You’re never too old!

Happiness.

As a child I was OBSESSED with horses. I had so many horse-themed things in my childhood, from key rings to fact books to a set of Barbie’s stables. I absolutely loved them. Until the age of 18, however, the closest I had got to riding one was at Skeggie beach on a donkey.

I came from a big family (I am one of 8 siblings) so a hobby as extravagant as horse riding was just something we couldn’t afford. My grandma paid for me to take up piano lessons, but nothing ever really made up for the fact I couldn’t learn to ride. It was all I wanted! 

When I turned 18 I went to university and met one of my closest friends, Holly. She had learnt to ride as a child and also loaned a horse for many years. I was lucky enough to visit the stables where she loaned her horse and got to sit on one for the very first time! After that I was eager to have real lessons. At university I joined an equestrian society and had a handful of (expensive) group lessons with the girls from uni. However, it was just too expensive for a student to maintain and the stables that we rode at were also really far to get to via public transport, so I had to stop learning.

Years went by and I left university, took up teacher training and started my career. I was busy and didn’t have time to think about much else… until depression hit me last year (alongside the horrible anxiety that I still have now). After that, I couldn’t even get out of bed let alone think about hobbies. Just having a simple smile on my face was a challenge.

After my partner told me that I needed to get something for myself ‘or else’ I knew exactly what I needed. (I know he just wanted what was best for me and at the time I really was just sitting at home feeling sorry for myself.) I googled stables in my local area and booked my first riding lesson with them.

This was a few weeks ago and now I really enjoy my private lessons. The first few lessons I had, I joined a group lesson but this was usually made up of children (because generally adults don’t really go and learn new things it seems!). I’ve quickly learnt the basics and how hard it really is to  control a cheeky horse with a strong mind of its own!

The biggest lesson I have learnt, however, is that having a hobby is so important when you’re battling a mental health problem. Just knowing that you have that one thing that you can escape to can make a world of difference. People told me that exercise is good for you and I always hated the effort of going to the gym, but I finally knew what they meant when I began riding lessons. No matter how low I feel, every time I’ve had a lesson I’ve felt much brighter and happier than before. 

I’m so lucky to have something that I enjoy that is all for myself. It’s easy to look at how I progress and I can’t wait to see what I will be able to this time next year or in ten years. You’re never too old to learn something completely new! So do it today! 

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YOU time.

Self help

I woke up this morning to the awful news of the terrorist attack at the end of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. My heart goes out to all those affected by such a tragic incident that should never have happened. It got me thinking, as most tragedies do, about how we should all keep our loved ones as close as we can because we never know what is going to be round the corner. I truly hope those parents with missing children or have lost their children can find peace. I cannot even imagine the pain they must be suffering. We saw some wonderful acts of kindness as all people fled to help, with taxi drivers offering free fares to safety and hotels opening their doors to people who needed it most. Know that although something so evil has happened, there was love and kindness around at the time and this can help people to try to remain positive.

Why we all should have a hobby!

Self help

Just lately I haven’t been inspired to blog (although I have been keeping up a little with Elefriends and other people’s blog posts). However, something that happened at the weekend made me think about how to take care of my well-being a little better. Why is it that my CBT therapist kept telling me to get a hobby? Was she just trying to get me to distract myself, or were there any real benefits from it? Well, I have to say that it definitely is the latter, and I was able to prove that to myself last Saturday.

Reaching out.

Self help

When you’re feeling depressed, anxious, angry, confused (insert other emotion here) it can be scary. You feel like you’re the only person who feels this way and that it’s not normal. You look at other people’s lives and they seem perfect in comparison to your own. But did you ever think, if every person put their own problems in a pile, you’d probably take yours back? Everyone is fighting a battle, some bigger and more challenging than others. Something that seems so trivial to you may be a mountain of problems for another. The thing is, some people feel able to reach out whereas others don’t, can’t or feel there’s nobody to reach out to.

A love letter to myself.

Self-esteem

Today I was feeling low and tearful, so I reached out to Elefriends (an organisation lead by the charity MIND, where you can openly speak about your mental health and meet other people in similar situations). I explained how I was feeling and was worried about how I was going to get through the weekend with this low, horrid mood. A wonderful person gave me the best advice; to write a love letter to myself, much like I would write to a friend I cared about that I needed to cheer up. So, I thought what better place to write this love letter than on my blog, so other people can see it and take the same advice? Perhaps you don’t know how to write kind things about yourself. Or you’re finding it difficult to think of things. You don’t have to read mine, but for me, this is a step that I want to take in order to remind myself that I AM great despite all things (mainly my brain) that tell me that I am not.