Consumed

Consumed

Anger. It’s the all consuming feeling of rage, distaste, and frustration all rolled into one. It’s so vile a feeling that it can literally leave a bitter taste in your mouth. Or maybe that’s just the blood from biting your tongue so hard. Anger. It feels as if there’s something erupting inside of you and any moment you can explode with evil words or even actions. Watch yourself, because you can get hurt. Or worse, you can hurt someone else. But would that really be worse? Would it really be the worst thing to cause harm to those causing you this anger? Isn’t that what revenge is? And isn’t anger what sparks revenge?

But no. You can’t. You mustn’t. What will that do to you? To your loved loves? To your future? To put it all on the line just because of how angry you are is stupid and impulsive. But aren’t you impulsive? Impulsive because you’re passionate, impulsive because once something is ignited in you, that fire will continue to grow until you do what you feel you need to do.

Raw. Anger is raw emotion. It makes you think things that you never thought possible. It makes you want to do things that you know will bury you deep in the folds of your anger and frustration. It will suffocate you until you find a way to tear through your own body and abandon your thoughts of “maybe” and “what if” and “be careful”. Your rational, racing thoughts. Push them to the side and do what the anger wants you to do. Rational is not what you want to hear right now. You want to be angry, you want to feel this, you want to cause destruction.

You’re angry, so angry that you’re having trouble thinking of the words required to speak and now you’re just cursing and yelling because the anger has consumed you, the anger is taking over, and it’s making you into someone scary, someone aggressive, someone who wants to inflict pain on the person who made you this way. But you’re not like this. This isn’t you.

Do you let this person get to you so much? Do you allow them to reside so deep in your soul that they cause this emotion of hatred and spite? Do you allow them to control your thoughts and your actions? Do you allow yourself to become obsessed with playing out your next conversation with them? Yes. Yes, you do. Because that is what anger does. It enrages you, pushes you, and even inspires you. Maybe not in a good way, but hey, inspiration is inspiration, right? It holds you hostage until you find a way to spit it out. You must find a way to spit it out. But how? How am I going to spit out this anger without making it worse?

 

When You Don’t Want Kids

When You Don’t Want Kids

Growing up, I was obsessed with Barbie dolls. Not baby dolls or stuffed animals, but only Barbie dolls. Our home’s playroom was painted pink with a pink carpet to match. The room was filled with Barbie dollhouses and doll clothes and accessories, with those infamous tiny plastic Barbie shoes strewn around the room. My poor brother.

As a little girl, my dolls were doing crazy (and inappropriate) things like living in college dorms, going to frat parties (thanks, 90s television shows), becoming lawyers, and going camping. I wasn’t interested in the typical “family” play, unless I was imagining a rich and famous family of celebrities who lived the life of luxury in their Barbie jacuzzi. My sister, on the other hand, was always “mama” to her dolls and took care of them as her own children. Me? I had no interest in that, because my dolls were too busy planning their next scuba diving adventure.

I look back at that aspect of my life and I feel that it’s a telling sign of a decision I would make as an adult. A decision that many people don’t agree with, a decision that many people think I am a monster for making, a decision that has been looked down on and belittled. I don’t want kids. Yes, you read that right. I am a married woman who has zero desire to give birth and raise a child. Of all the titles I can have, “mom” is not one I want.

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Check out this site for my inspiration.

As a teen and young adult in my early 20s, I thought I wanted kids because, well, that’s what you’re supposed to do, isn’t it? Get married, buy a house with a white picket fence, have kids, and live happily ever after. It wasn’t until I met my husband and we began talking about our future that I realized the fact that I just don’t see children fitting into my life.

People are surprised to hear this and when I’m asked when I’m having a child or how many children I want, the conversation gets very awkward. People don’t want to hear you say you don’t want kids. People think it’s okay to pry into your private life and ask such personal, intimate questions. People don’t understand that the woman they are talking to could be going through something traumatic, like a miscarriage, or maybe, she cannot have children but deeply wants them. Or maybe, just maybe, that woman has no interest in having a child of her own.

