Going Through Old Sketchbooks – Reworking Drawings

Last night I was looking through an old sketchbook and decided to spice up or rework a few old drawings and put them up for sale on my Ebay store. Here are the artworks I decided to give another shot:

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My Mother Helped a Guy to Stalk Me

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Lately I’ve been dealing with a lot of resentment and anger towards my mother. To explain why, let me share a specific incident that kind of illustrates why I am upset.

When I was 14/15, my mother worked with a guy named Danny who met me and developed a huge crush on me. He was in his late teens or early twenties, but was definitely an adult already. I DID NOT share his romantic interest and made that plain. I had absolutely no interest in dating him or getting to know him better. He bought me an expensive bracelet as a gift, which I immediately returned to him to make it clear I wasn’t interested.

Even with my mother knowing how I felt and that I was stressed out by the attention, she actually egged him on in spite of how I felt or what I wanted. She even gave him our home address and told him when I would be home. So, he ended up coming to my house while I was there alone and banged on the door and called my name for what felt like forever. He yelled about how he knew I was home because my mom had told him so. I never answered the door or responded to his calls. In fact, I hid in the closet because I was scared at the aggressiveness he was displaying.

I felt like I was being stalked, and worst of all, my own mother was encouraging it. This is just one small incident that portrays an issue with boundaries and respecting my privacy that was even more disturbing in other ways which perhaps I will share someday if and when I am ready to do so. I know it might sound odd, but I almost have a feeling like my mother WANTED to whore me out for some reason. I can’t even describe what that did to me psychologically.

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?

Mental Illness Labels : Alphabet Soup Poem

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Yesterday I commented on a post by blogger Myloudbipolarwhispers about mental illness labels. In the comment, I explained how one of my foster kids once had a therapist who talked about the dangers of “alphabet soup”, which is when people start collecting so many labels (ADHD, ADD, ASD, PTSD, SAD, OCD, DID, BPD, RAD, and so on and so on) that they lose sense of themselves as a person or even worse, those treating them lose sight of their humanity and just see them as a list of diagnoses.

I shared in the comment that I even wrote a short poem about “alphabet soup”, which ended up in my book about foster care (From Both Sides). Myloudbipolarwhispers mentioned that she would like to see the poem, so I figured I would just share it in a post here, since it definitely fits the themes of this blog:

Alphabet Soup
By: Maranda Russell

Some good old-fashioned RAD,
a touch of PTSD,
just a hint of OCD,
a generous helping of ADHD
and a pinch of ODD
to taste.

Add it all together
and what do you get?

Alphabet soup…

and a kid
made entirely
of labels.

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!!!

Psychiatrist Visit Update: I Hate Feeling Vulnerable!

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I figured I would do a short follow up post about my psychiatrist visit a couple days ago. It went ok I guess. Instead of switching me off the Prozac, he decided to try upping it one more time to see if that would do the trick, but promised me that if that didn’t make me feel better we would try something new next time. He did mention Wellbutrin as a possibility, which I have never taken. If anyone has experience with that drug, please let me know your thoughts on it!

The first few minutes of our visit, we talked about Netflix and the shows I have been binge watching recently (Black Mirror, Atypical, Stranger Things, American Horror Story). Then he asked how therapy was going, and I felt like at that time I needed to admit how bad my depression had gotten and that my therapist was actually worried about how low I was feeling.

My psychiatrist asked me why I didn’t bring that up immediately when our session started and he kind of jumped to the conclusion that I was trying to be “a good patient and not complain”, but I had to explain to him that his assumption was wrong. I wasn’t trying to make things easier for him, it is just simply hard for me to talk to anyone in person about how bad I really feel when at my lowest. It makes me feel vulnerable and exposed, and I hate that.

I know that last sentence may seem weird, considering the fact that I am so open and bluntly honest in my blog writing about how low and horrible I feel sometimes, but it is just easier for some reason to write that all out to a blank page and post it to the ether of the internet. Being in front of a living, breathing human, it is so much harder to peel the layers away and let my real self be seen.

Gratitude and Positivity Only!

