The Story of How She Became Ell
Today I am being vulnerable with you, putting it all out there and not holding back. I am not someone who is usually vulnerable but I trust and love my audience so much that I feel like I can speak my mind without judgement. I won’t lie, this is hard for me to write because it is bringing me back to some of my weakest moments, BUT these moments make me the person I am today, stronger.
If you are someone who doesn’t enjoy posts like this, then I will warn you now, this won’t be your cup of tea. I do get emotional...
As someone who has always struggled with anxiety and depression there is one story I want to share that has been weighing heavy on my heart. I am hoping that through sharing my story I can help someone else find their strength and courage to fight back.
As you know, writing has always been my safe haven. I am a very expressive person, especially when it comes to writing. What I learned this year is that I am a lot stronger and braver than I thought I was. Today I am sharing the FULL story of why I started my blog and how I ended up here.
Let’s flash back to January 2017 (almost 2 years ago). If you have read my 6 months to full time blogging story, then you know that I am in fact a college drop out who used to waitress full time. If you are a waitress too, then you know how exhausting that job can be. It doesn’t only physically drain you (because yes it is physically draining – you run around for 12 hours on your feet with no breaks, at least that’s how it was for me.) BUT, it also takes a toll on you mentally. Hungry customers aren’t always the kindest… and here in MA the wage for servers is about $3.50 – $4 an hour which we don’t usually see a paycheck for so we live off of our tips. Where I work, there would be a fair share of people who wouldn’t tip generously or even at all. It became very defeating at times. Thoughts of, am I going to make rent this month? or Will I need to eat a Mcdonalds cheeseburger again (please no)?
My life consisted of waking up, going to work for 12 hours, coming home feeling drained, falling asleep and repeating the next day. It was a constant state of what the hell am I doing? I was so sick of this lifestyle. My job took every ounce of my happiness. My friends and family even noticed. I remember calling my mom after most shifts crying to her about how unhappy I was.
Many would say get a new job, but it wasn’t that easy… Jobs are in high demand and the truth is, I didn’t have enough experience for any reasonable paying job (according to them). Sure I could get hired for a $10 an hour job BUT I had bills to pay, $450 for rent, $200 for my car, $145 for car insurance, Debt that needed to be paid off, electric, oil, internet, food and the list goes on! $10 an hour wouldn’t work for me. I felt stuck in a reality that was sucking the life out of me. Most days i’d wake up and refuse to move from my bed at all. I felt like my bed was sucking me in. I physically could not move because I was that depressed. I would hold all of this in because I am the type of person that wants to look strong on the outside. I’d say “I’m okay” when in reality I was dying on the inside. Many believed I was happy. No one thought I was depressed. But I knew I was…
If you have anxiety then you might be able to relate to the feeling of not wanting to burden anyone else with your pain. They would all think I am crazy anyway, right? The shortness of breath, watching as the walls caved in, your hands going numb as you sit there wanting all of it to stop…anxiety at it’s finest.
“Don’t worry, you’re okay, just breathe, …it’s all in your head” That’s what they’d tell me. But was it? Was it all in my head? Am I really okay?
During this time of my life I felt as if I had no purpose…I woke up everyday to sell burgers to customers who most of the time just wanted their food and could care less about anything else. (I get it, I am a waitress and that’s what I am here for…) But that’s the thing… that’s not me. I am a compassionate person, I am friendly and I enjoy conversation. I don’t like being taken advantage of, and I don’t like being called names because a burger wasn’t cooked properly.
Now here is where my story gets even more interesting, a side that you haven’t heard yet….
My Crave for a Purpose Got the Best of me
Ever since I was a little girl I had this dream of getting married, having a beautiful home and being a mother. A typical dream most girls have. I always wanted to be a mom, I knew that since the beginning. I haven’t wanted to be anything more than I have wanted to be a mom.
I always looked up to my mom growing up. Since I was 11 years old she raised me on her own and she taught me how to be strong and independent. She loved me unconditionally and always put a roof over my head with food on the table. (even if that meant working 3 jobs) Maybe it’s because of her that I want to be a mother so badly.
One day something inside me snapped. I became so miserably depressed. The only thing I wanted was a baby of my own. I was not okay. My mental health was not okay.
