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Can I vent? Mental illness...

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  • Can I vent? Mental illness...

    Okay, so, basic facts about me: I'm a professional trainer who suffers from mental illness, previously diagnosed as treatment-resistant depression but possibly bipolar as I not too long ago suffered a really frightening manic episode due to an antidepressant. I was literally delusional. Fortunately I did not do anything unfixable and I also have people to help me look after my critters, so they are not at risk (I set up a system to specifically ensure they would not suffer if I was unable to care for them). I probably would not have gotten into horse training had I gotten this diagnosis before I was well-established in the career, but while I always knew something was wrong, it was never concrete until I got good enough health insurance to actually see a psychiatrist a couple of years ago.

    My vent is just that I feel things slipping lately, and I can't seem to do anything about it. The horses are still getting ridden, but only because I have coping strategies to make sure I have to ride them every single day that they are scheduled. My personal horses are sitting untouched in their field. I've been sleeping pretty much constantly when I'm not riding, I need to fix some fences (not essential but a major eyesore) and do some work in my home which I am renovating, and none of it is getting done. And I know it is obvious that I'm just holding things together as I've lost weight and a couple of my students have commented that I don't seem like myself. They say the lessons are still good but I worry about that, too. I like my clients and want to make sure they get what they pay for.

    I'm using my coping strategies and holding it together but it is really hard right now. The animals have never suffered and that is a point of pride for me, but it isn't much. I'm really good at what I do and I wouldn't want any other life, but it's a lot of responsibility when you're battling a mental illness as well. I just feel tired all the time and not much else. This is especially frustrating because things are objectively going really, really well. I relocated about a year ago and things were rough for a bit but they're really taking off now and I should love the clients I have and the life I'm living (and I don't mean "should" in the "other people would" sense, but in the "when my illness is under control I would" sense), but I just feel tired and numb instead.

    I don't even know why I'm posting this except I want to talk to horse people who might understand what I'm going through. So anything you want to share that fits in the thread title, whether it's your own vents or advice or whatever, is welcome.
    exploring the relationship between horse and human

  • #2
    If you are tired all of the time, has your dr ever had your blood tested to check your B12 levels?

    I suffer from depression... been on meds for 9 years so far. I was having trouble with being tired and no motivation and my (new) dr ran blood levels on me. My B12 and D were extreamly low. 6 weeks after supplementation began I was a new person with tons of energy. My levels were checked 6 months later and my b12 was low. I now have to take a 1000mg B12 pill every day, and a D every other week .... but it is worth it for the difference in energy and 'give a dam' levels!


    • #3
      I have had a few friends that were manic-depressive, or by-polar and I know it is a life long struggle to find a middle ground and stay there.

      Life is about struggling for all of us, some more than others.
      Seems that you already have a good support system in place and that will make your life easier when you are not quite yourself.

      What I found was very important for them is to be very aware of where you are mentally, dissasociate if you have to.
      You don't want to let the extreme phases take over your life, when medication and therapy can't control them all the time well enough.
      Your censor needs to be active, so you can keep the big picture in mind, not let emotions rule alone, be they highs or lows.

      I seem to have the opposite problem, my rheostat is stuck about the middle, a tad over toward's happy.
      That is fine, I embody reliability and that is great to work with and understand animals, as they too don't seem to suffer those kinds of emotional extremes like some people do.

      As a human, it makes life a little bit duller when you don't have great heights or such lows as to make life interesting, if maybe glad they are not as far apart as those you must be suffering.

      Please, whatever you do, stay with your medications and therapy, even if they are not making you as good as you would wish, or making you feel good enough to think you don't need them any more.
      To stay with them and keep looking at ways to be better, covering your bases, checking other that may be contributing to not feeling well, as the poster above mentioned, is extremely important, as I am sure you know.
      I had a friend that was doing ok and at times so well he would quit his medications and he is sadly not with us today.
      One big help to him thru his life was exercise, he would run many miles each day and that he thought kept his mind more in the right place.

      Life is hard for everyone, just in different ways.
      Keep reminding yourself that you are not the only one, that some struggle is part of everyone.
      Each one of us gets to handle our realities our way, best we can and that is OK.

      Any time people are in positions like yours, where others depend on you, here your horses, then the picture is more serious.
      Not because of your mental problems, it would be the same for some that are fine but alone.
      All of us have to see that those under our care have others than ourselves looking after them.
      It seems that you are already doing that.


      • #4
        Jingles & hugs for you ~ Keep working your plan and building your support system ~ sending Jingles for strength and some peace and to feel better/stronger soon ~
        Last edited by Zu Zu; Aug. 30, 2010, 10:14 AM. Reason: addition
        Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


        • #5
          CosMonster I am so sorry for your situation. My sister also has treatment resistant depression and her doctor has actually advocated ECT. That scared the heck out of my her!!!

          I just read an interesting book about depression in order to better understand what my sister is going through. It is called "Shoot the Damned Dog" and it was written by Sally Brampton, who created Elle magazine. According to her, one of the therapies that really helped her was yoga. She also advocated therapy and medication (of course) but also exercise, getting the thyroid checked, omega 3 supplementation (fish oil), blood testing (she was also low in B12), and acupuncture.


