That Hue Of Purple

Thursday Feb 16,2017 1:28AM

That Hue of Purple

I remember the days when I had to stop drinking caffeinated mountain dew at night so I could fall asleep so I could forget your purple face and skin. I used to lie awake fearful that I would see you standing at the foot of my bed, in the same state I saw you last; dead, gone, deceased. I used to have nightmares of you hiding underneath my bed and finding you with your eyes snapped open, frozen in rigor mortis starting at me. I will never forget the amount of seconds it took for the paramedics to assess that you were dead. They walked up our blue carpet, must have seen your hue, felt that you were frozen, and made the assessment that you were gone at 56. I’ve woken from my bed, screaming, crying, fearful of the images I saw that day. The last time we spoke echoes though my head like an ear worm. The sound of your slurred words and click of me hanging up followed shortly by the ringtone on my phone with your caller ID calling me back, I press ignore. Oh, how I would have answered that call if I knew it would be our last. I would have told you so many things, about how beautiful you are, how we both hurt the same. I would I have told you you are loved, and stunning, intelligent and generous, but instead I kept shopping at walmart for a stupid sweater while ignoring your call.

Days go by, even weeks and months where you no longer haunt me. I no longer fear, that after the 3 years that have passed that I will find you at the foot of my bed, staring at me. Although that shade of purple that illuminated your skin will never, ever fade from my mind, sometimes I see you as how you were. With your sparkling green eyes, beautiful soft blonde curls, a cackled laugh, a cigarette in hand and a smile on your face. I remember when you received golden braces on my birthday. The years have passed, each one gets easier than the next. While you are not with me in every waking thought anymore, I wear your ring around my neck, the diamonds sparkle, just like your eyes once did.

So much has changed since you left us. I am no longer who I used to be, I am now Rilen. You could have had a son, my dear mother, but you left too soon. I chose my name for you, Rilen. It’s gaelic for Island Meadow. While you are not in my thoughts every second anymore, I carry you with me on my skin, with my tattoo— art on my brown skin. Now this art is framed by scars, framed by shame, guilt, sadness and hurt. Oh how I wish you could see me today. Flat chest, facial hair, square round face. I know you are with me, I feel you sometimes. I hear you when you communicate with me though music, you’re here. But theres so much I want to ask you. Are you okay with the fact that I am trans? Do you like my new name? How do I deal with my mental illness? How do I stop cutting? Why am I so sick, and alone? These questions I will continue to ask myself for years, but the one that haunts me  the most; are you proud of who I have become? Is the man that stands, broken and tall, who you wished I would be? Should I be doing more? I want your guidance, I need your love. I want to feel your skin, hear your laugh, feel your arms wrap around me once again. Even if it’s only in a dream I will take it. I will take it over these haunting, vivid memories that are so visceral and real. But most of all what I want mom, is for you to rest peacefully, knowing that you are loved by many.

Stained skin.

February 12, 1:50 am

My pain is represented by my scars. The fresh cuts on my arms and the bandages that cover them weekly demonstrate the hurt. The scars speak more loudly than words ever will as to how I feel. The scars speak to the pain, abandonment, fear and hurt that I feel that I’m unable to express in other ways. I try to speak, to impart to others why I hurt, why I hurt myself. But words don’t do justice. So I stay silent, not trying to have anyone understand. Nobody will get it, if I myself don’t understand, so I don’t try. The only way I know how to speak, is to write. To have words flow out of my fingers, thats that were unknown and un-realized thoughts and feelings surface, not revealed until typed onto my screen. My leg reads as a barcode, 20 or more dark scars stain my skin. My two tattoos on my wrist are framed by dark, self inflicted lines. I look into the mirror and I don’t see me anymore. I don’t know who this is, but it isn’t who I am. I am an actor and now I have to go into auditions with scars on my arms, my weakness and misery on display for all.

