Every single person on this planet has at least one secret that could break your heart. If we could just remember that, there would be a lot more compassion and tolerance in the world

Monday, July 16, 2012

The 5 things that will change my life.

This morning I awoke at 11:30 alone in my apartment. I sat up out of bed realizing that I had another day of discomfort ahead of me. Another day of dragging my lazy butt to the gym, teaching a few unenthusiastic voice students, and slipping into bed with something unhealthy and a few episodes of Family Guy. And I thought to myself..... when did I become miserable again? I had a few months of bliss less than a year ago when I first starting really changing my life with affirmations and therapy. The thought that I might be slipping into mild depression crossed my mind for a moment. As soon as that thought hit me on a conscious level I knew something had to be done. The last thing I need is to start slipping back into the place I was a year ago.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the kind of person I really want to become. I'm approaching the halfway point of my education and the prospect of having to start my real professional career is daunting. I get easily discouraged when I start to think about the huge list of things I have to get done in the next two years. I couldn't even begin to make a list of the hundreds of things I want to get done in the next two years.

Seeking some sort of relief from the stress I've felt this summer on the subject of the future, I watched the short film of "The Secret." I also read "The four Agreements" and its sequel "The Fifth Agreement," Louis Hay's positive affirmation book and cd, Debbi Ford's "the best year of your life"....etc. After reading all of these different ideas on how to change your life I realized that all of these philosophers, authors, and psychologists have the same idea, just different terminology. The secret teaches that a man becomes what he envisions, the four agreements teaches controlling the vision of your own "dream", Louis Hay teaches the use of affirmations to take control of your own reality...etc. So in my own words (and the words of eminem) I AM WHATEVER I SAY I AM

So today I'm deciding on the 5 things I can do to become the sort of person I want to be. Instead of focusing on the hundreds of little things I have to accomplish so soon, I'm choosing to focus my energy on 5 major things that make up the sort of person that can accomplish a million things in two years. And then I'm going to BECOME that person. I'm not going to call them goals, affirmations, visions, or any of those words. I'm going to think of them as traits. My personality traits. I will act like the person I want to be until I become that person through and through.

1. I am very hard working. I love to be productive and stay busy all day. I love having a full schedule, but I'm very organized so things always run very smoothly for me.

2. I am healthy and handsome. I love exercise and nutrition. I stay hydrated constantly and ONLY put things in my body that are good for it. I love the way I look unconditionally.

3. I love everyone. I love myself enough to recognize that being irritated with others is a sign of self doubt so i don't allow those feelings to enter my consciousness. I only say kind things, I only give love, and i get those things in return.

4. I have a bright and exciting future. I am a talented professional actor. I am constantly welcoming new opportunities for artistic grown. I love all art, and most especially the art that I participate in creating. Bringing people art that expands the mind and opens the heart is my passion.

5. I totally and completely love myself unconditionally. I am content with where I am in life because I chose it. I am here because of the positive energy I constantly strive to give.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

It has been MONTHS since my last entry...... and OF COURSE the one day I have time to sit and think about my feelings is at 10 pm on Valentines Day! However, what I  want to talk about doesn't have a whole lot to do with this very irritating holiday.

As long as I can remember, I have had this DESPERATE need to be important. To fill some great purpose. I'm sure we all feel that way at one time or another. This need for greatness has driven me to throw myself into as many projects as possible this semester (3productions,teaching voice, directing showcase, class..), to make up for what I saw as a very LAZY first semester. While I'm glad I am being productive and keeping myself focused on my craft, this busy schedule has opened my eyes to a whole new kind of anxiety. A few months ago I had NEVER kept a schedule for more than a few days at a time. I would try at the beginning of a semester, but give up almost immediately. But now that I'm making huge strides in "growing up" with the help of  my therapist, I have been really on top of my schedule (thanks to a magical tool called GOOGLE CALENDAR). But keeping myself organized is making me more anxious than ever. Before, I ran around completely unaware of how much I had to do, but now that I can see the 10,000 things I have to do on a daily basis right there on my phone...... I am a basket case. Every time I get an update from my phone about my schedule my stomach sinks and I want to run home and take a nap... or I start fantasizing about running away and changing my major to political science and journalism somewhere back east and never coming back. My therapist told me that this is normal, that I'm learning to deal with adulthood, begining to learn how to cope with responsibility, etc.... but the simple answer  is NEVER good enough for me. I needed to know WHAT it was exactly that was causing this anxiety that seemed to rule my life for the past month. My answer came, of course, from a PLAY.

