalk, homeless with me, rather than give into the corruption of soul and crime of neglect that caused him perhaps all the misery in his life.

    I came to a ruin.

    Mr. Putnam’s wife Carolyn had died of cancer 5 years earlier, and his broken heart had let the garden die. He was an old Southern man. “She’s trouble,” he said to James, when he first met me.

    But as we moved in in March 2005, met the huge beetles that liked air conditioning, met Craig the pest-control guy who is now a good friend, I started watering this garden.<br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/JamesandBarbarasGarden1.jpg"><br><br><br>

    My little house sat on a half an acre in a town where nothing happened. Quiet and stillness reigned, with no stresses that could trigger James’s illness.<br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/gardensmaller.jpg"><br><br><br>

    The first year, I went out in my garden in the 102-degree heat every single day and watered roses.<br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/roses1.jpg"><br><br><br>
    Then there were these thin leaves. I had no idea what they were. It turned out, they were day lilies. If I thought it was a plant and it came out of the ground, I stood over it with a hose.<br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/daylillies1.jpg"><br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/daylilly1.jpg"><br><br><br>

    We fed the birds.<br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/GardenBird2.jpg"><br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/GardenBird7.jpg"><br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/GardenBird13.jpg"><br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/GardenBird14.jpg"><br><br><br>

    I saw my first baby gekko, <br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/gekko.jpg"><br><br><br>

    spiders,<br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/spiderscopy.jpg"><br><br><br>

    a baby salamander with a blue tail, and a toad.<br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/toad1.jpg"><br><br><br> Have you ever looked at a bug, and known that bug was looking back at you?<br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/buglookingaatme1.jpg"><br><br><br>

    Suddenly things started to flower. There were these big yellow day lillies, completely art nouveau with the most amazing shapes, almost as tall as I was!<br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/lilliesgiantyellow15.jpg"><br><br><br> Flowers popped out where I didn’t know life existed. Roses bloomed. I learned about blackspot. I started spraying rose leaves with a spray bottle, turning over each leaf because I didn’t know about those $20 sprayers you can get at Lowes.

    Then James put in irrigation. We have three systems: one for roses, one for the drinkers in the rest of the garden, and one out front. Cost: $350 and James’s brains.

    Then I planted hydrangea.
    <br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/hydrangea91.jpg"><br><br><br>
    Four colors of azaleas came out.<br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/azaleas1.jpg"><br><br><br>Then tuscarora crepe myrtle,<br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/CooleyTree111.jpg"><br><br><br> camelias, <br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/camelias1.jpg"><br><br><br>confederate roses,<br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/conrose1.jpg"><br><br><br> dahlias, <br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/dahlia1.jpg"><br><br><br>lilies, <br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/PinkLillies2.jpg"><br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/orangeandbrownlilly1.jpg"><br><br><br>calla lillies, <br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/cllalillly2.jpg"><br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/coloredcallalilly1.jpg"><br><br><br>irises, <br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/irissmall1.jpg"><br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/irissmall2.jpg"><br><br><br>gladiolas, <br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/fullredgladiola.jpg"><br><br><br>Japanese hibiscus,<br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/japanesehibiscus1.jpg"><br><br><br> magnolias, <br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/magnolia1.jpg"><br><br><br>the cherry tree gets all pink in March, <br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/cherrytreesmall.jpg"><br><br><br>and my stars — the deep red amaryllises, which became giants during the three years we’ve lived here.<br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/Amaryllis4small.jpg"><br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/Amaryllis10small.jpg"><br><br><br> They sit under a willow tree beside the fish pond, <br><br><br><img src="http://www.barbarasdreams.com/images/house/flowers/fishpond.jpg"><br><br><br>with our dumplings. They were starvlings when we came, and have since had babies.

    That garden saved my soul. I emerged from clinical depression like those flowers emerged from plants that had been left for dead.

    Who would have thought that a girl from Manhattan would be saved by the flowers in a Georgia garden. But I think it is the unexpected things that save you when you emerge from mental illness, newly functional, with the humility and wisdom to wonder at new life in the Spring.
    Add your Story Add your Story