SAD?

This is not my idea of fun.

It is wet. And cold. And making me cranky and irritable. At moments I feel like all I want is a hug, but then the thought of someone hugging me makes me want to send everyone away and sit in a small room on my own, shut off for a while. I hate it when the weather gets like this. It’s that SAD thing again, setting in.

Yesterday was a hard day. The weather was awful. It was dark all day. And we had two treks of city teenage girls in the afternoon. They weren’t that bad to be honest, the girls. They were funny and chatty and perfectly nice. I had no issue with them. No, my grumpiness came from the fact that the sky decided we needed showering. Heavily. With hail.

Twice.

I was soaked to the skin. And obviously couldn’t get dry as there was still work to do. So I ended up with that cold feeling, like it had seeped right into my bones and made them ache. Doing the stables was almost like agony, because moving around just made the strange cold ache even worse. It was really horrible. And the rain just didn’t stop.

By the time we got everything finished and headed home, I was ready to collapse. Or cry. It felt like walls were closing in around my head, like my brain was collapsing in on itself. And I knew it was all because the entire day had been dark and cold and wet. There hadn’t been even a glimmer of sunlight, or slight let up in the rain. I just felt totally and utterly swamped with this feeling of wanting to give up. It was hard not to scream.

Even a hot shower didn’t warm me up properly. It took all evening. My skin was red and glowing from the heat, but I still felt cold, and my head was still shrieking at me. When I looked out of the window, instead of the beautiful view I just saw the rain and the clouds and the knowledge that the next day would probably bring more of the same. And for a while, I thought I was going to slip away from the good things and let myself wallow in that self pitying quagmire of weather-related depression.

You’ll be as relieved as I am to know that I didn’t do that though. Somehow I got through to myself, and told myself to get a grip. I made myself reach out to people, knowing deep down it would be more productive than closing off. And that is something I have learned here. Eclipse has been a wonderful place for me, for a number of reasons. Obviously all the horsey experiences and work opportunities are the most evident of those wonderful reasons. I am very happy with all of that. I have also had the chance to meet such a variety of different people, many of whom I am lucky enough to call friend. And I like that, that I have made so many new friends. From all around the world, who I know if I contacted and said “Hey, I’m in your country, can I stop by?” would be happy to see me. That’s a really special feeling. Being at Eclipse has also brought a level of romance into my life, which was missing for a while although I didn’t realise I missed it until it came back. So I am happy with that too.

I think the most remarkable thing Eclipse has given me though, is the things I have learned about myself. Like, as mentioned above, the fact that I now know that it is better to reach out to people you care about, who care about you, than it is to close off and pretend you aren’t around. When I struggled at University, in my depressed days, I wasn’t able to reach out to the people around me. I hadn’t learned how to at that time, nor did I appreciate it’s value. Which meant it was harder for me to deal with the dark place I was in. When I look back on my depressed state that year, I am slightly ashamed of the fact that I pushed everyone away. But it was all I knew how to do. I didn’t trust that anyone could help, that anyone would want to. I simply thought it would be easier to reject everyone and deal with things myself. And I did manage it, but it was really hard.

These days, when I feel myself slipping backwards into places that don’t have a lot going for them, I am able to cast a lifeline. I think getting older has helped, as I have matured emotionally to the point that I am able to express my appreciation for other people. Yes, really! I still struggle with emotional stuff, and talking about it, but I am better than I was. But I know what people mean to me these days. And I am slowly starting to believe that I matter to them as well. Which is a harder thing to accept, as I still don’t trust it fully, but I am getting there. Coming to Eclipse last summer was an eye opener for me though, as I was suddenly immersed in a place where everyone seemed to care about each other despite only having known one another for a few weeks. To me, that seemed so alien and strange, but to them it was totally natural. I was amazed and awed by that. And I realised I wanted to be able to do the same. To meet someone, and care about how they felt and want to know them.

It was easy to learn, being surrounded by people who did it so effortlessly. Anita and Athos probably don’t realise how much their influence has changed me for the good. Their warm acceptance of me, let alone everyone else who comes through their home, is something I don’t think I could ever forget if I tried. By the end of my stay last year, I felt like I had found a second home, a surrogate family. It was one of the most wonderful realisations I’ve ever had when I discovered how much it hurt me to leave them and go home. I say wonderful loosely of course, because it was also awful. Coming back this year felt like coming home, finding the perfect fit and soothing an ache you didn’t realise was still there. I had a moment the first evening here this summer. And it was fairly similar to one I had earlier in the year.

When I fell off Tarzan in January, I fractured my ribs. They didn’t heal fully until May, so I spent five months with pain. It got less as the months went by, but it was still very definitely there. I kind of forgot about it though, I was so used to the constant ache in my ribs that I just ignored it and got on with life as usual. Sometimes it would flare up worse, like if I lay a certain way a night or bashed myself accidentally. But usually it was just a dull background pain that I didn’t realise was still there. Until it was gone. At the beginning of May I got up from the sofa at home, and whooped. The pain was completely gone, not just forgotten. I experienced no ache on moving or doing any other activity. I was healed, and I realised how fantastic it was to not feel pain every second of the day.

When I got back to Eclipse this July, I had a similar feeling. Sitting at dinner with everyone, conversation flowing around the table, laughter bubbling up everywhere and so many familiar and dear faces around me, I felt something give deep inside my stomach. I relaxed, just like that. And it wasn’t until then that I realised how tight I had been, how much I had been protecting myself and holding back a hurt that I didn’t know was there. It probably sounds a little strange, and maybe a bit silly. But that’s how it is.

Having digressed from my original point completely, I shall get back to it. Yesterday I was able to reach out to people. I texted Sonny to tell him I missed him, I drank wine with Anita in the living room and chatted, I messaged my mum through viber to catch up. I connected with people that matter to me. And, lo and behold, I felt better.

And today wasn’t so bad after all

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