A Glimpse Into My Life

See it through my eyes & understand me a little more

Tag Archives: African-American Women

Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This!

Hey Ladies!

Featured image

Let’s have a chat, shall we? The other day, I started to think about what I want my life to look like in 2016. This year, I’m taking a whole new approach to resolutions (or something, I haven’t decided). As I looked at the calendar and compared it to the list of my goals, I wondered, “How in the hell am I supposed to get all of this shit done?”

I also wondered if I even wanted to get it done but that’s what December is for. November is for getting all of my dreams out on paper; December is the reality check (lol). After I got over the initial “ugh” feeling, I started to think about the best way TO do these things. That’s right! I got practical. I asked:

When is the best time to get this shit done?

And then I realized something – I should use my natural inclination to “wanting to do shit” to, you know, do stuff. Now, by this time, you’re probably wondering, “What is she talking about?” I’m talking about our cycles – the ENTIRE cycle (and not just Hell/Shark/JESUS IS IT ARMAGEDDON AGAIN?! Week). This is basically what I’ve come to learn about being a woman that wasn’t in those little books they give you in your middle school health class.

The point?

WE, women*, ARE NATURALLY INCLINED TO DO SHIT BASED ON OUR ENTIRE CYCLE. The whole thing. All 21-30 days. So here are some things to remember about them.

Week 1: I LOVE EVERYONE!

Principle: Do NOT Make Important Decisions. The rule here is that you do not, under any circumstances, make any major decision. Do not agree to shit.

Do NOT agree to a damn thing.

Why? You are ovulating (I know the cycle doesn’t start here BUT I refused to start my post detailing the horrors of Shark Week). You love everyone so much that your helpful ass won’t actually do any work because you’ll overwhelm yourself with “Of course!” and “Yes!” These are the couple of days that you’re happy you’ve once again survived the Rogue Midget in Cleats running through you womb like it was the 6 (shouts to Drake and/or Q. Miller).

Remember that everything only looks appealing. That event with those people you can’t stand because their energy is wrong? You’ll say yes to that because everyone deserves a second, third, twenty-seventh chance. The really bad ideas you hear that the Sharks on Shark Tank wouldn’t even entertain? You’ll say yes to that because everything looks appealing.

So do not make any important decisions. Have the conversations, take notes, but don’t commit. Besides, you’ll be so pleasant that people won’t be offended by your “No.”

Week 2: I’M JUST BEING HONEST!

Principle: Find A Different Way To Say/Do/Think That. Sure! They need to hear whatever it is you want to tell them, just not from you. The thing to remember here is that you’re suddenly more shrewd. Ovulation happened and everything became stupid. Your egg dropped, went unfertilized, and everyone, except you, became the dumbest person alive.

But you won’t say that.

You’ll just give off the vibe that you are too cool for school. YOU ARE TOO COOL FOR ANYTHING! Because you’re (pre)PMSing. Now while this isn’t a great time to start anything, it is a wonderful time to THINK about what you want/need to see happen in your life. This is the perfect time to write it ALL down (don’t delete anything) and get it ALL out. This is also a great time to start sorting through your things and purging them, especially within the first three days of this particular hormonal phase. This is basically when you prepare for the bullshit that is to come in the next week.

Week 3: JESUS FIX IT!

Principle: Love Yourself Because You’ll Think No One Else Does. This is the week that everyone in life holds their breathe about, whether or not they have a period. This is also the week that you have everything, and I mean, everything about yourself. And it is not your fault. And your boy/girlfriend are not insensitive bastards who wish to crush your feelings because they were raised by unloving people who left them alone in dark rooms. I hate to say this because it violates all of the Girl Code but…

It is NOT them; it is You.

And blame whoever you need to. Do whatever you need to do to get through this week since Self-Care is the name of the game (it’s the only game). Love yourself a lot because the mirror won’t. This is the time of the month (see what I did there?) you don’t want to be alive. These are the days that you’ll wonder why everyone hates you, why they dump all of their shit on you, and why you, yes You, can’t get it together. Your hair is dry. Your skin is splotchy. Your clothes don’t fit. And you want to eat everything in life that ensures they will never fit again. It’s okay, Dear.

