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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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?

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?

Strangest Lucid Dream Ever

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I had the strangest lucid dream ever the other night. As many lucid dreams start, I was in the middle of a dream when I suddenly realized that I WAS dreaming, and at that point was able to take over and consciously guide the rest of the dream. At first I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but after thinking about all the cool stuff I had done in previous lucid dreams over the years (meeting Michael Jackson, swimming in outer space with whales, visiting a robot world, etc.), I decided to start off with just flying – probably my favorite dream activity!

I flew a bit above the earth for a while, enjoying the beauty of the nature, towns, and waterways that passed below me, and then decided to fly higher and see what I could find above me. For some reason, it was a struggle to get high enough, almost like I didn’t believe in myself enough to go higher, even though I knew it was a dream and I had all the power.

Finally I did get high enough to reach a higher plane of existence, which by the way was a very interesting place. If I remember right it was almost ancient Greek-like in structure, had more advanced beings that weren’t quite angels, but felt more advanced than humans. The most interesting part of this place was that I viewed a puppet show where my mother, one of her previous husbands, and others I had known in my life were the puppets being controlled by these other beings. It was super weird.

While on this higher plane, I was greatly tempted to delve beneath their sea, because I could remember past lucid dreams where I had been able to travel underwater without needing to breathe, but now I was suddenly afraid to try it again, even though I knew it was a dream and I knew nothing could truly hurt me. I knew I couldn’t drown, but I still struggled to overcome my own self doubt and my grasp of “reality”, similar to how I had struggled to believe I could fly higher earlier in the dream.

In the end, I knew that the only thing holding me back was my fear and need to believe in myself, but it was almost impossible to overcome those things. I know there is a real message of depth there, even for my waking life, but I’m still a little weirded out by the whole experience. Hopefully I don’t sound like a nutcase too lol.

5 Important Questions to Ask Yourself!

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Here are a few important questions to ask yourself about your purpose and meaning in life! For fun, I have provided my own answers to them as an example! If you do answer these, I would recommend taking the time to write them down, think about them carefully, and be as honest as you can!

  1. What is your life work? My Answer: Writing, sharing ideas and emotions, creating art, advocating for and comforting others with autism, mental illness, and chronic pain/illness.
  2. What is the meaning of your life? What gives you purpose? My Answer: Inspiring others (kids, fellow Aspies, those with disabilities, other outsiders). Loving family, friends, and animals (loyalty).
  3. What is your passion? My Answer: Writing, spirituality, philosophy, psychology, toys, books, animals, art, creativity.
  4. What does the world lose if I wasn’t here? My Answer: A child-like, loving heart and spirit. Loss of inspiration and creativity. The loss of a voice crying out for justice and harmony. Loss of a unique thinker.
  5. What would it take to begin fully living my dreams today? My Answer: Time, the willingness to fail or be ridiculed, the possibility of being proven wrong, unwavering belief in myself, trust in what is meant to be, hope.

Over 1 Million Views on YouTube!!!

I am not the type of person to typically “toot my own horn” or brag about my achievements, but my psychiatrist and psychologist both say I need to “become my own cheerleader” in a way and learn to celebrate small victories, so I figured I would take the time to mention that my YouTube channel, Maranda’s Toys & Books, just passed the 1 MILLION views mark! To me, this is huge!

I simply can’t believe that over 1 million people have wanted to watch something I created! That is simply crazy. I know for huge YouTubers, 1 million views is probably what they get on one single video, but for me, I am just so proud that I hit such a benchmark! So, just for today, I’ll say “Go me!!!” and do a little happy dance in my mind (since my body is too tired to do it with me)!

Mother’s Day Drama and Us “Entitled” Millenials

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Sorry I haven’t written much lately. I’ve been focusing on other things, like trying to get back into vlogging on YouTube and starting up my Instagram. By the way, if you aren’t already following me on both of those, feel free to check them out!