          • #6
            Also, do not be afraid to call on friends to help you through a difficult time.


            • #7
              I agree with getting a medical evaluation, checking on vitamin levels, amount of any other meds in your system, etc. If you are in a part of the country known for ticks, it wouldn't hurt to check for Lyme, and all the other lovely tick borne illnesses, either. Those diseases are known to make you foggy, extremely tired, and depressed.

              My brother is bipolar. One thing that helps him is to keep a short journal, and make "to do" lists. You mention all your horses, fixing fences, remodeling the house, and your student load. Add to that establishing your business this last year, and keeping up with basic housework, meals, etc.-even if it's just you- that's a very full plate, and it's been a long, hot summer. I'm tired just thinking about it!!

              Perhaps establish a game plan biweekly-X amount of lessons a day, on Thur. afternoon, fix fences in SW paddock. On a light lesson day, paint smaller bedroom, or other small part of the renovations. Check off each job you've finshed. There's a certain amount of satisfaction, and an emotional uplift, when you can cross "done" stuff off the list!

              Don't look at everything and think "OMG, There's SO much to be done! That in itself can make you feel overwhelmed, and then you don't even want to try....Been there, done that! Try to parcel out/plan out the day, the week, whatever works for you.

              Best of luck, and take care...


              • #8
                Congratulations on facing it, knowing, it, managing it, and making it work. That is no small task. Own it- it's huge of you to have stepped up and shaken hands with the disorder/disease that is depression. So many can't, won't, or don't

                I hope you are seeing a therapist to help you a) manage your meds and reactions to them and b) to help you manage YOU?


                • #9
                  CosMonster, I sent you a PM... FYI, I'm having some server issues here at work, so it may have come through several times!
                  Originally posted by Martha Drum
                  ...But I don't want to sit helmetless on my horse while he lies on the ground kicking a ball around without a bridle while Leatherface does an interpretive dance with his chainsaw around us.


                  • #10
                    I am the mother of a daughter with bi-polar disease and paranoid schitzophrenia. We have had 21 years of crisis and suffering. It hit her about age 13. She is now on meds that work. Keeping her on them is the next task. When she feels good and is flying on the level, then she thinks she doesn't need the meds any more. She can't stop taking them. She will be on them the rest of her life.
                    You have faced the problem and sound like you are dealing with it.
                    Get a complete physical. Have your vitamin levels checked. B complex and D are critical.
                    Have the thyroid checked. My daughter is on thyroid now and it is helping her.
                    Check your diet. Many food allergies can cause depression. Use fresh foods and avoid preservatives and artificial color and flavors.
                    Don't over do. Plan out your day.
                    Take time out to sit and focus on yourself. Be kind to the person you are and don't judge her.
                    Take one day at a time. The fence will get fixed a little at a time. Prayer works for some. If you have faith in a superior being tell Him your problems and ask for His help.
                    Stress can make things worse than they really are. Take time for yourself to get a moment of calm.
                    Also a phrase my older sister told me, "this too, shall pass". Look for the good things in your life. You could be surprised how much you have to be thankful for.

                    JMHO sadlmakr


                    • #11
                      I was just diagnosed with Lyme disease, and doing some reading about it.

                      Apparently, Lyme can often present symptoms that cause misdiagnosis of bi-polar.

                      If you haven't had bloodwork done, please do so! Outdoor work = higher risk of exposure to diseased ticks.

                      Originally Posted by JSwan
                      I love feral children. They taste like chicken.


                      • #12
                        I feel for what you are going through. My whole family has battled depression, my mother, my sister (major depression), myself, my son, and my 13 yr old daughter have all dealt with it to varying degrees. All the ideas put out so far are wonderful, I have one more to add. If you are female (good odds in the riding community), are you on the birth control pill? If not, you should seriously consider trying it. There are 2 out there which are specifically approved for severe pms (eg pmdd) and they seem to help women with depression. They are Yaz and Yasmin.

                        I personally am on Yasmin and within the first month began to regain some energy and interest in life (and I am on anti-depressant and have been for 10 yrs) but this helped quite a bit.

                        Also, depending on your age, peri-menopause could be playing a number on you. It truly can be quite miserable. A trip to the female dr might be helpful, even if you think you are too young, they can run blood tests to determine if the hormones are out of whack.

                        I know personally, my sister, when she was 55 (and menopause was done) called me one day and said "for the first time in my life I look forward to getting up in the morning". Most of her issues had been caused/aggravated by hormones.

                        Good luck to you, and keep up the battle.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by MyGiantPony View Post
                          Apparently, Lyme can often present symptoms that cause misdiagnosis of bi-polar.
                          My friend's husband was diagnosed several years ago with Alzheimers. Long story short, he had Lyme. He'd taken a trip back East and was bitten and didn't realize it. When he was treated for Lyme, the Alzheimer symptoms disappeared.

