"Having a realistic goal really helps"

Louise Maynard came to our attention when looking for #Hack1000miles selfies to publish in the magazine. She’d been on a fun ride with her daughter Sacha and their photos from the day really captured the spirit of everything #Hack100miles is about. They looked to be having a blast. We got in touch with Louise to let her know she’d be in the magazine and quickly disocvered that for her, #Hack1000miles has a deeper meaning than it does for most.

Louise riding Cally (right) and her daughter Sacha riding Kai on a recent fun ride

Louise riding Cally (right) and her daughter Sacha riding Kai on a recent fun ride

At the age of 44 Louise has spent 18 years working in the prison service looking after people with mental health issues, something she’s keen to talk about. “I had PTSD, anxiety and severe depression creep up on me and bang,’ she told us. “A year ago, it hit me like a tonne of bricks.”

For Louise, everyday tasks such as getting up out of bed in the morning can seem like a mountain to climb and even getting out the house can seem impossible. On some days, it is.

“Exhaustion from not sleeping, or broken sleep also the effects of the body from being in flight or fight mode constantly.’ she explains. “If you can imagine when you go to a job interview or something that you have high levels of adrenaline, afterwards you feel absolutely exhausted. That’s the best way to describe the fatigue and exhaustion.”

Coping with her illness is tricky enough but Louise also has a family, two dogs, two horses and a cheeky Welsh Section B to care for.

“This illness does not fit with the constraints of family life,” she says. “My older daughter of 23 years is there on standby to make sure the horses are done. She keeps her horse on the same yard as me and she supports me to get me out riding, which is actually my doctor’s advice - to try and do the activities that I like before the illness hits.”

For Louise, who suffers from PTSD, anxiety and depression, horses and riding can be a great help

For Louise, who suffers from PTSD, anxiety and depression, horses and riding can be a great help

Louise is also supported by her husband who she says has never seen the horses so much! “He normally avoids the yard but he now comes with me on days I really struggle. He is such a superstar.”

How hacking can help

So why did Louise decide to sign up to #Hack1000miles? “On days I am unmotivated to push forward, I look at my chart and it gives me a focus and an achievable goal which is roughly 20 miles a week,” she says.

“On days that I feel overwhelmed by the illness, I have support from my family to help me through, I have come to accept that I have these days. Other days I achieve so much on my road to recovery to get tacked up and on my horses. Having a realistic goal really helps with the sense of achievement. I take it one day at a time, day by day to recovery.

“So from me (Cally and Kai, my two horses) thank you #Hack1000miles for giving me the boost to aid my recovery and have some good days that really make a difference.”

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Share your journey

Make friends, discover new routes and support others

Thanks to Louise for sharing her story and to Lucy Lyus at Mind who has the following advice.

“Being active is really important for both physical and mental health,” she says. “Physical activity boosts our mood and improves mental wellbeing. It also helps us switch off from everyday pressures, relieves stress and gives us time to clear our heads. When you exercise you release ‘feel good’ hormones called endorphins which help reduce negative feelings and improve your mood. Exercise also reduces levels of cortisol, the ‘stress hormone’, which has been linked to a range of mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.

“Outdoor exercise has been shown to be particularly beneficial, with the combined mix of colours, sounds and smells acting together to stimulate our senses and help to increase our overall wellbeing. Research shows that outdoor exercise can be as effective for some people as antidepressants in treating mild to moderate depression, and should be one of the first interventions recommended.

“At Mind, we want people with mental health problems to enjoy exercise and see the benefits for their own recovery. Our sports programme Get Set to Go - funded by Sport England and the National Lottery – can help people overcome their barriers to exercising, by choosing an activity suitable for them.”

For more information on the benefits of sports on mental health see mind.org.uk/sport

Mind has a confidential information and support line, Mind Infoline, available on 0300 123 3393 (lines open 9am - 6pm, Monday – Friday)