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Curing Depression with Permaculture Lifestyle?

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On his goals thread, Paul mentioned curing cancer. He wants to have someone with cancer move onto the land and become cured. I asked if he's considered curing depression in this way, and he said to start a topic if there wasn't already one.

So, has anyone heard of using a change to a permaculture lifestyle to cure depression? I mean severe stuff - someone who is pretty much not engaged in life being able to move ahead and become productive.

I bring this up because I have struggled with this for most of my adult life. I have frequently wondered if I would even be able to survive if I were living off the land and whether that lifestyle would actually be better for me. I'm scared to try it on my own - because right now, I know I wouldn't survive - I'd starve to death.

What do you guys think?
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Mind you, I am not a psychiatrist, or any of those other professions that are hard to spell, so this is just my opinion.

I think depression is often a feeling of hopelessness, helplessness, or uselessness.
"Things can't get any better...I hope they don't get worst...but they probably will." sort of feelings.

I honestly believe that living in a permies environment with active permies could be a road to recovery, a cure.

Planting seeds, nurturing a plant, and finally eating the bounty brings great anticipation and hope...
...things that are often missing with depressed people.
Gardening is an easy task that brings great joy - a sense of fulfillment.

Growing everything one eats is not easy, but growing some of it is easy. It's a step towards fulfillment.
(Start with something quick and easy like radishes {+/- 30 days}, and by the time they are ready to harvest, you will be seeing your other crop plants maturing. The radishes will help build confidence that your other plants will reward you soon.)

The same thing for animals. Knowing that they partially depend on you gives a feeling of being needed/usefull. After days of feeding and watering, those eggs you take to the stove will have special meaning to you. As the days progress, you will welcome new challenges.

You can be anything you want to be. A permaculture environment will show that to you.
You would be amongst a group of dreamers who are celebrating each dream that comes true through work and effort.
Ready for the next challenge.
Being surrounded by permies will open your eyes to all of the things that you can do for a more rewarding life.

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Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
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Kathleen, I am glad you had the courage to bring up this topic. Talking about depression, and mental illness in general, is really important both for the individuals that suffer and our society as a whole.

I think that living a homestead life has many aspects that can be very theraputive to depression. Interactions with animals, a feeling of connectedness to the Earth, a sense of self-worth from creating one's own sustanence, these are all things that, IME, are very anti-depressive. Escaping from a nihlistic and materialistic cultural mentality is a positive mental shift.

On the other hand, there are aspects of this life that are challenging to mental wellbeing. The permacultural homestead life tends to be socially isolating, because it is not a common path in our culture. This doesnt have to be the case, but IME, you will find more friends at the coffee shop than in the garden, because that is where people are. You will be more valued for your contributions to your local schools than your homestead.

In short, I dont think that permacultural homesteading would directly cure depression in a clinical way. There are so many different combinations of causes for depression, that permacultural living would be more healing to some individuals than others.

Living a more meaningful life, albeit filled with physical hardship, is a wonderful aspect to permacultural homesteading. If you feel some hope in your soul that it may be a positive path for you, I would go for it with everything you have. I have found great satisfaction in the homestead life that I live. My world is not perfect, but I am content with my life, in ways that I never imagined possible in the past.

good luck!
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Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
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I don't remember where, but I read somewhere that harvesting or digging in the soil with your bare hands can release some brain chemicals that aid in balancing the mind. Something to do with our heritage as animals. It makes sense that this would apply to other aspects of being in a permacultured area. I know with my personality, I can get very disturbed and upset when confronted and surrounded by terrible design.

Some people out there have furthered the thinking that our interior lives are reflected out into the outer world and vice versa. To them civilization is a system that grows and grows by consuming the natural niches - behaving just like a cancerous cell in a body. The human finds that they are no longer in a niche, and they no longer understand their needs. This is a very depressing reality to find oneself in, and to become so engulfed in it that the cancer takes to your interior world is very rough. Just using horticulture therapy has been documented to aid in depression, permaculture mixed into that would only give more opportunities for healing.

I think Paul can succeed in his goals concerning cancer, its just a matter of time. I personally have no doubt that its possible.
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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I'm going to close this thread and ask folks to continue this discussion here:

This parrot is no more. It has ceased to be. Now it's a tiny ad:

The permaculture playing cards make great stocking stuffers:

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