As I said, your only goal here is to love yourself. Because this love makes the next week of eating crow and getting shit done a lot easier.

Week 4: LIVE YOUR LIFE!

Principle: Do Everything You Really Want To Accomplish. Depending on how bad Hormonal Armageddon was will dictate how apologetic you need to be on the first day of this week. It’s okay. We’ve all been there and your hair actually looks okay enough to make people want to stick around to go through it again. In three weeks. Because hormones. So start with the apologies and then get started on that list of things to do!

This is when you implement the new ideas and commit to the contracts. You are the most levelheaded you’ll be and as this week goes on, you’ll only become more pleasant. You see clearly here because you have 20/20 vision. You feel great here because your energy is back. This is where your personal “I Am the Shit” playlist comes in handy. You are unstoppable so go out and conquer the world.

You’ll only have five days to do so.

.

*Men are hormonal too but that required several drinks and a bulletproof vest to write about (I’ll put it on the list for next year).

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Happiness in Depression

It has taken me a long time to work up the courage to write this.

In the past, I have talked about issues surrounding mental health and I have even shared some of my personal struggle with anxiety and depression. Most of the time I have done this from a comfortably disconnected point of view and I have tried to stick with writing objectively when the worst of an “episode” was over with.

In this instance, things are different and it has taken me a long time to work up the courage to write this.

Currently, I sit in the reality that I’m a Black Woman with Clinical Depression.

And it’s hard. And it’s heavy. And it weighs on my chest. And my back. And my spirit. Just about my everything because being Black is hard enough. Struggling with mental illness is hard enough. Couple the two? It is a heavy “cross to bear.”

However, this is my truth.

The “mental illness” isn’t even what makes this so hard. It is not the fear that people will shun you because you acknowledge that you sometimes feel that God has forgotten about you. It is not that people are uncomfortable being around you when you are “like that.” It is not the awkward silence after being completely honest about the fact that even though you smiled when you said hello, you feel empty as hell on the inside. That’s not what makes this hard.

It’s the happiness.

Most people view depression in a very stereotypical way. They picture someone who can’t/won’t get out of bed and take care of their most basic needs. They think of someone who won’t wash their hair or brush their teeth. They think of a person who cries constantly. They think of someone who wears all black and isolates themselves from the world. They think of an energy vampire.

They think of the type of person they would never want to become emotionally — the person that is so overwhelmed that they just shut down. And that’s wrong.

Clinical depression, or any kind of depression for that matter, can be those things. But that is never what makes it hard, at least not for me. It is the huge disconnect between my mind/logic and my spirit/emotions.

It’s being able to laugh from my belly. It’s being able to tell a story and get others to do the same. It’s being able to smile. Or sing my favorite song. Or dance around. It is that even though I can wrap my day in a million happy moments, at the center is this one thing that I can’t “fix.” This feeling. This….ugh.

And if you ask me what that “one thing” is, I would never have a real answer for you because it changes in the moment.

Which is what makes all of this hard to talk about.

As I sit here trying to piece my thoughts together, the question I keep asking is, “What do you want them to know?” I want the people who love me to know that depression and happiness live in the same space and that it’s hard to explain it. You get it if you’ve felt it; and if you haven’t, you’ll know it if you ever do.

But what I want people to know is not the same thing I want people to understand.

I want people to understand that depression is not void of happiness. I want people to understand that people go on living every day as though nothing is wrong, even though it seems their outlook is bleak. I want people to understand that while I laughed a minute ago, I was in just as much pain as I am when I don’t. I want people to understand that sometimes I want to be taken care of sometimes and not the person that takes care of others all of the time. I want people to understand what it means to embody and practice compassion and patience.

I never have enough of those things for myself.

Most of all, I want people to understand that happiness and depression can inhabit the same breath.

And that’s what hard about it.

