Her healing came from nature.
Water, the birds, the stones in the river.
They all had a hand in waking the zombie she had become.
It took time.
At first, there was nothing behind those eyes of hers.
Legs of lead barely moving, as she forced herself to walk.
To wake up.
Then she heard a sound…
A bird singing.
She looked and saw the water and felt the urge to touch it.
The cold forced her to see more.
Two stones. She held them in her hand. They are cold, hard, and she feels there is a lesson within the stones, within her.
She heard the bird again and thought… I am the bird.
My stones are anxiety and depression.
I am the bird.
The stones will not defeat me.
I choose to sing.
I found healing in nature.
Nature not only healed me, but it showed me the way to a better life.
In 2019, I was in a constant state of panic. I felt the sensations of panic more than I did not feel them. For me, that means not sleeping, feeling asthmatic, crying, heart palpitations, disassociation, brain fog, a lump in my throat, and trembling. I slept in a clenched state (my hands in fists) and I felt like I had arthritis.
At the time, I was the director of a mental health grant for our local school system. In this position, I was required to speak weekly at meetings and conferences. In my mind, I told myself that I was never good enough and believed that everyone thought the same. That’s what anxiety does, you know. It makes up false stories.
Before I had to present, I spent hours upon hours memorizing my presentations. I knew that once I was in front of people, my brain wouldn’t work. So I memorized every word.
My anxiety had reached an all-time high, and my self-esteem an all-time low. My hacks for concealing my anxiety and appearing to have it all together became exhausting. I had daily bouts of crying where I hid in my office closet and prayed to try and pull myself together.
Then one day I could not stop crying. I felt so overwhelmed that I left to go to the doctor and had a complete breakdown in the doctor’s office. Their solution, of course, was to write multiple prescriptions for anxiety and depression medications. Looking back, I wonder why there was no conversation about healthy choices or making changes to my lifestyle.
Back at work, I was so desperate to appear as though everything was “normal” that I began taking Xanax before every meeting. This helped relax me. My heart quit pounding, my hands stopped shaking, and my thoughts stopped racing. But I felt uneasy relying on medications to get through my day. I have always been someone who wants to find and heal the underlying reason for any problem or illness.
The anxiety and panic continued to the point where I started needing the Xanax to sleep. One night I took two and that scared me. I confided this to my doctor and he told me that dose could cause death and to never do that again. This was my wakeup call to start weaning myself off of Xanax
Then I started experiencing more physical ailments. My shoulders and neck started hurting. I got to where I couldn’t handle the sound of the television anymore. And I started staying home one day a week and I would just cry.
I was becoming depressed but didn’t realize it. One day my husband called to check on me and I start crying hysterically. He came home immediately, sat by the bed, and asked one of the most difficult questions you can ask someone. “Are you suicidal?” This was the moment when I realized changes had to be made.
I started exploring the question, “what kind of life do I actually want?”
In January of 2020, I asked to leave my director position and take a position that would give me more time to focus on my healing. I am a goal-oriented person and have a mental health background so I laid out my healing plan.
- Wean myself off of medication. (Always consult your own doctor before adjusting any medicaitons.)
- Walk outside every day for an hour without my phone.
- No social media, internet, or TV after 7 p.m.
- Clean up my diet.
- Find a hobby.
- Add supplements such as vitamin D, Holy Basil, Magnesium, Vitamin K, and probiotics. (These are supplements I researched for myself. Consult a doctor before taking supplements as they could have adverse reactions.)
- Wean myself off of caffeine.
- Wear a rubber band to snap my wrist when rumination begins and work through a CBT worksheet.
- Listen to and work through The Anxiety Guy podcast.
All of the things on this list helped me, but the two things that helped me most were getting out in nature for my daily walks and the rubber band.
When I first started walking my legs felt like lead. I felt like a zombie.
I cried most of the time I was walking and looking back I can see that it was good for me. So many years of hurting and repressing—it all came pouring out. For the first month or so I didn’t hear or see anything on my walks… I just cried. But that didn’t stop me from putting on my shoes and heading out the door every single day I got home from work. I didn’t want to at first, I wanted to crawl in bed or curl up in the fetal position on the couch. But I persisted.
The rubber band that I wore on my wrist worked as a reminder to stop ruminating. Whenever I felt anxious or panicky, I would snap the rubber band and I spend a few minutes doing a cognitive behavioral therapy worksheet. As I progressed, I would take a walk and mentally do the process in my head.
In March of 2020, I was working at a local school. We took a spring break and then never returned due to the stay-at-home order. I know that for many, this was a difficult time. But for me, it was a blessing in disguise. I spent more time outside healing in nature. My husband and I started hiking together. I continued to reap the healing benefits of being outdoors and this simple act of being together in nature also strengthened our marriage.
As I spent more time in nature, I needed the rubber band less and less. I questioned whether I needed to wear it anymore. Then I remembered how I used to enjoy making jewelry and decided to order supplies and make a reminder bracelet to replace my rubber band. I chose skull-bone carved beads for the bracelet to remind me of the time that I felt like a zombie. And I stamped the words Come Alive on a charm because that’s what I did. I came alive.
Going through my mental health crisis brought to light so much for me. It made me question my direction in life, how we spend our time and money, and what I truly wanted for my future. At the same time, I realized that my experience could help others like me. I started a Facebook group to share my story and bracelets in order to help others who were also struggling. From this group, my business, One Bird Two Stones, was born. My mission is to encourage others by providing reminder bracelets to live a purposeful life.
I left my position with the school system in July of 2021 to focus on One Bird Two Stones full-time. The Facebook group is active and has grown to 4,600 members. This is where I share my latest creations, but it’s also a community filled with inspiration, healing, and growth.
I continue to spend time outdoors every day, enjoying the healing energy nature provides. I will never forget the lessons from the stones and the bird. And I will continue to sing.
Love and Light,
About the Author
April Abercrombie is a former social worker and school counselor. She is a wife of 29 years, mother of three sons, GaGa to two grandsons, jewelry artist, business owner, gardener, and nature lover.
You can purchase April’s jewelry at: https://onebirdtwostonestrading.com/
Join her Facebook community at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1bird2stones
And follow her on Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/onebirdtwostonestrading/
ALL PHOTOS BY APRIL ABERCROMBIE