It was RUOK day, but I was not OK.
Yesterday was RUOK day, but I wasn’t. If I had been asked, I would have fallen to pieces. I did, anyway. On Tuesday, I had to have my last beloved horse euthanised. It was sudden and traumatising, and I felt so alone; I’m still trying to process it and working out how to deal with it. He was just a horse to many people, and although sad, they know I’ve lived on a farm and seen many animal deaths.
So why am I reacting like this? In 2015 I got sick and was subsequently diagnosed with superficial siderosis. About 12 months later, I wrote a piece about how I felt. It was a private piece- just kept for me. Below is an extract from that piece; I think this helps explain my reaction.
I have three horses in my paddock at my house. They don’t get ridden; they spend their days grazing. My horses are the last piece I had left of me before I got sick. So people ask me, “why don’t you sell them? They just sit there doing nothing.”
My reason is horses don’t care if they sit around all day eating. But for me, they are the final piece of the old me. The person who could ride a horse. The person who could run and jump and skip and walk straight. The person who laughed more. These horses are the last part of the old me. They need to be here because the old me might return one day. Maybe only a tiny part, but enough that I can ride them again. I need them here for that.
Because we all need hope and to hold onto our dreams…
I have never given up, hoping I may be well enough to ride once again. I never for a minute contemplated that the horses would all go before I had the chance to ride once more. His passing feels like the end of my dream. I must grieve for the end of an era in my life. I will reach for new dreams and remember my boy with a smile. And I will be OK. But it’s also OK to grieve for the person you were, the dreams you had, and the change for the future you imagined. We have to be able to say that were are not OK without shame and the surrounding stigma of mental health.
Because it’s OK not to be OK sometimes.