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Aren’t these “namaste/praying” skeleton and black cat figurines I found at Michael’s cute? They had an entire line of both skeletons and black cats doing various yoga poses and I had to pick up a couple of them. I picked these two because I love how this pose represents gratitude and a peaceful heart. Some people might think the skeleton one is kind of creepy (which makes sense considering these were part of a Halloween display), but I think there is something beautiful about the simplicity of a human skeleton doing yoga.

I used these figures on my altar the other night while I was doing a gratitude ritual. I decided to do an impromptu meditation/prayer session, focusing ONLY on feeling and expressing gratitude and thankfulness for anything I could think of which makes my life (or the world in general) better. I specifically chose to NOT ask for anything, request divine help, or focus on any problems or pains I am currently wrestling with. ONLY GRATITUDE. ONLY POSITIVITY.

So, how did it go? Well, it definitely improved my frame of mind and sense of well-being that night. No, it didn’t cure the deep depression I have been fighting with, and it didn’t open the floodgates to riches or worldly success (at least not yet!), but it did make me feel good at the time, and it is something I would recommend to anyone (including myself) who tends to become weighed down with negativity and pessimism.

Meditating with a Crystal Healing Grid

As you guys might know if you have read my blog for long, I have an interest in spirituality and new age stuff. Recently I discovered “crystal healing grids”, which are a simple tool for meditation and other metaphysical purposes. I decided to try them out, so I bought this raven/crow (I’m not positive which one it is supposed to be) themed one.

The official name of this grid pattern is “See Past the Darkness”, which I thought worked well with my issues overcoming my own kind of darkness (depression). It came in a little kit with the grid, the crystals, and instructions (although I tend to disregard instructions and do things my own way). In case you are into gemstones, the crystals used are amethyst (in the center), with clear quartz and Snowflake Obsidian alternating around the edges. These happen to be three of my favorite crystals, which is a bonus. I think it makes a pretty little decoration too:

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To be honest, I don’t know if meditating with stuff like this genuinely helps my depression or not, but I think that having something to concentrate on that represents positive thoughts and energy certainly can’t hurt!

If you guys are interested in trying out one of these grids for yourself, Ebay is where I have found them most easily, usually be just typing “healing crystal grid” into the search bar. You can find complete kits like the one I got, or just pick up a grid and use your own stones (or whatever else you wish to use). Happy hunting!

Journal Writings from a Severe Depressive Episode

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Once in a while I share intimate writings from my journal, from times when I was severely depressed. I don’t do this to get sympathy, but because I hope to educate people who haven’t experienced depression themselves to get even a glimpse of the mental torture you undergo when extremely depressed. I hope sharing might help reduce the stigma and the judgmental attitudes that persist in the face of major depression. So, here goes:

“Why is it that I am screaming on the inside, and yet my voice is mute? Not a peep must pass these lips. I am invisible, even as I am seen.”

“I had to get out. I had to leave. Repeating “I’m ok”, over and over to myself, wasn’t working. I couldn’t breathe, or maybe I didn’t want to any longer. My entire body shook, even as I threw on clothes and grabbed the car keys. I’m still shaking now.”

“I’ve lost it. My composure, my hope, my perception of living. I no longer know if I even exist. No one else seems to see me either.”

“As I walk down the road, tears streaming down my face, a ribbon dangles from my journal, suspended not by wind but by movement. I should tuck it in, but I want to look unkempt. Let the outside, even my props, match the inner disarray.”

“The question asks itself, am I sad or just spoiled? Do I put this on? Is it a show? Do I want to appear unhinged? Is this for attention, and if so, why do I fail so miserably even at that, as it is made clear that nobody sees me?”

*You might notice a pattern in many of these writings, a feeling of invisibility, of not being seen, and not feeling like I matter. As the last quote shows, I even wonder if I am crying out for the attention that I don’t know how to get. Perhaps this aspect is tied to the social limitations of being autistic and suffering from severe social anxiety disorder? I wondered if others who are not autistic or socially anxious feel these same things when depressed, or if it is just me?

By the way, BetterHelp has some great resources on depression as well, so check them out!