Today I’m feeling pretty bad. I’ve had a high amount of anxiety, which seems to be partly left over from the weekend. Mother’s Day is always a little stressful because of the complicated relationship I have with my mother. I did go visit her in Indiana Sunday, which was a good time, but the trip and socialization really wore me out, not to mention all the mixed feelings I have whenever I spend time with my mom.

I experienced a variety of emotions, including sadness, regret, and sorrow. And as always, I feel a deep need for love from my mother, even though I’m not sure if she can always fill that need the way I desire. The last few times I have seen her, I have also been rather saddened to see her aging. I don’t know what it is, but seeing your parents visibly aging is so depressing.

I saw my psychiatrist today and it went ok, but left me feeling really down. Perhaps because we talked about my relationship with my mom, or maybe because he seemed hurried today and didn’t have a lot of time, which is easy to convert into feeling rebuffed when you are insecure like me. I often feel guilt about taking up people’s time anyhow, so when they seem in a hurry, it makes me feel even worse. I guess that is just my lousy self-esteem. It is funny that millenials are often described as so “entitled”, but I am completely the opposite! I don’t feel entitled to much of anything, including people’s time and attention….even when I’m paying for it!

Feeling Insecure and Confused

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The dollies and my bunny say hello! The baby doll in the panda suit is a new addition to my collection, but sadly, he has some issues (floppy, loose head) and I may have to return him and get another one. The outfit that the bunny is wearing I got at a thrift store for less than a buck! Good deals! I also got some more vintage puzzles that I’m sure I will be sharing images of soon!

Ok, now with the cuteness aside, I’ve had a rough few days. A lot of mood swings, anxiety, and depression. I’ve also been feeling insecure and sometimes like I don’t even know who I really am. I wonder if that is why I try so hard to figure out what conditions I actually have and what is wrong with me…because I need an outside force (be it a doctor or diagnosis) to TELL me who I am. I know this kind of feeling is normal when you are a teenager and just figuring out who you are, but I’m 35 freakin’ years old! Shouldn’t I know by now?

I even find myself questioning my blogging efforts. I wonder if anyone really likes the stuff I am into (particularly the toys and puzzles and stuff like that), or am I just boring everyone? But if I talked about nothing on the blog but my mental and physical problems, wouldn’t that get boring in itself? See, I am doing far too much overthinking and that always leads to picking out flaws and beating myself up. It wouldn’t matter WHAT I did on here, I would feel like it isn’t worthwhile sometimes and like I am a burden to others.

I know in my heart, that these feelings of inadequacy are not something that anyone else can clear away for me. It wouldn’t matter how much praise or reassurance I received from others as long as I am still doubting myself inside. I guess at least I recognize that. I appreciate all you guys sticking with me through all the ups and downs. Having a place to open up like this makes a huge difference.

 

Losing Blog Followers and Self-Doubt

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It is hard for me to be emotionally vulnerable about things that hurt my feelings or make me feel worthless, but my #1 goal with this blog is total honesty, so I’m going to share what I’m struggling with right now.

Yesterday I lost at least 5 blog followers. I gained 2 I believe, so the net loss was only 3 followers, but it still made me feel really bad. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was what I posted yesterday. Maybe it came across as too negative and whiny? I didn’t mean for it to, I was just trying to express my feelings at the moment. Sometimes maybe I can come across as a little too dramatic, but I believe that is part of the mood swings aspect of bipolar. I feel things so strongly and emotions can wildly dip and rise so quickly that it is hard to find a good sense of balance emotionally.

Of course, I tell myself that the unfollows might have nothing to do with yesterday’s post, but then that leads me to think I just must be generally boring and annoying to others. I know that is probably just my lousy self-esteem talking, but it is a genuine feeling none-the-less.

I’m not sharing this in hopes of obtaining pity or sympathy, but more to just show the inner workings of my mind and how little things can affect me so much more than they should. Does anyone else relate to this? Are there any other bloggers out there that feel really bad when they lose a few followers all at once?