It was the absence of noise that I noticed first when my family and I moved from a semi-detached Victorian house in Ramsgate to a 1920s bungalow on a two-acre plot in the Weald of Kent in January 2017. Arguments in the street, horns blaring and the thumping bass of a neighbour’s party were gone, replaced by the gentle soundtrack of wind in the branches and a blackbird’s morning song. We’d thought a rural good life would make everything simpler, calmer and easier – that our family would feel more connected and be less distracted by Wi-Fi and work. I wanted to live in a way that did less damage to the planet, to learn forgotten skills and had hoped to find a place in which my problematic natural restlessness would subside. Yet as my husband and I got to work on our new patch of Kentish mud – balancing learning how to sow seeds and trim hooves for the first time with two children (then three and seven) and two demanding careers (me as a small charity CEO, journalist and author; my husband as a filmmaker) – the cacophony in my brain dialled up instead of down. Over the coming months I attempted to will the peace I craved into being with a frenzy of activity. I grew every vegetable and herb I’d heard of – and some I hadn’t – and as I tried harder to make my vision into a reality, my palms blistered, my freckles darkened and I felt increasingly out of control. Within two years I had gained plenty of brassica-based knowledge but also added a diagnosis of anxiety and depression to my life. I had scaled back my career and shrunk from friends. I struggled to make decisions, had become afraid of driving and suffered emotional peaks and dips that made me wonder if I might have bi-polar disorder. Gone was any idea of my husband and I growing closer through our shared work on the land. Instead it felt as if we were on different paths, our relationship pulling taught as they diverged. Finding the time and energy to earn money to maintain our smallholding, doing the work on it and trying to recover from my mental health wobble seemed like an impossible triangle. We were in the backbreaking, marriage-straining reality of the good life and finding that it didn’t feel very good at all. In June 2019, I finally tipped off a ledge I’d been teetering on for years. I was having a crisis, a breakdown of some sort, and perhaps I’d been having it in slow motion for some time. My kind GP did all he could; listening to my ashamed and scattered spiels and referring me to the local psychiatric service. He appealed when his referral was rejected but, when I was denied help for the second time and put on a long waiting list for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy instead, it became clear that I was going to have to find my own way out of the internal mess I found myself in.