Love for My Fellow Autistic and Bipolar Peeps!

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I just want to take a moment today to say that I love and cherish those in the autistic and bipolar communities. I know I may be extremely biased, but I find other autistic and bipolar people to be some of the most honest, creative, caring, and talented people around. I don’t want to bash neurotypicals or everyday “ordinary” people, but I often find them boring compared to others who share my abnormal brain neurologically or chemically.

I feel like no one can truly understand me or the struggles I deal with on a daily basis unless they share some of those issues. I am grateful when those outside of my reality try to understand what I go through and have empathy for myself and others like me, but some things have to be experienced to be fully understood. Here’s a special THANK YOU to all of you who make me feel less alone in this alien world!

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Who Do I Want to Be as an Artist?

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Today I was inspired by a blog post from Judith over at Artistcoveries, in which she asks the question – Who do I want to be as an artist? I love thinking about stuff like this, so I wrote the question down in my journal and brainstormed my own answers. Here is what I came up with:

Who do I want to be as an artist?

  • Unafraid to experiment
  • Unafraid to offend
  • Unafraid of mockery
  • Confident in my creative abilities
  • Willing to share the good, the bad, and the ugly of my art
  • Use the materials I love, not feeling forced to use what is considered artistically “professional”
  • Confident enough to charge what my art is worth (probably one of the hardest parts of being an artist in my opinion)
  • I want to be loved and respected by other artists and art lovers, especially those in the autism, bipolar, and outsider art worlds
  • I want to create what I like
  • Overcome my fear of doing in-person art events (currently hindered by my crippling social anxiety)
  • Monetarily successful enough to rely on my art for my general income

Do you relate to any of these wishes? Who do you want to be as an artist?

Poetry: Waffle House at 3am

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Waffle House at 3am
By: Maranda Russell

Waffle House
at 3 am
is not the place
to make a scene.

It doesn’t matter
if your heart
is broken,
if your brother
just ran off
with your boyfriend,
or if you want
to punch
that smarmy cook
right
in the left
testicle.

Stringy hashbrowns
cover a multitude
of sins,
vanilla coke
softly bubbles
over salty wounds,
and once in a while,
raisin toast
can be sweeter
than revenge.

My Drawing Won Honorable Mention!

I received notice today that my drawing “A Soft Place to Land” won honorable mention in the Disability Legal Rights Center Art Contest, run in conjunction with the Art of Autism website. Here is the drawing that placed:

Maranda Russell, A Soft Place to Land

I enjoy entering contests like these and am always honored when I actually win or place in any way. Receiving this news today was a welcome happy moment in a week that has been pretty hard overall.

Hypersensitivity to Criticism

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Recently my therapist and I have been talking about and working on my hypersensitivity to criticism. I have always had some hypersensitivity to any kind of criticism or rebuke. As a kid, I was the one you could make cry by looking at me wrong or even gently scolding me. I still tear up over things like that, even though I wish I didn’t.

This inability to deal constructively with any kind of feeling of failure has haunted me throughout my adult life, especially in the work world. I think this fear of not living up to expectations is partly why I struggle with immense anxiety around any kind of authority figure (bosses, teachers, doctors, police, etc.) Many times this anxiety is so strong that I am almost struck dumb (probably a type of selective mutism), such as when I have had to go for job reviews or any other kind of personal evaluation.

I have noticed though that my hypersensitivity to criticism focuses mainly on 5 areas. If I am criticized on something outside of these 5 topics, I am likely to be able to shake it off better or not let it bother me in the first place. Here are the subjects I am referring to:

  1. My art or writing. I am extremely sensitive to any criticism about my art and writing. However, I think this one is fairly normal for creative types. We all put a bit of our heart and soul into the things we create, in a sense they are our “babies” and we gave birth to them. This does create problems for me when it comes to having the confidence to share my art and writing publicly, especially in person.
  2. My looks and weight. I have always felt that I was rather plain or average-looking, so I have a bit of an achilles heel here. I was bullied quite a bit in middle school when I gained some weight after my dad died, and although I lost the weight a couple years later, those mean words about being “fat” have stuck with me. I have always relied on my intelligence, not my looks, to get me anywhere. I am proud of that fact, but sometimes I wish I felt more confident about the way I look.
  3. Any accusation of laziness or incompetence. I think the laziness thing bothers me because my mom would accuse me of that all the time. “Lazy”, “good for nothing”, “useless”…words like that stick with you. As for the incompetence, it doesn’t even have to be someone else that says something. If I feel even slightly incompetent (at anything) within myself it is enough to send me into a meltdown, probably a result of my perfectionism.
  4. Any perceived insult to my intelligence. As I said before, I have always relied on my intelligence to get through life, so if that is questioned or doubted, I feel worthless.
  5. Any insinuation implying that I am childish/immature or a crybaby. I have a lot of “childlike” qualities, as do many with Aspergers syndrome, and those can be endearing, but when people turn it into a bad thing and accuse me of childishness or immaturity, I feel misunderstood and hurt. I am extremely sensitive in some ways, but I hate the term “crybaby”.

