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Depression and horses

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  • Depression and horses

    Riding and grooming horses is pretty much what I live for. I'm much happier on days that I make it to the barn and ride. I am really struggling to find the energy to make it to the barn or finding any enthusiasm about an activity that has always been my life. I keep going to counselors and doctors and keep taking an everchanging medications but nothing ever seems to go better. I'm sure that some people on here have dealt with similar things- does anybody have any suggestiosns? I just really want to be able to leave the house and go ride (or do anything for that matter). The horse available to me for riding is green but not above my riding level- when I am feeling good, I really enjoy riding her- she's a fun challenge. I have all day to go to the barn since I am just living at home having dropped out of college (and classes that I really enjoyed) a two weeks ago. I just want my life back and feel that if I could get one part of my life back, riding, I maybe could get the rest of my life back. So, this is really long winded but if anyone have any suggestions I would love to hear them.

  • #2
    I know how you feel all too well - I'm in college right now myself, and deal with the very same thing on a daily basis. I find if you can just get yourself out the door, then going to the barn helps dramatically. It's taking that first step in getting there that is the problem. Do you have a parent or friend you can tell "I'm going to the barn tomorrow at so and so time" and when that time arrives they can remind you to go? Sometimes that works with me. Biggest thing is you have to be really firm with yourself. Even if you aren't going to ride, just make yourself go and visit. Sometimes the thought of grooming, tacking up, and riding is overwhelming, but I find if I tell myself I'll just go groom, or go take pictures today, that I have a better chance of getting out there. Feel free to PM me if you'd like to talk - I know exactly what you're going through. In fact, I've told myself that I'll be going to the barn by 3:00 today. And the weather's nice - I will probably actually make it.
    Dapplebay - home of original equestrian clothing and accessories.

    Comment


    • #3
      (((hugs)))

      First of all, you're not the first and you won't be the last to go through something like this...so you're not alone.

      Next....did you drop out of school due to your depression issues?

      Are you working with a good psychiatrist on those meds? Some medications work great for some people...and others do not. It can take months or even years for people who really need the meds to stay on track to find the one that works best for them.

      What does your counselor say about all of this?



      Okay...enough w/ the questions....here are some recommendations.


      1) Act as if. If you wait to "feel like it" you won't do it. So. ACT AS IF. Make yourself go. Sometimes, just getting in the habit helps.

      2) Exercise can work wonders.

      3) B12 can help.

      4) If you're noticing that your symptoms get worse seasonally you may also be dealing with some seasonal affective disorder. Check out http://www.lighttherapy.com/ The blue light rocks. I mean it really really helps.

      5) Make sure you're addressing your basic needs.

      But really...most importantly, don't wait to feel like doing something. You know you're sick right now. You are working on it. So stop waiting to just magically feel better and treat it like you do medications. They don't make you feel instantly better, but you know you need them. Similarly, you need the horses. So. Act as if you want to go to the barn and you may find that your mood improves.

      ((hugs))
      A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

      Might be a reason, never an excuse...

      Comment


      • #4
        I just moved my horses home, and with all the activity involved in moving I was just too tired and frustrated to ride for a while. What really helped me was to get dressed in my breeches and boots every morning. If I wake up and put on normal clothes, then I have to change to go ride, and that can be enough to keep me from doing it. So I moved my saddles to the feed room, and I put my breeches and boots on first thing in the morning. I may not ride until the afternoon, and I may do other chores or run errands in my breeches, but it gets me out the door and on my horse.

        That may not work for you, but something else similar may. Set yourself up to succeed. Figure out what the motivation killers are, and do something to make those easier to deal with.

        As for meds, different ones work for different people. Some people do not respond to a certain class of antidepressants, and some people will respond to one medication but not to a very similar one. If you are just seeing a psychologist and your regular doctor, try a psychiatrist instead. A psychiatrist has been to medical school so has much more training in psychoactive drugs than a psychologist or a primary care doctor.

        Comment


        • #5
          What kind of Dr. are you seeing? A Psychiatrist I hope? They are very up to date on various medications that a regular G.P. just doesn't know about.

          When I was having anxiety, my G.P. told me to stop drinking coffee... That was her answer. Sad, but true.

          A Psychiatrist finally helped me. I tried many difference medications until I found the one that finally worked. (Paxil)

          And don't forget, many medications can take up to six weeks to kick in. Don't give up hope. I'm sure there is a solution out there for you.

          Do you mind me asking what you are taking now?

          Good luck. It is a terrible feeling to have no control over how you feel, when you desperately want to get out of that haze.
          MnToBe Twinkle Star: "Twinkie"
          http://i236.photobucket.com/albums/f...wo/009_17A.jpg

          Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

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          • #6
            Try a different counselor. I had depression issues most of my life due to crappy upbringing.