Someone tonight told me, for every cut you want to make, there are 1000 reasons not to. I am putting my career at stake with my sickness. I want my body to be pure again, clean, untouched. Instead I am tainted, dirty and soiled. Some people don’t hide their scars because they say they are sings that they are a survivor, proof that they have been through some stuff.They want the world to know they are warriors.  I don’t know that I agree, but its gotten to the point that my pain will be visible to see. Even if I wear a long sleeve shirt the pain will reflect in my eyes. Sure, my lips curve into smiles, my laugh booms out of me, but the darkness still rests within.

I’ve begun to cry more times these past 2 weeks than I have allowed myself in the past year. My eyes become blurry and fill with tears, but they refuse to fall. They sit stubbornly around my brown, sad eyes, unable to dip to my cheeks. I don’t feel a release, I feel nothing most of the time. I am hollow. I am carved out and empty. Covered in scars I did nothing to earn.

 

A Life Lead in Confusion

Tuesday February 7,2017 10:35pm

My life is lead in confusion. I am confused about my gender, my trauma history, why I drink, why I cut, why I am so mentally ill, why I have no friends, why I feel empty. I am surrounded by endless thoughts of what, why, how come? I wish I had answers to all the questions my mind asks of me, instead I walk around in a haze, stumbling around trying to find the door that holds my secrets and unsolved truths.

I want to be understood, I want to be loved, I want to once again, feel whole. I want to have people in my immediate surroundings who I can spend time with instead of seeing blurred faces through a computer screen. I long for someone to touch, to hold and be held by. I want to sit in my sweatpants and watch sappy romantic comedies with a friend while shoving our faces with popcorn. I want to feel so fulfilled and purposeful in life that I am bursting with life, unable to hold in my joy that I could get up and break into song at any moment. I want to greet my days with purpose instead of shades of grey that paint my days. It’s only been 2 months since I’ve been out of school and I feel disheartened. I wonder, will I ever make it as an actor or will this be my life forever? Living off my dad and lying around, like an amorphous blob in my bed.

When will I look in the mirror and be happy and not see double chins and fat hips? When will my legs gain their strength and tone again? Do I want to continue hrt and become looking more and more male, or do I want to slow down and stay how I am, in the middle? I don’t fit with others and I don’t fit with myself ,there is turmoil and unrest deeply settled in my soul. My withering soul that longs to spark back to life. To feel free, love, understood, apart of SOMETHING. So much, if not all of my life I have been alone and felt disconnected, I now wonder if this because of my disorder, or is that just me? Forced to walk beside my own shadow? I don’t have the answer to all of these pitiful questions and it plagues me. I want clarity, I want to take of my splattered glasses that are covered with fog and dirt and see clearly. To feel complete and needed. I make youtube videos to help others and help myself, but I wonder, who is really helping me? I have a mental health team that encourages me and understands, supports, empthathizes and sympathizes with me, but am I really interconnected with anyone? Or am I just a flag flapping alone in a field?

I don’t know what I want most in my life, if its to feel included and understood? Or to just feel whole and content within myself? I don’t have any answers at this point. I am lost.

10:46

Recovery is a fickle bitch.

Monday January 30, 2017 3:06 pm

Recovery, much like life is a fickle, fickle bitch. I find myself on a constant rollercoaster these days. I swing from having good days, where I feel healthy and normal. I spent my days writing, watching TV, reading and playing piano. I sit in my room and feel guilty for not working, for not being in school perusing my career at a school I love so much. I think of myself as being lazy and a bit unmotivated. I question whether my dad thinks I am being lazy for not working, that I am on vacation time, where nothing matters and the days fly by. Then I am stampeded by the bad days. The days where I sleep for 17 hours and can’t get out of bed. I leave my bed to use the bathroom, shower and eat a single meal. Besides those actions my sleeping mask shuts out the light that turns to darkness as I lay motionless in my bed. It’s the days that I feel like a slate wiped clean, and utterly empty that I am reminded that I am sick. It’s the nights when I drink alone in the darkness, and take a razor to my skin that I realize how sick I am. When I toss and wake to the morning to remember the night before because of the bandage I placed on my arm hours before is when reality comes crashing down, I am ill.

