Jenna's experience of anxiety

Jenna shares her experience of anxiety and how spending time with her horse, Robin, helps her to manage those feelings.

Hello, my name is Jenna. I’m currently riding Robin, who is my grand prix dressage horse. Horse riding is in my blood. It’s what I’ve always done from the age of two. Before I was ill, I was competing and riding every day. 

I had Covid back in 2020. It turned to long Covid and then into Fibromyalgia. My anxiety levels, as you can imagine, were very high. 

When I first went into hospital, the doctors didn’t know how to treat me. You start to think ‘am I ever going to get out of this?’

The second time I went into the hospital I didn’t think I was coming back out. There were lots of tubes, doctors standing around deciding what type of oxygen to give me or putting me in different positions to try and open up my lungs. It’s quite scary when people we rely on to help don’t know what to do. It makes you feel really anxious.

It broke me

Having horse riding taken away from me, through Covid, long Covid and then the Fibro – it was really hard to get my head around. 

When the anxiety kicked in that I might have to get rid of the horses, it basically broke me. I just didn’t know what I was going to do. And then I just woke up one day and said, ‘no, I’m not having it. I’m not giving up on something that has been my entire life’. Slowly we’ve made it this far. It still creeps back in and still tries to keep hold, but on my good days I’ll be back on Robin. 

Connect with people who understand you

 I found a lack of understanding with people who hadn’t had Covid or suffered with anxiety. They just say, ‘kick on and get on with it’ or ‘you’ll be fine’. It’s only really through talking to peers that has made a massive impact.

A couple of us in the group, through talking we found our hair was falling out and it’s little things like that that when you start to think, I’m not alone, they get it’. 

We’ve got some really weird symptoms – I could always smell fish and chips and other people, they could smell rubbish! It was great to speak to and connect with people who just get it. 

To help with my anxiety

The biggest thing for me is not letting anxiety eat at you and keep pushing you down. Go out for walks, exercise – whatever you can. For me, it’s riding Robin and just being out. Being in the fresh air has made a massive difference to me.

The doctors, the specialists – maybe they don’t have the answers but we’ve got to do what our body will allow. I’ve always made sure I’ve done one thing everyday even if it was just coming up and seeing the horses. 

Share what you do #ToHelpMyAnxiety

This Mental Health Awareness Week, we’re asking people to tell us what works for them. Share the things you do to help your anxiety on social media, tagging us in and using the hashtags #ToHelpMyAnxiety and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.
Mental Health Awareness Week - 15 to 21 May 2023
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