I never really knew what anxiety felt like until a few months ago. For the last 28 years I had always felt safe and cared for but now I'm only too familiar with it. It was almost constant just after David died and was probably the reason I couldn't eat at all for a while. It's a feeling of intense dread, as though something terrible is going to happen unless I do something to avert it, which is tricky when the dreadful thing has already happened. It affects my breathing and it's almost as though I forget to breath and have to keep taking lots of deep breaths to try to minimise the gut wrenching effects of it.
I thought I'd shaken it off completely now so it was a huge disappointment when it crept up on me again a couple of days ago. It never happens now if I'm with other people and it only sneaks up on me when I'm alone.
I fight back by going a bit hyper and throwing myself into anything suitably challenging that will give me a high if I can master it, or by texting a friend who always makes me feel safe just by replying. I don't really know why, or why only he can do this for me, but I think it's because he has a stillness and calmness about him that's very soothing, plus I know he will always tell me the truth as he sees it, even if it's difficult to hear, if he thinks it's in my best interest to be told. I trust him implicitly never to just humour me or spare me. I use texting because I'm better at explaining things in writing and can tell him things I'd be too embarrassed to say face to face, or even on the phone. Some of the things I've told him make me wonder how I look him in the eye but no matter how insane my messages sound he always understands and now knows me better than I know myself.
When anxiety struck this time I was too tired for the hyper strategy so I asked him if everything going on here looked OK to him, because I still felt as if I wasn't doing enough or trying hard enough somehow. He reassured me and I immediately felt better.
It's what I try to do with my horses, now I know how it feels to be anxious and know what sort of person I need to make me feel safe. I try to copy his calmness and stillness and it has been hugely helpful to me when dealing with nervous horses. It's almost like a martial arts type quality - a grounding and centering - real emotional control and stability, combined with tremendous sympathy and empathy.
That same evening I watched a programme on the television about two soldiers wounded in Afghanistan and their rehabilitation. One particularly touched and inspired me. He had lost both legs above the knee and one arm, and yet he was SO cheerful and positive. It made me feel ashamed. I have everything going for me and nothing to complain about. Putting up with a small and ever decreasing amount of anxiety is such a tiny thing to have to bear. I hope I can remember him next time I feel it coming on and just brush it aside and ignore it as the triviality it is.
The fact that I watched this programme is a step forward too, as for some reason watching the television used to bring on anxiety, as did listening to the radio. That seems to have gone now too and I'm starting to watch the programmes we used to love again but I would never rush in to watch anything anymore. I'd rather be outside with people and horses. I am very, very lucky because I have plenty of both here to keep me company now.
I text the designer of the Inky Dinky Saddle to tell her how delighted I am with it and how, when the children told me how comfortable it is, I just had to have a sit in it myself. She asked me if I'd write a testimonial for her new website, with photos if possible. I said it would be an honour and asked if she'd like one of a 52yo sitting in it as well, for comic effect, and she said yes! I told her only on the condition that it had the caption under it "The Biggest Kid of the Lot"! Her reply was "absolutely"!!!!
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.......