My boyfriend and I have been together for 5 1/2 years and at this point, we are not married but we knew we wanted to be one day. Although I wanted a baby so badly, it wasn’t the right time. He’s the wise one in this situation. He knew that we still needed to work on our finances. However, that didn’t stop me from feeling the way I did.
For many months I would convince myself that I was pregnant. I still remember clear as day crying that I was having side pains. That’s when I convinced my boyfriend to bring me to Urgent Care to get it checked out. The doctor told me that I needed to get a cat scan or MRI (I can’t remember exactly which one) just to make sure nothing serious was wrong with my appendix.
I remember lying there terrified for my life because I thought I was pregnant and I didn’t want anything to happen to my baby from the scan. I knew that a scan wasn’t good for expecting mothers. I sat there and cried and told the doctor “No, I can’t do this, I am pregnant and I don’t want anything to happen to my baby.”
The look of worry and confusion appeared across her face as she tried to ease my nerves. I went into complete panic and that panic attack took over my body. She assured me that I was not pregnant and that this scan needed to be done. I went through with it crying and couldn’t believe the words she was telling me. I swore I was pregnant. I had this intense feeling inside of me, telling me, YOU ARE PREGNANT. I felt so ashamed and embarrassed. This wasn’t the first time either…
There was another time before this where I had a gut feeling that I was pregnant. I remember going to my doctors office extremely excited to hear the good news. I sat there in her office with a smile on my face as she proceeded to ask me “So, what brings you here today?”
Well that’s a silly question I thought to myself, as she knows I am here to get my pregnancy test results.
“I think I am pregnant.” I told her with a smile and before I could say anything back she immediately responds with,
“Well you’re not.” and I could feel my heart sink as I held back the tears. I couldn’t believe how abrupt and rude she was with her response. Although now I understand… there aren’t many 23 year olds who are WANTING to be pregnant. Usually at that age you aren’t rushing for kids. I could tell she was confused by my look of disappointment. She probably thought I wanted to hear that I wasn’t pregnant. But why am I not ecstatic by her words? Shouldn’t I be so happy that I’m not pregnant? I’m only 23, it’s not the end of the world.
My heart was breaking. Each month past by and I convinced myself I was pregnant, I spent all of my spare change on pregnancy tests hoping that one would read positive…but it never did. The sad part is that deep down I knew that I wouldn’t get a positive pregnancy test because my boyfriend and I weren’t actually trying, but I still always had this bit of hope.
It was after my trip to Urgent Care that I knew I was mentally unstable. The fact that me not being pregnant upset me so much to the point of anxiety attacks, depression, and false pregnancies were the first signs.
It’s so hard to want something so badly when you know deep down it’s out of your control. Knowing the timing isn’t right hurts even more…
Fast forward to April 2017. This was a turning point for me. I was a full time waitress, a college drop out, anxious and depressed because life wasn’t going the way I wanted it to at all. I felt as if I had no purpose. I wanted MORE. I wanted someone to tell me that it was going to be okay. I was sick of the late night tears that wouldn’t let me sleep, the mentally unstable thoughts of wanting to quit life. I felt hopeless and stuck in a rut that I couldn’t escape. There was nothing I wanted more than to escape my reality… so I finally did.
I created my blog in April 2017 as a way to escape from my reality. I called it EllDuclos. I wanted to escape my reality so badly that I even called myself Ell instead of Lauren. I hated my life. The only good part was my boyfriend and supportive friends and family. I knew that if I didn’t focus on something else I would be stuck in this constant state of depression. I was done convincing myself that I was pregnant, I was done trying to please all my angry customers, and I was done living life negatively. If I didn’t change my situation, I probably wouldn’t be here today telling my story.
I was at my absolute rock bottom breaking point. Change was all I needed but I knew it wouldn’t come on it’s own. I dreamed of being a writer and always wanted to share my stories to inspire… I never imagined that one day it would become my new reality, a reality that I actually look forward to everyday. I never thought that day would come. I hated the thought of waking up to a new day, and now I crave it. My blog gave me a new outlook on life, on myself, and I found my purpose.
Do you want to know what’s crazy about this whole thing? I would have NEVER started my blog if it wasn’t for reaching my rock bottom.
Here’s what I learned.
Trust the timing of your life…
If you have reached your breaking point, you can only rise up. You have to trust the timing of your life. When I told people I wanted to be a mom and that I was ready, they would tell me I am crazy. They always told me that I am young and I should enjoy my life while I can.
