It’s one of those perfect Sunday afternoons. I’m sitting on my couch with a Law & Order: SVU marathon on in the background, and my little guy is asleep under my legs. The moment is perfect. And to make it even more special, I’m working on a new blog.
A new blog… WOW!!! For months, I didn’t think it would ever be possible again. But here we are.
I'm sure you are thinking that I'm being overdramatic with that statement, but the reality is I'm not. Living with Hashimoto's has definitely had its moments, most of which I can handle, or at the very least, tolerate. But as much as I can deal with the weight gain, loss of hair, exhaustion, mood swings, and even the slurring of speech, the worst part of it all is, hands down, the extreme moments of Brain Fog I have gone through.
When I first heard about this phenomenon, I thought that would never happen to me. I'm always so on top of stuff and juggling multiple projects at a time that my brain would never crap out. But when it hit me for the first time last year, it was crippling. I mean, I'm talking to the point where I walked around with headphones on, with nothing playing, just to tune out the noise of the world. Imagine being trapped inside your own head, and having voices sound like Charlie Brown's teacher, and then you basically have an idea of what Brain Fog feels like... at least for me.
I've come to find that (again, at least with me because I can't speak for all Thyroid patients) most of my symptoms are cyclical. I tend to have the same things happen to me around the same time each year. This past Thanksgiving, I started to feel off, but tried pushing through with everyday life. But as anyone with an autoimmune disease can tell you, the harder you push, the worse it gets. And after Christmas, I just couldn't push anymore, and eventually crashed.
My Brain Fog wasn't quite as bad as it was last year. I was able to listen to music and have the TV on, but it definitely paralyzed me creatively. All my energy went to my job, which basically is like second nature to me, and after that, I could not be bothered with much else. Let me be clear that I always had a shitload of ideas for blogs, and if you were sitting with me, I could basically tell you word for word what I wanted to discuss, but I just couldn't get it down on paper (or monitor). There's nothing more frustrating than having something to say, but not being able to express it... especially when you have a blog site.
Recently, my Endocrinologist started me on a very experimental and controversial drug protocol that supposedly will help reverse many aspects of Hashimoto's, one of them being the Brain Fog. I've been on it two weeks now, and I can thankfully say that I don't feel like I'm in a haze anymore. It's actually a very strange feeling for me to have a clear head after what I've experienced over the last two years. But I will get into all that at another time. For now, let’s focus on the fact that I’m blogging again.
I guess you’re wondering why blogging is so important to me. After all, it’s not like I’m curing Cancer or anything along those lines. And in that respect, you would be right… it’s just a blog. But for me, it means a lot more, and it goes back to my upbringing and someone I used to be.
Like most kids, I wanted to be a bunch of stuff when I grew up. I even considered being a doctor for a hot second. I did have the grades for it, and I did amazing in my science classes (except for that one Organic Chemistry class I took during a summer session of college). Had it not been for my fear of needles, or sickness in hospitals or at the site of blood, I’m sure that could have become a reality. But I’m sure if I did end up being a doctor, I would have been absolutely miserable. It definitely wasn't my passion in life.
As well as I did in school, and we’re talking Honor Roll and Deans Lists here, my interests definitely leaned more towards the creative. I absolutely loved anything artistic, whether it be drawing, dancing, music or performing on stage. There I'd be, making my cousins put on a show for the family on holidays, organizing a backyard concert or even performing in the community shows at the JCC. I really did enjoy doing those productions. Unfortunately, image was everything, and people talked, so my time as an actor was cut short.
I did continue to do other things, like drawing. And with a love for fashion, I would sketch outfits. I wouldn't say I was an amazing designer, but it was something I enjoyed. I thought about going to FIT and studying fashion design. However, my parents felt that fashion design was not a "realistic career," and pushed me to study pharmacy in college. To make a long story short, I ended up leaving the pharmacy program and changing my major to psychology, with a minor in art. My goal was to become an art therapist, but unfortunately, there weren't many schools that offered programs in that field back then.
I truly loved my art courses, and not just because they came natural to me. They allowed me to spend time in museums looking at breathtaking pieces from history, as well as work with all different, and sometimes new, mediums like pottery and charcoal. But my all time favorite course had to be Children's Book Illustration Workshop. Our final project was to create a children's book of our own. Mine was the tale of a girl who lost her green apple, and blamed it on her whole family, only to find that the apple was in the fruit bowl the whole time. It was based on an incident that happened in my own family, and all the character's names were based on ways my baby brother said my relative's names. Of course, being that I can't ever do anything simple, I took on the task of making it a pop-up book. I wish I still had that book today because it really was pure genius.
As great as the illustrations were in that book, my professor really loved the way it was written. In fact, she was focused on the story itself, and told me I had a great writing style. Before that, I never really thought about my writing skills. It was just something I hated to do, but had no choice. I mean, think about it. How many times in your life when you were doing essays and reports for school did you think of them as works of art?
