So far I haven’t talked very much about where I live. I feel it is time I fixed this however, because I live in a REALLY awesome place. This morning I decided to get up early and begin telling you about this magnificent place called Triple R Ranch and how, along my journey from when I first arrived here four and a half years ago, this place has been the largest force in shaping who I am today.
I began working at Triple R Ranch after my sophomore year of college. In need of a summer job, I didn’t want to work at a fast-food restaurant and just by pure happenstance, my good friend Melissa told me I should check the Ranch out. So without consulting my parents [which in hindsight was a very poor decision], I applied for a job in Chesapeake, VA, having NO idea how I would even get here! I was attending college at Auburn University and Chesapeake is a 10 hour drive… But I managed to make it here by carpooling with another girl’s family, a very LONG ten hours in between her and her brother… Luckily, they get along MUCH better now. [Actually, he worked here at the ranch this past summer as one of our counselors.] But coming here was scary. I don’t think I’d ever worked outside of Alabama before and coming from years of struggling with depression, it was difficult to step into somewhere new with new people.
And while I’m on the subject, I’d just like to go ahead and take a moment to talk about my past struggle. By the grace of God and I’m sure the balancing of my teenage hormones, I don’t struggle with this anymore. But all through middle school, high school, and the beginning portion of college, I battled with minor depressive episodes. It was never diagnosed because I don’t think I ever realized I was suffering until I was almost out. I am convinced though that this is what it was. Depression is a crippling condition that sucks the joy out of just about everything! Even the best things in life like dancing and eggnog all of a sudden become… seemingly meaningless. It literally feels like there is no happiness to be found! The world falls into a state of unavoidable… meh. A perpetual medium tone seems to overshadow everything. But I’m writing this right now to tell anyone who has struggle or currently struggled that there is hope!!! I know my experience is not unique because in sharing this in a few speaking situations, I have spoken with many similar people who silently struggled on, wishing they could understand WHY they felt the way they did. You are not alone!!! I know that you feel down sometimes. I was there. I would spend hours sitting in a group of friends feeling completely isolated and then run away, pretending to have a phone call, just so I could cry. This was all that seemed to help! Crying and napping [guess it’s what my body needed]. And I did this for years. I felt empty, confused, frustrated, and bitter. Why couldn’t I seem to connect to others emotionally? Why was it SO HARD to make lasting friendships that went deeper than common questions like what I wanted to be when I finally grew up?
But AGAIN, this doesn’t have to be you forever! I am no psychologist, but after living with this stupid junk for years, I know a thing or two about what helped me to overcome this problem. If you struggle though, I would still advise you see a counselor. I have an undergraduate degree in psychology, which essentially means that… well… I have a WHOLE lot of facts in my brain with very little practical knowledge. So, seek professional help. But in the mean time, I’d like to go ahead and just share what I’ve learned about depression in the hopes that it might help SOMEONE.
First, even though yes, depression is to a large part a physical, neurochemical problem, it also is a battle in the mind! I’d dare say that this is where everything is fought! Sure, I know that you FEEL sad, but even still, DO NOT LET YOUR BODY RULE WHAT HAPPENS IN YOUR MIND! It is YOUR mind! So when depression hits, I know I was always tempted to believe the lie that no one really cared about me and that I was completely alone in my inward struggle for happiness. But that was just downright WRONG! So, don’t believe it! When depression comes, fill your mind with the faces of all the people who you KNOW love you and hold on to that! Do not let your body control what you think about. One thing that really helped me here was to preempivaly write out a letter to myself that I could read when I felt my body going into the spiral. I would remind myself of WHY I knew people loved me and WHY I knew that I was NOT A FAILURE. I would suggest doing something similar.
Second, it’s okay to cry. As a male, I believed for so long that it was almost sinful for me to let myself cry but this is EXACTLY what my body needed. Again, I don’t know all the science behind it, but when my body would get off, it realized that it NEEDED to cry to get fix itself [Again, this is speculation and just a theory I had]. So, my body would get really down REALLY fast and the only two things that I ever found that immediately helped were crying and sleeping. Somehow those activities solved whatever problem my body was facing. So cry! Go in the bathroom and let it out!
Third, resign to seek help at all times! People love you. When you’re down it certainly doesn’t feel like it but I promise it is true. So believe it and as you feel the “bleh” coming along, first fix your thoughts, then cry, and then RUN to your friend s and tell them. I am a Christian and I believe wholeheartedly that God has placed us on this earth for each other. We are here for a short 70ish years to impact as many people as we can! And so, I can’t speak for your friends, but if my friends EVER went through depression and needed someone to talk to, I would FIGHT to be there. Give your friends a chance to love you. War against the thought that they really wouldn’t care if you brought it up and allow them to help!
And fourth, pray. Again, I know that everyone who reads this will not believe the same things as me. But for reasons that I cannot refute or deny, I know that the God of the Bible is real. And therefore, I believe in a deity who loves me wholeheartedly and cares deeply when I hurt. And unlike the people around me, He has the total power to help me. So, run to Him. It was not until I finally gave my struggle COMPLETELY to him that I finally found myself making progress to escape. Without going into the full story, I finally got free when I gave small talk to a group of about thirty other college kids, explaining my struggle with depression and realizing that God could use me despite my weaknesses and that if he could move mountains, he could certainly use someone as weak as me to change lives.
And with that I’ll end. That’s how my story of Triple R began. Or at least that’s how the beginning of my beginning began. Eventually maybe I’ll be able to put life lessons aside long enough to actually catch up to what I’m learning today. =] But again, this will have to do.
OH! Last thing, if anyone reading this ever finds themselves struggling and really can’t find a close friend to talk to, I am here. I always advise though that girls, find a girl who loves you, whether she’s a peer or someone older than you. But if you can’t, again I say that I am here if you just need someone to rant to.
An age old tradition of love amongst the barn staff
I am SEVERLY flat-footd and I have should NEVER have been wearing those shoes anatomically or aesthetically
What would be the point of working on a ranch without doing some line dancing?
And finally, my favorite photo from the summer, perfectly demonstrating the level of awesome I sought to achieve each and every day. Just how many wristbands and watches was I wearing? AH HA! And notice last, I am wearing my watch on my right arm at this point because I REALLY believed that it was the smarter way for an artist to check the time.
Have a great Friday everyone and a great weekend! I will soon be getting on a plane to head back to home for Christmas and my cousin’s wedding. I’m excited to watch her wedding photographer and study the ways. TALK TO YOU SOON!