Saturday, July 25, 2020

Anxiety - A choice to live in it or defeat it.

I never expected have have anxiety.  Sure, I've experienced that anxiety before an event, the nervousness, butterflies in your stomach, kind of anxiety.  However, I've never had true anxiety. The kind that stops a person in their tracks, takes hold of their life, and doesn't let go. The kind of anxiety that you never know when it was going to hit or how it was going to.  From crying, to trembling, to hyperventilating to blacking out; when it hits you, it hits you right between the eyes. Yes, that is the anxiety that I faced after my accident June, 2019.

It's not that my accident was so traumatic that it warranted this level of anxiety.  However as I've came to find out, that's not how anxiety works.  It doesn't care of the circumstance, it just takes hold of any insecurity it finds and digs it's claws in.  No one gets to make the choice for you if what you've dealt with in the past is bad enough to have anxiety or not.  That's up to you and sometimes like in my case, it's out of your control.

It took me two months to physically heal enough to ride again, but still 13 months later, I'm battling to heal emotionally.  Some days are easier than others, while some days it takes all I have to saddle up.  The last month has been a huge break through for me and slowly the anxiety is losing its hold on me. I refused to let anxiety be the end to my story. To let it change me or the passion I've had all my life. 

I've started to share more and more of my story the last couple months.  In doing so, I've realized just how many other people are also battling this same fight. In life we like to keep our struggles to our selves, to only show the highs and highlights of our life, but that doesn't help others in times of trial.  With that in mind, I've decided to talk about some of the vital things that have helped me literally get back in the saddle.

  • Don't wait.  The longer you take in taking action, the harder it will be to defeat your anxiety. 
  • Get back on the horse, but the right horse! At first, I knew I couldn't get back on the horse I had my accident with. It actually took the greenest colt I had to help me through my anxiety. She was forgiving and did not take advantage of my emotions. She was priceless in my time of need.
  • Small steps are better than no steps. Sometimes just saddling was a struggle, but it's better than nothing. 
  • Find your trigger. For me, my biggest anxiety was stepping on and those first few steps. 
  • Ask for help.  My husband helped me back on my horse. Since we knew my trigger, he literally held my horse while I stepped on and walked me around the corral like some kid on a lead line pony. 
  • Be mindful of negative energy. Those rodeo wrecks or bloopers seen posted all over social media are not something you need to be watching right now. 
  • Energy flows where attention goes.  Don't dwell on negatives or the past or that's where you'll end up. 
  • Let go of the fear of judgement.  Remember, NO ONE has walked in your shoes, therefore, they don't have the right to decide how you should feel. 
  • Find and understand your horse's trigger.  Learn from your horse and try to understand what caused him/her to react the way they did.  This will help you better prepare you and them for the coming rides. 
  • Breathe and be ready for detours. Anxiety doesn't keep a schedule. If you find yourself in a position of anxiety, stop, breathe and regain your composure.  But, KEEP GOING! 
  • Create a Goal, preferably with a timeline. For me, I wanted to ride my horse within a year.  Had I not set that goal, I might never have gotten back on her and just settled for riding something else.  Getting back on the horse in question might not work for everyone, but for me, it was vital.  
These are some of the key things that have helped me regain my life and love of riding. Please don't get me wrong, there were more times than I can count that I was just going to sell my horse or never get back on her.  There are still times that I have to mute the negative self talk and force myself to saddle up.  With work, EACH. DAY. GETS. EASIER.

No one wants to be vulnerable; to show their faults and weaknesses.  However, everyone has something they struggle with. That's life. As a whole, the horse industry stays silent about anxiety. But I won't.

Disclaimer: Each individual and situation is unique, so what works for me, might not apply to you.  However, I hope that this helps those that need it or those who have not experienced it, receive some insight to help others.