                          To the OP...you ARE coping NOW. Pat yourself on the back. I don't have any medical advice, but hang in there. The horse business is difficult under the best of circumstances. But, if you're doing what you love, then that has to help, not hurt, right?


                          • #14
                            What I can offer: any papers from scientific/medical journals you want, and I'm happy to "translate" for you. Wishing you the best.
                            a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues


                            • #15
                              During my freshman year of college I battled depression due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I always have been an overachiever and suddenly I wasn't able to handle everything that I used to. Long story super short, I spent 3 days in the psych ward at the hospital. It seriously was the best thing I've ever done for myself. I learned that 1.) I wasn't the only one with these problems, 2.) I don't have to take on the world everyday, 3.) Success sometimes is just accomplishing one thing per day, even if it is just eating a meal. I dropped 6 hours that semester and let myself get a "B".

                              The most important piece of advice that I can give you is to not look at what has to be done. If you need a "To-Do" list, write one, but limit yourself to x number of things, such as 5 things to do that day. It makes it easier to handle.

                              Also, every time you successfully use one of your coping strategies, give yourself a pat on the back rather than putting yourself down because you had to use it. Being a prideful person makes it hard for myself to accept using coping mechanisms, but coping mechanisms are good, not shameful.

                              Be sure you have a support system as well. Keep your support system informed because they can and will help you.

                              Lastly, remember to point out to yourself why you are here. If that means taking the day off to just go sit with your personal horses, then do it. My support system and I know that I couldn't have gotten through what I went through without my horse and my dog. It's easy to get so caught up in life that you forget why it's even worth living.


                              • #16
                                CosMonster are you seeing a doctor or taking anything now?

                                I agree with checking complete thyroid panel, B12 and D.


                                • #17
                                  Cos Monster you have many things in place for you to be able deal with what's happening. You're getting treatment and that's a good thing. I don't have any sound advice with Bi-polar disorder and I won't pretend I know anything. It seems as if others have offered very good advice.

                                  I think one of the things I wanted to touch on is your personal horses being in the field. The way I read it it seems you are feeling guilty about that. Don't feel guilty. They are quite happy being pasture pets until you have time to work them in to a schedule. And even if they don't get worked into a schedule for some time they will still be happy. I have one of my personal horses on 24/7 turnout and another I'm sendiing away to a professional because I am completely and utterly burn out from the horses and needed to tone it down a little. They are all still loved, get looked after, and have all they need. They will be fine until I get organized again.

                                  Many of the things you mention and some of the things you're worryiing about get put off by what you may term so called "normal" people. I have a wooden pole sitting in front of my house that I bought last week to replace another pole. I pass it everyday and think, maybe today. You are being way to hard on yourself. I don't know what location you're in, but considering the summer you all had, that in itself would be enough to make people want to sleep through to fall. The Spanish have built a whole culture around nap time - the siesta! Don't want to feel guilty about sleeping in the afternoon pretend you're in Spain.

                                  Bascially what I'm trying to say is, do what you can each day and do not beat yourself up when you don't accomplish something. You are getting treatment from doctors and that's a good thing. Other suggestions about Thyroid and vitamin deficiencies seem like valid issues you may be dealing with.

                                  Keep your chin up, and keep trying.

                                  COTH, keeping popcorn growers in business for years.

                                  "I need your grace to remind me to find my own." Snow Patrol-Chasing Cars. This line reminds me why I have horses.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Thanks for the kind words and support everyone, including those of you who have sent me lovely PMs. My computer died yesterday so I don't have much time to respond until I get it fixed in about a week, but I'll reply better then.

                                    Reading all this support has really made me feel better, though. And I did schedule an appointment with my doctor to check my thyroid and B12 levels. Lyme isn't common in my area but we've had a wet year and tons of ticks so I'll get checked for that too.

                                    I am seeing a therapist and we are tweaking my medications which is probably part of why I feel things are so out of control.

                                    Thanks again.
                                    exploring the relationship between horse and human


                                    • #19
                                      I am glad to hear your last post.
                                      I am praying for you to get leveled out.
                                      Sounds like you have a handle on it.
                                      You are no different than the "Normal" people. If there is such a thing.
                                      We are all going through problems. You are not alone.
                                      I have projects I will probably never get done. But there are ones that are a priority. So I try to get them done first.
                                      Hang in there. We are pulling for you.
                                      Kind regards, Sadlmakr


                                      • #20
                                        As someone with long-term depression issues, I encourage you not to assume your feelings are strictly mental.

                                        I had a case of Rocky Mountain fever last spring from a tick (I live in TN where it is actually more common than the West) and I could have easily mistaken it for a depression episode. But luckily my doctor did blood tests for tick borne disease and got me on the antibiotics.

                                        Also, I second the B12 and D vitamin. I wouldn't even wait for a test, just take some and see if you feel better, neither will do any harm.

                                        Also, not sure of your age, but this could be perimenopause starting up.

                                        Again, don't always think it's mental/depression - we get sick like other folks, too!