In June 2018, I’d come down with a flu-virus that progressively got worse. It transpired that I had what was commonly known as post-viral fatigue. It left me with debilitating chest pain, headaches, brain fog, unwavering fatigue and breathlessness (to name only a few.) My struggles meant I was unable to work my self-employed painter/decorator job. It left me practically bed-stricken with such difficulty concentrating that TV wasn’t even a relief. I remember one day, while lying on my back-garden patio, that I couldn’t physically get up to feet! My batteries were undoubtedly empty and no amount of sleep made a difference.
Carl's story | Nature for Health
With little help and no hope of the medical profession alleviating my distress, it was easy to despair. However, my resilient nature encouraged me, as I tried any and every alternative health treatment to help me recover. It wasn’t until 14 months after falling ill that I felt well enough to be able to push myself again. At this point, in April 2019, with the intention of just testing where my baseline was, I opted to volunteer for the Flintshire county council countryside service based at the beautiful Wepre Park. Initially, I’d go home feeling worse, taking multiple days to recover from the exhaustion, but slowly I found myself volunteering more frequently; feeling a sense of reinvigoration, mental clarity and ultimately joy. My recovery appeared to be progressing exponentially! Whether it was the fresh air in my restricted lungs, the calming sound of the flowing brook or even the feeling of fulfilment I got from doing something for the environment and wildlife I cared about…something worked for my health. This green prescription was breathing life into me again.
From here, in June 2019, I discovered the North Wales Wildlife Trust's Our River Wellbeing project. While the project focuses on the sustainable management of the Dee catchment by combating the spread of invasive, non-native species; there is also an important focus on the health and wellbeing of its volunteers and that appealed to me. With special mention to the attentive project officer, Helen Carter-Emsell, I’ve since enjoyed nearly 2 years of service to the cause. I’ve met many wonderful people, learnt many new things, received numerous training opportunities and felt inspired. So much so that I decided to begin studying Countryside Resource Management F.D part-time at Reaseheath University Centre. I now have my full health back and I’ve never felt better.
The healing power of nature is no myth and the benefits of volunteering really can change your life. Take my word for it. And if you need more convincing, visit our Nature for Health webpage, to find the facts!