            Anyways my 4th try at counseling was actually a family doctor and something just clicked. 25 yrs of OCD, anxiety disorder, and depression and with his teaching not just me talking but learning new ways of seeing the world and living in it I am HAPPY and anxiety free. I am still on a very low dose of zolof, very low but I had been on a super high dose so it is a huge improvement.

            Take the time to learn new ways/healthier ways to see the world, and your spot in it.

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks for the replys.

              I am seeing a counselor (Master's degree) and psychiatrist nurse (licenced to perscribe meds). I'm on state heatlh care so am limited to the psychiatric nurse practitioner although I think there might be differnt counselors available at the the mental health center. It's something to look into. I'm currently on prozac having been switched 2 months ago from zoloft and wellbutrin and from cymbalta before that and zoloft before that (over a 4 year time frame).

              I am going to try putting on breeches first thing in the morning and asking my mom to remind me to go to the barn. I did drop out of school because of the depression/social anxiety and want to get it together enough I can go back for winter term in January. It is a warm and sunny day out. I'm going to try to at least go to the barn and fed the mare carrots. (Besides, no one is probably at the barn, so I won't have any reason to get panic at the sight of another person and drive away before I even get out of the car)

              Thanks again for all of your suggestions and sorry about a very longwinded post.

              Comment


              • #8
                Are you and your counselors sure that it is depression? I struggled with what I thought was depression for many years. I dropped out of 2 colleges, and struggled to finish my degree at a 3rd. One night wasting time lurking here on COTH, I read a thread about depression where some posters suggested it might be adult ADD. I did some more research, talked to my GP, and decided that seemed to fit my symptoms much better than depression. Still working on getting the meds right, but even meds that weren't quite right worked better than anti-depressants had. So, I am in no way a medical or psychological professional, but you should look into ADD. It is currently called AD/HD, and the general consensus is that there are two forms: hyperactive and inattentive. I have inattentive, which is what fooled me into thinking I had depression. While I wasn't really sad, I just had no energy. Just getting out of the house seemed like a major undertaking to me... insurmountable. As did other daily tasks: laundry, dishes... my house was a disaster. Anyway, I hope this helps. Misdiagnosing inattentive AD/HD for depression is fairly common, and AD/HD in females is often overlooked anyway (apologies if you are not female). If you think this might be the problem, I suggest Sari Solden's book Women with ADD. I also suggest a book (can't recall the author right now) called ADD Friendly ways to organize your life. Implementing the ideas in these books, along with medication, has helped me dramatically. Good luck, and *hugs* as you work through this. You'll make it through, and you'll be stronger.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Depression is difficult, no doubt. It's rampant in my family and each person's experience is entirely individual. Sometimes you need to play around with various medications/dosages, diet changes, talk therapy, etc. until you find the right combination at the right time.

                  And, as horseradish mentioned, other illnesses can be misdiagnosed as depression (or manifest with depression). One thing that you should really get checked is your thyroid. Even if it is not the cause of your symptoms, a wonky thyroid can exacerbate anxiety and depression.

                  Since you know that barn visits help you, please do take BuddyRoo's advice and go every day. Whether you feel like it or not. Make it a scheduled appointment: At 1:00pm, I must go to the barn. No ifs, ands or buts. You mentioned your mom is available to "remind" you; take advantage. Tell her you need to go to the barn at this time and ask her to "remind" you of your "appointment." Once it becomes a habit, it's easier to get yourself going.

                  If the "threat" of meeting other people there causes you anxiety, make a plan in advance for what you will do if others are at the barn. This does not have to include interacting with them. It does have to include getting out of your car and spending time with your horse. Maybe have a short phrase that you'll spit out while rushing to your horse; something like "Sorry, no time, gotta do the horse." Maybe moving fast while avoiding eye contact will get you through. Whatever it is, make a plan and then stick to it. Just like you leave the house to go to the barn no matter what, you will follow your "in case of people" plan even if you are terrified, shaking, sweating, tearful and having heart palpitations. You will go to your horse. Maybe the first time, all you do is go to your horse, pat her, return to your car and go home. That's great. And once you've done it, it really does get easier.

                  Above all, don't give up. It can be very frustrating to treat depression. Sometimes patients and their practitioners will either stick too long with an unsuccessful treatment regime; alternately, they may treatment-hop too much, not giving anything time to properly do its job. Talk to your counselor and nurse practitioner about both possibilities; see what they think about your individual situation.

