Your Horse magazine interview: recounting some difficult memories
I had an interview yesterday with a journalist who wanted some details about my battle with mental illness for an article that will hopefully be published next month in Your Horse magazine.
They had apparently requested some 'lifestyle' shots rather than too many competing ones, so I (stupidly as it turns out), suggested that they take a few pictures of me with a former event horse of mine 'Ed' who is now in retirement and 25 years old.
I thought that it would fit quite nicely with the story of how my disorder developed, and how Ed carried me round events like Le Lion d'Angers in France when I was literally 'dying to stay alive' with one of my first bouts of horrific depression.
Anyway, Julie Harding arrived to do the interview and we took him out onto the drive to take a few photos next to some daffodils. He was an absolute nightmare - spinning round like an unbroken three year old and behaving appallingly from the very first moment!
I then said I'd get on him for a couple of shots and he 'passaged' down the drive with his tail in the air which wasn't quite the intended look!
Julie then said 'Put him in the school and I'll take a photo of you with him in the background', whereupon he turned and jumped the fence into the yard, landed on concrete and bolted through the gate into the field! Complete mayhem then ensued with me trying to catch him (many expletives) and him bolting around threatening to jump the gate! The whole thing was so incredibly stressful!
Anyway, I'm not going to do that again so if any other journalist wants a 'lifestyle' shot of Ed then they'll have to take it over the stable door! What an absolute plonker he is behaving like that at the age of 25 - I was so embarrassed, but also quite impressed with the job he made of jumping the fence! Oh dear god!
It was quite a long interview so hopefully she will be able to include some interesting stuff that will really help people, but I did find the whole thing quite exhausting.
Recounting all the horrors of what really happened over the last twenty years wasn't easy because when I say it out loud it's pretty shocking and horrific stuff and I don't especially enjoy revisiting it - particularly the heartbreak of losing the rides on my horses and ultimately my whole eventing career.
Somehow I know it's important though, and I'm determined to help others, so I must continue to share some difficult and personal issues in the hope that I can then fundraise effectively and help to highlight and improve mental health services and treatments so that future generations don't have to suffer like I have.
I thought my struggles were bad enough, but I had a message the other day from a 58 year old who has been struggling with mental illness for much longer than I have, and I realised that even though mine was horrific there are others out there with even worse stories - how these people are alive I have no idea because I really didn't think I would make it, and it's only down to finally getting successful treatment just in the nick of time, that I am still here.
This week I am doing a couple of zoom calls for mental health charities so I will be focusing on some of the survival methods and coping strategies I adopted, in an attempt to help others.
I am also going to be doing a zoom chat with a charity called 'Stepney Bank Stables' who are based up in Newcastle and help young people from challenging backgrounds to develop confidence and resilience through working with horses. It sounds like such a wonderful initiative and I hope to be able to provide some hope and encouragement.
I'm slightly worried about that one though because although I know that horses and animals are good for mental health (well-being), they weren't enough to help me when severely depressed.
This makes it slightly tricky for me to talk about the benefits of being around horses for mental 'health'. I am going to just concentrate on the story, and the 'triumph over experience' aspect, in the hope that they don't ask too many questions about why I didn't even pick up a Horse & Hound, let alone put my foot in the stirrup when I was struggling for years and years at a time!
Please keep the articles coming and thanks once again for the messages of support!
Thanks for reading,
Speak to you soon,