Saddle up against depression!

Sounds like a slogan for a fund-raiser, don’t it? Hmmm….Let’s wait till I’m manic and I’ll organize one. Of course, when the big day arrives, I’ll be too busy crying to participate. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ve had a helluva week.

Okay, Big Sis, git yer dorky helmet and let's go already!

Okay, Big Sis, git yer dorky helmet and let’s go already!

There are many nicer pictures of Zil saddled up and ready to go…in this one she looks like a little Ute pony named Pinky, and tied to the wreckage of our old porch at that. However, I chose it for its authenticity…taken on 2/16/13, while I was in the midst of one of my worst, most relentless depressive stretches – punctuated by mixed manic mishaps – in recent memory (still in it, too). If it was warm enough at all, I’d determined earlier, I was going out with my little sister Zil every day, and I was being pretty good about it.

And, oh my gosh, so was Zil. That beautiful soul has either been meeting me at the gate or coming to me when I call her, every day. If you have read earlier posts, I referred in one to how stand-offish her nature has been, because of the way her mother whisked her away to the opposite end of the property when she was born, not allowing any imprinting to happen. So for her to be being there for me, actively, consciously, during this difficult time has been life-affirming beyond all expression.

I’m fairly sure most of us bipolar or depressed or other persons with MI have heard how essential exercise and sunshine and fresh air, with or without sunshine, are in the management of our conditions. Go out and walk. Go out and jog. Go walk your dog. Get your bike.

Ride your horse! Why, oh why, did I choose that one??

– (It must be pointed out here, of course, that exercise seldom serves alone as a management tool, and that even with all systems in place, not even a healing horse can prevent all breakdowns) –

Anyway, the horse thing. It’s not just the struggle to get out of bed, figuring out what to wear, getting shoes on (or deciding how much available energy there is to squeeze on how many layers of socks), and dragging-ass out the door that we all share in common. There’s also catching the horse…

Whee!

Whee!

…tying the horse up…

How can I get this annoying halter off?

How can I get this annoying halter off?

…sorting through the mental fog to locate special, specific, grooming brushes and then freezing fingers off…

Okay, what's the quickest way to get those dredlocks back?

Okay, what’s the quickest way to get those dredlocks back?

…and then she goes to sleep…

Zzzzzzzz....

Zzzzzzzz….

…waiting for yours truly to lug the saddle, saddle pad, bridle, etc….!

Ugh

Ugh

…but what do we know?

IT’S ALL WORTH IT!

Our rides lately have been from a mile to four miles, depending on the condition of the county road, the fierce-ity of the wind (it’s been brutal but that generally doesn’t stop us), and most especially the effectiveness of our communication through the aids and, of course, telepathy. Our most recent ride she had her most epic spook since she was a three-year-old, at large sheets of black plastic blowing wildly off a decrepit trailer…boy, I was glad I had a saddle horn. No telepathy whatsoever.

So…my week. Despite our best efforts, I did have an episode during the week, which made it even harder to keep going.

So the next day, I pushed through my depression and self-loathing, and went out and saddled my faithful Zil again. Mainly because she was waiting. Zil helped me through the day, and got me back some self-esteem, too. Although nothing is certain, I know that riding is an essential help to keeping these occurrences to a minimum. I am thankful for her and for the strength of our family’s love and empathy for one another, without which I could not exist.

And we kept on riding. It’s called keeping the faith.

Blog for Mental Health 2013

I pledge my commitment to the Blog For Mental Health 2013 Project.  I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others.  By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health.  I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.

I would like to thank Bipolar 2 Dad for pledging me and turning me on to this project!

I don’t even remember when I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1. I believe I’ve had it all my life, but my first diagnosis was clinical depression. I was finally diagnosed bipolar in early my 20s. I’m bad with dates, but I’ll never forget the words spoken, by my boss, on the phone, the night I lost my job as a medical technologist a few years ago:

“You don’t have to come back to work.”

Thank God.

Since my diagnosis, I’ve been on almost every medication in the book. Some combos worked for awhile, then stopped working. I believe I am on such a coctail now. It has only seemed to work. Unfortunately, after decades, even as a Christian, I am still searching for the peace and acceptance that so many fellow bloggers seem to be able to achieve.

A few fellow bloggers that I would like to offer to pledge to the Blog for Mental Health 2013:

Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities And Remaining Sane Blog

maggiemaeijustsaythis

bipolaronfire

The Sprightly Writer

Mirror Mare

bullyI looked out the window to see what the girls in the north pasture were doing. Zil is bored, since I haven’t been riding or otherwise sharing her healing powers lately, but she and the others always know when there is activity in this north part of the house, like when people are going up the stairs. So they stop what they are doing, and look at the window with pricked ears. So this time I was sneakier with my spying, looked out the kitchen window. I chuckled.

