We speak to member Dee Crute about nature, healing and neurodiversity

, 14 March 2023
We speak to member Dee Crute about nature, healing and neurodiversity
Dee Crute at Woods Mill

Tell us a bit about yourself

I am 36 and describe myself as a writer, photographer, naturalist and adventurer.

I studied biology, then biotechnology, and worked in the animal physiology and reproductive toxicology department in academia in Poland. I currently live in Hove, but am looking for an opportunity to move into the countryside to be close to nature and thus heal from trauma.

Thank you for being a member.

I actually re-joined recently because I had cancelled all memberships when I was hit with the heating bill!

Winter at Woods Mill © Dee Crute
Winter at Woods Mill © Dee Crute

When did you realise that nature was helpful to you?

As an undiagnosed, neurodivergent child, I was always drawn to nature. I would pick up injured animals and care for them at home until they were ready for release. As a teen, I struggled with my neurodiversity, and my only solace was taking my horse and disappearing into the woodland.

At the time, I did not think about nature this way - I just felt I belonged there.

I realised how healing and necessary it is in 2013 when I escaped an abusive relationship. I first went to Malling Down nature reserve, near Lewes.

Seeing birds, beloved creepy crawlies, the mosaic of different plants, and the smell of the soil - I felt at home. I felt I could do anything.

What is it about being in nature that helps you?

Mindfulness - even when my ADHD brain is buzzing and anxiety debilitating, solely walking or running amongst nature will do. You need to take heed of uneven surfaces, precipices, and plants. This way, you become conscious of your surroundings. You wake up from the urban haze. All your senses are sharp - you can hear tree susurration [rustling or whispering] and different calls of birds. Stopping and trying to identify species is the most calming thing ever. Being in nature is so good for your brain on so many different levels.

Which of our reserves do you visit?

Malling Down, Woods Mill, Southerham farm, Ditching Beacon, Withdean Woods, Old Lodge, Brickfield Meadow, Seaford Head, The Mens, Graffham Common, Ebernoe Common, Iping and Stedham Commons, and West Dean Woods.

What do you like most about them?

Each site is unique - and even similar habitats differ, No two heaths are the same. I love following seasonal changes at each reserve. It means much more than just aesthetics - it helps my autistic brain to accept that changes are good and necessary.

What is your favourite thing to see?

I like visiting heathland during summer to spot arachnids, butterflies, and beautiful heathers. Woodlands are magnificent during autumn and spring, studded with fantastic fungi and birds.

Find out more about Dee here 

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