Do you ever feel like your life holds a certain amount of irony?
I had possibly one of the hardest weeks of my life last week, which understandably left me feeling so hopeless and down, then what do you know, the next week is mental health awareness week.
I don’t want to dwell on events which made this week so hard but instead focus on what helped me to get over these events. I had a car accident on my way to my last university exam, which I missed because I had to spend the day in hospital. The crash was my fault, I just didn’t react in time but thankfully no one was seriously hurt. I’ve always tried to find one positive in every day, it helps me to put my day into perspective. The positive for this situation was that I have such a strong network of friends and family around me and whilst I didn’t necessarily feel like I needed to test my relationships, it is comforting to know that people were there when I really needed them.
That was the beginning of the week and really the only awful event to happen. The rest of the week just consisted of annoying, bad news which alone I would have coped with but all in one week was just too much. On top of this, I injured my back and neck in the accident and couldn’t ride so was going out of my mind in that way too. I even finished off and laid new bedding for my horses on the day of the accident because I just needed some normality, although I don’t advise that as I really paid for it afterwards. Also my car was most likely going to be written off and couldn’t be driven. Looking back, this was one of the things that got to me more than anything. I lost my independence and suddenly had to rely on others to ferry me around like a child. My routine had gone and never had I just wanted to hear my alarm in the morning, hop out of bed and drive off as I do every day. My brain is a workaholic and constantly has steam coming out of it, especially as I have been trying to rationalise this whole situation. It’s the catch 22 of knowing that others have it far worse than you, so then you begin to feel guilty at your own feelings, as well as just feeling immensely overwhelmed with emotions. I “suffer” with a guilty conscience at the best of times, and at this time I felt so guilty for being so sad when I was lucky enough to walk away from this accident unscathed.
Eventually, I stopped dwelling and forced myself to be as normal as I could. A weekend away with some friends had come at the perfect time and really took my mind off the weeks events. I made myself drive a short journey in my Mum’s car before I went away- I explained it as I needed to get back on the horse, otherwise I will have a greater issue when I needed to drive again. I also took one of my horses for a hack, I couldn’t go away for the weekend without riding! However when I returned the previous week’s feelings did too, probably made worse by a weekend of drinking and minimal sleep.
“It’ll turn itself around, you’ll see.”
“You’ll get some good news soon!”
We have all been stuck in a rut and that is the million dollar question, when? I am old enough to know that my life has not just turned into a hub of negativity and bad news, although sometimes I would just like to know when I can expect some good news to give myself hope! That’s normal isn’t it?
I’m really lucky with the yard where I keep my horses, we are always planning and doing things together. We had organised a beach ride between us for the Tuesday evening. I knew I would be pushing it, I hadn’t ridden much, I wasn’t even allowed to ride! It would be a late night and I had my dissertation poster presentation the next day, I would have to drive myself for over an hour…
There were so many reasons not to go in my head, however, I knew I needed to. For my own mental health, I wanted to go. Horses are the best therapy and I needed some therapy! I love going to the beach, it is one of my favourite activities to do with the horses. There is nothing better than galloping a long stretch and feeling safe and comfortable enough to let them stretch and blow off some steam. I think that’s what Milo and I both needed, to blow off some steam.
So, that’s what we did. And he was impeccably behaved, and I drove confidently there and my back did not hurt at all. I realised that yes that awful thing had happened but I didn’t need to put so many barriers in place because of it. My life will go on, I mean my car insurance isn’t worth thinking about! Everything in life is a test, 3 years ago I could have never coped with that whole week, however through finding the positive in everything, I did cope. I know there will be tougher challenges to come in my life, especially as one chapter of my life is currently closing. I am so lucky in my life and never did I think that something which upset me so much would end in me feeling more grateful than ever. Without my friends, family and animals I don’t think I could have done it. When in Brighton I saw so many posts for Mental Health Awareness Week with the slogan: “you are not alone”. Similarly on Horse & Hound’s Facebook the slogan: “We need to look after each other like we do our horses.” This is something I feel strongly about, especially following on from last week. You don’t have to be diagnosed with a mental illness for your mental health to slip, even just a bad day at work or a bad ride can affect you. The most important thing is to be honest. Help is always there and more people care for you than you realise. The research surrounding horse rider’s mental health is growing with hopefully more systems put into place for those that need help. It’s good to talk about mental health and how you are feeling. We are all human after all, even Charlotte Dujardin!