One of the projects I am working on this semester is RARE BIRD. Its being produced by Pioneer Theatre Company (my first equity show!) with special guest Anne Decker. I am THRILLED to be (a very small) part of this production. All I knew about this project was that it is a straight play (non musical) and I haven't done one of those since High School, so I was terrified to start. I had NO idea that this play would have such a profound impact on my way of thinking. After the very first read through, I had a full page of notes on the incredible actors and their choices... and one page of quotes, words of wisdom, and thoughts about my personal life that were given to me through the text of this beautiful piece. The line that helped me pinpoint my anxiety problem was beautifully delivered by Anne Decker herself, "fear, when fully expressed, can be a source of safety and strength." FEAR was my problem. Fear is a natural emotion that our bodies develop from birth as a way to protect ourselves from danger. We FEAR the things in order to keep ourselves safe. But my fear had gotten out of hand.

I was afraid that I couldn't accomplish all the things I had signed up to do. I was afraid to let down my directors, teachers, friends. I was afraid I didn't have the talent, body type, or the training to do all the things that were expected of me. And all that anxiety bled into my personal life. I was/am constantly afraid that my friends were mad at me, or that I would offend them and lose them somehow. I was afraid that I would NEVER be in a relationship, and that if I every got in one, that they would be bored of me immediately. And THAT kind of fear was not keeping me safe from danger, it was holding me back form reaching my full potential. This fear truly manifest itself in rehearsals for Rare Bird. I sat in my seat terrified to make eye contact with any of my fellow actors, afraid to speak, afraid to TRY anything. I was so afraid of FAILURE that I eliminated the possibility of success.

Text from later on in the play reads "it feels good to remember our successes. Our failures, on the other hand, can become our turned corners. In the end though, all will be forgotten." Now at first this idea that "all will be forgotten" might seem a bit morbid and depressing. HOWEVER it brings me immense COMFORT. Have you ever noticed that YOUR most embarrassing moments, are ones that everyone else forgets about? No one remembers when your stomach growled in class, or you had coffee breath in talking to a friend, or you being 3 minuets late to a rehearsal. We all have those little moments  where we remember when we did something silly and then cringe and hate ourselves momentarily.  I even sit in rehearsal and think of all the stupid things I COULD do to offend my director, fellow actors, or stage manager and cringe in some sad attempt to keep myself safe.  Those fears are ones we create and keep ourselves, even though the rest of the world, our friends, our family, let them go almost instantly. What if I could let them go that instantly?

I have always desired to be IMPORTANT. Well, important people take risks. People that really make a difference in the world TRY things without fear. At the end of my life the last thing I want to do is look back and be proud of the fact that I never did anything embarrassing, rude, or silly. I don't want to celebrate the fact that I never upset anyone, never embarrassed myself, never made myself stand out. I don't want to look back and regret wasting time staring at my calendar giving myself a panic attack about  not being able measure up. I want to look back and remember all the things I TRIED. All the things I DID. But living in fear, keeps me from ever having the opportunity to DO anything.

My favorite quote from Rare Bird reads "in this world we all feel, persona non grata sometime. Thats just how it is. That just means you FEEL things. Thats all it means. No big deal." Why let FEELING things like persona non grata (being an outcast), or FEAR, or EMBARRASSMENT, rule the we we live our lives? If in the end "all will be forgotten", why not do everything we can to meet our full potential, and regard that feeling of fear be "no big deal?"

Saturday, November 12, 2011

LET it in!

