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.

Hospitalization: I want to live.

I’ve fallen into a hole and haven’t been able to climb out of it. My fingernails are covered in dirt as I struggle to get out of this pit of despair I have fallen into. I am a fighter. I am fighting for my life every day I have walked this earth, more recently the last year, and even more specifically the last 2 months.

The week started off pretty bad. I was triggered by my sexual assault. A book I was reading about a young trans teen was sexually assaulted for the same reason that I was, because some fuckers were trying to figure out what anatomy they had. I ended up cutting myself over 30 times that night, on my forearms, wrists and thigh. I scared myself because for the first time I cut vertically, I say it was because I wanted to see more blood, but if I am honest with myself I know part of the reason I did that was because I had a severe case of the “fuck it’s” and didn’t care if I accidentally bled out. So to say the least the week didn’t start off well. I then spent the entirety of Wednesday contemplating suicide and decided whether I wanted to go, to press harder that night and eventually reach my half formed goal of bleeding out. I decided against it, because I realized I still had some fight in me. I think I just ended up cutting instead. I went 4 days without cutting, the longest I’ve gone in over a month. Then Saturday based on a chain of events, partly due to money, I cut vertically again with the half intention of not caring if I bleed out on my queen sized bed in my Brooklyn apartment.

There is a difference I realized between the fuck it’s and actually wanting to die and intentionally trying to die. I was concerned enough that I would try to hurt myself even more than the night before so on Sunday January 22, I checked myself in The Brooklyn Hospital. I checked in around 1:20pm and was promptly placed in the ER on a 1 to 1, which is suicide watch where a nurse sits with you every second to make sure you don’t try to hurt yourself. The nurses were amazing, I felt taken care of and a sense of protection. I did however, feel like I was being babysat and felt like a failure for being a 26 year old man having people watch my every move. Around 5:42 pm I was transferred to my own room. I requested a private room because of my transgender status. I wasn’t comfortable sharing a room with a male or female as I look androgynous at this point in my transition and honestly, don’t feel like I fit clearly in either box at this point. I got dinner, and made conversation with my favorite nurse, Adolph. A young 30 something african american woman. We laughed and made jokes, talking about pizza, grilled cheese, hurricane sandy and other things. All my nurses with the exception of 2, one of which fell asleep, snoring while I was laying in my bed were incredible. My room was a freezer, probably about 30 degrees, my nurse was wrapped in a blanket like a nun and I had 2 blankets on. I was woken around 4am to the caring hands of a nurse tucking me into my third blanket.

The thing about being placed on suicide watch is everyone tells you how much life is worth living, they spout knowledge and hope saying, you’re too young and pretty to want to do this to yourself. They told me that I wasn’t crazy which lead me to semi believe them and form the new opinion that while yes, I do have many diagonseses, I am in a somewhat healthy spot. I always laugh when they ask me if I hear voices or see things that aren’t there, and scoff when I am asked if I am homicidal. Which is kind of a dick move because there are people that feel that way. So I guess one of the biggest lessons I learned what is that I’m not crazy. I was able to laugh and joke and carry on coherent conversations. Which given the horror stories of nurses being spit on, chairs thrown or piss cans being thrown on them, I would say I was doing pretty well.

I realized I have too much to live for. About a month ago I made a 3 and a half page list taking note of all the reasons I shouldn’t kill myself. My list varies from a few people that I know would be devastated, to cupcakes, pizza, the opportunity to not be able to help others, playing piano, hot showers and rainy days litter my list in colorful colors by my felt tip pens.

For those of that have depression will be able to understand this statement, there is a clear cut difference between actually wanting to die and imagining it and reaching a point of carelessness if that were in fact to happen. What is referred to as suicidal ideation litters my mind. What if I jumped in front of that train? Ran into traffic, slit my wrists so that I bled out, jumped out of the 31st floor of building I am inhabiting? These are fully formed thoughts but with lack of intention.

I am glad I went to the hospital, because for one night I was safe from my mind. I wasn’t transferred to a psych facility because I wasn’t a threat to myself. My psychiatrist said he wasn’t concerned that I was going to go home and slit my wrists with the exacto knife that sits in the pringle cup next to bed.

I guess the 25 hours I spent being continually watched gave me perspective that I want to live. I was going to fight it if they made me go to a psych facility. You see, I have this bandaid theory about the hospital situations I’ve been in, as this is the second time I’ve voluntarily checked in for my mental health and sucicidal ideation. I look as hospitals as a band aid that cover the safety part of my recovery, I can’t hurt myself, which is great. But that isn’t the bigger problem. The bigger problem needs to be discovered through therapy, to find out why I am hurting myself, was I assaulted as a kid? How has my moms unfortunate death and sexual assault shaped me into who I am? Thats where the healing has to be, not under some 24 hour lock down facility with cardboard veggie burgers and small juice cups that are gone in 3 sips.

