Friday, June 12, 2015

My life is Therapy

That's what I do with my time these days: THERAPY.

horse petting therapy

dog therapy

Apartment Therapy reading therapy

group therapy

lying down therapy

slow motion garden therapy

novel reading therapy

art therapy

writing therapy
hot beverage and comedy therapy
Instagram therapy

So you get the idea.

I sat on my horse the other day.  This was a huge event.  At times, when things in general are pretty okay, it's normal to be on a horse several times every week.  They're not always long rides, but I have tried to get on each horse at least twice a week.  Sometimes I rode two in one day.  Sometimes rode one horse twice.  It's not an impossible schedule and nowhere near what a professional trainer would put in, but it kept the horses and me in decent shape.  And now I look back, now when things are, in general, pretty okay in terms of yes I am still alive and I can leave the house regularly … I'm looking back and wondering why I berated myself for not riding enough.  It was never enough.  Not enough training, not enough barn cleaning, not enough gardening, not enough dishes and laundry and housework being done.

You know how long it was since my last ride?

Eight months.


It's not the first time I've had a long time off.  Basically, extreme winters, a couple bouts of mental illness (I blame the drugs) and two pregnancies.  I have been enjoying my horses, relieved to not be working.  I worry about the loss of income, but I don't bring that into the barn with me.  They always seem happy to see me and I love any moment I have with them.  I'm feeling better enough now that it's been really bugging me that I'm not sitting on a horse.

I got Selina to saddle Phoenix for me.  She saddled Copper for herself.  Copper doesn't deal well with time off -- she is a horse who is always better with regular work to get the energy levelled out -- but Phoenix is the kind of horse you can leave in the field like he's retired, and he's the same.  He's consistent and reliable.  Above all, I trust him.  Maybe I shouldn't.  I mean, can we trust any horse, really?  And we did have our difficulties a few years ago.  But I go out to the barn, and his eyes and ears are on me.  I rub his forehead, which always seems to be right there in front of me.  He blinks his big eyes at me, slowly, and I know I'm crazy but I feel like he's giving me this vibe that he knows I'm weak right now, and he'll take care of me.

I dragged myself into the saddle.  It used to be easy.  I settled in and remembered that last summer I was getting accustomed to this new saddle with its high cantle and deep seat.  The fenders aren't worked in yet; I had to reach down to get my feet in and the world tilted too much.  It was all very weird.  The ground was far away.  I didn't understand how this could be so familiar, something I've done all my life, and yet so foreign.

(Is THIS how it is to sit on a horse for the first time?)

I wasn't planning on going anywhere.  I intended to literally just sit there.  Phoenix didn't move.  I rubbed his neck.  He rested a hoof, I felt insecure, pressed my foot into his side, and he set on all four again.  Meanwhile Selina and Copper were practicing backing up and taking little steps forward without any head flinging or bit worrying or foot stamping, while keeping her in view of the geldings.  We'll work on the herd bound thing later.   Basically, she was convincing the little mare that everything is okay and there's no need to be so anxious.  Eventually we all stood there with sideways ears.  Even Parker, tied in the barn, rested a hoof and closed his eyes.  The anxious mare and the weak shaky anxious depressed woman were calm.

Selina put up her horse and came to get me.  She put a hand on my left leg while I pulled my right over the cantle and paused with my chest on the seat.  Why is this so hard?  This is like breathing.  How many times have I gabbed the horn, popped both feet out of the stirrups and flung myself out of a saddle, landing on both feet lightly with the reins in one hand?  Like it was nothing.  And now I was clinging to the side of my horse, waiting for the dizziness to pass, feeling around for the bench to put my right foot on before pulling the left one out of the stirrup?

Phoenix was a rock.  With both feet on the ground, I reached my arms around his thick neck and pressed my cheek on his speckled coat.  I took a deep breath and let it out.

It was both wonderful and disappointing to sit on my horse.  It was better than not sitting on my horse.

I'm going to try it again, as soon as I can.

Regardless of my mental state or physical condition, there is stuff going on.  All I'm going to say is that THINGS ARE CHANGING and I don't even know what but it's in motion.  Did you know that nothing is permanent?  None of us are permanent.  Neither are our problems.  I have to remind myself of that.  I'm not a follower of horoscopes but I happened to look at this one and took it as a reality check.  Yep, I'm getting reality checks from constellations now. Seems about right?


Undercover Sandy Cove-r said...

Be in the moment, Heidi. I like to say when someone asks me how I am, "I'm upright and mobile and thank you, Universe that I am."

Heidi the Hick said...

Thanks Phyllis! Be in the moment is totally a thing in therapy too, haha! Yes I often reply that "I'm upright and out of bed and dressed, yay!" People mean the best when they ask how you are doing. It's been tempting for me to panic because I don't really want to tell anybody how I'm really doing, if it's a bad day. But at the very least, I can say, "I'm alive!"

I knew an older fella who used to say, "I'm on the right side of the ground." That'll do.

mugwump said...

You got on your horse.
That's a good day.

Heidi the Hick said...


Paul Tee said...

I'm really glad that you're using all your resources for therapy. Grab onto anything that helps, because everything can help if you can find your way to it.

Over the years I have learned a lot about depression by reading your blogs. I always admired your courage to talk openly and not hide it, like a wounded animal, or like many, deny and pretend, wearing a mask of normalcy.

You don't write using DSM-5 diagnostic categories. No fancy technical words that seeks to encapsulate the totality of all your symptoms. But I hear it clearly in your tone, in the micro events you describe. The things around you that reflect you inner state. I feel it and worry.

I wish I could help. I pray. Sometimes I try to remind you of your strength and endurance, trying not to sound condescending.

I wish I could do more. I really have only my friendship to offer.

jules said...

I'm glad you got on your horse, Heidi. Horse therapy surely has to help. I could use some myself. I have to make due with rabbit and toad therapy. That'll do.

Be safe, be well. Blessed be.


Heidi the Hick said...

Paul - Your friendship is valued!!!!!

Jules - rabbits are good therapy and I really like toads too. There's this little fella living in the front flowerbed under the water tap. I like to check in on him.

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