If you are one of us bothered by depression and or anxiety, this is the group for you. We will try and help each other cope and not feel so doggone guilty for ignoring our horses when we are in a phase.
Oh yes, the guilt, I got REALLY familiar with this due to my MS (which has plenty of depression and anxiety.) Since I had to put my last horse down a few years ago, my guilt load has lessened. Now I get to worry about other people's horses, but at least with other people's horses anything I do is extra (for the horse), and I get to feel good about being around the horse.
Since I started with horses decades ago, the bar on horsekeeping has been raised VERY high. Now it is not just the physical health and well-being, we are expected to keep out horses "happy". Very difficult to do when you are depressed and anxious.
One thing I have noticed about barn owners and managers though, is if you do not come out to at least check on your horse (and pay your bills) the owner/manager starts wondering if you are really serious about horses. So long the horse is in a group of horses with a friend, they are sort of indifferent about whether you come out or not. Keep their coats up (that dreaded fungus), keep a check on thrush in the hooves, and if you ride stop being ambitious. Serious ambition or even moderate ambitions can make depression and anxiety A LOT worse. You can always work on doing improving your riding slowly. Your horse really does not care if all you do is walk around if he has regular turnout in a big enough field.
And all those other snarky people who talk you down etc.. Ignore them. Worry about what your horse is thinking of you, not the people. And how do you tell what your horse thinks of you? If he is showing no signs of discontent (ears back, bared teeth, etc.), and carries his head in a relaxed manner when you ride, your horse is probably perfectly happy with you, at least as happy as he can be with a human.
Train your horse to walk on a loose rein. Then during the bad times when you can't do anything else, you can just putter around where you ride on a loose rein. Horses are lazy creatures, as long as you turn them out and do not hurt them they really do not feel a need to run around like crazy. Well, maybe on the first really nippy and windy day, or a sudden cold snap. You do not need to ride on those days if it feels too much for you.
Thank you Marti for starting this discussion.
Hi, Jackie. The last few years I have lost about 3 months a year being in serious melancholic depression, that is what my doc calls it. I do not even feel like doing anything during these episodes, but I literally make myself clean manure, brush my horse and feed her. I had to give up a free horse given to me, as I was sooo overwhelmed to have two. My anxiety is not as bad as it used to be, but the depression is worse. I recently had to get a new doctor and he upped my Paxil dosage, and it really seems to be working. So far so good, at least. Yes, I am not putting any pressure on myself anymore, I am trying to enjoy life and my horse and family as it goes. Do you take any meds? Pretty sure you probably do. Thanks for joining this group!
Nope, no meds. I found that the SSRI's (like Paxil) make my tremor MUCH worse (so much that it would be totally unfair to the horse to use the reins), and I always end up with suicidal ideation. In other words I found them a total bummer. I use some homeopathic combination remedies for depression if it gets too bad, and the medicine that helps control my MS helps some.
If you ever get bad again, consider the homeopathic combination remedies for depression. I found two that help me alot. The only thing is that you cannot use them all the time, or the remedies stop working. Some weeks I just need a drop of the remedy, most weeks I no longer need it.
Is your depression linked to a particular time of year? If it is in the winter, taking some supplemental Vitamin D may help. My neurologist says that Vitamin D helps protect the nervous system, and the times I overloaded on it (not recommended) my depression disappeared for a few weeks. Check with your doctor first with the Vitamin D, there is a blood test to see if you need it.