Publications

I'm currently revising a memoir entitled Everything You Can't Control. The story chronicles my journey not only of struggle but also of triumph as I grapple with a mixed (manic/depressive) episode. All I want to do is teach middle school and at the end of the day, come home to my devoted husband, but when bipolar disorder causes a psychotic break that derails my career and threatens my relationships, I must fight my way back to reality and decide what I really want in life before I lose my job and the people who matter most. The book tackles key issues in modern mental health including employment discrimination, the taboo of suicide, and the way we see others as well as the empathy and kindness we show them. Read an excerpt originally published on Catapult.

A red typewriter prints a page with "Organ Donor" written on it.

My Rapid Rise to Substack Stardom: A Billion Subscribers in Six Days

Hi Kidney Beanies!  I cannot believe how my Substack newsletter has grown. I still remember struggling to reach that 100-subscriber milestone—until I found that gold mine of an email list from organizing our 20th high school reunion. (Go Squirrels!) But with a lot of persistence and A LOT of Adderall, my Substack has flourished.  It…

Yellow book cover of Pharmakon against a light blue background.

Pharmakon: Book Review

Four thousand miles, an ocean, and a sea between us, Mallorcan writer Almudena Sánchez and I live with the same invisible illness: depression. Or, as she describes the condition, “Nightmares, if they happen at night and in bed, are bearable. What’s unbearable is for them to occur in the world of our five senses.” Although…

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Real People Real Stories

At Ancram Center for the Arts in the Hudson Valley, I was honored to share my experience learning how other people’s perspectives can change the course of someone’s life as part of Real People Real Stories (RPRS) fall 2023 season. RPRS is a storytelling event similar to The Moth where stories are told, not read.…

Marisa receives an IV ketamine infusion in a dark room while wearing an eye mask and listening to music.

Ketamine Can Be Transformative for People with Suicidal Thoughts—If They Can Access It

Every day, Marisa Russello was overwhelmed by suicidal thoughts. Even one negative thought might cause her to spiral. A writer working on her book manuscript, she’d be unable to change a word without questioning the entire project’s value altogether. Her depression made it hard to fall and stay asleep. She developed insomnia and took to…

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The Sanctuary for Independent Media: Alternatives to Suicide

In this interview, Bosh and Sina speak with Marisa Russello, a writer and mental health advocate who works at the Empowerment Exchange in Troy. We discuss her job where she supports people improving their mental health and wellness, one of the groups she facilitates called Alternatives to Suicide, and her suggestions for talking to people…

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AFSP: Out of the Darkness Walk

I’ve participated in the Out of the Darkness Walk every year since moving to upstate New York in 2018. I’m just one of the 12.2 million American adults who has suicidal thoughts. In 2022, I was honored to be the guest speaker for Columbia-Greene’s walk.  I’ll be a participant again this fall, and you can find my fundraising…

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How to Talk Like a Normie: A Step-by-Step Guide for the Autistic

The answer to “How are you?” should never be the truth. When a person greets you, they’re not actually listening. Respond “Fine” or “Good” and reciprocate the question, ignoring their response. On Mondays, the follow up to your greeting should be, “How was your weekend?” When someone asks this, always say, “It was great!” and…

Photo from above of several couches and sofa chairs in a circle.

Talking About Suicide Helps Us Stay Alive

One winter evening in early 2019, I relaxed on a blue sofa as about six people trickled into a dimly lit room for that night’s peer support meeting, which I was leading. After greeting each other and grabbing coffee or flavored seltzer, everyone joined the circle of comfy couches and chairs. I began the session…

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Stability Leader Profile

Marisa had quite a start to her first job out of college. After teaching middle school for a week, she began having delusions and paranoia, not recognizing and becoming suspicious of those around her. She later found out she was experiencing an episode of manic psychosis and received a diagnosis of bipolar I with psychotic…

The Former Teachers’ Club Podcast: Episode 22 Teachers Should Take Their Personal Days (from a mental health advocate)

During this episode Leah and Robin chat with Marisa Russello! Marisa is a former teacher who now works as a peer recovery specialist at a local not-for-profit where she supports individuals improving their mental health and wellness. Marisa is a writer and is working on finishing her first book! Her book, which is a memoir,…

This Is What a Manic Episode Feels Like

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes unusual mood swings, ranging from extreme highs (known as manic episodes) to extreme lows (called depressive episodes). There are three types of bipolar disorder, bipolar I is marked by full manic episodes while bipolar II is defined by a pattern of depressive and hypomanic—revved up energy,…

9-Things-I-Learned...Megan-Stielstra

9 Things I Learned in Megan Stielstra’s Memoir Course

When I read The Wrong Way to Save Your Life by Megan Stielstra, I knew I had to apply for her intensive year-long memoir course, the first of its kind offered through Catapult. These intensive “generator” courses are offered every so often for writing memoirs, essay collections, novels, and poetry. There are even generator classes aimed at specific…

Of Mice and Mental Health

Demystifying and reimagining mental health. And mice memes.