My Anxiety Timeline: From the Start Until Whenever

3 Jan

No one ever recognizes their first anxiety attack. I liken it to the clown from IT because in my case, they always come in the form of things I fear the most. I don’t think I can pinpoint my first attack, but I can remember the time in my life when they began.

 

I was around twelve years old. I was in junior high school, possibly the most insecure time in anyone’s life. My household had always been full of dysfunction, but it was when I was twelve that I started to recognize it for what it was. I would wake up in the middle of the night around three or four in the morning, shaking so bad from head to toe that my kneecaps felt like they could pop off my body. To this day, I have an insane fear of vomiting. It is the one bodily function that I don’t feel like I have control of. So when my attacks came on, my thought pattern often went like this: I think I have to throw up. What if no one hears me? What if I didn’t wake up, I would’ve choked? Well it’s coming. I feel funny. It must be about to happen. Oh my God I’m going to vomit. I’m going to die. I am going to vomit to death. Oh my God, I’m going to die. I’m going to die. I’m going to die.

 

Weird shit huh?

 

I would go to my mother’s bedside crying and shivering. “I can’t sleep,” I would say, “I have to throw up.”

My fear of vomiting was no secret and any time I went to my mother worried that I might have to throw up, she would accompany me to the bathroom and stay with me until the ordeal was over. One night while I was in high school, I was sick and decided to brave the ordeal on my own. My mother’s bedroom was above mine. Somehow she heard me and still came into the bathroom and stayed with me until I was able to go back to bed. When I was in junior high however, most nights I was not ill, just anxious. My mother would say, “I don’t know what to do with you. Nothing is wrong. Go back to bed. Go read until you fall asleep.”

But how could I read when all I was thinking was, “I’m gonna die?”

 

My anxiety attacks, plus a lame suicide threat, and some inappropriate behavior landed me in a few therapy sessions with an overweight white woman, who’s face stayed hidden behind huge glasses and shaggy blonde hair. I am not sure who lost interest in these sessions; myself, my mother, or the therapist herself, but therapy with her was so short lived that I don’t even remember her name or anything she might have ever said to me.

 

After that, the dumb behavior cooled off and I didn’t threaten suicide again for another ten years, but the anxiety attacks continued. My aunt decided I should drink chamomile tea before bed, and that helped significantly. I could sleep again and only experienced anxiety in what seemed like more appropriate situations such as public speaking, or meeting new people.

 

Then, less than a year out of high school, I got pregnant.

 

The constant worry about vomiting returned full force due to a morning sickness incident on my way to take a final on an unseasonably hot day in May of 2002. I spent every day for the first two trimesters of my pregnancy vomiting, or worrying about vomiting. It’s safe to say, being pregnant was a highly unpleasant experience for me, although many women experience prolonged nausea and vomiting. The nausea and throwing up ceased by my third trimester, but the fear lived on, and acid reflux did not help at all. Even after I gave birth, the fear continued to hover. Its only now I that I realize the fear persisted due to my external conflicts.

 

As aforementioned, my household growing up was full of dysfunction. My childhood was not horrible, but the way the adults treated each other was a horrible example of how people should treat each other. There were long periods of tension thicker than triple layered cakes. My room, my notebooks that I wrote stories in, paperback novels, my Prince CDs, and VHS tapes provided much solace and escape. Outside of my bedroom door three dependent yet alpha women-my mother, grandmother, and aunt- battled over anything from money, to furniture, to food, and most disconcertingly the five children they were raising together. So I hid.

 

But once I became a mother, there was no more hiding. My solace disappeared. At nineteen, I had a baby hanging from one tit, and a man hanging from the other. I relied heavily on Mylanta tablets throughout my pregnancy to absolve nausea, and Benadryl to fight motion sickness. After giving birth I continued to walk with Mylanta and Benadryl in my purse. Soon it became just Benadryl. Gradually, Benadryl became the answer to everything.

 

Yes, you read right.

 

I developed an addiction to Benadryl.

