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Email Reflection from March 20th, 2014 @ Age 32


Hi Michael [a.k.a. Executive Director, Disability Rights Ohio],

Sorry to email so late.  I was so tired I tried to fall asleep—but my mind is so full with concern that my conscience would not allow me to rest peacefully.  So I got up and just finished Part I of this book I was telling you about yesterday—Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl:


The very last sentence of Part I reads like this:

The crowning experience of all, for the homecoming man, is the wonderful feeling that, after all he has suffered, there is nothing he need fear anymore—except his God.”

That’s kind of what I was talking about yesterday, when I’d mentioned “I was going to kill myself anyway.”  It’s almost like when I got to that point, I said to hell with this fear of others’ judgment—I am going to save these kids.  It became my purpose to continue on living—and I think is what has enabled me to endure risk in a manner under which most others are not capable to live.

I also think this is part of the reason why others are frightened of me right now.  But that just is what it is—it’s the “ordinary” nature of the human condition in response to change—and that, I can appreciate and accept.  Certainly no one has ever said that causing fundamental change in the thought processes of the minds of human beings as to controversial issues would be easy.  It’s not.  But on the other hand—it’s definitely a hefty challenge in persuasion, which I particularly enjoy.  Aside from writing—persuasion is perhaps my second favorite “hobby” to exercise.

Anyways, to the more serious point of this email—Frankl also says just a few pages prior:

“It would be an error to think that a liberated prisoner was not in need of spiritual care any more.  We have to consider that a man who has been under such enormous mental pressure for such a long time is naturally in some danger after his liberation, especially since the pressure was released quite suddenly…During this psychological phase one observed that people with natures of a more primitive kind could not escape the influences of the brutality which had surrounded them in camp life.  Now, being free, they thought they could use their freedom licentiously and ruthlessly.  The only thing that had changed for them was that they were now the oppressors instead of the oppressed.”

This is what I feel like I was able to recognize, when Geoff Collver was kind enough to have the heart to heart conversation with me last Friday.  The original purpose for those Terry Russell emails was a well-intentioned strategic approach to begin whittling away at the remaining structure of Ohio’s fractured mental health system, to make way for positive change and forward looking improvement.  It started out rather well.  But then, after learning of NAMI Ohio’s significantly intertwined relationship with the State of Ohio by way of the AG’s entire lack of response to my inquiries and the significant funding provided NAMI Ohio annually by the State of Ohio, etc. etc., I think I started to feel the situation was hopeless again, and started to lose it (“it”, being mental health recovery).

My conversation with Geoff helped me realize that this phenomenon Frankl describes was going on—about the oppressed becoming the oppressor.  That’s kind of what it felt like with these past two emails—almost like it started to feel good that I was causing Terry psychological pain.  Upon recognition though—this was frightening and upsetting, and very scary to find myself in such a state.  But the awakening, despite the pain at its outset—has been hugely instrumental in learning the dire need for change in approach.

In any case, time to go.  Thank you again for taking the time to meet with me yesterday.  Our conversation is having a significantly positive impact—for which I am profoundly grateful.


Marissa K. Varcho

Among the hills a meteorite

Lies huge; and moss has overgrown,

And wind and rain with touches light

Made soft, the contours of the stone.

Thus easily can Earth digest

A cinder of sidereal fire,

And make her translunary guest

The native of an English shire.

Nor is it strange these wanderers

Find in her lap their fitting place,

For every particle that’s hers

Came at the first from outer space.

All that is Earth has once been sky;

Down from the sun of old she came,

Or from some star that travelled by

Too close to his entangling flame.

Hence, if belated drops yet fall

From heaven, on these her plastic power

Still works as once it worked on all

The glad rush of the golden shower.

C.S. Lewis


Circa 1947