But they aren’t me, they don’t know how badly I want this, they don’t know how badly it hurts. Do I sound crazy? Perhaps. But it’s how I felt and it’s what I really wanted at the time.
Looking back at it, maybe it wasn’t the baby I wanted at that moment, maybe it was purpose that I wanted. I felt as if I had no purpose in life. I felt that no one cared or truly needed me here. But my child would need me, my child would want me here. I needed to fill that void that was in my heart.
It might not make sense, but it made sense to me. I know now that a baby wasn’t what I needed at that moment. I know now that the timing wasn’t right. When the timing is right it will happen.
My blog helped me realize that I do have a purpose and that purpose is to help others find happiness in the life they live. We all have a purpose and sometimes it just takes a bit of time and healing to truly figure out what that purpose is. You may not know it now, but one day it’ll hit you like a ton of bricks. When that moment comes you will feel better than you have ever felt before. Trust me when I say that you have a purpose in life. You are put on this earth for a reason. Even if in this moment it doesn’t feel that way.
I’ve been there and I know that feeling. It’s dark, lonely, and suffocating but there is a light.
Put your energy into what you can control…
The thing about life is that there is a lot of things that we sadly don’t have much control over. Often times we focus hard on the things that we can’t control. This is where depression comes in and takes away our happiness. We become frustrated because we want a situation to change so badly but no matter how hard we try, we can’t do anything about it.
For example, death. Recently in May 2018 I lost my grandpa. He was my other half. Growing up he was always there for me, I remember going to his house everyday after school just to vent to him about all of my problems. He would listen so well and he’d always tell me that I was his favorite granddaughter. That I was beautiful and smart. He knew how to bring me out of my darkest days and he is a huge reason as to why I am still here today.
When my parents got divorced my grandpa helped me through it. I love him so much and the day I lost him, my heart broke. I knew that day would come but, no matter how much notice you get, it NEVER makes it any easier. This is a situation that I had no control over. I couldn’t bring him back. I could try as hard as I wanted, but it wasn’t going to change anything. Focusing all of my energy on trying to bring him back would do more harm than good. Instead of trying to bring him back, I decided to celebrate his life by living more.
Life is too short to spend it trying to control things that you can’t. So instead of focusing on what I couldn’t control, I started focus on what I could control. I started to live more and I made my happiness a priority.
My grandpa taught me how to live life to the fullest and how to keep my heart and soul young always.
& Don’t be afraid to be your biggest cheerleader…
Whenever you pursue something in life make sure to cheer yourself on! I believe in the power of mindset. You are what you think you are. Once you believe in yourself you can accomplish anything.
They say you can achieve anything you put your mind to. If you want to be your own boss, HELL YES! YOU CAN. Tell yourself you can and you will make it happen. Create your own hype, cheer for yourself, celebrate all accomplishments big and small, and don’t be afraid to be proud. You deserve to be.
Where I am now
It’s been almost 2 years since my darkest day. I am sitting here, healed and writing my story. The story of how my darkest days lead me to my brightest moments. I stopped focusing on everything that was going wrong in my life and I created a new mindset and outlook on life.
My days were spent working 12 hour shifts and coming home instantly opening up my laptop and creating. I would create for hours. I started a community called Boss Girl Bloggers and I made connections with other women who were trying to do the same exact thing as me…we all just wanted purpose.
6 months after creating my blog it grew, I was getting readers who actually CARED about me, who wanted to read my newest blog post. They sent me kind messages letting me know that I have inspired them to start their own blog and go after their purpose! My community grew to over 30,000 women who all have the same exact dream as me. I didn’t feel alone. I felt a sense of purpose and I had hope. I love who I am when I am writing, and I love who I am when I am inspiring others.
About 6 months into my blogging journey I was able to cut back my waitressing shifts to only 1-2 times a week. I was making enough income to pay all of my big bills. I felt a sense of financial security for the first time in my life. I was living on my own since I was 18 and this was the first time I felt alive. I actually get excited for every new day and I look forward to all the possibilities. I love to create, and I love to help others.
Right now, my darkest days are in the past because I chose to leave them there. The only way I could have found my way out was through change. Not just in my mindset but in my actions too. Choose happiness.
We are all stronger than we think…If I can rise up, so can you.
It may feel like the end but it’s really just the beginning….