Evidence of Ridiculous Faith

I just finished reading a 13-Day BibleApp Plan called “Elisha: A Tale of Ridiculous Faith.” The plan ended with a question that forced me to sit down and think. I mean really think. The question was: “What steps do you need to take to have the type of ridiculous faith that Elisha had?”

My answer was “I don’t know.” Then I began to wonder how do you start to live a life of insane belief when all of your life you’ve been led to believe that you’re better off unnoticed?

Then I came to my senses (this was right before lunch so it could have been a side-effect of hunger). I remembered a conversation I had with a friend of mine a while back. I told her about how great she was and why she was amazing. I wanted to build her up and let her know someone who deeply cared about her happiness and supported her path to self-fulfillment was there. I wanted her to know how awesome she was and I had faith in her ability to be who she was called to be.

Today, I find myself in the same emotional state she was in and the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to hear those things about myself. The more I wanted to believe that those things were true.

Now before y’all say this sounds egotistical, know that I’m coming to realize a major piece of crazy faith comes from knowing you can do what you are called to AND that you deserve all of the good that comes your way. To start living a life of insane faith, you have to start living a life of humbled confidence. It’s a fine and delicate balancing act – knowing that you deserve a good life and having the self-confidence to carry it out can be isolating. Especially if people aren’t used to seeing you that way. But those are necessary beliefs to have about yourself when you are asking for miracles to take place in your life.

So that’s my first step – believing in myself and my right to all that I will be blessed with.

What steps do you need to take to develop crazy faith?

Single Black Female: Is Something Wrong With You? (#31WriteNow)

NOTE: This was a private post written in 2010. Funny…it still applies even though I’m 27. I decided to update it and share it with some of my more current thoughts (in italics).

***

I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard that question or how often I’ve heard it hidden within some other backwards compliment, but I hear it often. It’s now to the point where I change subjects rather skillfully (if I’m up to the challenge) or I forget all of my Southern upbringing and charm classes and cuss someone out.

Yes, I’m single. Yes, I’m a Black woman. No, there is nothing wrong with me.

I understand why people become so up in arms when I take the opportunity to describe myself. It usually goes something like this:

“Oh, I’m 23 (now 27). I have my BS and MA. I hope to go on for my PhD. I want to work in Education (the policy/administration side…not teaching). I hope to…” and so forth and so on. However, in taking the time to describe myself I face these questions later:

1. Do you have a boyfriend/Are you courting? No./No.

2. Why don’t you have a boyfriend? I don’t leave my house? I don’t know.

3. What are you going to do with all that education? Use it.

4. Don’t you know a woman’s place? Yes. It’s her address right?

(Updated Note: I’m probably single because I have a smart mouth and unintentional snark.)

Wait…whoa…what in the fudge sticks?!?!

You see, when I get around family and this topic is always brought up, I’m left feeling like an outcast. Of most of my cousins from 15-26 that identify as a “woman,” I’m one of TWO that are single/uncoupled (three years later and it still applies). That can be a self-esteem killer, and until recently, it was.

I had an interesting conversation with a Sista of mine. She posed the two questions: “What are 10 ways a man could charm you?” “What are 10 ways a man trying to charm you would annoy you?” I gave her my reasons and quite honestly, it was an eye-opener for me (I’m actually going to answer these questions for myself again). The more that I thought about it, the more I thought about how these things impact my “dating” life. I mean, it’s really hard to walk around as a young, seemingly successful, Black woman who is single AND remain confident in yourself when there are so many things out there telling you why you’re still a failure. There are “experts” who release books on why Black women can’t get, keep, and marry a (Black) man. There are nightly “specials” that devote time to harp on the connections we make with each other, our accolades, and then pose the question (usually by non-Black people) why can’t we find, keep, and marry a (successful Black) man. (Sidenote: HA! I’m watching One-On-One and would you know, this is an episode about how a successful Black woman has managed to step on a Black man’s ego and that’s why she lost him).

