Depression & Suicidal Thoughts

I’ve been dealing with depression a lot lately, mostly due to unresolved childhood trauma I believe. Today I finally felt at least well enough to make a video talking about some of the things I am going through and wanted to share that in case it might help anyone else struggling. I am also going to share the written version of the poem I read in the video here:

Suicidal Ideations
Written by: Maranda Russell

If I only had a dollar
for every time
I have looked down
from a great height,
shook a full bottle of pills,
held my breath under water,
or inhaled exhaust fumes
while thinking

I could actually do it,
I could end it all –

I would have more
than enough
to pay for all the
therapy sessions
I obviously need.

Video: My Experiences with Emotional Pain or Abuse from a Church or Religion

Hi everyone! I wanted to share this video I made recently for my Spiritual Agnostic YouTube vlog channel, in the hopes that perhaps others who have experienced similar things or even much worse, might find some comfort and strength in knowing they aren’t alone and that it is possible to heal and move on from things like this. In no way did I make this video to be mean or vengeful, but just to express my own process of growth and learning through these experiences.

Dear Einstein, A Letter to a Beloved Lost Pet

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Dear Einstein,

I’ve been dreading this for years. I knew when I chose to have so many cats that I would someday likely have to make a decision about whether to artificially extend one of your lives or try to save you from enduring unnecessary pain. Even so, when the decision had to be made, it was no easier, even though I had said for years that I would rather have to put one of you down than to see you suffer needlessly. This is the first time I have had such power over the life or death of a loved one and I hope it will be the last, although I know it probably won’t.

To be honest, you have been kind of a pain in the butt for most of your life. As a kitten you were a holy terror who had amazing powers of destruction. As an adult, you were a grumpy, angry cat who would often give a warning bite when petted the wrong way (pretty much anywhere but around the head). You were fun to tease because your reaction would be over the top within seconds. All I had to do was walk within a couple feet of you and you would start growling in annoyance. You were definitely the alpha male in this house and constantly reminded us of that fact. You reminded everyone of a regal lion, both in dignity and in your attitude of entitlement.

As we sat in the veterinary emergency room, making a decision about your fate, one of the vet techs came in and told us what a sweetheart you were. We laughed and said “she really doesn’t know you well, does she?” The fact that anyone would think that, told us how very sick you were. To be seen as cooperative and mellow just wasn’t in your nature. As I looked into your sad, blank face with tears running down my own cheeks, I knew I had to let you go. If we fought to keep you alive, you would have been miserable. I know you would have hated the long hospitalization, frequent medical procedures and forced medication.

Even had we went ahead with the treatment, the vet was blunt about the fact that you had six months at most to live and even that was highly unlikely. He told us the cost of treatment in dollars and that was certainly something that would have been a struggle for us, but the true cost to us was the misery we knew we would have to put you through just to keep you with us a bit longer. In good conscience, I couldn’t do that to you, because regardless of how mean and grumpy you could be, I love you with all my heart.

I admire your straightforward, take-no-crap attitude and the fact that you were never afraid to be yourself and stare any enemy down. I admire your intelligence…Einstein was definitely a fitting name for you. I loved the precious moments when you would be uncharacteristically loving and sweet (mostly when you were sucking up or asking for something). I think of you every time I open the door and you aren’t there trying to sneak out. It is these things, these precious memories that I will carry with me now that you are gone. I love you and miss you. Goodbye, my sweet Steiner.

Video diary/blog (video 2) art as therapy

So here is the 2nd installment of my new video diary/blog series. This video talks about creativity, art and its therapeutic uses. I hope you enjoy the video and that it inspires you to indulge in some art therapy of your own! If you watch the video, please consider giving it a thumbs up on YouTube or even leaving a comment!

Staying sane during troubled times

nasa-bird-public-domain-free-nature-2011-1024Lately things have been extremely stressful for me. Without going into too much detail, suffice it to say that I just feel overwhelmed and discouraged by circumstances that are somewhat out of my control, but still manage to weigh heavily on my heart and mind. I think I would have gone crazy recently if it weren’t for my spiritual connections and the support and encouragement of those who love me. Although I am not happy to be facing difficult times and circumstances, I am glad to have the reality check that helps me get back to the basics of what is really important in this life.