“Zil is being a bitch,” I told my daughter. “She just bit Sunflower and is bullying her around. For no reason!”

Sunflower is my daughter’s chestnut half-Arab.

“I just had a mean thought,” my daughter said. “But I’m not going to say it.”

Whenever someone says that, they know that they are going to say it. Because

“Okay, now I’m curious. Just say it. I won’t get mad.”

“She had a good teacher.”

Ahem. “I assume you’re talking about her figurative mom, not her literal one?”

“Ya…”

I chuckled some more. I don’t doubt it.

Tempo is no bitch, after all. A sweeter equine never walked the earth.

It’s funny, isn’t it, how our animals seem to be reflections of ourselves? My daughter says Sunflower is like her because she is lazy and loves food. I had no comment on that one except that “all domestic horses are lazy and love food.”

Just like teenagers.

I know that a bipolar mother is not an easy creature to have raising you…

…so I don’t get mad when my kids talk like this to me. In fact, I encourage it. They are always respectful about it, and I always hope that I am inviting enough for them to feel comfortable expressing their feelings and thoughts about me and my unpredictable moods and behavior. I feel that humor is a great way to do it. It serves as a tension-reliever. My family can make jokes at my expense, and I think that makes us all feel more secure.

There are other formats, too, like family meetings, where it is safe for the kids to air their feelings and concerns. With mental illness in the family, communication is essential. I hope to touch on this some more soon in the other blog, “Siege of the Spirit.” (I say hope, rather than plan, because between the bipolar and the migraines I know the uncertainty of trying to “plan” anything).

So, in conclusion, here is another delightful picture of Zil being ugly.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Going for the “Least Photogenic Horse” award, I imagine. Maybe Brandy insulted her. Maybe her sense of humor sucked. She looks like she’s trying to keep her temper though, or just half asleep. That was sometime in 2010.

Okay so here is a cuter one, this past fall, in the arena after a ride:

My leg itches

“My leg itches.”

If you are reading this, I hope your team wins the Superbowl!  🙂

Baby’s bone chip fracture

 

Little Zil - before her injury

Little Zil – before her injury

Zoom back to 2007: One day in late September, when little Zil was five months old, we were watching her zip around. As usual, it was a delightful sight. But something was wrong with her hock.

We got closer, and examined it. There appeared to be two small wounds close together oon one side, and one on the other side. We couldn’t figure out what it was, but we settled on it being a dog bite. It was odd because though we also had a penchant for rescuing dogs and one may have nipped at heels, we didn’t have any dogs at the time who would take a bite out of anyone like that. Sooo, may or may not have been one of ours, or a dog at all. The cause could not be established as fact.

We flushed the wounds as best we could with water and dilute iodine, and gave her a tetanus booster and penicillin. The next day there was some swelling, and we continued to treat her.

Soon the wounds healed, but the hock remained swollen. Zil exhibited no sign of lameness, though. She was as energetic and full of the dickens as ever, hating being confined.

A couple weeks after the bite, my husband was examining her hock, squeezing the one tiny opening for signs of infection. There was no pus. Yay! And as he messed with her, she kicked at the panel and got a cut on her coronet. Blood ran. Wonder Dust®, help!!

Old Journal

Old Journal

I wish that I had kept better records of Zil’s life back then. . .taken pictures. . . written notes about communications with our vet. . . but that’s all the data I have on Zil’s injury until a couple of weeks after that. Apparently the swelling hadn’t gone down, and she had gone to the vet, because the vet prescribed Tucoprim, an antibiotic, for the leg. Perhaps it was at that time that the leg was x-rayed and she was getting antibotics in preparation for surgery.

She was diagnosed with a bone chip fracture . . . and on October 20, she had surgery!  Amazingly I can recall and picture the day, some time after, when we had her huge leg bandage changed. I remember the blue and yellow colors of the veterinary wrap. But I cannot remember how she looked on the day we picked her up from the vet after her surgery. I bet she was droopy and worried-looking. Her expressive Arabian eyes were and are very good communicators. All I have as a keepsake of the big event is the vet clinic invoice. Grrr. . . (bang self on head)!

She was adorable with the bandage on. It extended from the bottom of her leg up over her hock and was quite thick, to preclude motion of the leg. I remember we kept her in a small pen with her mother to restrict her from gallivanting around. I cannot find a single picture anywhere of her wearing her “cast.” It makes me sad. We weren’t good at record-keeping back then, or picture-taking, or movie-taking of the family horses in those days, because we used up all our energy chronicling the progress of the rescue horses instead. In hindsight, were they really more important than the family horses? Equally, I should say. We were blessed and charged by God to be good stewards of them ALL.

The whole Zil surgery experience cost us $435, a lot of money to us then, but worth it for the future soundness of our beloved baby! Our exquisite little one recovered fully, and the injury has never hampered her since, thanks to the great work of our local veterinarians.