Mental Health

Riders as a whole seem to be pretty conscious of their health: physically, mentally, and emotionally. We all want to be in sync with our horses and know that in order to do that, we have to be fit in all of those ways. I don’t mean having the body of an Olympic track athlete and achieving a state of nirvana with every ride, but achieving balance in whatever way works for each of us.

Getting physically fit has always been the easy part for me. Thanks to genetics and *mostly*Β  healthy habits, I can maintain a decent muscle mass without too many lifestyle changes. Where I struggle, and have always struggled, is the mental game.

I’ve mentioned in many posts how timid a rider I was when I was younger- crying in almost every lesson because I was scared to jump, refusal to move up a division even though my horse could do it in his sleep, and general terror at everything my trainer asked me to do besides trotting. But not trotting too fast because that was scary too.

And I’ve also mentioned in many posts that I’m much more confident now! I still have my “oh crap” moments, but I’m much more willing to try new things and trust my mount. I’ve done so many things that scared me as a kid and had so much fun with all of it.

So I’ve conquered one of my mental blocks (for the most part….I still get a little tense when the jumps go up. At least now I’ll still give it a try despite the nerves!). But I have another mental block that wanders its way into my life every fall. SAD. No, I’m not saying that this mental block is a sad thing. I’m saying that my mental block is Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Some of you likely have dealt with this too- it’s surprisingly common among women. For those of you who haven’t, it’s basically the winter blues on steroids. Symptoms vary from person to person- personally, I get lethargic, tired, stop sleeping well, lose interest in EVERYTHING, get super anxious for no reason, and am basically miserable from October to March. Not to say that every day is a bad day or that I take no pleasure in anything, but the balance of good-to-bad days gets thrown waaaay off.

This has come back around at me for ten years now, and I’ve handled it with varying degrees of success over the years. It’s no coincidence that I’ve changed jobs/moved/picked up hobbies almost exclusively in the fall and winter- changing things up and staying busy seems to help. Being around the horses helps for obvious reasons- it keeps me active and getting fresh air. I take vitamin D and walk outside and have a light box in my office and eat super clean and cut out caffeine and do all of the things I’m supposed to do.

And that’s all certainly helped. But I still had days where getting out of bed was TOO much, and even the thought of doing something routine like taking a shower or brushing my teeth was overwhelming. And that was not ok with me. I have too many goals to accomplish and too many fun things to do for me to be fine with lying in bed with bad breath.

So I’m really happy to say that I finally talked to my doctor about it last year and we came up with a game plan. I’m not planning on sharing my medical history (any more that I already have…lawlz), but I will say that ten years in, I finally DID something about it instead of sitting here dreading the colder weather. I got to love the changing leaves and snow like I did when I was younger.

I didn’t hate winter last year for any reason besides how STUPIDLY COLD IT IS OMG. I guess I can’t blame it all on the SAD.

The takeaway? I’d like to urge any of you who deal with the “winter blues” to talk to your doctor if it starts to get too much. And always feel free to reach out to me if you just need someone to talk to or bounce ideas off. My crazy would love to hang out with your crazy.

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35 thoughts on “Mental Health

  1. Allison Stitzinger 09/21/2016 / 8:19 am

    Girl thanks for being brave enough to share this!! I am a fellow SAD sufferer, though mental health in general has been a struggle for me for a long time. It’s truly amazing what a big difference we can make, and how much happier “normal” can be when we take care of ourselves and take steps to balance our brains! High fives for a happier winter this year!

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    • hellomylivia 09/22/2016 / 1:29 pm

      Self-care all the way! Making plans for this to be a very happy winter indeed πŸ™‚

      Like

  2. Stacie Seidman 09/21/2016 / 9:02 am

    SAD is so real. I notice it starts as soon as the sun dips low by 7:30. For me, I’m not to any point where I can’t do all the things, but should it get that way, it’s so nice to know that there’s help available. Thank you so much for sharing!

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    • hellomylivia 09/22/2016 / 1:29 pm

      There’s such a spectrum- I think it affects way more people than most realize!

      Like

  3. Monica V 09/21/2016 / 9:32 am

    Dude, for real, I get exactly what you mean. So true too, if anyone has issues–go speak to a professional! You got some lady balls to share this

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  4. Abby F 09/21/2016 / 9:51 am

    I sleep really well most of the year… But come fall and I can’t fall asleep. I also get REALLY anxious at night (like afraid of the dark, convinced I hear noises, etc.). I feel like an idiot, but it is what it is and it happens EVERY year!

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    • Abby F 09/21/2016 / 11:06 am

      On a much happier note, I’m excited to see you guys at Culpeper next week! I’m bringing my new puppy… Should be interesting! πŸ˜‰

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      • hellomylivia 09/22/2016 / 1:32 pm

        I have a lot of those same symptoms! I always feel silly when it hits but like you, it happens like clockwork haha.
        Yes I can’t wait! And omg yessss puppy I’m so excited to smoosh that sweet little face. Gonna make a great show pup πŸ˜‰

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  5. shelbyrallen 09/21/2016 / 9:58 am

    Good for you for taking care of yourself, and for being brave enough to share. The mental part of our health is just as important as the physical! As someone who also struggles with anxiety, especially in the winter!, know I’m always around too to chat! πŸ™‚

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  6. Britt 09/21/2016 / 9:59 am

    I’m glad you brought this up. Not that we need to make all our personal details public, but by showing that there is no shame in getting help you’re setting a positive example for others. Thank you for that.

