Back on the Horse
By Izzy Hermelin
“Everything happens for a reason.” This I do not believe. I think that misfortunes happen and we have to deal with them as they come. There is no reason for the bad things that happen to us, just as there is no reason for the good. Life is unpredictable and the good comes with some bad. I believe that we have to recognize and react to things that happen to us, and that’s that.
June 20th, 2017 was the day my life seemed to shatter. Literally. I had graduated from high school a few days prior and was looking forward to the summer before college with my friends. Everything appeared to be going well. I was an avid horseback rider, and rode my horse, Zeke, five days a week. June 20th began like any other day. I went to the barn, had a riding lesson and went on a trail ride. That morning as I walked along the grass on Zeke, he began to shake. I still can’t explain it, but he was shaking uncontrollably and started to kick and rear. In an effort to get off, I unhooked my feet from the stirrups. Instantly, Zeke gave one big kick and I was off. Once my right foot hit the ground I heard a snap. A wave of pain flooded my body. I remember thinking I would pass out from the pain, but I didn’t. I laid there screaming for help for what was probably 3 minutes but felt like an hour until someone noticed me. When help was finally called, things began to happen faster than I could keep up. I was placed on a stretcher and rushed by ambulance to the emergency room. There I had my first surgery. In the following days, I had two more surgeries to repair my right leg. Eight days later, I was sent home in a wheelchair with a year recovery ahead.
In that one moment, my summer changed. Texts and calls filled my phone with the same messages: “Feel better. Everything happens for a reason.” My friends’ efforts to comfort me made me want to scream. Was there really a reason that my horse got stung by a bee and I fell and split my tibia, tore my meniscus, and stretched my ACL? If there was, I would love to hear it! All summer I was stuck in my bed, and in my head the same questions roiled around as if playing on a film reel. Why did this happen to me? How can I stop this pain? Will I ever be able to walk the way I once could? Although I have to admit I am known for my dramatics, it didn’t make these questions any less real. I was struggling and depressed. There is no other way to put it.
As the summer dragged on, my mental state was lowering. I am an optimistic person. This drastic change in me worried my mom. She was scared. She began to hide my pain killers from me and watched me very closely. No, I was not abusing or addicted to my medicines, but I had moments where I wanted things to end. I still do not know to what extent I wanted to escape, but I knew I hated feeling this way. I would wake up in the middle of the night crying or scared because I was reliving the pain of falling again. I never understood how deep the connection between your body and mind is, but now I know. Your body remembers the feeling of pain. That pain became ingrained in me and I am terrified of it.
I tried to find the help I needed from therapists and those around me, but I found myself too stubborn to listen and unable to connect. Although my therapist didn’t help me directly, I did begin to collect bits and pieces of advice from the people around me and come up with my own conclusion. I learned to remind myself that this is only a moment in my whole life. This traumatic year is a small zoomed in moment of my otherwise good life. I reminded myself that growing up, there were moments when I was bullied or moments where I thought “my world was ending.” I can’t even recall the specifics of those moments anymore. This realization made me see that these “moments” pass and that things get better. Even though I may never forget what happened to me, I am ok. This event will become a memory of the past. This realization didn’t make my situation any better at the time, but it helped me accept my situation for what it was. Shitty.
Here is what I know. I know that at only 20 years old, I know 6 people that have committed suicide. I also know that this number is only going to increase as I age. So what can we do? How can we know whether people are hurting so badly that they need help? We can all talk about getting rid of the shame of sharing our inner demons, but does talking about these demons and talking about suicide glamorize it or help us feel like we are not alone? That’s the thing right? We all feel that we are going through something alone, but in reality we are going through it alone together. I honestly do not know the right way to address this mental health epidemic, but I know I can share my story and get rid of the alone and leave us together.