When people hear I don’t want children, they automatically assume that I hate children, which is something I don’t understand. I mean, I don’t want a puppy either, but that doesn’t mean I hate puppies! I enjoy spending time with the children in my life. I enjoy hearing about them from my friends and family who have children. I enjoy babysitting and being the cool aunt. But what I enjoy more than all of that is coming home to a quiet, clean, and calm home for two. I enjoy sleeping until noon on Sundays and not having to worry about keeping a human alive. I enjoy spur of the moment getaways with my husband. I enjoy spending my money on things that make me happy. I truly love my life as it is and I see no reason to change it. Adding a child to the mix would only make this life more complicated, more stressful, and more difficult.

I believe you must really, really want a child to have one. You shouldn’t have one because you’re looking to “complete” your family or you’re looking for something that’s missing. You shouldn’t have one because it’s the modern day “life script”. You shouldn’t have one unless you really want one, period. I wouldn’t want to be born to parents who didn’t really want me, would you?

People want reasons when you tell them you don’t want children. They want to know why. They make statements like “you’ll change your mind” or “but you love Disney!”. Or my favorite “you’re too young to know”. So, I’m too young to know I don’t want kids but not too young to know that I do want them? Riiiiight. I don’t owe them an explanation. My decision is my own. It is no one’s business but mine and my husband’s. People even go as far as saying “oh, it’s because you had cancer right? Well, you can always get a surrogate or adopt!” Why is it that my choice is unfathomable to some people? Why am I not free to make my choice without judgement? I am a prisoner to society and its pressure to conform.

Some people think that because I don’t want children, I must not agree with those who choose to have children. To me, that is ridiculous. Having children is your choice, just like not having children is my choice. Just because it’s not something I would do doesn’t mean I won’t support you. I support friends who have different careers. I support friends who have different interests. Why wouldn’t I support you for making a different decision? You want kids? Great. I’ll be there to bring you to the diner at 2am when you’re having pregnancy cravings for mozzarella sticks. I’ll come with you to doctor’s appointments if you need someone. I’ll help you decorate the baby’s room. I’ll go shopping and squeal over the cute little clothing with you. I’ll even babysit the little nugget when you need a night off.

But I will not have a child of my own – and that, folks, is a choice that makes me very happy.

All Because

All Because

20 years. That’s how long it took for me to be officially diagnosed with Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. However, it started long before then. It started from before I can even remember.

My mom tells me that I displayed signs of anxiety from the young age of four years old. She would have to take me to my grandmother’s some days when she had to work, so I had to pick out which toys to bring. I couldn’t make a decision. I don’t remember this, but my mom says that I would start pacing and mumbling to myself. I would pick up one toy, put it back down, pick up another one, put it back, go back to the original toy, and so on. For some reason, it seems like the thought of having to make a decision was daunting to little me. When my parents would plan a weekend away or have to travel together for business, I became so distressed that I would cry until I threw up. As I got older, I displayed other signs and some of these, I can vividly remember.

I was six years old and in the first grade. We had caterpillars in our class that formed their cocoons and would soon become butterflies. Everyone, myself included, was so excited for the big reveal of our butterflies. I remember sitting on the grass in the school yard, watching my teacher with fascination as she opened up the special butterfly box. The butterflies flew out gracefully and amongst all the “oohs” and “ahhs” was little me, silent and counting how many butterflies came out. I got up to six and realized no more were coming out. But there were seven caterpillars. What happened to the seventh one? Where was it? Was it okay? I rushed up to my teacher and asked her. She told me that the seventh one didn’t make it and had passed away. I became hysterical. How could the death of a caterpillar set me off this way? I was taken to the school psychologist’s office, and don’t remember much after that.

As I got older, my anxiety revealed itself in different ways. These ways were much, much quieter in teen Elle than they were in child Elle. My anxiety manifested itself as negative self talk. My mind was always constantly running, my wheels always turning. I would jump from one topic to the next and then back to the previous one. Everything in my head was jumbled, and I became very sad because these anxious thoughts were causing my thinking to blur and my self esteem to plummet. My teen years were hard. I know that everyone struggles as a teenager, but I especially struggled because of the demons called Depression and Anxiety. I couldn’t keep friends around for long, because my moods were constantly changing without a moment’s notice. I was alone, unpredictable, volatile, and mean in an attempt to shield myself from the scary world. What I didn’t know was that the world wasn’t so scary – my mind was.

