This gardener had an unusual story to tell about his first impression of Bridewell as his car broke down on the way to his first visit!
He described how a member of staff came to collect him & his wife, warmed them up (it was winter) with a cup of tea and made them very welcome.
Warmth was a theme throughout the story. He described how people at the garden seemed happy and the atmosphere was warm if not the temperature. He saw someone his own age which helped. It was less ordered than he had imagined. He had thought it was for mentally ill people but there was all this potentially dangerous equipment lying around (sharp instruments).“Later I understood it was about personal responsibility”.
“It was like the film Groundhog Day. How each day turned out was up to me”
This gardener said he’d learned about the effect of other people on his thoughts and behaviour. He said “It taught me to look after my own well-being”
“I’ve had good days and bad days here but they’ve all been learning days”
Bridewell gave him the confidence and ability to think about returning to work. He thought that the fact that it wasn’t paid work gave him time to enjoy it and concentrate on the process. In his previous work it had been time-pressured and results-pressured. He described Bridewell as “a kind of role play for working but in a way that would look after your well-being as well”.
“Planting a tree – it’s not just digging a hole – there are better ways of doing it, to improve the experience of the tree as it grow”. This is a good metaphor for life.
He described how in his previous life he’d led two existences – work (which made him so stressed) and the rest but now he’s integrated the two aspects and realised that he can earn money while living a contented life. He understands the sense of fixing a £600 car regularly rather than crying on the way to work in a brand new car which he was working all hours to pay off.
"I appreciate what I've got and find joy in it rather than chasing the next thing"
He described how his breakdown saved his life – it stopped the cycle of addiction and suicidal thoughts and since then he has moved to a place where he can live happily without need of them or medication. He has acquired the skills of patience, become less judgemental, has learned to listen to others who will have a different slant and to hear what they are actually saying rather than what he thinks they’re saying, without pre-judgement. He says he has got rid of a lot of preconceptions.
He has made friends at Bridewell and says it will be hard to leave but has plans to work for himself and set up a gardening business. He will be participating in an accredited gardening course which he is excited and privileged to be on.
He is keenly aware of the impact his journey has had on his wife. “The partner goes on the journey without the joy and help I got. I do feel guilty that she didn’t get what I got but I’m addressing it”.
"It’s a massive privilege to be here and to tell my story. My commercial self would franchise Bridewell!"
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