The Problem is Me

Art by Maranda Russell

The following is a poem about depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder:

The Problem is Me
Written By: Maranda Russell

The problem is me.
The problem has always been me.
It wouldn’t matter
where I go,
where I live,
what house I call home,
who is at my side,
who is under my feet,
who is in power,
or what is going on –
the problem remains
as long
as the problem is me.

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Newly Diagnosed with Bipolar 2

I think the title is pretty self-explanatory as to what the video below is about. Just wanted to share. It is a part of my life, a part of who I am.

I Dreamed I Was Black Last Night

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I had an interesting dream last night and thought I would share, partly just because I found it weird and wonder what it meant, and partly because I think maybe there was a pearl of wisdom to be found in it about race relations.

In the dream my family and I were scared because a tornado was announced to be coming straight at our home. We don’t have a basement, so we ran to the neighbors’ house to beg them to take us in and give us shelter in their basement. The first family we asked said no. Interestingly, they were the same race as we were in the dream. The second family (a white couple with a baby) agreed, and not only did they take us in, but they offered to take in another family as well.

Now, at this point it is necessary to say that while I am about as white as you can get in real life, in the dream, myself and all my family were black, and it didn’t seem the slightest bit odd or out of place that our race had changed. The other family our neighbors agreed to take in was black as well. I remember looking around at all of us gathered together and thinking that the white couple was probably uncomfortable around that many black people. Weird thought to have, but it is honestly what I thought in the dream.

While we were all huddling together in the basement, the tornado hit and it was an experience I will never forget. It was SO painful physically. The force of the noise and the vibration was agonizing. In the dream all of us started screaming simply to try to release some of the tension in our heads and bodies from the vibration and furious sounds. I have no idea if that is what a real tornado is like or not, but it shocks me even now to think of how much it hurt in the dream and how vicious it was. It almost makes me wonder if past lives are a real thing, and if they are, if I didn’t endure a tornado in a past life. Maybe someone out there can tell me if that is anything like what a real tornado feels like.

That was pretty much the end of the dream. We all survived and the damage wasn’t really that bad to the house. But the whole race relations thing has been niggling at me all day. I feel there is something profound there for me to learn. If you want to take a shot at dream interpretation, please feel free to give it a shot in the comments!

The Idea of People

"Lust and Envy" by Maranda Russell

The Idea of People
Written By: Maranda Russell

I love the idea of people,
but I must admit
the reality
often fails to meet
my high expectations.

Writing Prompt: Favorite Childhood Memories

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So I’ve decided to try to post a writing prompt every Saturday. Hopefully I won’t fall off the wagon too many times trying to do so!

Today’s Prompt: What memories from your own childhood would you most like to relive?

My response: I know it sounds corny, but the memories I would most like to relive are just ordinary days filled with happy ordinary moments. Eating cinnamon toast made by my mom while I sit and watch My Little Pony and play with my own pony toy collection (how I wish I had kept those toys!). Playing on the trampoline in our screened in front porch. Watching Nickelodeon back when it was the bomb. Coming home on the last day of school with my backpack full of goodies from the teacher and an entire summer spread out in front of me like a magical adventure. Camping out in my Smurf sleeping bag with my sister, telling scary stories and then being unable to sleep. Family picnics and midnight fishing trips with my dad. Those are the things I miss the most and would love the chance to revisit.

Can You Keep a Secret?

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Can You Keep a Secret?
Written by: Maranda Russell

Can you keep a secret?
Will you hold it close,
so close that it vibrates
against your own heartbeat?

Will you bite your tongue,
your teeth slicing through
your taste buds,
leaving rows of bloody beads?

Will you lock pinkies
like we are kids once again,
with the monstrous shadows
chasing us back to adulthood?

Can you keep a secret?
I know you can, and I know you will
because the secrets you keep
loom even larger than mine.

My Current Feelings on Religion

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For a few years, I was really pissed at religion. Not necessarily at religious people, I always understood that religious people are just like any other group of people, some are well-meaning and kind and others are power-hungry jerks. Most others fall somewhere in the middle, just like the rest of humanity. Of course, when you are angry at religion in general (or Christianity specifically in my case), those who believe in that religion tend to take whatever you say personally, as if you are attacking them rather than a belief system. I understand to an extent. When you are devoted to a religion, you struggle with any criticism of it because you find much of your identity within that belief system and you honestly believe that God himself will hold you accountable if you don’t defend him (that whole “whoever publicly acknowledges me before others” thing Jesus said).

So why was I mad at religion, and specifically Christianity? Mostly, a feeling of betrayal. I came to the conclusion through much biblical and historical study that the scriptures are not inerrant (and were somewhat put together by Rome for political purposes) and everything kind of crumbled after that. Without the belief in perfect scriptures, I found it impossible to believe much of anything because who knows which parts might be right and which are wrong? Logical questions also played a huge role in my de-conversion. For instance, why in the world would a being create a system where the only way he could forgive wrongs done against him was to send part of himself to earth in the form of his son and excruciatingly kill himself? Why the whole blood sacrifice thing? Isn’t that a bit barbaric and pagan actually? If God can do anything, why in the heck couldn’t he just forgive without something innocent having to be murdered? The more I thought things through, the more I felt betrayed because I had devoted so much of my life to these beliefs that now made no sense to me.

All these feelings haunted me and the more I concentrated on it, the angrier I felt and the more I felt duped all those years. I started listening to atheist voices (even though I was never an atheist, I consider myself an agnostic now). Some of these atheists I listened to were nuanced and considerate of at least some religious sensibilities, but some definitely were not. Through all this though, it is kind of funny, I still felt bad for some reason when Jesus was maligned. To this day I still nearly wince when awful things are said about Jesus. I guess old loyalties die hard. I still occasionally listened to my old Christian rock records too, just because I like them. I still prayed, sometimes desperately, just hoping if there was ANYTHING out there it would let me know. Unfortunately, no great revelation was made.

So that brings us to today…and how do I feel now? Rather unemotional actually. Yes, there are still parts of religion I dislike, especially when taken to a literal extreme. Yes, I still listen to Jars of Clay (my favorite Christian group) and still don’t really like Jesus being abused. I’ve come to the conclusion I just like the guy, whether he ever really existed or whether his story was greatly exaggerated, I still like the guy. I find that there are still lessons I learned in the church that apply and I’m glad I was a Christian for all those years. Without it, I doubt I would be as sensitive and caring about social issues and I simply wouldn’t be the same person. I cherish the relationships I made during those years and all the people I loved. I’m not angry anymore. I’m still firmly agnostic, but am always open if some greater force wants to contact me. You’ve got my number God, hit me up sometime.