I got through high school – just barely – by confiding in my guidance counselor and English teacher. These two women empowered me, accepted me, and were brutally honest with me. I wasn’t officially diagnosed and I hadn’t seen a medical professional, but I knew that something was off. I couldn’t talk to my parents about it because I was embarrassed and ashamed. I didn’t want them to think they’d done anything wrong to cause these feelings. So I had my two confidants at school, and not much else.

Getting out of high school and out of the small town I lived in was a blessing. In college, I was free to reinvent myself, create a version of me that was better than high school me. I was ready to leave the past behind and I couldn’t wait to do that. I got through my first half of college much better than I got through all four years of high school. However, during my junior year, the demons returned, and this time they were even stronger from being repressed for so long. I’m not sure what triggered it. Perhaps it was the thought of becoming a senior and then graduating college and leaving the best years of my life behind. Maybe it was the thought of returning back to the hellish town I was unfortunate enough to call “home”. Maybe it was the abusive relationship I was trying so desperately to escape. I didn’t have an answer, but I had a solution. I was going to get help.

I remember going to my college’s counseling center. I was paired with a therapist who, after a few sessions, told me what I had already suspected. I had Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression. We worked through my feelings by talking, and eventually, he recommended a cocktail of pills to be taken daily and sent me on my merry way. I thought this was the answer, I mean, people take medicine when their throat hurts or when they have a headache. Why shouldn’t I take medicine for the imbalance in my brain? I was finally going to feel better.

Wrong. I got worse. The pills made me suicidal and I was in a place darker than the depths of hell. I was angry, discouraged, and frustrated. I lost all trust in this therapist. I was alone, again. And now, I shut down even more because I was convinced no one and nothing could help me.

Wrong, again. But this time, it’s a good thing I was wrong. One of my sorority sisters referred me to a therapist outside of the college. It took a lot of convincing, but I went. And I am so glad I did because this woman saved me. She showed me that there is an answer, there is a way to feel better, and the way to feel better isn’t always the same for every single person. She gained my trust. It was a slow process, but I was finally opening up to her and implementing her advice. Eventually, she also suggested medication, and I was so against it after being burned the first time. But I trusted her. So I allowed her to prescribe me what she thought was best and I let her monitor me as I took these pills.

And guess what? I wasn’t suicidal. I wasn’t surrounded by darkness. I was coming out of the darkness, squinting into the sunlight. All because this person listened, understood, and cared. And the reason she was able to do those things was because I chose to open up. I chose to trust her and I chose to listen. And now, I am treating my mental illness and I am able to live a happy, rich, and at times, emotional, life.

All because I didn’t give up.

Why Do You Write Like You’re Running Out Of Time?

Why Do You Write Like You’re Running Out Of Time?

I saw Hamilton (created by Lin-Manuel Miranda) on Broadway this weekend and wow. Just…wow. I have been listening to the soundtrack nonstop, and I am listening to it right now as I write this post. I went with my husband because as a US History buff, he was dying to see it. I wasn’t excited to see it because I didn’t think I would enjoy it.

I was wrong. So wrong.

Seeing Hamilton was inspiring, not only because it opened up my eyes to some of the history of my country, but it’s something that people can relate to. The lyrics are pure genius, the message is loud and clear, and the characters are real, raw, and relatable. It’s a story of a young man who came from nothing, went against the odds, suffered hardships, and succeeded in what he was striving for – leaving a legacy. He is remembered because of his determination and drive to reach the top. Now, of course, I am aware that this may not be true of the real Alexander Hamilton. I am simply referring to the Alexander Hamilton portrayed in the play.

I’ve never seen a show that has stuck with me in the way that this one has. Every time I listen to the songs, it’s like I’m hearing them for the first time and I’m still in awe. The song that sticks with me is “Nonstop”, which is what inspired the title of this post. It talks about Hamilton creating the Federalist Papers and working nonstop on this project. Everyone is asking him “why do you write like you’re running out of time?” and “why do you write like it’s going out of style?”. I suppose this song has stuck with me because it captures the essence of a writer, of someone who is so determined to get their words out, of someone who is going to stop at nothing to let their voice be heard. It captures passion, determination, and bravery.