                  And don't feel alone. There are plenty of us out there who have felt what you are feeling and come out the other side.
                  Equinox Equine Massage

                  In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me invincible summer.
                  -Albert Camus

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    How old are you? You sound like college age, so 18-22? That's a pivotal age for many mental illnesses, like bi polar disorder (which can manifest as long periods of depression!). It can take some time to get a proper diagnosis. Meantime, keep yourself busy and get out of the house! Get dressed as soon as you wake up (and set the alarm) all the way down to your shoes, and put makeup on. Set hourly and daily goals, and make them attainable. Set some goals with your horse (things you can attain within a week or two). Keep out in public, around people. Keep working with your psychiatric team until you've successfully pursued a diagnosis. Many people go for years without a proper DX. I've seen several friends have this experience. Good luck! Get off the computer ---- very depressing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                    Here is a website that's for helping people get control of their homes and environments. It has a lot of good tips for staying busy and positive. www.flylady.net

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      You're def not alone. Most people I know are on some sort of anxiety or anti depression drug and many that aren't should be. I've never suffered from depression but my panic disorder was so severe I refused to leave the house for over a month and just the thought of having to interact with people outside of my immediate family triggered a full blown I-think-I'm-having-a-heart-attack panic attack. I was pretty young when they started (around 13) and had my first one at the in gate of a horse show...good timing. My disorder stems from my OCD/perfectionism...if I think I'm going to mess up or do something less then perfectly my brain freezes up, my heart starts to race and I have an overwhelming urge to run and hide (riding is such an awesome sport for someone like that don't you think ). The problem with panic attacks is that once you have one the likelihood of having another skyrockets..sort of a viscious cycle: the more you panic the more you panic about panicking. Anyway it went from just having panic attacks in a performance situation to having them all the time without reason or even warning.
                      For me Lexapro and Klonipin combined with counseling from my psychiatrist was/is the answer. It's an ongoing battle but I'm slowly starting to notice a big difference in my self talk and my dosages are slowly decreasing as well. I'm 20 now and fully expect to require some sort of maintenance drug for the rest of my life but I'm okay with that as long as I can continue to function and do the things I love.
                      It's a personal experience as to the best treatment...some don't do well on any of the drugs and have to rely on talk therapy alone but I think you're headed in the right direction by simply recognizing your behavior has changed...alot of people can't do that and others have to point it out to them.
                      When you do go back to school look into your university's counseling center. I know mine offers a certain number of free talk therapy sessions with certified psychologists that can offer you a referrel to psychiatrists in the area (a big plus as they can be VERY hard to get into) along with some helpful coping tools.

                      Good luck!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Do you have a friend who will go with you??

                        I also went through a horrid period of depression. I lost my dear dear mare in August after she tried to power through sinking founder for two months before finally telling me she was ready. She had been with me for the majority of my life, had been retired for seven years and had been my sweetness to go to for hugs, therapy and stability. We gave each other no expectations. I was in bad shape, crying all the time. My prospect picked up on it and became a huge brat, and for once in my life I avoided the barn. At the peak of my depression, I went to the barn once in a two week period for three minutes, then left crying. I called my mom crying just about every day. I called my mom crying from the barn once and sobbed for an hour about how I wanted to sell and get out. I gained nearly 10 pounds, stopped my other hobby I love (running) and only got off the couch to go to work. I didn't shower on my days off. I was a mess.

                        A great friend stepped in one day and asked if I wanted her to go with me, if it might be helpful. Having an understanding friend has been a life saver. Now, when I feel myself veering away from the barn, I ask her. It helps, a lot. I always talked to Aisha, even while messing with the other mare. Sometimes I had her loose near the arena where I was working as well. This friend is going out of town, and I'm already mentally lining up a list of other friends who might be willing to go out with me for a short while.

                        I still don't go to the barn as much as I used to, and I'm still not running as much I was, but it's getting better. At least I'm showering now!
                        COTH's official mini-donk enabler

                        "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          My first horse passed away 3 years ago, after a traumatic accident (that I was there to witness)... After that, I had an OTTB (fresh off the track, very willing but very green and nervous), but I was battling serious depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There was a point where I simply didn't have the energy to do ANYTHING with my OTTB (and if I did ride him, I found myself getting frustrated beyond belief, and taking it out on him, so the guilt from that kept me away from him for a while), and I went about a month without riding or basically even going to the barn much. I was stressed about school, and dealing with the depression and PTSD was just too much. I went to doctors, counselors, neurologists, psychiatrists, etc. and finally found a depression pill that worked, and managed to get my migraines under control as well. I finally found the energy and the motivation to ride again, but I didn't actually enjoy it as much as I always had. Finally, I came to the point where I realized Shadow wasn't the right horse for me, and I sadly sold him - but now I have the most amazing little mare that I love more than anything, and I'm happy to say that I'm off the depression prescription and no more counselors. So - there is hope for you... Maybe you haven't found the right pill yet? Maybe something else needs to change. Who knows... But once you get through it, life WILL get better. I also started going to church, and found a lot of answers I was looking for there. Hang in there!!!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            If you have depression kind of secondary to anxiety, getting a handle on your anxiety and learning some tools to help with it would be really beneficial.