In the theatre world, people say that being in HAIR changes your life forever. And for me it most definately has.. but in a much different way than I thought. The lessons I have learned, and continue to learn every night are ones that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I am so greatful that being in this show is happening right now, when I am making so many postive changes in my life. During our first preview I had a awakening during the very last song of our show. We sing "let the sun shine in" over and over to close the show, and as we came to the climax of that moment I put an extra emphasis on LET, and realized how much that little peice of text is a reflection of what I am trying to do. I am learning to LET the sun shine in my life.

I will admit that being a small role in a show is difficult for me because too much of my self worth comes from having a successful career. So when I am in the background of a show, I let that affect my entire life. I have walked around for the past few months telling myself that I am never going to make it in this industry if I can't even be successful in college theatre. I have walked around reminding myself of why I am inadequite over and over again.... and for what? What good has that done me? This show has taught me to LET myself recgonize my worth as a PERSON not as a performer. I have so much more to give than a singing voice, and I was blocking so much light from my life by limiting my worth to that.

There was also a time in my life where I really wanted to be sick. I needed people to recognize that I was hurting. I wanted to wallow in my pain. Finally recognizing that I WANT to be happy is how I LET the sun shine in my life. The final message of Hair is a plea for people to allow the beauty of the world to enter their lives. And up until a few nights ago, I wasn't doing that completely.

It can be difficult to find the sunshine. I promise that I understand that. This world has a way of kicking us while we're down, but putting focus on that only makes life harder. For the past few months I've been trying and failing over and over again to not only better myself as a performer, but also as a human being. But there are so many things in this world that are wonderful. There is so much sunshine! I get a text message from the beautiful Kelsey McGary every single day reminding me that I am loved. I have a family that beleives in me more than anyone else. I have friends that love me. No matter what happens to me, I know that I am loved unconditionally. If I can learn to let that light into my life all the time, NOTHING can hurt me. The day after the cast list for Hair was posted I got an anonymous letter of comfort from someon who cares about me a lot. My favorite line in the letter says "you are strong; you are a worrier. You are loved, for YOU. Don't ever change!" I pull this letter out whenver I'm having a bad day and it brings a little light into my life. If even that ONE anoymous person feels that way about me, I have a reason to continue. I get messages from people telling me that they have read this blog and that it has changed their perspective on life. I get messages from Amanda Shrum all the time reminding me that I am loved. I have friends that say they are HAPPY to see me every day. THAT is the sunshine I need to let into my life. Not matter how many painful things happen to me in my life I know that I can go home on a sunday and be loved UNCONDITIONALLY by my family. How many people can truly say they LOVE going home to their family more than anything else? I know that I can get coffee with friends and talke about anything and everything. I know I can call Karli and laugh away all my pain. I know that I can call Tia and she'll remind me how wonderful I am. I know I can get a big warm hug from Jessa whenver I need it. Right now I am especially lucky to have a TRIBE of beautiful, wonderful, talented people that give me nothing but love. And I know that one anyonymous perosn who wrote me a letter is watching me, and beleiving in me. How could I ever feel worthless when I have all that?

Now, more than ever, it is going to be difficult for ALL of us to let the sunshine in. The holiday season is hard (especially for us single and desperate types!). So now with the cold dark winter aproaching its  more important than ever to remember that it is a choice to LET the sun shine in our lives. Its not an easy choice to make, but its possible. No matter how clouded our lives get with pain, regret, dissapointment, anger, and fear; there is always sunshine on the other side of the clouds waiting for us to LET it in :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Last year myNew Years resolution was to find self worth. After a few years of big decisions (the amazing school switcher!), reveals(suprise i'm gay and crazy!), and mental break downs (a trip to the hospital!), I was ready to figure out how to start loving and accepting myself. I will admit that when I started my journey I had no direction at all. Thankfully I found a really good therapist, because NOW towards the close of the year I am figuring out what self worth really means.