This musical inspired me and confirmed that I should be writing and I should be creating new content for this blog. As portrayed in the play, Alexander Hamilton is impulsive, like me (hence my name…Jolt of Impulse). He is determined, passionate, even sometimes erratic, and needs to get things done. I see myself so much in this character. Now, I’m not leading a revolution (yet…) or writing a new plan for the government but I’m determined to achieve my goals, I’m passionate about the things most important to me, and when I think of doing something, I need to get it done right then and there. I’m not afraid to admit that I’m also erratic at times, because I can be unpredictable. But hey, aren’t the best kind of people like that? Keeps things interesting, am I right?

With all those things, I think the biggest similarity is that both of us are not (well, were not for him) hesitant to speak our mind, no matter the consequence. Just as it got Hamilton in trouble, it gets me in trouble sometimes too. But does that stop me? Nope. I speak without thinking sometimes and I know it’s probably my biggest flaw. But it’s only because I’m honest to a fault. Honesty is one of the most important qualities a person can have, to me at least. This moral is what leads to me speaking my mind without fear of consequence. It also led to Hamilton’s demise. Like Hamilton, my boundless ambition can sometimes take me to places that I’m not ready to go yet.

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s lyrics are nothing short of inspiring and entertaining. He is like the modern day Shakespeare. He kills the rap game with these lyrics, in my opinion. It’s so interesting to learn about our country’s history by listening to these songs. I learned more during this 2 hour and 50 minute play than I did in my high school history classes. The way each character is written makes them come to life and makes you want to learn more about them. I cried when Alexander’s wife, Eliza, was hurting. I cried when Alexander was hurting. The actors brought these characters to life with their displays of raw emotion. People in the audience were able to see themselves in these characters.

Thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s creation, I’m starting 2019 inspired and determined, with a drive to succeed and achieve my goals.

“I am not gonna waste my shot.”


-Alexander Hamilton, Hamilton: An American Musical
Home.

Home.

If you know me, you know that I love all things Disney. I’m even listening to the Magic Kingdom music as I write this post. My parents raised me on Disney movies and Disney vacations. I fell in love with Walt Disney World at four years old when my parents took me on my first Disney vacation. I actually still remember that morning, waking up in my Lion King pajamas asking my mom “are we going to Disney World today?”. Upon hearing her say “yes”, I rushed to change my clothes into my Princess Jasmine t-shirt with the sparkles on it. With my Princess Jasmine t-shirt, Lion King velcro sneakers, and Little Mermaid sunglasses, I was ready to go.

Why do I remember that so vividly? I’m not sure why. Probably because it’s my earliest memory of feeling pure joy. Now, at 28 years old, I have been to Walt Disney World about 25 times. I know that’s a lot more than most people, and I feel fortunate enough to have those memories of my childhood. I still love to vacation in Walt Disney World, even as an adult. Some people may think it’s weird, but it’s my happy place. Some people consider the beach, the woods, a special cafe, or a lake their happy place. Mine just happens to be in Central Florida, in Walt Disney World.

I love WDW because my childhood summers were spent down in Florida, playing in the theme parks with my family. My childhood is synonymous with WDW. People don’t understand why I go back year after year, and I’ve just about given up trying to explain it. The way I see it is – if something makes you happy and you can do it, why not do it? To me, it’s an escape from reality and the drudgery of day to day life. It’s a place where I feel completely safe and carefree because I know my only problem will be what FastPass do I want to use next. It’s a place where I can breathe and relax and know that I am okay. It’s a place that feels like a warm hug (Olaf, anyone?) and a place that welcomes me back time after time. It feels like home more than any other place I’ve been.

Friends and family often come to me for Disney vacation tips and suggestions. I’ve had countless people ask me questions to help plan their vacation and I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had to explain that no, Universal Studios is not the same as Hollywood Studios and it in fact, isn’t part of Walt Disney World at all. I love talking about Disney and planning trips to this happy place. It truly is a magical place, and the reason for that is their wonderful cast members.

