Just a few weeks after arriving at university, I found myself struggling to get out of bed, to motivate myself to do any work, or to socialise with my newfound friends. The whole world suddenly seemed to be drained of colour and I had no clue how to draw it back in. During what should have been the time of my life, I found myself battling with a mental illness that left me feeling drained. I felt nervous and unsure on what lay ahead of me.
In hindsight, the signs of a developing form of anxiety had been clear in me for several years; in the ever increasing panic attacks, in the small rituals I would complete to put myself at ease, and in the constant torrent of negative thoughts that filtered into my mind on a daily basis. But starting uni brought it all to a head and suddenly I found myself not only battling with anxiety but depression had come bundling in to join the party.
For someone who is always active, I found myself spending days on end inside my house. For the first time in my life I also found my grades dropping, my motivation seeped away until it was almost non-existent and I don’t think a day went by when I didn’t cry.
Then, in the height of my battle with my own brain, Beano came into my life like a shining light. A 13.2hh pony that I’d had no plans to find until just a few weeks earlier. He was a scruffy looking dun pony, with wild eyes and the fluffiest ears I’d ever seen but he was perfect, and he appeared when I needed him most.
Just as I had lost my drive in life, that little pony gave me a reason to leave the house every day, twice a day whether I felt like it or not. His welcoming neigh put a smile on my face when little else could. Each day I hopped into the saddle, I could feel another layer of unnecessary stress falling away. And he, miraculously, rid me of my homesickness – acting as a little slice of home that was just down the road from me all the way through my final year of university.
Beano changed my life just by being there which is a pretty powerful thing when you think about it. He is a testament to the incredible difference having an animal there for you in your lowest moments can make. And somehow over the years the pair of us have come together to form the most unlikely of pairs.
A duo of wimps, both as unsure of the world as the other, we slot together and give each other a purpose.