I went into my 9th week seeing Lee (my therapist) today. As I walked into his office I noticed a new painting sitting above the little couch I sit on every week. It was a beautiful purple flower with little yellow stems in the middle and a faded purple surrounding. I was suprised by the new painting that I said to Lee "what a beautiful painting! when did you get it?" Lee looked at me and said "about three years ago." "Yeah but when did you put it up?" I asked. He then explained to me that he bought and put up that painting three years ago. I had been in his office weekly for months and not seen this beautiful painting once. Lee then explained to me why me noticing that beautiful painting was a huge indicator of the progress I've made.

Our brains are designed to function in systems and patterns. Those patterns are called neuro-nets. We develope them to understand and filter our existance. We have neuro-nets for how to tie our shoes, eat, drive, etc. When I started seeing Lee the largest neuro-nets in my brain were the ones that were set up to filter my emotinoal problems. Bipolar disorder, boarderline perosnality disorder, anxiety, depression, self loathing, body dismorphia, and low confidence all had their own nero-nets. So as I experienced life those large nets were catching all of the information that pertained to those specific categories. So my entire existance was filtered through those nets. I found a million different ways to experience life in a very negative way because the amount of positive pathways I had in my brain was very low. So now that I'm starting to filter my life experiences in a different way, I'm beginning to LITERALLY see new things. I'm finding beauty in places I've never seen it. I'm finding happiness and love that I ever knew existed. I saw a beautiful painting that I never saw before.

My path to self love is coming through positive self talk (see pervious post) and through learning to be a "self reliant, strong, postured, masculine adult." Its coming from me letting go of the need to hate and punish myself. Its coming because I understand what makes me happy and I pursue it aggressivly. I thought for a long time that myself worth would come from making it big (broadway), or from getting a boyfriend, good grades, a clean car, a good body, etc. But what I'm learning now is that those things can't happen until self worth happens. I am learning to recognize what is really great about me and activly accepting and loving those traits, and then accepting what I feel my flaws are and actively making changes. I am making those changes BECUASE I love myself not the other way around.

Al of these things sound really simple, but actually acheiving them has been very difficult for me. I am AGGRESSIVLY (i use this word a lot for a reason) thinking about these things, working in my workbook, and listening to my Louise Hay cd. I practice the skills I am learning all day long. But the work I am doing is completely worth it. I mean I saw a beautiful purple flower I've never seen before today! Who knows how many other beautiful things I'll see in the future!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Experiencing My Good

So as I mentioned in my last post I started seeing a new therapist a few weeks ago. Starting over with therapy seemed like a little decision at the time. To be honest, I assumed I would go for a few weeks and then stop seeing him when he pissed me off like they always do.... but I was VERY wrong. This man has completely changed the way I view myself and mental illness..... and is changing my life completely. I was informally diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, with bipolar traits. However, the thing that is really changing my life is not a diagnosis or pills, but learning to take control of my own mind.

My therapist began teaching me how to take control of my life by teaching me how to GROW UP. Its not as simple as it sounds. As children we experience different kinds of stress on a high level and learn to deal with them in many ways. When something negative happened to us we felt it, and learn how to deal with the emotion by crying, throwing a tantrum, holding it in, taking it out on someone else... etc. He had me tell a story about the last time I got really upset about something in detail. As I was telling the story and remembering how I felt he had me pause and think about how old I felt in that moment. I felt six years old. He then asked me to take a look at the way I was sitting.... I was crunched over with my hands over my ears shrugging my shoulders like I used to do when I was scared as a child. Its terrifying that the person deciding how I feel at any moment is a 6 year version of myself. I never re-trained my brain to react like an adult. I kept most of my fears inside growing up because most of them were tied to my sexuality, which I wanted to keep secret. I never learned coping mechanisms. I didn't know what it felt like to NOT be at least a little nervous all the time. To NOT be constantly on guard. I had never been COMPLETELY honest about the way I felt. I didn't want to be myself, because who I really was, was disgusting to me at the time. So I let other people decide who I was. I took what all my friends observed about me and created a persona that everyone else like. I took every comment, negative or positive, and made it true to me. The problems is NOW I'm still letting people do that to me. I take everything people say VERY personally because I don't know how to live any other way. So the path I'm on now is learning to train my brain to think a different way. I'm learning that it is up to me who I am and more importantly how I feel and react to things in my life. And I'm doing it through the power of positive affirmations.

