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.

The journey home to a new me.

January 3,2017, 1:37pm
Here I sit at gate D47 after paying a $125 baggage fee waiting for my flight home for my new life to begin. I am a bit shaken by my last encounter with my angry dad over the excessive baggage fee. If I would have removed 6 pounds from my bag, it would have been only $25. I am mad at myself because I used the wrong card so I probably won’t be able to afford my metro card. Fuck. Will I be able to buy groceries? Dumb decision, Rilen, DUMB! Regardless, I am seemingly calm, probably because I have nicotine coursing through my veins as I just smoked my second to last cancer stick.

I am nervous and excited to go home. My flight leaves at 2:55. The gate is quiet, about 20 people scattered about, chatting on their cell phones, quietly listening to music, or like the guy next to me, munching on a piece of hard candy. I don’t know what to expect when I get home. A messy room, an empty fridge, unkept bed and no clean towels. Beyond the physical state of my cozy Brooklyn apartment, I have no idea what to expect of my new life that has just begun. I am on the road to recovery. I will begin intensive therapy, 4 times a week to tackle my self harm, and borderline personality disorder symptoms that permeate my life. I am crossing the bridge into a new me, the life of a professional out of work actor. I am nervous to go on auditions, but due to a new wardrobe I am confident that I will look great walking into those rooms. A shred of guilt nags at me as two of the sweaters I bought are a bit too tight around my hips. My muffin top spills over the top. I am still impatiently waiting for T to smooth out my hips and for the day I finally have the will to stop drinking mountain dew. 20 pounds lighter and that sweater will fit perfectly. When I go on a date I will be one fashionable bitch, clad in my new boots and sweaters. The new me is beginning to be shaped.

I don’t know what lies ahead for me. I did buy myself a piano which I am so excited to receive by mail later this week. I haven’t played piano in almost 2 years, haven’t written a song in over 3. I was walking down the street with a friend last night and was excitedly chattering about all the material I have to write songs about now, my moms death, being trans, being sexually assaulted, having mental illness— so much to draw on. My therapist says she doesn’t think I should have a job right away because I am still a delicate mess.

The exacto knife still sits in my $125 bag that is currently being inspected by gloved fingers.I wonder what they will think when they see it is shoved in a box of large bandaids, will they know? I hope I never have to use that knife again to peel back the layers of my skin in order to feel something deep that is buried in my soul. I hope that this 2 day, no-cutting streak can continue and I don’t add to the collection of straight lines that scar my wrists and forearms. Self inflicted pain and proof of it is hidden underneath bracelets I made. I am ashamed, I am wounded. I wonder what people in auditions will think when they see my wrists as I hold up the sides to an audition. Perhaps I will wear makeup? Or even still wear my bracelets? So many unknowns that only time will reveal. My goals are to get through this flight and take it day by day. I want to focus on piano, and learning spanish again and keep writing. Beyond that and therapy I have no plans. I will work when I am cleared to but I intend to keep busy regardless. Perhaps the bar around the corner will hire me as a bartender when I am ready? Or I will get a job serving in the city? So many unknowns.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An inferno of sadness has engulfed my soul

An inferno of sadness has engulfed my soul

I am sounded by the fires of loneliness and sorrow, pain and fear, numbness and awareness.

I say I am a  work in progress as a way of shying away from what I really am, which is a full out mess. I have fallen apart. I am still stitched together somehow, getting through the days, able to laugh and smile. Perhaps I am just so numb I feel normal? But there is nothing normal about what is going on. My wrists prove it. The perpetual marks that continue to show up night after night. I asked to have the knives to be taken away. I found a pair of scissors. Threw those out. Found another pair. When is it going to end? When will I wake up a week straight where my wrists will not be sore and tender? Will that day ever come, or have I fallen down the rabbit hole, forever lost, unable to crawl out? Usually when I feel depressed I feel like I am drowning, but I feel like I am floating just fine. I go though my days in an unaffected daze. I am sick. So sick and I don’t even know it. It doesn’t dawn on me until I feel my wrists and look at the newly forming scars, the purple bruises that are trying to heal from my self inflicted trauma. I know I am sick from the bottles that hide in my backpack that I hide from my family. A behavior I said I would never exhibit. But here I am, at my essential lowest. Why does this feel different from before? Why don’t I feel depressed. I should be worse, but I guess maybe it’s so bad I don’t realize it until I have those moments of realization and regret. I don’t know what happened. How did I get here? How do I get better? How do I emerge from this inferno of sadness that has engulfed me by its hot, hateful flames. I want to be better. I want to be held, I want to be treated as the fragile person I am at this point. I’ve gotten so good at pretending like everything is okay. If only they knew, if only they could see inside my withering soul. I am hurt. I am hurting.