Walt Disney World employees are referred to as “cast members” and they are the ones responsible for spreading magical pixie dust. Their smiles, their kindness, and hospitality are second to none and make the Disney experience top notch. It’s a tough job that takes a special kind of person. Aside from the cast members we see in the parks, we have the Imagineers and all the behind the scenes employees to thank for our experiences as well. These people are living out Walt Disney’s legacy and have made it their priority to make other people happy while they are on vacation.

I often get a lot of criticism for going to Walt Disney World so much. People judge and even think it’s odd that I love going to a place that seems to be primarily geared towards children. But if you do your research and learn, you will see that Walt Disney World is an amazing destination for adults as well. There are world class restaurants, bars, shops, and luxury hotels and spas all located within the resort. I know that I personally love eating at new restaurants each time I go! Walt Disney World Resort is more like a small city. In fact, the size of the entire resort is twice the size of the city of Manhattan in New York!

If you are looking for a new vacation destination, have never been to Walt Disney World, or have been a hundred times, I recommend it. Where else can you ride a spaceship to Mars, have dinner in Germany, and soar over the world – all in one day?

When Your Body Attacks

When Your Body Attacks

Living with an autoimmune disease feels like your body is betraying you.

I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease, also known as Chronic Lymphocytic Thyroiditis, at 27 years old. I was diagnosed while I was undergoing surgery to remove my thyroid that was trying to kill me (see my previous post about my cancer journey).

I remember waking up from surgery feeling fear and confusion that I had never experienced before. Strapped into a hospital bed with an oxygen mask and IV needles in my arms, I was disoriented and tried to remove the mask and the needles before a nurse was able to calm me down.

On that day, I learned I had Hashimoto’s Disease. It had gone unnoticed because I never had the specific blood test or antibody test that diagnoses Hashimoto’s. In addition, my symptoms were, and still are, mostly invisible, so no one really knew what was wrong at the time. On the inside, I was a mess. My surgeon told me that my thyroid looked like it went through a meat grinder, and it wasn’t because of the cancer. Hashimoto’s was the culprit. Before my diagnosis, my depression was exacerbated, my weight gain was unexplainable, my hair was thinning, I was having gastrointestinal issues, I was always getting sick with sore throats, and sometimes, I would be so tired that getting out of bed was painful. There were days when I took 2 naps and slept 15 hours in one day. Some of these things can be attributed to the cancer, but they were more prominent because of Hashimoto’s.

Hashimoto’s Disease is an autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid gland. This little butterfly shaped gland is crucial to life and is often compared to the engine of a car. The thyroid is part of the body’s endocrine system and is responsible for producing many of the hormones needed to sustain life. In my case, my thyroid was producing just enough hormones to keep me alive, and that was it. It was not functioning properly, and if my thyroid cancer had not been found, my Hashimoto’s could have continued to destroy my thyroid and my body, eventually causing a shutdown of my internal organs. My cancer diagnosis was a blessing in disguise, because it provided so many answers to questions I had about my health and I got the treatment I needed to get better.

Now that I don’t have a thyroid, I have to rely on a little blue pill to survive each day. That pill, called Synthroid, releases a synthetic version of the hormones that a typical human thyroid produces. Although my thyroid is dead, my Hashimoto’s is still alive and well. Being that it is an autoimmune disease, it still lives on in my body, but it doesn’t have anything to attack – for now. It is possible that in the future, it will create further complications, but I’m diligent enough about my health to know that I will be able to handle whatever happens.

I still have days when I am “thyroid tired” as my husband describes it. On these days, my body hates me. My Hashimoto’s flares up and it’s a battle that I lose every time. Fighting with your own body is hard. I am dragging along through the day in a fog of fatigue, irritation, and overall malaise. When your body attacks itself, the feeling of fatigue is overwhelming and even painful. But I try to push through. I’m not hard on myself if I need to spend the day in bed or have to cancel plans or even call in sick to work. I know now what my body needs, and when it needs rest, it is crucial that I give it rest because when your body decides that it wants to fight you, there’s not much else you can do.

So remember – the next time you see someone who “doesn’t look sick”, know that you don’t know the whole story of what is going on. Their body could be at war with itself.