The process of affirmations used to sound really silly to me, because I didn't understand the process well enough. To most people it sounds like a dumb therapist thing to do to feel good about yourself... but the science behind it is fascinating. The whole process is about crating new pathways in the brain and is a little bit too complex for me to fully explain in this blog post. I recommend you look into the book "Experience Your Good Now" by Louise Hay, I promise it will change your life. I really can't even put into words the difference it has already made to me and I am only a few weeks into the 6 month process. I'll explain in more detail the process of affirmations in my next post.

At age 20 I'm finally learning what it means to feel happy. I'm growing into the man i want to be. My positive affirmation for who I am is :I am a well postured, handsome, talented, masculine adult. I create who I am so why not make it IDEAL? Who cares if someone else doesn't agree with what I wrote? In my reality that is true and I can enjoy it fully. If someone wants to think I'm awful and be miserable with that negative thought and feeling then that is their decision. My decision is to love everyone and most of all MYSELF. As my good friend Jessica Kennedy once said to me "Who does it hurt that I think I'm beautiful?" What an incredible thought. If I think I'm fantastic then not only will I be in a better mood, but so will everyone around me. Who wants to be around someone who hates who they are? It creates negative energy that isn't fun to be around.... and it does ZERO good to feel sorry for yourself. I have spent most of my life hating myself as some sort of self punishment. Its like I learned that who I was (an overly emotional gay mormon) was bad so I was obligated to hate myself. So now I release the need to do that and embrace the idea that I am a WONDERFUL human being and nothing anyone can say will stop me from believing that with all my heart.

I know how silly it sounds... but just try telling yourself how great you are... you have nothing to lose! Tell yourself how wonderful you are. Think about what makes you awesome and BELIVE IT. Its not arrogant because no one needs to know you are doing it, its totally private. Create a positive affirmation. Come up with the person you want to be most, and then start telling yourself that you ARE that RIGHT NOW. I am a _____________ right now and I love me. Then let yourself experience how much it can change the way you see the world.

This is the first step in a LONG process for me, but I can't wait to keep going!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I've started seeing a therapist again after almost a year without one. I think I'm really going to like this guy, he has already given me some helpful tips in just the first session (anyone who has had a therapist knows the first session is pretty much useless buisness stuff). I'll talk about his tips a little bit later. First I want to talk about DEFINING mental disorder. Things I often hear people say when attempting to brush off the issue of mental illness are  "everyone is a little crazy" and "its all in your head people don't really have mental disorders". While I completely disagree with those statements, I am starting to understand that lableing mental illness isn't nessisarily the most useful thing...

When I first told my mom I was so sad I couldn't get up in the morning, having the diagnosis of depression helped me because I needed an explination. It helped to know it wasn't my fault, and something could be done about it. Later on the diagnosis of BIPOLAR helped me get a grip and start working toward mental stability. HOWEVER the more research I do and the more self evaluation I do ... the more I realize that EVERY brain is different. There is no blood test to find out what kind of mental illness you have, there are little surveys and psychological studies, and mood specialists.... but how much can those REALLY conclude? And is it actually helpful?

I spend at least a few hours a week researching mood disorders, staying up to date with NAMI (national alliance on mental illness), and reading my list of metnal disorder blogs. And I've started seeing that most of my symptoms are in conjunction with BPD (boarderline personality disorder) as well as rapid cycling bipolar disorder. I started freaking myself out. What have I been doing for the past year if I'm not bipolar?? I've been doing the wrong research! I've been taking the wrong pills! I've been blogging about a disorder that I dont have! Personality disorder sounds way freakier than bipolar! Its just like skitsofrania! (spelling?) After calming down I started thinking.... who cares? I mean, I'd like to have a lable just for convenient sake when people ask what I see a therapist for, but in reality it doesn't matter.

