Thursday, March 7, 2019

Coming Out of The Shadows:Using Horses To Fight Anxiety Disorder

Left unchecked, anxiety disorder can become a progressive health problem that leads to withdrawing from aspects of life that might cause stress. Of course, few aspects of healthy living do not cause stress. Anxiety disorder is running epidemic among young people today. There are a host of causes of this boom in suffering but  chief among them is our culture's enabling of behaviors that enhance the control of the disorder over the lives of those who have it.

Parents who allow their children to stay in their rooms and play with their phones instead of going out to face the world are guilty of neglect--plain and simple. Parents who, from the time a toddler can move around, do nothing expand the child's confidence and courage are guilty of neglect--plain and simple.

Too often we hear  excuses made  for those  who lock themselves away from society by mindlessly chiming in that it is ok because  they are "introverts". Those who do so are working to keep that person locked up every bit as much as does a jailer.

I do not suggest the opposite of this approach. It would be equally bad to berate the sufferer. It will only drive them deeper into the darkness. Parents, friends and society at large needs to take the more difficult road. We have to encourage, support, and patiently work to help those we care about fight the darkness. We have to encourage without suggesting that "this is all your fault and if you would just ....blah, blah, blah"

That approach will achieve nothing positive

We have to encourage fighting back instead of hiding. It is that simple. Enabling hiding is poisonous. A child who falls off of a horse and  fears mounting up who has a parent that  allows that child to hide by staying away from horses does no service to that child. Friends who allow others to make decisions based on whether or not an action might cause stress are making it easier for  more pain to enter the person's life.

These are not easy issues. I have no doubt that the worse thing that I can do for young people that I care about is to encourage them to hide from stress instead of fighting anxiety.  And that is the correct term to use. If one is fighting anxiety or depression one is winning. As long as the fight goes on the fighter is a winner--no matter how difficult the challenge.

It is only when one gives up and gives in to depression or anxiety that the fight is lost. It is much easier to give in. It is much easier to allow people that you care about to give in instead of fighting to become an encouraging , supportive, voice of love. If you just leave them alone, just leave them "their space,"  they will be let you know what a good friend you are being.

"Get some rest" will nearly always be better received than, "it's time to get up." It is a horrible thing to allow one that one care's about to miss all that is good in life because they are busy hiding from all that is bad in life.


Valerie Todesco said...

You are a shining example of gentle but firm encouragement. When you win the trust of a wounded individual, no matter what age, it gives them the confidence to believe in themselves. When you say, "you can do this" whether verbally or through actions, it gets received as a helping hand.

Lothlorien Farm said...

I was recently advised by my therapist that Anxiety is a self-replicating disorder where the more you avoid the things that cause you discomfort or anxiety, the more that anxiety will grow. It is important for those of us with anxiety disorders to push ourselves, even if only a little, if we wish to retain any simblance of a “normal” life. Thank you for understanding this and helping others to understand it as well.

Unknown said...

I just love your style Steve and understand about anxiety now a little better. I just got custody of my 13 year old granddaughter. She now goes to Smithfield Middle School. She is a cutter and has anxiety. She really wants to ride and I got rid of my horses a year-and-a-half ago. I am a widow now and live on a pension. How much is your program for young people? I applaud the work you are doing!

Steve Edwards said...

To unknown person who wrote the comment above please contact me at we can work out a program fee that will be completely affordable