I am a fighter, I am covered in blood, I have soot on my face, my body is broken and bruised, but I continue to stand tall in the face of mental illness and trauma.

When The Bracelets Come Off (tw: self harm)

January 15,2017 9:48am

When the bracelets come off I know something sinister is about to take place. I can go a full day without even thinking about cutting, or maybe it passes though my mind as I see my arms. But I don’t think about it as much as I used to do. But once I’ve had 3 or 4 drinks in me and my bracelets come off I know I am going to hurt. The weird thing is sometimes it’s not a conscious decision, I just look down and see myself taking my jewelry off. The ritual begins as soon as they are off. I inspect my wrists, feeling the risen cuts usually fresh from the night before or a day before. I plan where I’m going to cut, between which lines that are healed enough, or start somewhere new. I usually cut in-between the lines. My wrists look awful, there is no hiding or pretending that they aren’t self harm scars. My leg looks like a barcode with long scars cut in straight lines, my wrists look the same.

I am ashamed that the world has to visibly see the pain I am in. A physical representation of the turmoil that plagues my mind on a daily basis. I wish I could go back restart and maybe not cut on such a visible place next time. The 2 tattoos that are on my wrists are framed by my cuts, always sure not to touch the art that adorns my body. Sadly a few cuts have spilled into the tattoo I got in memory of my mom, something shameful and sad. I want to be proud to show people my beautiful tattoo and now I can’t because of my arms. What a shame.

The crazy thing I find is how different it feels to cut sober or drunk. I’ve cut sober maybe 4 times total. I get drunk and cut, thats my pattern. When I’m sober I wince and want to yell out in pain because it burns and stings. But when I’m drunk my toes curl in pain but not like when I’m sober. Whats even more fucked is that taking off the bandage the next morning hurts more than the actual cutting. I hope that I can rid myself of this horrible, self destructive habit thats developed over the past month.

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.

 

Getting life on track

Saturday January 14, 2017 8:48am

It’s 8:48 am and I excitedly await 6pm. I’m going to dinner with one of my classmates who I feel a deep connection with. I’m ready to spill my guts to I person I am fond of and trust. I’m ready to chat about school and why I made the decision to walk away from it.

Yesterday was the first day I didn’t get drunk or cut, a major accomplishment since I have cut the last 3 days in a row. My wrist is still puffy and red but I am glad I am healing instead of waiting for new wounds to heal.

My life since being back has consisted of writing new songs on my beautiful shiny new piano, making a trip to the library where I check out 10 books to read for pleasure— a nice break from the old necessity of having to check out plays to research roles and expand my knowledge of various playwrights. I’ve been watching netflix and just trying to take it easy. As little stress as possible is my goal. I’ve bought a few candle and continue to keep in contact with my friends from far way who I have met online. They have become my life line, the only constant communication and connection in my life.

I’ve had 3 therapy sessions in the past week and a half where we tackled my self harm and abandonment issues. I feel like I am finally starting to see the gap in reality and the illogical part of my brain that tells me people are going to leave me. I am able to see that my brain tricks me by ignoring all evidence and proof that the person who means most to me is going to disappear without a trace. My fp ( favorite person) has done nothing but support and care for me, yet I feel he is going to run away and abandon me. I learned through therapy that isn’t the case- he won’t leave me and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

My therapist constantly lauds me for my extensive effort to better myself and get healthier. He says that most people aren’t capable of being so self aware that they need help, and instead live their lives in silent misery. Where as me on the other hand, dropped out of a prestigious acting school to get my shit under control. Him saying that brings me little comfort but deep down I am grateful and pleased. My mental health has always been a priority of mine as I have voluntarily been going to therapy since I was 16. At first I went to deal with my eating disorder that was slowly developing in reaction to my abusive alcoholic mom, god rest her soul. Then I went to a new therapist to also deal with my mom but to deal with my bipolar disorder and skewed body image. Then I went to another therapist where I dealt soley with my gender identity and came to the startling realization that I am transgender man. I’ve had other therapists beyond that that I don’t want to get into. The point is, my mental health has always been a priority, but now it is the sole focus of my existence.

I am excited to meet my new therapist on Tuesday but also quite nervous. Will she be nice? How fast will it take her to realize I am intelligent, focused, determined, kind caring and wounded? When will we tackle my sexual abuse and my mom? Will she understand my deep emotional pain and be able to help me get healthier and wipe my slate clean and start over again? I am hungry for change, to be on a new playing field of life. As usual with life, things are unknown and hang in the balance of time. There is no way of predicting how therapy will go or the new DBT group I will eventually start going to. For now my focus is on not cutting or drinking excessively in my room at night alone as that has been my daily habit for the past 2 months.

I am excited for my life to begin unfolding in to the way it is meant to be lived, with happiness and joy instead of this fluctuating constant state of hurt, pain, disappointment and fear.