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.

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!  🙂