This is my new blog to continue my journey with my Dales Ponies. It will also be the story of my building a new life for myself, alone now, except for my friends, horses and dogs, since my partner died in March 2009. We had lived and worked together, mostly twenty four hours a day, for nearly 28 years and I have never lived alone before. It is a tribute to my wonderful friends that I am still here, still sane(ish) and ready to re-invent myself. I love them all more than words can ever say and can never thank them enough for all they have done and are still doing. It is also a tribute to Alexandra Kurland and 'The Click That Teaches' that I know how to save myself now. To new beginnings.......

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Anxiety and Depression.

I am really disappointed, after all these months, that although I am absolutely fine when I'm with other people - the life and soul of the party most of the time - when I'm alone I often still get this feeling of losing my grip on reality and not knowing which way is up anymore. Everything has changed so dramatically that I wonder if I've dreampt it all sometimes.

I've gone from one livery to eight, with two more coming. The whole farm is comparitively tidy and under control, along with the house and garden. I'm surrounded by close freinds that I can and do talk to about anything and everything, some of whom are new. I drive tractors, cars and Land Rovers, having driven nothing ever before. Mostly it's all positive and good - but it's all very different and odd still, and such a steep learning curve.

I had a go at turning my own hay today. One of my farmer friends brought his hay tedder and attached it to my tractor, and spent some time showing me how to use it. They are flat out combining and baling straw at the moment so I thought that at last I could do something really useful to help them and myself.

I'd nearly finished and was really proud of myself when I picked up a length of wire that was hidden in the grass and it got so wound up inside the machinery that I had to abandon the job and return to the yard. As I text him to explain and apologise I had the same old sinking feeling of being useless, incompetent and needing rescuing yet again. I have never in my whole life wanted to play the helpless female card and I keep on being forced into it, and it's just SO not me!!!!!

It really wasn't my fault and would probably have happened to him too, but he would have known how to take the machine apart to untangle it. He doesn't have time to come and sort me out and it would have been quicker if he'd done the job himself in the first place, so yet again I'm a liability instead of an asset!

I'm really tempted to say "S-d it!!!" and stick to horses and things I know but that would be such a cop out. Its just the endless humiliation of getting everything wrong. They are so kind about it but that makes me feel worse, especially when they're forever mopping up after me. I just wanted to get one job done well and done right for a change!!!!

I'm also beginning to worry that I'm all the time trying to be something that I'm not and modelling myself on my two farmer friends - trying to be capable, reliable and competent at everything like they are - and I've lost the ability to work out who I am now. A lot of what I do seems to turn into a major drama or I lose all sense of perspective and think that it has.

I had a terrible incident with a vet recently, when I tried to get some old ewes who are struggling put down. He made a complete mess of it and then got the sack, both of which I felt a lot of guilt over, and still do. He wrote to me twice over it, apologetic and friendly letters, which increased my sense of guilt and I spent most of the day after the second letter, when he told me he'd been dismissed, in tears over it. The ewes were pets and old friends of mine, and I still have two of them who really need putting down but I can't face it at the moment, but I never wanted him to lose his job. I don't trust myself to make decisions anymore but know that I have to. Being in charge is unbelievably hard and I know I need to toughen up to survive, but it's easier said than done. Since David died I no longer have it in me to get angry over anything and find it hard to be assertive now.

I asked one of my friends why they all put up with me and she said that it's because I'm good company ..... most of the time!!!!! One thing's for sure - it's never dull and boring around me!

I now eat a reasonable amount and am still too thin and I think it's because of this sense of always being on adrenalin to a greater or lesser extent. It's why I work every possible minute I can and try to keep my mind from thinking unwanted thoughts, which is a constant battle when I'm alone.

On a positive note one of my farmer friends and I spent most of Saturday clearing the school ready for fencing after harvest has finished. I had a go at driving his Manitou, which I absolutely loved, and watched him fell a dead tree which was very exciting and dramatic. I had a brilliant time, the school looks massive and so much better, and I'm so grateful to him for all his time and trouble, and his company.

My aforementioned farmer friend said that if I can survive this I can survive anything and I guess he's right, and survive it I will! I'm just so fed up with feeling lost and disorientated! I'm so impatient to feel confident, relaxed and happy again. I WILL get there but it's taking SO long!!!!!!


  1. Helen,

    This was the person who could not drive at all 5 months ago - think how far you have come in all ways since losing David. If you can't see it, then everyone else can!

    And you didn't get this wrong with the wire this time, as you say, could have happened to anyone.
    You are trying to learn everything in a couple of months that your friends have spent years doing - sorry, will take a little longer.

