Today I watched my daughter give up on something she is Completely in love with. One of the things that she has worked so hard for (outside of school). The one thing she was so excited to do every week. It was the one thing that, after she had done it for a while, you could see the change in her (for the better). Today I watched as my daughter’s disability took over.
My daughter has ADHD as you know. She also has another, yet to be diagnosed, ‘learning disorder’ that affects her ability to cope with changes, deal with her emotions and regulate the way she handles some of her responses to external stimuli (among many other things). Going to new places, trying new things, doing regular family stuff that involves being out in public or just around people in general (even our own family) and any kind of quick change of plans or change in routine…these things are excruciatingly difficult for her.
Over the years we have tried many different extracurricular activities; soccer, dance, Girl Guides etc. These were all her choices of what new activity to try next. And while the idea of doing these things really appealed to her, the social aspect of these activities threw her for a loop and she hated them ALL. We are not a quitting family, so yes she had to finish out the season or the session of whatever she had chosen to try but after each session was finished she was not required to go back unless she wanted to. The only one that had stuck, for a while at least, was Girl Guides and that was because I became one of the leaders in the hopes that she would be able to feel more comfortable with me there to support her if she needed it.
Then came horseback riding and it was love at first trot. She was scared at first, who wouldn’t be? But then she flourished. Horseback riding constantly brings her out of her comfort zone, pushes her to do things she didn’t think she could do. It makes her work on things that she normally struggles with like independence or trying those new things. It built up her confidence, helped her with leadership skills and to learn responsibility.
Within a few weeks she was blossoming into such a different girl. She was coming out of her shell, she was happier, less likely to ‘freak out’ over the little things. She LOVED horseback riding and her Ponies, Ginger and Houdini. If she wasn’t riding at the farm or doing her chores at the farm, she was talking about riding, making her dolls ride their ponies, building “jumps” at home and pretending to ride a horse while galloping at full speed and jumping over them herself. Obsessed is the word I would use, but that was ok with me. I LOVED that she loved something this much. I loved that when we left the farm she would ask how many days it would be before she would be able to go back and ride again. Nothing peeked her interest quite like horseback riding did.
And then one day, just a few weeks ago, she froze atop her horse. Anxiety is what I am guessing it was and it stuck. She froze like she was terrified. She started to cry and she couldn’t move even with her trainer right beside her talking to her. None of us know why. We’ve asked B and she doesn’t know, she just all of a sudden is scared and cannot handle it. We tried going back to the basics, no riding just brushing her ponies, walking her ponies, playing with her ponies and bonding with her ponies. She loved it. She wanted to ride. She was ready she said. So we got her back up on a pony and she froze again. Didn’t even get a single step in before tears started rolling down her cheeks and she had that same panic attack all over again.
It was awful to watch her react that way to something that she loves doing. All the way home she cried and said ‘I hate myself’, ‘I hate my body and brain for not letting me ride’, ‘I want to ride but I am so scared now and I don’t know why’. It
was absolutely heartbreaking. It was heartbreaking because nothing happened that should have made her scared. It was heartbreaking because a ‘normal’ kid wouldn’t have these difficulties. A ‘normal’ kid would be able to work through their fears. It was heartbreaking to see B not being able to work through those fears. It was heartbreaking to watch her give up on something that she loves so much even when she knows she wants to do it.
Today I watched as my daughter cried while she brushed her pony, knowing that we wouldn’t be back (at least for a while) until we could figure out why this was happening. Today I watched as my daughter gave up on one of her dreams. Today I watched as my daughter’s disability took over and the only thing I could think of was; is this what the rest of her life, our lives, will be like?