I say one thing to these specials and experts:

Spare me the story of the tragic Black woman that happens to be successful and goes to sleep alone at night because she can’t find a successful Black man. And here’s why.

I’m 23 (now 27). I’m (still) being told that I need to start looking for a man. I need to settle down and have some babies (okay…now I want to. Then I wasn’t ready). That’s great. It’d be nice if I weren’t alone (if only it would cut down the chatter at my family reunions) and it’d be nice if I knew of multiple successful Black men aged 22-27 (let’s move this on up to 27-33-ish or something) looking to settle down. The fact is, they aren’t. MEN MY AGE ARE NOT LOOKING TO SETTLE DOWN (hmmm…this isn’t true so much anymore cuz I’m older now). Besides the countless male friends that I have (okay, 6 so as not to sound like a floozy), I also have 5 brothers that were raised by BOTH parents to play the field and put women through the wringer before they put a ring on anything.

So yes, I’m single. Yes, I’m Black. Yes, I’m a woman.

And there is nothing wrong with me….. I still want a boo though. LOL

Disappointment When I Should Be Celebrating?

Today at work, I experienced a moment of overwhelming sadness. I’m not sure if I’ve shared it before but I recently started a blog which focuses on building wealth while I was on medical leave from my job. I’ve even shared the relief I felt when my surgery was finally over and the fibroids were removed from my body.
 
What I haven’t shared are the “troubles” that have come along with those two things. The issues with the blog have bought some very critical financial issues to light and at the moment, I currently feel like I’m not doing something quite right. After being off of work for six weeks, I knew that I wouldn’t return to my job under the best financial circumstances (as we speak, my bank account is overdrawn). The thing that I didn’t get, and perhaps this is what makes this piece so hard, is that by putting my stuff on display, it means that I have to live up to what I say. It’s almost like having an angel on your shoulder that “checks” you when you are doing something you have absolutely no business doing. That’s not even the big issue though. I made a pact with myself that I would use new media and be transparent about what’s going on with me financially. I share updates via Twitter with followers on that platform and lately, those updates have been about my feeling inadequate to care for myself and handle my financial responsibilities. It just reminds me that I’m a lot closer to the place I feared as a youngster (homelessness and poverty) than I “should” be. Why have all of these markers of upward social mobility but I’m still on Poverty’s front stoop?

With the medical issue, I’ve had the opportunity to share my story and connect with other young women (mostly of color) who have experienced something similar. This has been great and it has given me the courage to act on an idea that I have. What hasn’t been great is dealing with the recovery process. Although the fibroids were removed, I’m still have the painful symptoms that came along with it. I still can’t move the way I could before the surgery and I’m still at risk for injuring myself.

Facing these issues have been incredibly difficult. It’s like having this great life in front of me and I can’t touch it. It’s like I’m manifesting things that I used to only dream of as a youngster but this “gift” is going to some other recipient. Couple my very personal health and emotional issues with apprehensions and reservations with my job and you have the makings of a meltdown, right? Well, put all of what I just said together and add in things going on in my family (I’ll blog about that when I’m emotionally ready) and you can picture how much of a mess I feel. I just feel myself unraveling.

 
And there is never a good time to do that.

12 Things I Wish I Had Known Before My Surgery

The other day, I was approached by a young woman on Facebook. She sent me a message because she’s going undergoing a similar procedure (well, actually the same procedure) and she wanted to know what were things she should look out for. I sent her a pretty lengthy message and I’ve cleaned up my answers here.

If you’re going through this, I hope that this helps! Happy reading! 🙂

1. Ask lots of questions!

This is for everyone! The hospital staff, your insurance company, family, etc. Specifically, you want to know about hospital procedure (especially with the anesthesia), how many days you’ll have to spend in the hospital, visiting hours, and other things that might concern you. I didn’t think of this until after I had my procedure but ask things like, “Will I be in a recovery room alone or will I have to share?” Another thing that I didn’t think to ask is whether I would be at a “teaching hospital” and if any of the staff have shadows or students. If so, ask if this will this impact your procedure or your recovery, and if they say yes, ask them in what way?