I am in week 2 of therapy with a new caring therapist. She is beautiful, nurturing and competent. I see her on Tuesdays at 12 and Wednesdays at 2. I see my psychiatrist on Fridays at 1. I am getting a lot of help, but we are beginning even at this early stage to wonder if it is enough for me. There is talk of beginning a day program 5 days a week to help me get the coping mechanisms I need to function in the world. The nights are just so hard for me. When the darkness settles, a switch turns in my brain to self destruct mode. I feel lonely and barren of connection and emotion and coping skills. I have been sober for 2 days and haven’t cut in 3. These may seem small but especially the drinking is a very big deal, especially considering I have a full bottle in the fridge. I am trying to get better. I was triggered by some unseen childhood trauma that I am not ready to face as my brain has blocked the memories the other night and called helpline after helpline to avoid cutting myself. I finally reached someone who listened to me and was empathetic, I felt heard and understood. They applauded me for reaching out and trying so hard to get help when I was struggling so much. I ended up cutting anyway, but I am trying. I am clawing my way out of this hellish hole that is all consuming.

I know I made the right decision by not being in school, I am a delicate flower as I call myself, and I wouldn’t be able to handle that stress. So I suppose I will just have to hang tight and cling to dear life and try to stay afloat, but most importantly, alive.

The Split

Saturday January 14,2017 3:59 pm

So there is something in my life that has emerged or rather come to my attention recently. I was diagnosed as having bipolar 2 back when I was 22, so almost 6 years ago. My life was ruled by hypomanic episodes, severe bouts of depression and feeling suicidal to being manic where I couldn’t stop talking, my mind wouldn’t slow down, acting impulsively like stealing and sleeping with numerous people. My life was a fucking roller coaster which I did not pay to ride. I was ruled by my bipolar. I didn’t feel normal and found it hard to get through some days, I found myself crying for no reason and feeling numb and empty. I felt disconnected from the world and like a crazy person.

Now 6 years later I was given another diagnosis (not in replacement of but rather in addition to) of borderline personality disorder. I would like to clarify right now that the word “personality disorder” sounds much more dramatic and fatal as it actually is—not to downplay how truly horrendous bpd and other personality disorder are. Personality disorder just means the way you experience feelings is vastly different from the norm. You feel things more instensly than others (bpd) or maybe you have lack of feelings which is what anti social personality disorder, which is better known as sociopathy.

Now that I have this diagnosis my whole life makes sense. I remember when I diagnosed with bipolar my life seemed to fall apart and crumble, but I felt relief because I finally had a name to the symptoms that are wreaking havoc on my life. Now that I have this additional diagnosis I have the complete picture of who I am. Bpd is characterized as having the following symptoms: unstable relationships with people that are long withstanding (as in like, all my  friggin relationships are messed up with people) feelings of emptiness, suicidial ideation or self harm, intense abandonment issues— thinking everyone in your life is just going to pack up and leave you eventually. As if that isn’t enough frequent mood swings lasting from a few minutes to hours, impulsive behavior such as promiscuity or stealing, unstable sense of self, dissociation and depersonalization all accompany this disorder.

I think for me the worst symptom that plagues me and other sufferers with bpd report is attachment issues. There is a term in the bpd community called “fp” which stands for favorite person or favourite for all my brits out there! A fp is a person in your life who you idolize and put before all others in your life. This person is a God among men- they can do no wrong. You hang on to every word they say and you need constantly contact and validation with them. One of the worst parts of bpd is the fact that you can turn into a complete raging psycho when people don’t respond to texts immediately. I once went on a 15 day cutting streak because some person- who eventually abandoned me- didn’t text me back for 13 hours. Communication and connection are two very important pieces of bpd. Another horrible symptom of bpd is called “splitting” which is when you go from idolizing someone to hating them and cutting them out of your life. For example I had an fp, someone who at one point I hung on to their every word and looked forward to hearing that text ding from them. Now we haven’t talked in almost a month and unfourtanetly I have completely split on them- I want nothing to do with them, they mean nothing to me anymore- they could block me and I wouldn’t care at this point.

