Does Any of It Matter?

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Do you ever wonder if it all matters? I sure do. I try to be positive most of the time when I think about the things I do and whether they make a difference, but when I get depressed, the voices of doubt tend to get louder. They say some pretty mean things:

Are you just wasting your time writing and making art? Who really cares?

Why would anyone care what you have to say? Who do you think you are?

You try to support others, but do they even notice? Does it even help them?

You only focus so much on art and writing because you can’t keep a REAL job. 

Your own family never cared that much about you, why would anyone else?

If you died today, barely anyone would notice or care. Your funeral would be empty. 

You are selfish and everyone sees through you. 

You are a drain on your husband and society in general. 

I know these are very negative (some would even say abusive) thoughts, but when I am feeling low, they play in my head like a stuck record. By writing them out, I am hoping they will finally shut the hell up. Do any of these thoughts (or similar ones) ever haunt you?

 

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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!

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!

A Bipolar Self Image

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Just like with my thoughts and feelings, my self image changes so wildly with my mood. A good example of this is my view of my looks and/or attractiveness. Most days I think I look average when I look in a mirror. I’m not delusional, thinking I am some kind of supermodel or show-stopping beauty, but I also don’t feel like I am a troll or a goblin.

Once in a while, when I am slightly or fully hypomanic, I look in the mirror and think I am beautiful. I will never be gorgeous in the artificial Hollywood kind of way, but when my mood is just right I can see a kind of classic or wholesome beauty in myself that I like.

But then there are days, like one I had recently, when I feel as if I am sitting in the rock bottom level of despair and gloom. On days like these, I may accidentally catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror (because I wouldn’t intentionally look), and upon viewing my reflection, I feel down to my very soul that I must be the ugliest thing in existence.

Bipolar and other mood disorders can skew our view of reality so much, sometimes I feel like I am living in different realities from day to day. Today isn’t too good, but it ain’t too bad either, so I guess average wins out again.