2. Take it easy!

It is a major surgery so only do as much as you possibly can without getting too fatigued. Do NOT (under any circumstances) push yourself or allow someone to push you to move or do something that you may not be ready to do. I didn’t take it as easy as I should have and as a result, I pulled some of my internal incisions/sutures opened. Because of that, I was put on bedrest (which was absolutely boring) and I have to be watched for more scarring. So rest!

3. Do everything you can to avoid constipation.

People tell you this but they never tell you how. Drink lots of clear fluids (preferably water and apple juice) & take 1 Colace pill before every meal. One thing they don’t tell you is that your pain relievers may cause constipation and you can get ahead of that by taking the colace before you eat your meals. Also, if your hospital lets you pick the food that you’ll get to eat (we had a menu and could choose our own combinations), pick the vegetables. Always…pick the vegetables! If you get nothing else from this, you want to make it as easy as possible for you to go to the bathroom because you can’t push to urinate faster or evacuate your bowels. You have to sit there…and wait. And if your nurses are anything like mine, they’ll keep asking you if you’re okay (which gets annoying). So up your fiber intake and drink water.

4. Rest up…rest up!

When you get home, rest. Rest on your couch. Rest in a reclining chair. Rest…don’t do anything except rest (okay, actually do what your doctor tells you to do but rest). I’m not sure how high your bed is but I learned that if you are lying on something, you want it as low as possible. You won’t really be able to use your core muscles for the first few weeks (they’ll tell you to use your arms to lift yourself) so you’ll have to be creative in getting up. Beds are generally higher than couches, so you increase your risk of tearing your incision and you don’t want that.

5. Eat smaller portions.

The portions that you normally eat should probably be reduced. You won’t be moving that much for the first few weeks, so don’t eat like you normally would. It only leads to constipation and unnecessary weight gain.

6. Snack and snack on soft stuff.

In addition to making sure your snacks are easily digestible, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t have to work hard to eat them. Your meds will make you sleepy. Nothing worse than struggling to stay awake while eating a snack. So what do you do? Get lots of snacks that are easily digestible (i.e., pudding, jello, applesauce especially, etc.) because those will help when you have to take your medication and it is not meal time. One of the things I experienced was vomiting due to taking meds on an empty stomach (don’t do that) and I learned that you use your stomach when you vomit. So everything about that experience was painful.

7. Wear comfy clothes & super pads!

That might be a bit TMI but who am I kidding, everything about this procedure is TMI. Wear loose clothing and invest in some heavy-duty sanitary napkins. You will experience some bleeding and this is normal. But you want the overnight or super absorbent napkins for the bleeding because they hold more and you can’t use tampons.

8. Don’t lift anything heavy.

Heavy here really means like you have to strain your arm muscle. They’ll tell you twenty pounds, so you definitely want to only pick up anything under than weight. But if you ask me, just stay away from holding small kids or heavy books anything.

9. Pillows as props are the rule of thumb.

Especially when you’re sleeping. They’ll have you start to sleep on your side after a few days. When they do this, use a pillow or two behind your back. It helps with the pressure. And it also helps you in getting up.

10. You’ll have to roll to get up…but not really.

When you go to get up, use your legs and arms. I started to do this trick where I would literally pull my knees to my chest, scoot to the edge of whatever I was on, and push up with my arms. If you consider yourself to be of the “I have no upper body strength” club, then start doing push-ups. You’ll thank me in the end.

11. Ask if they’ll give you Benadryl with your pain relievers.

The pain relievers while great will probably make you itchy . That’s normal. If you feel that, ask for Benadryl IMMEDIATELY! I now have scars on my legs because I scratched them after I would take my pain relievers (not realizing that it was the medication making me itchy). Once I figured that out though, they gave me the Benadryl and it was no problem.

