27/05/2018 21:02 BST | Updated 27/05/2018 21:02 BST

Gardening Helps Me Cope With Parkinson’s

My garden is my space, the one place that hasn’t been touched by Parkinson’s, even when I’m in it

Anxiety and depression are a huge part of living with Parkinson’s.

They come and go, a bit like a mist that comes from the sea and creeps in without you noticing, until you feel down, and you don’t know why.

Being diagnosed with Parkinson’s aged 43, three years ago, was a shock, it’s an illness that can really dominate your life and make you feel totally out of control.

But for me, things that I plant and nurture in my little garden have helped me focus on the future in a positive way, and this has made me feel back in control of my life again.

My garden is my space, the one place that hasn’t been touched by Parkinson’s, even when I’m in it. It’s my meditation. And as my Parkinson’s progresses it becomes ever more vital to keep me physically and emotionally well.

A lot of people think that Parkinson’s is limited to having a tremor - it’s so much more than that. I’m only 46 now but Parkinson’s has made my movements stiff - sometimes I’ll freeze and feel rooted to the spot. I feel like I’m turning into the Tin Man. I never thought that I’d feel so vulnerable and worried about leaving the house. Unfortunately, people aren’t always that understanding when you freeze in the middle of a busy shopping centre and they’re trying to get by.

And according to the charity Parkinson’s UK 40% of people with Parkinson’s like me experience anxiety or depression too, and that combined with all the physical symptoms and reactions you get from the public when your symptoms are visible can make it hard to keep going. But I push myself, and one of the places I still feel really confident is the garden centre – it’s got a relaxed atmosphere and there’s no need to rush. I’d go there every day if I could, but my husband might object to that!

Michelle Harvey
At the garden centre

So, I'm no Monty Don but gardening has changed my life and it could change yours too whether you have Parkinson’s or not. Even if you don’t have a garden try to get outdoors and enjoy nature – or even somebody else’s garden this summer…

This year, through the National Garden Scheme (NGS), thousands of lovely people with exceptional gardens are opening them up to the public to raise money for charities including Parkinson’s UK, which provides help and support to people with Parkinson’s and invests in research to try and find a cure. It’s a charity close to my heart.

Please get involved. Get the healing wherever you can, and I personally think that life is not about reaching a certain destination it’s about the journey through each day. Parkinson’s at least teaches us to slow down and at times stop and admire the flowers along the way.

By doing this I believe we are capable of experiencing a profound beauty that may pass others by. So learn to live in the moment and appreciate life, because who knows what tomorrow will bring.

Find out more about gardens opening near you this summer to raise money for charities including Parkinson’s UK visit the NGS website.

For information about support about living with Parkinson’s visit