For 15 years of my life I have been struggling with moderate to severe clinical depression and anxiety. I was actually diagnosed this past March and started taking Prozac not long after. I really love those posts on the internet that romanticize depression, you know the ones pretty skinny girl, a single tear, some kind of candle or wilted flower... its all bullshit. Complete and utter bullshit.
Depression is sleeping all day because you can't get out of bed, its not taking a shower for a week until people start commenting on your hair, losing weight because you can't bring yourself to make food its too much energy, no matter how well your ride goes you still hate yourself, not being able to get to the barn because you are so overwhelmed and the thought of driving is almost sickening.
I ended up pouring all of my self worth into riding well, winning at shows, being told i'm a good rider. Which as we all know is NOT healthy. Imagine the downward spiral when I messed up at a clinic or show. I felt like I had to know everything and if I didn't I was a failure.
Failure. Undoubtedly the scariest word in all known languages.
If I didn't make it to the Olympics I was a failure and would let everyone down. You can see where this is going... I don't have a lot of money I'm lucky my mom rides too and understands otherwise I don't think I would have horses at all. So in the highly political who's who of the Olympic selection committee I really don't stand a chance unless a millionaire would like to sponsor me. When I was finishing High School I came to the realization that millionaire's didn't become millionaires by throwing money around. This included that I might never get married and be able to split an income. So now I had to plan a future where I was 100% supporting myself and my horses and my dog. You can imagine how well that went over with clinical depression. I think its a real stumbling block for young riders.
One minute you're riding in junior / young rider all hopeful maybe I can go pro! And then reality sets in and oh my god I've turned into an adult amateur. I don't know about anyone else but adult amateurs are made fun of constantly. I can't tell you how many articles and facebook posts about "I'm an adult amateur so therefore I suck at riding! lol pass the wine!" Which is where my own personal irrational fear of failure came back recently with a vengeance.
There are a couple things wrong with this. Adult amateurs do not suck at riding and we don't need wine for every occasion. We like wine, big difference. (personally I wouldn't turn down a good pinot grigio) However! I have also been to winter clinics where we all drank hot chocolate and hot tea, so there! And the next falsehood! Adult Amateurs are the Queens of riding.
Merideth? why do you say such a thing when we aren't featured in magazines and such?
Ill tell you. Who else can hold a full time job, ride and train a horse, and make their life look somewhat under control? Adult Amateurs that's who. We are freakin superheros of the horse world. Going to the barn at weird hours around work. Riding even though we're tired. Succeeding on one or two horses come hell or high water without playing a numbers game of "one out of these 12 horses will probably succeed" We are awesome. Full stop.