Now, the reason I entitled this article “the split” is because my bipolar used to rule my life. But now things have changed to how bpd affects my life. The long term mood swings that would last weeks are now ruled by short term mood swings. A couple of weeks ago in a period of about 5 minuets I went from being depressed, to cutting myself multiple times, to getting excited about the taco dip I was eating. Now I am on an even faster roller coaster which I wish I wasn’t tall enough to ride. Now at this point in my life, at almost 27 years of age, bpd is my main challenge. I have recently in the past month begun cutting myself- a symptom of bpd. That was never an issue before. And now all the pieces fit together- my fear of everyone leaving me no matter how much they have showed me they aren’t going to, the alcohol abuse, idolizing someone in a short amount of time after knowing them and the splitting. My life has been split between dealing with the symptoms of my bipolar to my bpd.

Sadly meds don’t fix bpd otherwise I would be on that shit in a heartbeat. My bipolar has been stabilized by a mix of mood stabilizers, anti anxiety and anti depressants. So now, the focus of my life is learning better coping skills like not cutting or drinking so much and interpersonal relations. I need to find a way to find the evidence that people are not going to leave me and assume everyone hates me and is bothered by my presence. I can’t say one is worse than the other because they both suck, and paired together it’s a deadly pair. But I am committed to recovery and getting better. Bpd is not “curable” per se but you can do expensive therapy to lessen the symptoms of abandonment issues and such. I just hope there is a day when I can say I am healthier and no longer ruled by either of my disorders.

 

The voice of borderline. 

I am your worst enemy but your closest friend. I manipulate you and tell you things that aren’t always true. I can blur the lines between reality and fantasy. For me it’s easy to make you illogical and irrational. When someone doesn’t text you back right away I tell you you are useless, stupid, ugly, insignificant, small. I tell you you finally pushed that person away and you finally found a way to ruin it, because that’s what you do, you are a ruiner. I whisper In your ear late at night to cut yourself, to have one more drink to numb the pain. I tell you you don’t matter to people and are a burden. I make you hide your pain from others while I break you down and melt you inside. I make you idolize someone, to make them a god among men and when you don’t get that attention you so desperately crave and need because of me, you crumble and crack like a piece of porcelain falling to the ground in 1,000 pieces. You love too deeply, you feel too strong. You push those away that mean the most to you to protect yourself from getting hurt. I’m the one that tells you you will die alone without love because after all, you are unlovable, desperate and needy. You require more than anyone can give. You are a child, a little puppy that needs coddling. I tell you to hate those that have hurt you, to write them off and wish ill will on them. I, am borderline. 

A Christmas Eve Drop Out

It’s 5:40 pm in Tomahawk Wisconsin. I traveled from Waukesha to Tomahawk, a couple hundred miles beginning at 7:18am this morning. So far today I have taken a nap, drank a dark and stormy, had 2 pizza puffs, listened to sad music, dropped out of school and played with my dog.

I sit here writing in the basement of my dads vacation home, aware of my blessings. A Bose sound system blaring Johnny Cash’s rendition of hurt “ I hurt myself today 
To see if I still feel .I focus on the pain, the only thing that’s real ” clothes covering my back, a scarf at my neck, a dog at my toes. Bandages cover my wrists, a hat covers my head.I am grateful.

I left one of the nations most prestigious and rigorous acting schools today, but this isn’t the first time, but this will be the last. What was supposed to be only a month hiatus has now turned into an eternity of time where I will no longer be a student at the Atlantic again. When I first moved to new york in August 2014, I began the acting conservatory 4 months after my mom tragically and unexpectedly died. I entered school, lost and broken down, but determined to make my new york dreams come true. 1 week into the school year I did a jumping jack and tore my ACL. I had to leave new york to have knee surgery.I moved my things back to Wisconsin to under go surgery. Over the time I was home in WI, I came to the realization that I was transgender and began hormone replacement therapy.

