The sloth in my tack box. - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 02-26-2020, 03:26 PM Thread Starter
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The sloth in my tack box.

Lately I've been keeping a pet with me while I ride and interact with my horse. He's fluffy, he listens to even my pettiest needs and makes me feel justified in what I do. When I say things like "I can't ride because I'd have to get up early" or "since the horse would take so long to cool down I probably shouldn't even try" he feeds the more hurtful thoughts of "my horse doesn't enjoy this work (even though he obviously does), doing less and less and seeing him less is fine." When I go to work my horse he clings to the saddle and whispers "don't push it- do what's comfortable for you. No need to work on the hard stuff" slowly I have let this needy pet dictate how my riding story goes- to the point of the horse maybe getting out on the weekend if I don't travel to the next town. To the point that going out to pet him and feed him a bit of grain and just enjoy his company doesn't seem worth it.

Where did I get this sorry creature you may ask? Well I didn't go to a petshop. And he certainly wasn't a rescue. He just seemed to wander in when I was feeling quite low and settled himself like a millstone to my mood. He doesn't eat much though- just my time and those little things that brought me joy-- trading them for momentary comfort. He assuages my aspirations and makes sure my goals are enough out of reach on the shelf that it's almost worth it to pack them away entirely. He does give me an appetite though- since getting him I feel the need to fill my self with the material- like I'm stuffing up holes with straw. He's very helpful about this, always insisting I patch and bandaid walls I didn't want to build, broken pieces that are better off thrown away entirely.

He's a goofy creature, loving distraction and night. The joy of a soft bed after a long days work is his now. I've been relegated to the mat by the door. The one that is meant for napping and not true rest. He encourages me to do busy work that gains me nothing and loses me time. He goes through my kitchen and eats the best sweet fresh fruits leaving me with canned and packaged experience designed to fill but never satisfy.

But he arrived to numb my misery, to give me lollipops and flashing lights to distract me from my pain. He pats my shoulder and tells me that these habits I'm building and things I'm letting go are alright. That it's time and not action that fix things and I should simply exist and wait. And wait. What a kind sweet creature he is, he cares so much about me and the little wants I had long forgotten to feed.

Really he's a lovely pet- but I'm beginning to wonder who belongs to who.








I hate winter and seasonal depression. Normally I do okay. But it's been a rough year and this is the straw that's breaking the camel's back. Anyone else have a sloth in their tack box or elephant sitting on their saddle?
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post #2 of 13 Old 02-26-2020, 03:29 PM
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I am sorry you are going through a bad spell. My husband suffers from SAD and this winter has been tough for him as well - or I should say more up and down than normal as we have had a pretty mild winter. He does his meditations and just really works at making the most of each day and getting out no matter what. Depression can be so debilitating - I hope your SLOTH morphs into a jack rabbit
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post #3 of 13 Old 02-26-2020, 03:54 PM
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I feel for those who have to go through seasonal depression every year of their life, or who carry it around with them always. Looking back I can identify times in my life when I struggled emotionally and didn't understand why at the time. Standing where I am today I now can see it was mostly situational, related to stress, etc. but that it was real.

I've been having a difficult time the past few months for some external reasons, it affects every aspect of my life, it definitely affects how I feel at the barn too. "I'll never be able to do x, y, or z, with my horse because I'm not good enough. I'm ruining her because I'm too worried about everything else myself. She'd be better off with someone else. She doesn't even like to see me. I should never have done this." Those are lies in my own mind... I know they are. She nickered at me last Sunday when she saw me walk out of the barn with a saddle pad. She doesn't hate me, she doesn't hate what we do (not all of it anyway,) and I don't have to be an AMAZING rider to eventually do the things I'd like to do. I am lucky enough to have barn owners who will literally look at me and say, you're worried about a lot and that's ok, just keep trying.

It helps when you can realize that just because you feel all these negative things, doesn't make them true. It helps that you recognize your reactions to depression, stress, anxiety. But it doesn't always make you feel any better, and it's hard waiting for the sun to shine. Winter usually doesn't bother me. But I can't remember a year in my life I've ever been so desperate to see Spring come.

From a post a friend of mine who has SAD shared on Facebook from another page, on January 26th:

"Hang in there. Within four weeks, the maple sap will be flowing. Within six weeks, the earliest migrating birds will begin to arrive in numbers. Within eight weeks, the early spring wildflowers will emerge from the earth. You will feel the warm sun on your face again."

We're closer to change than we were on the 26th... Hang in there.

"I am the one thing in life I can control. I am inimitable I am an original. Iím not falling behind or running late. Iím not standing still I am lying in wait." - Wait For It
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post #4 of 13 Old 02-26-2020, 04:04 PM
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I'm so sorry, I think the sloth in my tack box from last semester hopped over to you when I kicked him out.

I was in the same boat. The month right before the Fall 2019 semester was full of... I don't know what to call them. Someone hit and wrecked my car. Someone hit and wrecked my mom's car. Someone hit (fortunately didn't wreck) my dad's car. Yes, all in the same month. I had to scramble to buy a car with my couple thousand dollars in savings while pet sitting two puppies and keeping up with my job. My younger sister was in and out of a psychiatric hospital for attempted suicide, among other things, like doing drugs and stealing cars. I made a couple trips home 400 miles away to spend some time with my heartbroken and burnt out parents. My stirrup leather broke at a gallop and I fell and destroyed my spine (not literally, but very close to it).