    Or just tell your friend it was Meggie dog driving the tractor while you had a break!

    You will get there - but you have to just let it happen


  2. Thank you so much, Hilary, that made me laugh! Meggie was asleep in my lap at the time so I could say that! Someone else said that they'd never seen anyone learn to drive a tractor one handed while using the other to hold a dog in their lap before!!!

    We'd had such a great time, Meggie and I, and had taken a packed lunch up the field with us, and then the wire struck!

    I just want to be good at everything straight away and I know it's not possible but I'm in such a hurry to get independant and in control, of myself and of my own destiny. Then my friends can come here if and when they want to and not because I need sorting out ..... again!!!!

  3. Second all Hilary/s words of have come such a mega long way,think once you have passed your Test evening classes in Tractor maintenance are going to be high on the list!
    What you are not taking into account is that you are doing two peoples work.
    It might be a good idea to think about having some part time help,say a retired farm worker,with a good practical knowledge of machinery, which would leave you free to concentrate on your Liveries, which are your main source of income,play to your strength's,
    and stop beating yourself up,you are doing fantastically well and put me to shame.

    So sorry to hear about the cock up over your Ewe's that was a really bum deal that you can do without!
    I must say that I havnt been that impressed with a young locum I met recently,who treated a friends pone for colic, she was very clumsy tubeing her giving the pone a nasty nose bleed,we ended up having to do an emergency dash up to Lipook Vet Hospital where for a while the prospect looked bleak,luckily as a tough little NF she has pulled thro!

    I am always saying this,but try not to be so hard on yourself.Your two Angels have had a lifetimes experience to become wwhat they are,think how all at sea they would be if they had to train a youngster!
    All Love Jx

  4. You are amazing, and are doing amazing things - the only way any of us ever learn anything is by trying out new things, doing the best we can at them and making mistakes, lots, and lots and lots of mistakes. If we did everything perfectly the first time, then we wouldn't be learning anything, would we?

    Sorry about the vet - I find dealing with those difficult people problems by far the worst - give me animals every time!

  5. HUGE {{{{{{{HUGS}}}}}}

    I cannot help but smile at your post. You were the woman who could do that mad bonkers exercises of 100 steps, starting from 0 every time the horse gets it wrong O_o? was there pigeons in it? I know you will remember which AK's exercise I am refering to. You were able to patiently work it through.

    But You cannot find this patience for yourself ^-^
    It is a steep learning curve, but you are learning, and learning is painful, because we need to change all teh time and be adventurous.

    NB Men LOVE to be helpful, because it makes them feel worth it, do not discourage their help, because it might hurt their feelings.

    You get there sooner than you think, just think it is going to take a huge amount of time, so when it takes less, it feels easier ^-^

  6. “I'm also beginning to worry that I'm all the time trying to be something that I'm not”
    No wonder!

    I believe there are not many who could have taken on what you have done lately, Helen.
    (I am not sure I would have been able to.)
    It must feel like being dropped somewhere in unknown territory, and having to find the way home all by yourself?
    You are doing a wonderful job, Helen. I am very, very impressed.
    But it must be tough. And it would be inhuman not to get anxious, or worry.
    But look at what you have achieved already!
    Give yourself credit for making things happen, it doesn't have to be perfect. Be fair to yourself; don’t set your standards to equal those that have been working a farm for many years.

    Maybe it will take a while before it feels "at home” also on the inside.
    Before you have found out what the new Helen is comfortable with?
    What is important to her?
    But you’ll get there.
    Just be kind to yourself while on the way :-)

    And the vet.
    If he did not do a good job with your ewes, maybe he also did bad jobs elsewhere. Someone has to speak up for the animals too. (They can't write letters.) Don't feel bad about it, you did the right thing.

  7. Couldn't agree more with the comments made above. YOu have come SO far Helen, its amazing what you've achieved..and continue achieving.

    As Hilary says, it'll take time.

    Its good you know that maybe things aren't as bad as you fear; that self awareness will carry you forward.

    As for the wire - yep, could have happened to any of us. Frankly I'm amazed at all you are doing; the thought of driving a tractor would have me more than a tad nervous to put it mildly!!

    Its sad about the vet, but if he was not up to scratch better he was not working in that field. I doubt it would just have been your comments that caused him to be fired - there must have been other reports.

  8. oh my goodness, I can post again!!! Hurrah!!!

  9. Thank you all SO much! You are all so kind. I had SUCH a fantastic day today and it made yesterday worthwhile. I'm going to write a new post about it but I hope that today is a turning point for me!