“It’s ok to not be ok”
A simple sentence that means a lot to many. To me, it meant relief, it meant support, and it meant that I was not alone.
Bear with me, this is not a short post and not something I have spoken about too many people.
In 2010 I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, I became introverted and I withdrew from society, I lost all drive and did not want to leave the security of my home. My problems started long before my diagnosis, but I ignored it…… I buried my head in the sand and pretended things were going to be alright, kept cramming all the things I couldn’t deal with into the closet of my mind, where I would not have to face it, until one day the door collapsed and they flooded me. In the run-up to this, I had no idea what depression could do to people, how completely debilitating it can be, and how it can destroy a person. As far as I was concerned, it was not a “real” illness, so I resisted any attempt to get help…… my male ego told me “it is NOT ok to not be ok”. I have never been more wrong!
The Oxford dictionary defines depression as “feelings of severe despondency and dejection”. This does not even come close to it. Your thoughts literally become parasites that eat away at your personality, destroying your self-confidence, and undermining everything you do…. and they breed quickly! Every hint of negativity they encounter gets pounced on, consumed, and enhanced, till you can literally see no reason for anything anymore, all you can see is the spiralling vortex of negativity in your own mind.
So how do you get past it? how do you move on and return to yourself? That is the tricky one. Everyone is different, there is no quick fix or magic remedy. There are many individuals, doctors, trained professionals, and organisations out there that can guide you, that can help you to find the path back to yourself, but it is down to you to take it when you see it, to finally be able to say to yourself that it is ok to not be ok. When you can accept that, you can start to move forward and find your own path again.
So what has this got to do with Eventing and horses? Well…… As Equestrians, we always put ourselves under pressure. If we are not at competitions competing, we are at home competing with our past selves. We are always striving to see the progression, and it doesn’t always happen, but even when we do see it, there is always someone out there waiting to tell us why it wasn’t good enough, what we did wrong, or just generally undermine our achievements. My time dealing with depression has taught me to cope with this, but I know many people that don’t cope with it, that get stressed by it…. and what can stress lead to? You got it, depression. Stress is one of the leading causes of depression . So how can we relax and “destress” ourselves? Go ride our horses of course! Then have some bitchy person start the whole cycle all over again!
So I ask all of you, next time you get the opportunity to support someone, or say something nice, please do. You never know what trials they may be going through. Their achievement may be inconsequential to you, but to them, it could be the only thing that is buoying them up. An untidy clear round at 70cm, could feel like completing Badminton to some people, who are we to make them feel any different! Everyone is facing their own private struggles, help them face them, support them, and congratulate their victories.
I will leave you with some photos of my support network, Including my gorgeous Palomino Bert, who saved me when I needed saving. Who taught me it is ok to not be ok. Whenever you feel at your lowest, there is always a reason to fight on. He was mine, I hope any of you out there that may be struggling, have found your own reason to fight on.