This is probably going to be one of the most personal bits of writing I’ve ever put out for people to read, but if you follow me on social media, you’ll know I’ve had a rough few months and I thought that just maybe, putting things into words might help me, or even help someone else to see that they are not alone with how they feel.
Now before I get going, I want to say that struggling to protect your mental health and struggling with mental illness are two very different things. I don’t ever profess to know about true mental illness, but I am aware of how healthy I am mentally and this winter, I have not been healthy at all in that department. So, this is why…
Summer > Winter.
Winter for horse owners is rough, physically and mentally. We spend all summer working towards our goals and then the dark nights, awful weather and various other issues mean we don’t get to enjoy horse ownership so much. Because of this my mental well being always declines at this time of year. It’s hard to stay positive when you’re putting all of your time, energy and money into something and not getting the enjoyment out of it.
I personally need enjoyment, I need things to work towards and I need things to look forward to. So team the normal winter issues with Grumeti’s broken leg and I’m already getting low.
When I park my ass into Grumeti’s saddle, my mind is on nothing but him and it gives me the much needed escape from my otherwise busy brain. I always forget how much I need that until it is gone and seeing him struggling in pain and not knowing when we’ll be able to have fun together again, is really hard.
This on it’s own would normally affect me, but with everything else going on, it’s had a much larger impact on me than I could imagine.
As we’re all aware, we’re STILL in the middle of a pandemic and my good god it is getting monotonous.
If you’re on furlough you’re bored out of your mind, days merging into one, unsure of what day it is and wondering when the last time you hugged someone or spoke to another human face to face was, and, if you’re still at working, you’re in much the same boat, living just to work, yearning for some fun or a reason to celebrate.
I’ve now been on both sides of this and don’t actually know which is worse.
Winter is usually my favourite time of year at work, the hospitality industry at Christmas is just amazing, there’s nothing else like it. The constant buzz of a busy restaurant, happy guests celebrating special occasions, spending way more than they need to on wine, because well f**k it! It’s Christmas! And for us that keep the show on the road, it’s so much fun, stressful, but fun. Trying to maintain the ultimate swan complex whilst knowing you have 101 things to do in the next five minutes, powering on through to the end of service and then having a drink with your work mates.
I’ve worked in hospitality for 12 years now and this time away from work and from my team has made me realise how much they mean to me. The day that I can be back sharing banter with the chefs, cannot come soon enough.
Much like working as a team with Grumeti, I’m missing the team aspect here too. Feeling like you’re a part of something, working towards the same goals, without that in my life, I truly don’t feel like the same person.
The Personal Stuff.
I won’t go too deep into this, because, well, I don’t need to. But I feel like without giving some background, this might all just sound like I am having a big moan (which I guess I am in a way).
But I, like many people, find Christmas a struggle. I always have and never really known why, whether it’s the pressure that is put on having this ‘one special day’ or the big build up, I don’t know, but I’ve always found it hard. This year, that has been amplified ten fold.
As some of you know, but many of you don’t, I am divorced. It feels like a taboo to talk about, but there we go. My ex-husband proposed to me on Christmas day and he left a few days after Christmas 2019. Meaning that this Christmas was my first one, as a single person and with those memories.
In the build up to Christmas I just wanted to completely shut down, wished I could just sleep until it was all over and I could wake up in the spring and forget all about it. But life doesn’t work like that, especially when you have people, horses and dogs that depend on you. So I did my best attempt at keeping calm and carrying on, even if my best, really wasn’t that great an attempt.
The light at the end of the tunnel.
Slowly, as the evenings get lighter, I can feel my spirits lifting. I’m returning to the person that I know I am. I am positive, I am strong and I am happy.
This period of darkness has given me a lot of time to reflect and given me some strong realisations. One being that I love to be busy, the less I do, the more miserable I am. So I’ve picked up a new job, an essential worker role, to keep me busy until I can go back to work. Another being that as much as I love one of my horses, Baby, he just isn’t the right horse for me. So I’ve taken steps to find him the most amazing new owner and have now got an empty stable, to fill with a new arrival that will hopefully enjoy the jumping as much as I do.
Now the mean reds are fading, I’m back to just feeling a bit blue. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel and I can’t wait to get back to my blogging and to share with you the journey of retraining a racehorse, straight from the race yard. My new horse arrives on Tuesday from Alan King’s yard, so keep your eyes peeled for updates.
Thank you as ever for taking the time to read my pieces. I’m hoping to be out and about doing more yard visits soon.
Remember if you are struggling, do reach out to someone, anyone.
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