I survived the month thinking I was okay, everything was under control, but as soon as I let my guard down while the dust settled for a brief day or two, the sloth silently crept right in. Then it was suddenly time to scrape myself back up and start the new semester, but the sloth stayed. I am very grateful to say that I have never experienced long-term depression up until that point. The whole semester was miserable. I couldn't even convince myself to organize the loose notes in my backpack. I found myself not enjoying simple pleasures. Having panic attacks while sitting alone (never had one in my life until then). Breaking down in an emotional heap at the slightest inconvenience. Dragging myself to social events I would otherwise find fun. Avoiding club gatherings I used to love. For the first time in my life, I got a C in a class, after maintaining a 3.95 GPA up until that point.

Then the dust settled again after the semester ended. I had some time to not be plagued by everyone else's expectations. To just go to work then go home and sleep, without worrying about tomorrow. To visit my horse without trying to rush out the door. To be around friends for the sake of being around friends. To go for long, aimless car rides in the middle of foggy nights with an old high school friend and talk about anything and everything that troubled us between then and now. To stay up late, senselessly laughing and crying at my favorite shows alongside my boyfriend.

I thankfully got out of my funk and entered the new semester with a clear head and happy thoughts. I hope you can get out of your funk soon too. I also hope you realize your writing is absolutely beautiful, even if the subject isn't. If you ever need someone to talk to, please feel free to send me a message.
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post #5 of 13 Old 02-26-2020, 04:10 PM
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I recommend a light source made to help people with SAD, I used one and it really helped. Bought mine on Amazon and for the first time in a long time, didnt get lower than snake drool by the end of winter last year. It was well worth the cost and the small amount of time required to sit by it and get the benefit of it.

Feel better soon, fellow SAD sufferers.

Respect......rapport......impulsion......flexion.. .
Be as soft as possible, but as firm as necessary--Pat Parelli
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post #6 of 13 Old 02-26-2020, 04:33 PM
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I think I AM that sloth!
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post #7 of 13 Old 02-26-2020, 04:34 PM
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*raises hand*

I've always had problems with SAD. I usually push through, but I lose a lot of motivation and productivity. In the past I've eked by with exercise and eating pretty well and taking lots of vitamins. But it's never enough.

This winter I even lost the motivation to do the things that would normally make me feel better. So, uh, catch 22.

A month and a half ago, I said "no more," and asked my doctor for an antidepressant prescription. It's starting to help, and I'm losing far fewer days to being stuck in a listless fog. I've had absolutely no side effects, and it's a very affordable drug, which is good as I don't have benefits. It's something to consider. Things don't have to be so hard. I wish I had done it a lot sooner.
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post #8 of 13 Old 02-26-2020, 04:35 PM
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Also to those of you still in college, lostastirrup and @Aprilswissmiss your struggles while in college are very valid and real.

A lot of people tell college students that it ("it" being life and the business thereof in general) only gets worse from there but don't listen to that Bull ....

Parts of life will always be busy and hard. But in college, you are trying to balance the organization of several different classes at once, time with family and friends and any of the issues that arise within these groups that are out of your control, maybe work part-time, be an equestrian, plan for the next semester, wonder what you're going to do your last semester and beyond.

I'm not too-long out of my last college degree and I HATE that so many people insinuate to college students that their lives aren't any harder than average and how bad the "real world" is going to be. Hindsight being 20/20, I can pinpoint times in college that were triggers for emotional distress because there was so much happening and I simply didn't have enough hands to deal with it and I had never been taught how to cope with that kind of anxiety.

Even though I work a full-time job now and have obligations to pets and still have other hobbies, I get to choose what I want to lay down. Obviously I can't lay down my job Just the fact that we need money to survive can be a stressor sometimes. But if I find that cramming too many hobbies or outside work events into my schedule starts to weigh on me, I have learned how to step back from unnecessary obligations. I get to lay down some of the things that don't bring me joy in favor of the ones that do.

In college you don't often get that luxury - there truly is so much that needs to be done at once, consequences for not doing those things, and all kinds of requirements to finish your degree that you don't really get a choice between if you want the degree.

Anyway, I guess my point is, there are people who will try to invalidate what you're going through simply because you're a college student. Try to ignore those people! Love it or hate it, not every part of life is going to be like college and that can be a very good thing.

"I am the one thing in life I can control. I am inimitable I am an original. Iím not falling behind or running late. Iím not standing still I am lying in wait." - Wait For It
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post #9 of 13 Old 02-26-2020, 06:27 PM
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Does that sloth of yours have a cousin? I think he's here. I also suffer from SADS, I didn't know what it was that was bothering me so much, coming every Nov and lasting for a few months until I read about it in a magazine. Just knowing was a huge help, I really wasn't going crazy.
now I'm retired it's a lot easier as I am able to be out in the sunshine during the day and that helps. BUT I have been a bit lazy this winter about getting out and riding, my sloth is willing to help me find excuses for not riding.

BUT lostastirrup the days are getting longer and the sun is shining during the day more so I sure do hope this will help you get back on track. If you push yourself and tell that rascally sloth to stay in the tack room and get out and ride, I guarantee you will feel much better after you and your horse have some quality time.
All the best and HAPPPY RIDING
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post #10 of 13 Old 02-26-2020, 07:02 PM
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Geeze, does this thread really hit a chord.

The sloth, the snail, the tortoise....I think the whole menagerie moved in!

I'm seeing updates of my friends doing fun things with their horses yet I always put it off. It's either too windy, the grounds too wet, it's too cold. Excuses that do not effect anyone else but for some reason make a world of sense to me.
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