A photo isn't everything. Was I having fun during this shoot? Yes, of course. But was I struggling mentally, emotionally and physically at the time this picture was taken? Absolutely.
What you might see in this photo is a rider who is very balanced and confident. What you might see is someone who is in control of their life. What you might see is a happy woman. What you might see is success.
Now let's talk about what was really going on with me during this time. I was struggling. Really struggling. The demons of depression and anxiety had such a strangle hold on me that hospitalization was being discussed. There is no shame I repeat NO SHAME in being hospitalized for your safety or the safety of those around you. Sometimes that's the best option we have. Sometimes it's the only option.
I was in the middle of multiple med changes for my Bipolar Disorder. Nothing was touching the depression but I was feeling sick, dizzy, confused, severely off balance on my own two feet as well as riding, terrified of the now and the near future and let's just say it - I was fragile. My pride was fragile, my confidence in myself as a human was fragile, my confidence under saddle was broken.
I found myself absolutely terrified to ride. Can a horse trainer say that?! I was terrified. I had lost most of the sense of where my body parts were in space and time (proprioception) thanks to my new meds and I was scared I would fall off at the slightest spook or even weight shift. I was scared to be on these meds but terrified to not be on them. We didn't know how much of these side-effects would wear off. We didn't even know if they might be permanent on or off the meds.
The girl in this photo was terrified. Terrified of what life was looking like days, weeks, months and years ahead. But I had scheduled this photo shoot before things took such a downhill slide. I had made up my mind what I was going to wear and what I was going to do. At the time cancelling or changing the plan felt like some kind of failure. It felt like I would be proving to myself that I couldn't do it. That it wasn't possible for me anymore. That I would be spending my life less than what I used to be and more importantly I thought (incorrectly) in my fragile state that I was less than who I used to be.
Where was that confident girl who only said yes to challenges and opportunities? Where was that certainty I used to have? Where was my ability to work hard and get a job done?
I challenged myself during this shoot more than I could have ever imagined. I put a smile on my face, prayed I didn't fall off and gave it everything I had. That evening afterwards, I went home and balled myself up in my closet and cried until my guts hurt. I was mourning the feeling I used to have riding a horse. The feeling of freedom I took for granted. The feeling of peace that I might never feel again.
But the next morning, I got out of bed, I put my feet on the floor and I "had a day". Not a good day, just a day. And then I had another and another and eventually I made it through the med change and the five changes after that. Eventually I found stability again but it took two months. I found happiness and joy again too.
If you are finding yourself in the depths right now don't let yourself get discouraged by other peoples social media. It is only a snapshot of their lives and they aren't being honest about what is really going on. I know it's not everyone's style to share their hardships on social media. And I'm not saying you need to. But I am saying that the hard times in life demand friends. They demand a witness. They demand support. Don't isolate yourself. Reach out to someone today and be honest about your feelings. Who knows, it might just change your life.