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

12087985_950467538325337_1373750601470858706_n

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.

Goodbye 2013…a summary of my life this past year

"Facing the Storm" ACEO mixed media artwork. Kind of how I felt this year!

“Facing the Storm” ACEO mixed media artwork. Kind of how I felt this year!

Hmmm….so 2013, how was it? How about I just sum it up with 5 highlights and 5 lowlights?

Highlights:

1. Hubby finished his master’s degree and now he has lots more time to spend with me and do fun stuff 🙂

2. My husband took a break from ministry. That has relieved a lot of stress off of him (and me) and it also gave us the freedom to pursue our own spiritual growth and the chance to get to know some pretty cool people at other churches.

3. Although in foster care, my nephew has ended up with a great foster family who makes sure to keep us connected to him.

4. I have really focused on my art this year and it has paid off! Literally! Now people actually pay for my art and display it in their homes. I couldn’t be prouder. I want to say an extra-special “Thank You” to all who have supported me and my art.

5. Getting an actual diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome….it explains so much that I never understood all my life and has helped me see what I need to work on and how to more efficiently use my gifts.

Lowlights:

1. Health issues! Fibromyalgia, migraines, IBS, MRSA, shingles, infections, severe allergic reactions, sprains & strains, Tietze’s, nasty viruses…

2. My nephew’s dad dying. Such a very sad event, especially since it made my nephew an orphan.

3. Some very hurtful words from people I thought I could trust and who I thought supported me. I’ve forgiven, but it still hurts, especially when one of those people continues to be routinely unkind.

4. My hubby’s job hunt. We could really use the extra money from a higher position, but due to my hubby’s own health problems this year, it could be a blessing in disguise that he hasn’t found a new position yet. Still hoping he finds one soon though!

5. PTSD. Between losing my grandfather to cancer, my sister to suicide, feeling powerless to help my nephew, finding out I have a lifelong disability (Asperger’s), chronic health issues and being mistreated by people who may not have realized how much their words and actions affected me…I have had a hard time coping the last couple years. However, I do feel that I am slowly digging my way back to the surface and hope that I will continue to heal over time.

Well, that is my year in a nutshell. I hope you all had a great year and that 2014 brings even better things for all of us!

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!

Book Review of “The Adoptive & Foster Parent Guide”

Although I normally only review children’s books, I do occasionally make an exception for a book that I can really relate to, and I can definitely relate to “The Adoptive & Foster Parent Guide” written by Carol Lozier, MSW.LCSW.

As a foster/potential adoptive parent myself, I can say that far too many resources written about the subject of adoption and foster care are clinical and boring. I have read many of these books in hopes of finding some useful, practical information about the issues I face daily working with troubled kids, but have often been disappointed. However, “The Adoptive & Foster Parent Guide” did not disappoint in any way, in fact, I found it to be one of the best resources out there.

So what makes the book so great? First off, it is accessible and easy to use. As the introduction explains, the book is formatted with a magazine style that makes it easy for busy, stressed-out parents to browse through when they want a little inspiration or need information on a particular subject. I did read the book cover to cover, but there are parts of the book I marked and highlighted that I know I will likely return to again and again.

Secondly, the book is filled with advice and knowledge that real people can relate to while they are in the trenches fighting to help the traumatized children who have come into their lives. The part of the book on the various attachment styles was excellent, in fact, I wish it was required reading for every person who obtains a foster or adoption license. Far too many well-meaning people go into foster care and adoption with no real understanding of attachment issues. Without this crucial knowledge, it is nearly impossible to help traumatized children or create a healthy home life for the entire family.

Lastly, the book addresses issues that cause many foster or adoptive parents to burn out or even give up. Self-care is sometimes entirely left out of the equation when parents try to solve problems, but the truth is that if you don’t take good care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for others in a healthy way. If you continue to neglect your own physical, emotional and mental health, you are bound to add to the problems you and your family are facing instead of solving them.

Overall, this is a great book, one that I would whole-heartedly recommend to anyone who works with troubled children or wishes to do so. For more information about the book or to order a copy, please visit www.forever-families.com.

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”…