So now that I am (hopefully) starting to see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, I would like to share the actual practices and actions that have helped me through, in the hopes that others going through the valley might find comfort and encouragement for their own battles. So here it is, a short list of lifesavers I have discovered:

  • Meditation and prayer – this is probably the one single thing that has helped me the most. I practice a combination of mindfulness and relaxation meditation, combined with prayer based on the particular Christian tradition I follow. I do breathing exercises, practice yoga, meditate to soothing music, read inspirational literature, journal and just spend time talking to God. Regardless of whether you are religious or not, there are plenty of relaxation and spiritual practices that may help you to find that inner peace and stability you need during rough times. Don’t be afraid to go within or look up for help.
  • Loved ones – this includes my husband, my family, my close friends, my pets and even Facebook friends that I have never met in person, but who have shown me great kindness and compassion throughout my troubles. One ironic thing I have found is that sometimes those who don’t even really know us show more compassion and love during hard times than some of the folks who we see on a regular basis. During times like this you find out that some people will always be there for you and other people are merely acquaintances. Although it may hurt, it is good to know who will be there when the chips are down.
  • Take care of your health – although sad and desperate times may tempt you to neglect your health, this will only make things much, much worse. Although I have had days recently where I was guilty of indulging in chocolate and caffeine fests, I find that I feel much, much better when I drag myself out to get exercise and eat what I know is good for my body. Make sure you take time to rest and sleep as well. Sometimes when all seems lost, laying down and taking a nap helps you recharge and “reset” your mind into a more positive direction.
  • Take time to play – this can be hard when you are facing tragedy and constant stressors, but it is important to try to keep life fun as much as you can. So do what brings you pleasure, even if you can only devote a few minutes a day. Read, write, draw, paint, do puzzles, dance around to your favorite music, watch cartoons, cook, shop, spend time with nature….whatever your bliss is, find time for it.

Well, that is the majority of what has worked for me. I can’t promise that what worked for me will do wonders for you too, but maybe it will if you give it a chance. It certainly can’t hurt to try.

I am an award-winning author!!! Yay! Woo-hoo!

I got some very exciting but unexpected news recently! The first children’s ebook I ever published, “In Memory of Dad”, published a little over a year ago has been named a finalist for the Literary Classics International Book Awards! Although the award levels and categories won’t be announced until October 15th, I do know that my book placed in at least one of the categories!

What made this a real surprise is that I don’t remember entering my book in this competition, so I assume someone else did for me! Whoever did, I want to say I am most grateful and thrilled! For those of you who haven’t read “In Memory of Dad”, please consider doing so! This ebook is a short story about a girl dealing with the loss of her father. It is a positive story about grief, loss, friendship, healing and being able to move on after a tragedy. The suggested age range for this ebook is 8-12, but even adults have found it moving. You can read “In Memory of Dad” on the Kindle for only $0.99!

Once a sister, always a sister

My last blog entry was about my grandfather’s death (he passed away just a couple weeks ago). Exactly ten days after he died, I got a call from my sister’s fiance saying that she had also passed away. Of course, her death was unexpected since she is only 35 years old and wasn’t severely ill that any of us knew about. We knew she had some health problems, but none of us thought her life was seriously in danger.

I was stunned when I got the news and before it even registered, I felt dry sobs rack my body. I think I was too shocked for real tears to even form, but the fresh wave of grief had to come out in some way. I kept hoping it was a mistake, but when I spoke to the hospital nurses and the coroner, I knew it was no mistake.

I don’t want this post to be all depressing and whiny, but I also want it to be real. To be quite honest, my sister and I didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things. We weren’t what you would call close, even though I think both of us really wanted that intimate relationship…we just didn’t know how to overcome certain obstacles that stood in our way.

However, regardless of whether we were extrememly close as adults or not, I can’t envision my childhood without my older sister. Growing up she was a mystery to me. Since we were six years apart in age, I always looked up to her. She was allowed to do things I wasn’t and could easily accomplish tasks I struggled with. She seemed ultra cool just because she was my big sister.

Of course, since we shared a room until I was 11 and she was 17, there were plenty of fights to be had as well. I was tidy and she was messy, I was cautious and she was bold, I was a tomboy and she was feminine…pretty much whatever I was, she seemed to be the opposite. Yin and yang, peanut butter and jelly, salt and pepper…two halves of one biological whole. Maybe that is why I now feel like a part of me has died with her.

So to my sister, my “sissy”, wherever you are, if you can hear me, I just want you to know I miss you and I loved you more than you probably even knew. And as Diana Ross and the Supremes once sang, “Someday, we’ll be together”…