12. Shower time & washing your hair can be tricky!

When you bathe or shower, I suggest getting a bath chair and sitting, but that’s only if you have a problem with standing up for a long period of time. I had that issue. Try to get your hair done in a style where you won’t have to worry about it for a few weeks. I couldn’t even hold my arms up to wash my hair until like week 3 or 4 of recovery (I had braids so it wasn’t that bad).

Other things that I shared:

  • 6-8 weeks is a normal recovery time.
  • Be careful because with an abdominal myomectomy because your lower abdomen WILL be numb (they cut your nerves so you can’t feel anything).
  • Wearing heels is out of the question — for a few weeks (just thought I would throw that in as a freebie).

Here’s to happy healing! If you have any questions, post them in the comments section.

~Ms. C. Jayne

Let’s Give Amanda Michelle a Great Birthday

On April 2nd, I had the opportunity to undergo a much-needed surgery where large fibroid masses and an ovarian cyst were removed. After battling this pain for quite some time (since I was 17), it was awesome to know that in the coming weeks, the only pain I’d feel in my abdomen area would come from the recovery process. As I started to recover, I began to think to myself, “Why did it take so long?” but more importantly, I expressed gratitude that some key people had come into my life within the past two years. Two of those people were in the medical field (my primary care physician who also serves as my main gynecologist and a fertility specialist that she works very closely with).

However, there was perhaps one person that I expressed the most gratitude for (and now that I think of it, I’m not sure I’ve ever said this to her) — my Twitter friend, Amanda Michelle. So this post is my personal “Thank you so very much for always being a person I could ask questions to (no matter how dumb they sounded to me) and I hope that you get the surgery that you so desperately need!”

You see, she has Stage Four (IV) Endometriosis which is reserved for the worst cases of endometriosis. Amanda has been presented with the opportunity to have her much-needed surgery (and this is super cool) done by the doctor who came up with the procedure, Dr. Camran Nezhat(I just thought to myself, “Ahh! So much better than an episode of Grey’s Anatomy!”). But she needs our help!!!

Amanda needs $5,600 and I’ve included her budget below. So far she’s had 40 people donate enough to cover $1,278. That means, she needs $4,322 and she only has 16 days left through HopeMob (the tax-deductible and fee-free fundraising platform) to get the rest of the money.

“My Budget

It’s taken a while to hammer out the logistics with the hospital, so we’re now in crunch time with regards to getting reasonable reservations.

  • $3600: Surgery – $2500 deposit + $1100 left on the out-of-pocket max for my insurance

  • $1200: Hotel room w/ kitchen – for 5 days (endo = random food & gluten allergies)

  • $300: Car rental – 5 days

  • $500: Plane ticket – as of 5am on April 10th, this is the cheapest plane ticket

  • $5600 Total – excluding food & gas”

For those of you who are unfamiliar with endometriosis, it is “the abnormal growth of cells (endometrial cells) similar to those that form the inside or lining the tissue of the uterus, but in a location outside of the uterus” (source). It occurs normally in women of childbearing age with it being estimated that it occurs in 3% to 18% of women. On top of their being renegade uterine cells in other parts of our bodies, it can be very painful. Amanda has been diagnosed as having Stage Four (IV) endometriosis which is described below:

Stage 4: This is the most severe stage of endometriosis, with over 40 points needed for diagnosis. Patients with stage IV endometriosis will have many superficial and deep implants as well as large adhesions. Endometriosis symptoms including infertility are common in patients with stage IV endometriosis. (Source)

It is my hope that you’ll read this post and think about the ways that you can help Amanda (every little bit helps). I know that many of you who come to read my blog care about me (well, those that know me personally) and I’d like for you all to donate something. I’ve already donated to her by gifting her with $100 (because if her pain was worse than mine she DEFINITELY needs this surgery).

All of my appreciation and love to Amanda for her help. I’m rooting for you and I’m glad you have the opportunity to get this done.

Please see the links below for the appropriate places to go:

Amanda Michelle’s HopeMob Fundraising Platform

Amanda Michelle Jones’ website

Her Endometriosis Story/Introduction to HopeMob Fundraising