The idea for this blog has been a long time coming.. It’s been circling in my mind for over a year. It’s nerve wracking and exciting to begin this journey. My goal is to be authentic, honest, to the point and helpful. I want to discuss mental health and how that portrays to physical health.
My first step is to open up about myself first. I am 22 years old, currently living in KY. I was born and raised in Kentucky, I started wintering in Ocala, Fl in 2016. From there I spent my summers and fall in Michigan. I lived up north up until the end of 2019. I have traveled since I was a child, and loved the nomadic lifestyle that brings. I used to hate change so much, that I’d actively avoid anything that could spark that. I have adjusted to that now, and welcome any change in with open arms. I have learned that change is a key part in the circle of life, there isn’t a way to avoid it.
Let’s discuss why I’m here writing this, or why you’re here reading about my life. Thank you for being here, showing interest in my passions and being supportive. I have struggled with mental health since I was young. I remember back in second grade, having anxiety and socially suffering. I had a personal loss when I was nine, introducing me to the unfairness of reality. I then noticed once the grief settled, depression followed. Since then, I have suffered with depression and severe anxiety.
My teens were the hardest point for me. I developed an eating disorder at 13, middle school into high school was a rough period. I was struggling with severe body dysmorphia, starving myself and jumped from different friends groups. I tried too hard to fit in or be accepted that I didn’t consider the cost or consequence. That took a toll on my happiness, in such ways that I started losing parts of myself.
During this time period, I knew where I wanted to be.. and being in school wasn’t that. Everyday I would spend my free period searching about Ocala, and riding full time as a career. At this time in my life, I was riding 6 days a week, competing on the weekends and had my personal horse, Tate. My coach at the time did not go to Ocala for the winters, so if I wanted to pursue that lifestyle, I had to find someone that did. Finally in freshman year of highschool, I sat down with my parents and pitched my plan for riding. We took that idea to my coach and she got us in touch with a rider who migrates south for the winter.
From there, my life completely changed. This started a chain reaction of changes, that kept developing into my wildest dreams. I was living my dream, living in Ocala for the winters and either KY or MI for the summers. I was competing consistently, bettering my abilities and soaking up all the knowledge I possibly could. This time in my life was incredible, the amount of things I was learning, the growth I had and the experiences I was getting was immeasurable.
During this time, behind the scenes, I was still struggling. What I shared online or in public was very different than what I was dealing with in private. The medication I was taking for my anxiety wasn’t the right fit, my body was rejecting it. Eventually I quit taking it all together suddenly in Ocala. That wasn’t the right decision as my body went into overdrive with the sudden change. At this time, I wasn’t seeking help for my mental health. I was focusing on the riding, that’s all that really mattered to me. School took a back seat after awhile, I had made my mind up that I wanted to pursue the horses as a full time career.
This lifestyle went on for quite a few years, there were roadblocks in between. At the end of 2017, I lost my beloved Tate to a tragic accident. It was sudden and unexpected, he didn’t suffer that night. I on the other hand, walked away with unimaginable trauma and devastation. It was my first real personal hit of reality and the unfairness that life can offer. I was so young, only 17 and had no real idea how to cope with this. I struggled that following year, in many ways. Finding the purpose for each day was tough, I fought to get out of bed. I lost the drive, I stopped fighting for myself.
Despite these struggles, I kept pushing in the ways I knew how. I worked 7 days a week, non stop. Was riding everyday, competing to work towards my goals. After Tate passed my wonderful friend gave me the ride on her longtime partner, Han B. I had Hannah for about 2 years, and it was some of the most memorable years of my life. She was my healer and my protector. She saved my life, helped me find purpose again. I started fighting again, for her and for our goals. I owe everything of me to Liz and Han for their love and kindness.
The months passed, the years went by and slowly I started to heal and find peace. I have learned a lot from my grief, and part of the reason why I am surrendering here, is to share my experience. I have had people tell me to move on, that shit happens and we all experience loss at some point. I have gotten some very cold responses to my loss, which I was prepared for.. but it is never easy to hear it. I have also gotten an outpouring amount of love and support. I am grateful to have wonderful friends, family and others that have supported me over the years.
One of the main themes of this blog, is to share about grief. Dealing with the process of healing and understanding that your experience is no one else’s but yours alone. You can choose who supports you, and ignore those who don’t. Dealing with loss isn’t easy it’s a battle you fight everyday, a journey that feels lonely and dark. Finding peace has been one of the most healing aspects of my grieving process. I want to open up more about that topic, in hopes to help anyone who might be going through the same experience.
Since 2017 I kept moving forward, there are times when I am not certain how I made it through. I have my wonderful horse Emmett who has changed my life for the better. The relationship we have is something I am thankful for, I am honored to be his person. We just celebrated 4 years together, it is crazy how time goes by. He has stepped up and filled some very big shoes, and impressed me in so many ways. He continuously blows me away, he is the smartest and kindest horse I have had the pleasure of riding. We take care of each other, I saved him and understood him and he has done the same for me.
In late 2019 I suddenly started having health issues. After being relatively healthy for majority of my life, it blind sided me when my health took a turn for the worst. It started with some infections in my uterus and in the efforts to fix that, I developed kidney stones and the start of many UTI’s. The antibiotics for the UTI caused C-Diff. For those uneducated about C-Diff it is incredibly hard to get rid of and can live in the body for as long as a year, recurring when you think you’ve gotten rid of it. That is what happened to me, I had to fight off this infection three times and it finally put me in the hospital. This was a grueling fight that took all of 2020 away from me. Once I was able to overcome that, I was still having issues internally. I had a gut feeling my reproductive system wasn’t fully functioning the way it should. From there with the help of a team of doctors, we pursued my internal health. In early 2021 we came to the conclusion I might have endometriosis. I had surgery in July 2021 and thankfully my surgeon took care of me, and has me on the path to a better life. I finally felt back on track and was riding consistently, beginning to get my muscle back and my weight.
What I want to get into further is this time in my life, over the course of those two years. It changed me in so many ways, it robbed me of my health physically and mentally. I did a lot of soul searching in that time, to determine where I wanted my life to go. I was massively depressed and struggling with my purpose once again, my experience means so much to me and it’s important for me to share that. I am understanding how many out there are suffering, physically and how much that can affect someone mentally. My goal is to discuss that deeper and give my best advice on how I made it through this time.
Now, I am healthier in so many ways. I have since then pursued my mental health by actively seeing a psychiatrist and a therapist. I am properly medicated and having therapy once a week, which has been the best decision I have made. It feels long over due but I couldn’t be more thrilled to be on the right track. My physical health has improved greatly in such a short amount of time. I can work out consistently and don’t have to restrict my diet, I am slowly but surely building back my muscle and strength. I have set new goals and am striving to be better than I have been. This inspires me to share my journey and help direct others to similar goals.
After debating for sometime on what I want to pursue for a career, I have decided to go into nursing. I have always thought if I left the horses full time, I want to pursue Pediatric Oncology. That is what I am working towards now, even if that means more school. I feel happy with my decision and driven for the first time in quite a while. I am stoked for this next chapter in my life and feel like it is where I am meant to be.
So here’s to this journey and what comes from this. Thank you for reading and supporting my attempt to surrender and open up. Let’s hope this leads to encouragement, more self love, progress and endless kindness.