I think its difficult for people to beleive me when I say I have mental problems because I can come accross as a well put together, happy go lucky kind of guy. I often get nervous that people think I'm faking it for attention. In fact its my least favorite kind of attention. The truth is that %99 of you will never know how I'm actually feeling. First of all its difficult to describe, second of all I don't enjoy trying to make people understand how I feel and seeing the roll their eyes, and third and most importantly I don't want to put people in a bad mood.

So maybe I have boarderline personalty disorder, maybe I'm bipolar, maybe I'm both! Maybe for me its somewhere between. I've been diagnosed with adrenal gland disfunction, major depressive disorder, high anxiety disorder, been to sexual orientation reversal thearpy, seen social workers, psychiatrists, and mood specialists... and little things have improved, but inside I still feel unstable. I still feel like the guy that tried to kill himself, the guy that needs a few hours alone a day to get centered, the guy that needs his friends to keep an eye on him when things go bad, the guy who isn't allowed to keep his own pills, and needs to be handled with care. My goal is to leave that guy behind. To be as solid inside as I pretend to be.

for those of you who are curious the "diagnosis criteria" for boarderline personality disorder are:

(1) frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.

(2) a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation

(3) identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self

(4) impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating).

(5) recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior

(6) affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)

(7) chronic feelings of emptiness

(8) inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger)

(9) transient, stress-related paranoid ideation
as you can see these symptoms are remarkably similar to bipolar disorder. Most medical websites and journals I have read say it is nearly impossible for a doctor to make a clear distinction between the two.  WHATEVER i'm getting cheese fries.

Monday, August 29, 2011


These past few weeks have definately been some of the most difficult I've ever experienced as far as mania is concerned. My energy, paranoia, and stress levels have been through the roof. On top of the regular symptoms of mania I have had quite a bit of bad luck for the past few weeks. Besides losing my credit card, my car dying, car tire falling off, crashing my bike, power going out in my bedroom, fans breaking, and school starting, I also just had a huge dissapointment with an audtion for a dream role. Bad things happen, I get it. The thing that has made these past few weeks so difficult is trying to keep myself pulled together around people who don't understand how I'm feeling, and have no idea how hard I work to hide my pain. Keeping my mania under control has been a challenge all summer, and now that things aren't going my way its becoming nearly impossible.

In acting class the other day we were asked to write down what our worst theatrical experience was. I wrote about an experience I had in Jr. High School when I played Romeo in Romeo and Juliet. We performed the infamous BALCONY SCENE in an assembly for the 8th and 9th graders, and their reaction was... well exactly how you would expect Jr. High kids to act (lots of cheering/cat calling blah blah blah). But AFTER the balcony scene was over I had a monologue to finish the scene. The kids were so bored that the kissing was over that they started yelling things out at me, and eventually boo-ing so loudly that I walked off stage and shut the curtins myself. It still remains one of the most humiliating experiences of my life.

After we wrote down that experience we were asked to write down why that experience is actually the BEST theatrical experiene of our lives. I wrote that I learned humility from that experience. I learned that I perform not to please other people, but because I love it more than anything. I started from a humble place and that keeps me grounded as a performer.

Now i'm doing my best to apply that acting exercise to my personal life. I was cast in the ensemble of HAIR at the University of Utah which is WONDERFUL, but hard because i worked so hard in the hopes of getting one of my dream roles, and failed. But I learned from my audition experience that I put too much pressure on my professional life. My self worth is defined by how successful I am in my career. When I wasn't cast I was afraid people wouldn't like me anymore, that my friends wouldn't respect me, that I was UGLY,  that my life was essentially over. In an attempt to make me feel better my friends said I probably just didn't fit what the director had in mind. I just wasn't right. But that made me feel even worse. The idea that someone doesn't like me, or doesn't think I'm right freaks me out so bad. THATS CRAZY! As a Bipolar person I am very inconsistant emotionally... but my career path is EVEN MORE inconsistant. I have to learn to not let my happiness depend on my success as a performer. This experience hurt me a lot, but it was a huge wakeup call for me and I think it will help me so much in the future. If i can learn to NOT base my happiness off being a perfect performer..... well then I won't have to change my major to pre-med.