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On top of the world struggling

Last week was my first FEI show and I’m thrilled to say we came out better than we went in! Besides having an amazing horse (obvs) we also had super courses and fantastic weather. I really couldn’t have been set up better for a great week.

Something that I don’t talk about much is depression. I work very hard on staying positive, and trying to recognize when I’m down, when my circumstances don’t add up to the feelings I’m feeling.

I know we all say to speak out about depression but in my experience a couple things happen: being misunderstood and the fear of being misunderstood.

I heard MSNBC news anchor Rachael Maddow say once in an interview that her feelings are a symptom of her depression and not her true self; this is something that really resonated with me. It’s easy to spiral down when all you have is the feelings you’re feeling without the context of the fact that you can’t control it and that it is a disease.

Another thing I’ve learned to do is journal about it. I might write “April 2nd – can’t stop crying, April 3rd – super angry, April 4th – not so bad.” Or sometimes I might write in my journal in more detail what has happened that day. But for me somehow taking note of the feelings seems to disconnect them from myself and really make me realize that they aren’t necessarily mine as much as they belong to the depression. I spend time thinking about my gratefulness and all that I am thankful for in my life to help spin things the other way… and even when I can’t think of anything I can always think of Arthur and Stella and even some days Alex (jk Alex).

Something else to know about depression: you don’t have to constantly feel this way to be defined as depressed. It can come and go as often as every few days or as infrequently as once a year. It doesn’t make it any less real or difficult.

Absolutely you should talk. Find someone safe to talk with about the feelings you have, and there may even be a super simple way to deal with them. The most important thing for me is to be able to say to the people close to me, “I’m struggling today,” and it doesn’t mean you have to handle me with kid gloves, but expressing it helps me stay in check with the fact that it will pass and in that moment I need to recognize my limitations.

These few simple things helped me last week in a really important time for me, as my world seemed to spin around me. I hope they help you too.

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