Michelle's story - gardening and Parkinson's

Gardening helps Michelle manage her Parkinson's symptoms and take back control. She tells us how gardening has given her hope for the future, and why it's important to stop and appreciate nature.

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

Gardening to take control

"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 3 years ago at the age of 43 was a shock. It's a condition 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, which has made me feel back in control of my life again. And as my Parkinson's progresses it becomes ever more vital to keeping me physically and emotionally well.

More than a tremor 

"A lot of people think that Parkinson's is limited to having a tremor, but it's so much more than that. Although I'm still young, Parkinson's has made my movements stiff –sometimes I'll freeze and feel rooted to the spot.

"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.

"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! 

Getting back to nature

"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.

"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 stop to 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 a garden near you

Take time to get back to nature by visiting a garden with the National Garden Scheme.