I went back to school again for fall 2015 with a new out look on life, my emotional healing had been done and I was in a better place with my moms death and my knee was fully healed. 2 days into the school year, I was sexually assaulted on September 5, 2015. My whole life crumbled down. On September 19, I tried killing myself and spent a week in a pscyh ward upstate new york. I battled dissociation, cutting, drinking and losing any sense of self and safety I had for the first half of the semester. I some how was able to make it through the days at school, somehow still able to memorize lines, smile and laugh. I decided I would spend the entirety of my winter break to fly back to WI in order to undergo intensive therapy to go over the trauma that I underwent. I went to therapy twice a week for over a month. I rehashed every detail of my assault and grew stronger from it even though with each memory of his touch that flooded back into my senses I felt broken again.

I got though the second semester much better than the first. My teachers noticed a difference and so did I. I rarely dissociated and was able to do some meaningful work that I will forever be proud of. Now, if we rewind 15 weeks ago at the beginning of this school year and how I got here, seemingly no singular event has triggered me to leave this time.

I started the year hopeful and excited to see what was actually possible now that I had my life seemingly put together. I was excited to meet the first years, a few I had the privilege of to get to know quite well. I loved my group, a dynamic jumble of people from all over the world with an immense amount of talent. At times I felt like a true ant among giants. I felt working with some people so utterly small and insignificant. I thought from the moment I started my second class on the first day that I wasn’t good enough to go there or continue. I thought I sucked and wasn’t good enough to show up and do the work that was being asked of me. I proved myself wrong. I did some of the best work that I have ever done in my life in my final semester at the Atlantic. I achieved things in scenes I had only dreamed of being capable of. But this story doesn’t end on such a happy note though does it?

Despite making strides in my acting, I was still restricted and struggling with my various mental illness. I was crippled by anxiety and unable to speak in one of my classes called “speech.” I have been diagnosed as having bipolar since I was 22 and more recently have a name for the disorder that plagues my life on a daily basis, which is what brings me to the end of my time at the school I love so much; borderline personality disorder. I had deep undercurrents of sadness and a sense of mistrust in myself and my ability to suceed at this school. By the final two weeks of school I had cut myself near 100 times on my wrists and legs as a way to deal with my feelings that I couldn’t express. I made it through to the final day just barely, missing classes became a pattern for me which is a no no at my school. I had begun to fall down the rabbit hole each night that I took a razor to my skin and inflicted such pain on myself.

I am lost and weak. I have lost who I am. Yesterday I wrote saying ” An inferno of sadness as engulfed my soul.” In this moment however, I don’t feel that way. I see a light in the corner, a light that I am actively chasing to eventually illuminate my whole room. This is the rest button. I will leave school to undergo intensive psychotherapy and get the help I desperately need but more importantly, want.

I believe I am put on this earth for 2 reasons. 1 is to act and 2, (and what I think is more important,) is to help others. God gave me many gifts, the ability to write, speak and write songs. I am aware I have been helping people by the tens of thousands of views I have on my youtube videos.The daily messages of gratitue of people reaching out to me saying thank you for making my video. I need to get better so I can accomplish both of these things. I want to be a beacon of help to those around me that don’t have the voice I have. I want to break the stigma that mental illness is not a death sentence, without proper help it sure as shit can be, but help is out there. I refuse to be held down by my illness anymore. It is time that I stand  (shakily) on my two feet and walk into the light of recovery. As much as I have to do this for me, I believe I have to do this for others so I can help more in the future.

Thank you to all my classmates for your love and support. Thank you to my teachers who love me endlessly.  firmly believe I have more teachers phone numbers than classmates because of how loved I am. I am blessed.

It’s time to rebuild.