November 1, 2018

Mental Health.. A subject that people avoid talking about and a subject that has been stigmatised for many years. Mental Health affects every single person whether they choose to admit it or not and I think people that suffer with Mental Health problems should be able to speak openly about it and seek the help and advice they need without feeling silly or weird – Both words that have been said to me when I have tried to reach out to talk about how I have felt in the past. I wanted to write about this subject so that my readers and followers feel that they can share and talk about their problems, however large or small they may be and feel that this is a safe space to do so, that they will not be judged or singled out. We all need a helping hand sometimes and what better way than to help each other as Frantic Fans and share our stories and passion for horses?

This now leads me on to talk about how Mental Health has affected me and got me where I am today, writing and talking to you guys! I would like to share my experience with you all because, how we portray our lives over social media is not always how it seems, there is not such thing as a perfect life. You could have everything in the world you would want but that does not create happiness, happiness is created within ourselves and feeling content with our lives and what we do have.

Most of my life I have suffered with Mental Health problems such as anxiety and OCD but this time last year this spiralled out of control.. I was at a point in my life where everything seemed like it was falling into place. I had my horse Buddy, I was contend in my job, I had a loving boyfriend and I was planning my future to move out and start the next chapter in my life.. I was more than happy with what life had provided me at this time until it all started going wrong. I was at a point where I was so content and happy that my brain decided that I was not worthy of being this happy and started to create problems in my head that didn’t really exist or happen. This got so bad that I couldn’t even go out in public on my own, I had to have someone with me at all times, literally touching distance and watching over me. I would have massive breakdowns and panic attacks convincing myself that I had done terrible things that I would never ever imagine myself doing and I was punishing myself daily. It was like I couldn’t tell the difference between reality and the intrusive thoughts I kept having. I had lost myself, things were far from okay and I was scared.. Scared of my own mind. I decided to go to the doctors to try and speak about what was going on and automatically, as I thought they would, they told me to seek counselling and to take anti-depressant medication. I was hesitant to take medication at first and I was sure that I didn’t have depression, I just knew that my brain was not quite right and something had to give.. I was signed off of work and I accepted the medication. Something had to change.

I started taking the medication and I was looking for a private councillor around my area. I managed to find one that I was comfortable starting therapy with and we began one session a week. We were trying to get to the bottom of why I was having these intrusive thoughts; I thought I was a weirdo. We tried different techniques such as hypnotherapy but nothing seemed to be working and the problem was getting worse. My partner at the time was very supportive at this point, but that didn’t last long. I went back to the doctors and he told me to increase the dosage of my medication and to stop therapy until I was more stable. The problem was rapidly getting worse and this caused problems in my relationship which caused it to suddenly end. I blamed myself for this and my head.. I couldn’t cope with the fact that my Mental Health caused us to break up. I was punishing myself, nothing felt like living for anymore. Everything I was excited and happy about had been taken from me apart from Buddy. Nobody could take him away from me, he was mine and mine only. He never judged, always listened and never ever let me down. But even having Buddy there for me was just not stopping me from feeling empty and like I didn’t deserve to be here anymore. I even contemplated giving Buddy away because I felt like I was not good enough for him and that he deserved better. Everything that I loved and cared for was leaving me anyway because of this problem. I didn’t want him to suffer because of me. I was stupid to think this way and anyone that knows me knows that I would never give him away, not in a million years! I knew that too but I just felt worthless..

Matters took a turn for the worst and I ended up in the hospital a couple of weeks before Christmas 2017 and I was in there for around a week. I was seeing a physiatrist and he changed my medication. I was around other women just like me that had different problems they were trying to deal with and trained nurses to talk whenever I needed but at the time I didn’t want to speak to anyone, I was going through heartache and Mental Health issues, I didn’t see this getting better, I didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I was out of hospital for Christmas thankfully and despite what was going on I had quite a nice time. It was very different to the usual Christmas in the Simes household but it was refreshing and I felt like I had everyone around me supporting me to get through this. New Years Eve came around and I thought that my relationship was going to work out, in the end.. I was wrong and this triggered me which lead to being back in hospital again on New Year’s Day. I was in hospital this time for 6 weeks, this had to be the final time. This had to be the time to get better. Being apart from Buddy for weeks on end was hell.. I would look at pictures of him every single day and think about all the things I wanted to do with him when I was out! Having all that time to think, all that time to reflect, all that time to appreciate and trust me, it wasn’t easy.

I decided that when I came out of hospital I wanted to go back to work part time, which I did! I wanted something to focus on that I had a passion for and that is where I had the idea of writing my own blog. I was scared to put myself out there on the internet but, I have never looked back! It was time to make these good thoughts reality! My father and I sat down and spoke about it and he put me in touch with a friend that creates websites.. I had no idea what I wanted to call it at this time I just knew I wanted to talk about all the things that I am passionate about and that is everything country and equestrian! Being back in the routine with Buddy really helped me, I needed normality back. I also started seeing a private DBT therapist once a week and I believe that this really gave me the foundations to believe in myself again.

A month or so passed and Country Frantics was born! I was over the moon with the outcome of the blog design and logo design which was based on one of my favourite photographs taken of Buddy and I after I came out of hospital. The first blog post was up and it was finally happening.. My following on social media was growing daily and I never imagined I would be here today doing some of the things I have done if you had told me this a year ago.. 6 Months on from starting my blog and I have gained over 1,000 followers on instagram and my blog has been noticed by companies and people I never thought would want to read what I have to say. 

I am still not fully recovered but I am well on the way there and I am really proud of how far I have come. I would not have been able to do it without the love and support from everyone around me and of course, having Buddy. Buddy saved me and horses were & are my release from reality!

There are so many ways that horses can help with Mental Health, animals in general actually.. But there is something about horses that give a calming state of mind and they really are my therapy – Waking up everyday knowing that I have a purpose to look after my horse that completely and utterly depend and relies on me is enough to give me the strength to get up in the morning. This gave me the courage to get another horse, but this time I rescued one. Saving an animal that has been through a tough time like I have and giving him the home he deserves is something that I know I can give. Each day we are building his confidence and my own. I am not saying to go out and rescue or buy a horse, but even just being around them could help – Or just finding something you have a passion for and embracing it!

Would you be interested in how I use my love for horses for mindfulness?

I would love to speak to you guys about your Mental Health experiences, so feel free to comment below and we can chat as an equestrian community! #FranticFans

Thank you for reading, until next time..

Francesca x

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  • Reply Georgie x November 1, 2018 at 11:06 pm

    We always were so similar in school… I suffer flare ups of anxiety and OCD type traits with invasive thoughts and no one ever understands… It’s always “don’t be so silly… you’re being paranoid… stop being so sensitive… sort yourself out” those words hurt… being made to feel as though youre paranoid, hurts. But I’ve come to terms with the fact that actually, people say these things because 1. They don’t care enough to help or understand or 2. They just don’t understand and can’t open their mind enough to see how others feel… I’m sorry you had such a scrappy year but you’ve moulded yourself into a stronger version of yourself because of this situation xxxx

  • Reply Peter November 2, 2018 at 9:14 am

    I’m so proud of you Francesca
    This article should be circulated around the equestrian community and wider as an example of what can be achieved.
    Maybe Horse Therapy should be offered by therapists
    Fantastic read and I know I am biased but I think it could really help others
    Dad x

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