My mother used to tell me what a knack I had for writing. Of course she came to that conclusion after I wrote a book report on a book that didn't exist (A Boy Named Billy by John Spielberg), and got an A. I also was responsible for my baby brother's Bar Mitzvah speech, although I did steal my own speech from my Rabbi's son, who had his Bar Mitzvah the day before me. But I digress.
I really sat and thought about it for a while, and realized that I actually did enjoy writing. Not necessarily something forced, like a history report on The Panama Canal, but I enjoyed writing when it came from the heart. There was a self-pride in being able to write something from beginning to end that flowed and that other people could understand. It was like sharing a little piece of myself with the world, and that was really cool to me. I wanted to find a way to incorporate that into my life moving forward. Perhaps working for a magazine, or even one day, running my own publication (This was the late 90's/early 2000's when magazines were still relevant).
My first few jobs definitely allowed me to do just that. One of them was for a Hebrew School in a Synagogue. There, I was given artistic freedom over decorating for the holidays and creating flyers for different events. They allowed me to revamp the Synagogue newsletter and make it less stuffy. I even had one of my ads for the High Holidays featured in Time Out New York. That really was a fun job for me, but like all good things, it came to an end when they overhauled the way the Synagogue was run.
I haven't had many jobs since then (three at most, including my current one), but none of them ever let me have the creative freedom that I had there. And between work and two now-defunct relationships, personal time soon dwindled. There were moments here and there where I helped other people write their speeches and such. I even toyed with the idea of creating an online burn book, but kept putting it off. It wasn't until after the ending of one of those relationships and, ironically, being diagnosed with Hashimoto's that brought back my creative juices.
When I first got diagnosed, I was losing my mind... literally. Every time I saw a doctor or specialist, something else was wrong with me. I needed something to keep me positive throughout the journey I was on. My (then) doctor saw I was losing it and recommended something called Biofeedback. At first I was skeptical, but the therapist showed me different breathing techniques and ways to calm my body. She also recommended keeping a journal, which I thought was very sixth grade. But I went along with it, and the more I wrote, the more I realized the process was helping me release negativity in my mind and life. I felt a sense of exhilaration when I wrote.
Of course, being me, I couldn't just make it simple. I really wanted to pursue the whole online burn book thought from years before, and figured if I did, nobody would even open up unless I led by example. The reality is that you have to walk the walk and talk the talk if you want people to follow. So I basically convinced my therapist to allow me to do my Biofeedback journal online as blogs. After much hesitation, she agreed... and along the way, Baztards.com was born. Unfortunately, the company I created the website through didn't have the capacity to create an interactive burn book (and still doesn't). So my burn book essentially became what you see today.
So here we are, back on the couch this Sunday afternoon (To be honest, it's now Tuesday... Jack seems to think that when I'm writing, it should be "jump on Daddy" time), and I'm wrapping up another blog. On May 10, this website is going to turn two years old, and despite the setbacks here and there, I couldn't be prouder of what has been accomplished.
Baztards.com ended up being my story. You get it all: my ups, downs, history, personality, thoughts and world views. You get to see the real me, with my guard down, raw and exposed. In essence, this site has become a true extension of me. The goal is still to inspire, but through sharing my own personal tales of struggle and redemption. And as I've said from the beginning, if something I have written helps just one person, then I accomplished what I set out to do.
Coincidentally, I was listening to Rupaul's podcast last week, and he was talking about the idea of leaving a legacy. He said something so profound that will always stick with me. A legacy is more than just having kids and passing stuff down to them. It's about changing just one person's way of thinking or opening their eyes to another point of view, and that can be done through art, theater, and even through the written word. Well, regardless if I ever have children, I hope that Baztards.com will become part of my own legacy.
And what do I get out of the deal? Well, back in 2015, I was named Thyroid Thriver by the website Thyroid Nation, and I was asked to write my Thyroid story until that point. In that piece, I wrote ten things I learned while going through the beginning of my Thyroid adventure. One of those ten things was to find something you enjoy to help make yourself feel better. For me, that has been my writing.
With Baztards.com, I get to do something I absolutely love. I'm writing on my own terms. And I get to share my words and thoughts, and sometimes even get published on other sites so the world can read what I have to say. And if I'm going to be completely honest, there's something to be said for writing about the past that gives clarity on situations and can even be therapeutic. Putting it all out there allowed me to make peace with things that have happened in my life. All in all, the past two years have been an incredible ride, and I thank every single one of you for taking the ride with me.
Now, as much as I would love to recommend that everyone try and write his or her story, I realize it's not for everybody. Not everyone enjoys baring their soul and being exposed in such a way. So if I could impart one piece of wisdom on you from all of this, it's to find that one thing in life that makes you happy, and continue to pursue it. Life is way to short not to do what you love, and never allow anyone to squash your dreams and passions. It's your life to live, so live it for you and not for anyone else.
OH, one last thing... I think I finally figured out what I wanna be when I grow up. How does talk show host sound?