So, what do you guys think? Do you share any of these insecurities? Are you also hypersensitive to criticism in these areas or others?

Hypomanic Therapy, Festivals, and My Little Pony Toys

Today was a busy (but good) day! I had therapy this morning, which went well. I am a bit hypomanic, so I think I talked for the entire hour straight with my therapist not getting much room to say anything. We discussed my difficulty dealing with criticism (which I may do a separate post on later this week) and we also talked about my long list of things I would do if I weren’t so anxious and scared to try. It was a long list! Maybe I will share that sometime too if anyone is interested.

After therapy, my husband and I went to the local Sweet Corn Festival in Fairborn, Ohio. We shared a delicious funnel cake, then bought some homemade soap, a jar of a concoction called “Black Bear Jam” (made with blackberries, blueberries, and black raspberries), and a little bit of handmade maple candy.

Lastly, we went to do a little shopping and I found these awesome 35th Anniversary My Little Pony Windy and Skydancer toys for sale at Target:

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They even came with 80’s style puffy stickers! I had been hoping they would re-release some unicorn and pegasus ponies, so that made my day!!!

Astrology Talk: No Wonder I’m So Emotional

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My personal astrology chart

I don’t know if any of my readers are into astrology, but I’ve always found it fascinating (one of my Asperger obsessions maybe). I don’t give any credence normally to the daily astrology forecasts you find in newspapers and magazines, as I figure much of that is probably made up and not even necessarily written by people who really have a good grasp on astrology, but I do find that there is some truth to the fact that people born under specific signs seem to share certain personality traits, characteristics, and life themes.

One thing that many people don’t realize is that according to true astrology, it isn’t just your sun sign that makes a huge impact on your personality and life path. Your moon sign and ascendant sign matter a lot too. There are websites where you can put in your birth information and find out what all three of these signs are, as well as lesser astrological influences.

When I looked mine up, I found out that all three of my major signs are water signs: Sun – Scorpio, Moon – Pisces, Ascendant – Scorpio. And what are water signs known for? Being emotional and intuitive. Just like large bodies of water, we are fluid, constantly shifting, and often unstable. With three major water signs, is it any wonder that I often feel ungrounded (lack of the earth element), apathetic and lazy (lack of the fire element), and heavily weighed down by uncontrollable feelings (lack of air element)? Seems to me water signs were made to be bipolar lol.

I know some people think this is all mumbo jumbo, and I respect their opinion, but I still enjoy studying it. If any of you would like to hear more about astrology in the future, let me know!

Walking Towards Depression

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I recently sold this oil pastel drawing shown above, but I wanted to share it because it is one of my favorite pieces I have done recently. If you can’t tell, the image is of a person and a little dog walking through a rainbow world (which represent happiness and life), but ahead of them lies the darkness of depression and they either don’t see it coming, or are impelled to continue walking, perhaps against their own will.

As someone who struggles with bipolar type 2 and chronic severe depressive episodes, this is clearly a personal feeling conjured into a visual image. I thought I would share though, because I bet some of you can relate to it too.

Psychiatrist Visit Update: I Hate Feeling Vulnerable!

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I figured I would do a short follow up post about my psychiatrist visit a couple days ago. It went ok I guess. Instead of switching me off the Prozac, he decided to try upping it one more time to see if that would do the trick, but promised me that if that didn’t make me feel better we would try something new next time. He did mention Wellbutrin as a possibility, which I have never taken. If anyone has experience with that drug, please let me know your thoughts on it!

The first few minutes of our visit, we talked about Netflix and the shows I have been binge watching recently (Black Mirror, Atypical, Stranger Things, American Horror Story). Then he asked how therapy was going, and I felt like at that time I needed to admit how bad my depression had gotten and that my therapist was actually worried about how low I was feeling.

My psychiatrist asked me why I didn’t bring that up immediately when our session started and he kind of jumped to the conclusion that I was trying to be “a good patient and not complain”, but I had to explain to him that his assumption was wrong. I wasn’t trying to make things easier for him, it is just simply hard for me to talk to anyone in person about how bad I really feel when at my lowest. It makes me feel vulnerable and exposed, and I hate that.

I know that last sentence may seem weird, considering the fact that I am so open and bluntly honest in my blog writing about how low and horrible I feel sometimes, but it is just easier for some reason to write that all out to a blank page and post it to the ether of the internet. Being in front of a living, breathing human, it is so much harder to peel the layers away and let my real self be seen.