Hannah Powell suffered burn out and was diagnosed with a Functional Neurological Disorder 12 years ago. At the start of FND Awareness Month, the garden centre owner highlights the role plants and nature can play in recovery from depression and illness
As we reach another landmark on the roadmap out of lockdown and start to get out and about more, garden centre owner Hannah Powell is encouraging people to hold on to the connection with nature that many have found whilst they have been confined to their homes, gardens and local areas. And not just because she happens to be run Perrywood Garden Centres based in Suffolk and Essex, with her father Alan and two brothers, Simon and Tristan.
In 2009, she suffered burn out and was diagnosed with a Functional Neurological Disorder, when she lived in London.
She came back into the family business in 2010 after 10 years working in PR and Marketing. Previous roles included Head of Communications for Make Your Mark, a not-for-profit organisation set up to promote entrepreneurship – she was part of the team who ran Enterprise Week annually before taking it worldwide as Global Entrepreneurship Week.
This month she is releasing a free e-book that will outline how she was diagnosed with FND, and how she found a way to get well again, having been discharged and told: ‘nothing is wrong with you’. It paves the way for her full memoir, which will be published this September.
The Communications and HR Director for Perrywood Garden Centre in Sudbury in Suffolk and Tiptree in Essex, says: ‘My Functional Disorder meant I would twitch and jerk in response to sound or touch. I looked like a peculiar air drummer with no rhythm. There was no information available to help me, so I found my own way to get better.
‘Growing up in a garden centre, my childhood was full of nature and plants. This was in stark contrast to the concrete of London, where I became unwell. After seeking alternative therapies and moving back to the countryside, I began to feel myself again. My ‘green recovery’ followed. I believe we all benefit from having mindful moments, and this can easily be done by savouring the small wonders of nature around us.’
A myriad of research shows the physical and mental benefits plants and nature can bring us. Hannah hopes that by telling her story, she can give hope to those with invisible illnesses and conditions not easily treated with traditional medicine. She would like to share some ways to bring these small wonders into your life. It doesn’t have to be left to chance. For example, by growing certain garden plants, you can ensure joyful moments throughout the year.
Her memoir’s working title is The Cactus Surgeon, as this was her dream career when she was six. Hannah has started a Facebook group, also called The Cactus Surgeon. Here people can share the small wonders of nature they come across – and learn how to bring more into their lives.
Functional Neurological Disorders affect one in three people attending neurology outpatient clinics. Yet, it is not something that most people have heard of. They can affect anyone. The diagnosis covers a range of difficulties in how the body works, including paralysis, seizures, pain, anxiety and difficulty speaking. April is FND Awareness month, and Lorraine Kelly is a patron of charity FND Hope UK.
April marks World FND Month. Those interested in reading Hannah’s e-book can sign up to her newsletter at www.thecactussurgeon.com. Her full memoir will be published in September 2021. Find The Cactus Surgeon on Instagram and Twitter.