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    • hellomylivia 09/22/2016 / 1:41 pm

      I’m rarely accused of being a positive example, but I’m glad to be in this aspect πŸ˜‰

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  7. Hillary H. 09/21/2016 / 10:03 am

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m not one to post a ton of super personal information on my blog but I know people that have dealt with SAD and it helps a lot when you try to take control of the situation πŸ™‚

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    • hellomylivia 09/22/2016 / 1:41 pm

      For sure- taking any sort of action, no matter how small, can make such a big impact

      Like

  8. Karen M 09/21/2016 / 10:07 am

    I really like your approach–you’d go see a doctor if you had the flu, why not for seasonal affective disorder? SAD isn’t as much a thing in Texas because winter here is less sucky, but I think this advice could go for any mental health issue!

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    • hellomylivia 09/22/2016 / 1:42 pm

      “you’d go see a doctor if you had the flu, why not for seasonal affective disorder.” YES. THIS. Could not have said it better myself.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Centered in the Saddle 09/21/2016 / 10:29 am

    I have it a bit, too, but not as severely as you. Up here in the Great White North (aka Wisconsin), during the winter there are so few hours of daylight. And I’m in a new job this year where I don’t have access to natural light during the day, so I will at most get to see the sun for about 30 minutes during my morning drive in…oh no I’m getting depressed just thinking about it. Thankfully my boss is very flexible with my schedule so I can hopefully get in morning rides some days and enjoy fresh air and sunshine (WHEN IT’S NOT -20 DEGREES OF COURSE). Good for you for making a positive change!

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    • hellomylivia 09/22/2016 / 1:43 pm

      Gahhhh the coldddddd. Fingers crossed that you’ll be able to get those morning rides- what a perfect way to start the day with sunshine and pony love!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. heartofhope10 09/21/2016 / 11:14 am

    You’re a badass or not only sharing, but being so strong! I’m looking forward to reading about all your winter adventures with the Frankenator.

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    • hellomylivia 09/22/2016 / 1:40 pm

      Hehe sooo many adventures planned, I can’t wait to share πŸ˜‰

      Like

  11. CallyJumps 09/21/2016 / 2:02 pm

    Thank you for sharing this, it’s a big thing that rarely gets talked about. I get it, though not to your extent; its really exacerbated by working the night shift, so being on a mid and being able to go ride (though sometimes getting out of bed to get there is tough!) helped a lot last year. Hopefully this year goes much better for your, especially with Frankie to keep you going πŸ™‚

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    • hellomylivia 09/22/2016 / 1:47 pm

      Ooof the night shift just sounds brutal. Getting to ride during the day must help immensely! Frankie is the actual best support system πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Heather 09/21/2016 / 4:45 pm

    I think as riders, mental help is one of the few things we tend to forget about in the grand scheme of things. But really, it’s one of the most important I think, so thank you for sharing and bringing this to light! It’s so hard to admit something might actually be wrong sometimes, and seeing others acknowledge that is helpful.

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    • hellomylivia 09/22/2016 / 1:48 pm

      I definitely agree- I know so many of us tend to try and downplay the mental struggle and “soldier on,” and taking a moment to really assess our mental states can be so necessary

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  13. K 09/21/2016 / 11:05 pm

    I get something very similar- my schedule keeps me basically inside sunrise to sunset year-round, and I get STIR CRAZY not seeing the sun, particularly not seeing the sun while on a horse. Lots of curling up in bed, sleeping, aches, and pains. I need the caffeine because my schedule doesn’t let me sleep as much as I should, but I try to eat clean and care for myself. It’s definitely frustrating. The light box is an interesting idea!

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    • hellomylivia 09/22/2016 / 1:40 pm

      I seriously can’t recommend the light box enough- I’ve been using it since college and it makes SUCH a difference in energy levels!

      Like

  14. Avery 09/22/2016 / 10:14 am

    Thank YOU so much for sharing your story. Love the honesty and the bravery. I bet you have helped many people by sharing. There are so many ‘things’ in this life that can make a person feel alone and knowing that someone feels the same way sometimes makes a BIG difference. Mental health is as important or more important than all other aspects of health. Not just for us riders, either. Thank you!

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    • hellomylivia 09/22/2016 / 1:39 pm

      Absolutely! I think we tend to get so wrapped up in our own “thing” and forget that every single person on the planet has a “thing.” And that makes such a world of difference to realize that

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Micaylah 09/22/2016 / 11:26 am

    I totally get this. I love how you are so open about it. I have a good amount of crazy, and I definitely need to start taking vitamin D this fall

    Like

    • hellomylivia 09/22/2016 / 1:38 pm

      I figure we’re all crazy in our own way, makes no sense to try and hide it πŸ˜‰

      Like

  16. Tracy - Fly On Over 09/23/2016 / 9:11 am

    I’ve struggled with mental health since my teens, in various shapes and sizes, and the best thing I ever did for myself was do whatever I needed to feel better. I don’t have diagnosed SAD, but winter is always tougher for me than summer.

    I’m so glad you took your life into your own hands and talked to someone about getting an even better quality of life ❀

    Like

    • hellomylivia 09/23/2016 / 9:23 am

      I think you’re absolutely right- different approaches work for different people, and at the end of the day, you have to find what works for you as an individual!

      Like

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