                            There's a pretty good little book you can get too call "The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook". It's got some helpful methods for working around worst case thinking and such.

                            Also, if you get anxiety attacks, square breathing really helped me. And so did getting LOTS of exercise AND doing yoga.


                            But I'll just reiterate that it's not easy, you're not alone, and sometimes you just have to force yourself to get out and do things even though you don't "feel" like it.
                            A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                            Might be a reason, never an excuse...

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Someone brought up a good point about the thyroid. Has your doctor ordered routine bloodwork? Sometimes there can be issues there that can mimic depression.

                              ADD is also another thought. You can do some reading online about adult ADD and see if any of the symptoms describe you. I think if you do a google search for Strattera (an ADD med), you will be linked to some good resources.

                              There are also other illnesses that can mimic depression. Sometimes dietary changes will help (just eating healthier, more fruits and veggies, getting enough protein, limiting the pasta and bread). If you are having a lot of problems with anxiety, there are drugs that are better for that. Lexapro is one, and I'm sure there are others.

                              Do you have a history of head trauma?

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                OH, I forgot to add...
                                I had anxiety attacks that I had thought were part of my depression, etc... but my doctor (who i had just switched to) discovered I have Mitral Valve Prolapse. It was causing panic attacks and heart palpitations, so at times when I felt nervous and upset about something but didn't know what, I could just tell myself it was my heart condition, and relax and wait for it to be over, instead of stressing and wondering WHAT I was getting upset about!

                                Another big part of my problem was that I was headed on the wrong track in life... All my life I thought I wanted to own a stable and teach riding lessons and have tons of horses. But through this whole experience, I've learned a lot about myself. I have figured out that 1) i only want to have my ONE special horse, not many horses. 2) i wasn't ready to go to college, regardless of all the pressure i put on myself about it. 3) i was too hard on myself about EVERYTHING, and needed to realize that some things just didn't matter as much as i thought they did.

                                When i figured out that the horse college avenue wasn't for me, i started classes at the community college so that I could take my time and figure out what i really want to do in life. Eventually, I couldn't even handle the community college, so I dropped out, and have spent the last 6 months figuring myself out. I have learned a lot about myself in this time off, and I'm excited to be starting school again in January majoring in Veterinary Technology (but probably will be working with small animals, rather than equine, because I want my horse to be my FUN in life, not my WORK.)

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I have suffered from depression/anxiety for the last twenty years. It took a while to find the correct mixture of meds, to help me.
                                  Even now, there are some days I am so anxious and depressed, I don't want to get out of bed.
                                  On the bad days, I make myself ride and find the exercise and social interaction helps me tremendously.
                                  Make yourself go to the barn and try to enjoy it.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I haven't read through all of these responses-so many words! But I can offer advice from experience. I agree with the last poster, that the only one who can get you out of this is YOU. You have to fight through this, and conquer it. I know that seems daunting right now, but this is the only way you will get out. FACE THE FIRE. Go into the flames. When you don't want to get out of bed, MAKE yourself get out of bed. When you don't want to ride, MAKE yourself ride. You KNOW you feel better afterwards. I also think you should maybe have something in addition to the horses. Can you volunteer at your local animal rescue? Think about how sad those little creatures are, and how rewarding those few hours can be. Face the flames, girl. Man, I WISH someone told me that twelve years ago...

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by BuddyRoo View Post
                                      But I'll just reiterate that it's not easy, you're not alone, and sometimes you just have to force yourself to get out and do things even though you don't "feel" like it.
                                      I fully agree with this.

                                      And if it's too much to take all the steps to go for a ride, just go out to the barn in comfy clothing and hang out with the horses. Sometimes the idea of getting the horse tacked up and all the riding gear on can be overwhelming. Just put on whatever feels good, a hat if your hair is greasy, throw on a halter and take a horse for a walk. When people are there - if avoiding eye-contact helps out, go for it. Remember that barn time is for you and the horses, not the people.

                                      You know the horses make you happy - so make yourself go there.

                                      And know that you aren't alone. Don't force yourself to be alone. There are people who understand what you're going through.

                                      Reminding myself of this has always been helpful: "Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it." -Kahlil Gibran

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Wow. It is a real bear. I have been dealing with a terrible boss (you might have seen my post on off topic day a few months ago) and it really spun me down into a pit of depression and anxiety. It is taking a bit of time to shake it off mainly b/c I still work with this beast. But I found a fantastic counselor that has done so much for me. I really don't respond well to counselors b/c I find most of them are not very smart. This guy is sharp as a tack and funny and just what I needed. Keep looking for someone that is teaching what you need to learn, not repeating shit you have already read in an Oprah magazine.
                                        “If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?”
                                        ? Rumi






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