 

How can Benadryl be addictive right? I don’t know. All I know is I couldn’t relax and I was tired of not being able to relax. I only felt good when I was paying attention to the baby, or when I was sleeping. So whenever I felt like I just couldn’t bear… I popped a Benadryl, or two… maybe even three. Oh yeah, by the way, I am aware this was full on Postpartum depression. I just hate the word depression because to this day I never felt sad… just tired and afraid.

 

I had gone from one household of dysfunction to another when I moved in with my child’s father and my fear skyrocketed. Being raised by three alpha women, I believe I inherited alpha woman traits. I am not completely sure that I am an alpha woman myself as I have learned over time how and when to let my male significant others lead. Yet, I longed to run my own household, but I had literally moved across town to live under someone else’s parent and be treated like a child, strictly due to my age and not necessarily my maturity level. For months I popped Benadryl capsules back to back to sleep through the oppressing feeling of not being in control of my own life; a fear that manifested itself in the form of nausea.

 

My days melded together so much so that one day my mother said to me, “When was the last time you washed your hair?”

I was standing in my old bedroom in a nightshirt, my skinny legs and ashy knees were showing, and my hair, partially matted crowned my head like a bird’s nest. “Did you even eat today?” she pressed.

I don’t know, and at the time I probably lied and said I did, but honestly I remember when she asked me that question. But in that moment I couldn’t remember if I ate.

 

The dates get jumbled in my mind, but I had been to the emergency room several times in the year 2003 due to dehydration. I was not eating or drinking. I was just mothering and sleeping. Although the memory is vague, I know the last time I went to the ER, the doctor explained: You haven’t been eating. So your stomach is shrinking. That’s why when you try to eat what seems like a normal portion to you, you feel ill. To deal with the nausea, you take Benadryl… you take Benadryl repeatedly, and you end up taking it on an empty stomach. You’re deteriorating your shrunken stomach with an antihistamine.

 

I stopped taking Benadryl.

 

My family made it a point to see to it that I ate three times a day and got sufficient rest.

 

But I had lost over thirty pounds at this point. That probably doesn’t sound like much, but pre-pregnancy I was about a hundred and ten pounds. At my last appointment before giving birth I weighed one hundred and thirty-eight pounds. At my first appointment after my final ER visit I was eighty-nine pounds. This was a huge deal.

 

From 2003 until 2007 my doctor could not figure out how to get my weight back up. Contrary to popular opinion… I ate. I was a young housewife with a growing child, I cooked every day, and I ate what I cooked. The only thing that could be confirmed was that I was lactose intolerant. However I still ate the typical Black American and Caribbean diet… rice and beans or peas every day, turkey, oxtail, chicken, steak, seafood, vegetables, and an array of sugars in bread and pastries. Pasta has been and always will be my quick go-to, so we ate spaghetti and/or ziti at least four times a month. Still my weight fluctuated between eighty-nine and ninety-three pounds. At this point I had lived with tension in my bones for so long that I gave up on the idea of ever relaxing and adjusted to walking around on edge. That constant robotic-like state, I believe, kept me from achieving and maintaining an appropriate weight.

 

Like a light switch, my weight began to climb exactly one week after splitting with my daughter’s father. My doctor’s exact words were “You’re one hundred pounds. Do not go back.”

 

I failed to mention the other aids I relied on besides family after that last ER visit in 2003. I was back in therapy.

I went into premature labor that had to be stopped in my second trimester. My doctor deduced it was a result of stress anxiety and set me up with a therapist. I stuck with her until my daughter was a month old. I would go to her and mostly just talk about my feelings. She moved away, and my doctor saw that my psychiatric care continued with both a psychiatrist and a social worker. The psychiatrist prescribed Paxil for a while, and some other pill. I couldn’t deal with either of them. Although I enjoyed the sedation of Benadryl, antidepressants offered sedation that felt more like tunnel vision. I literally felt like I could not see anything in my periphery, and I felt like I was always in the dark and like my ears were clogged. My body felt numb. I guess antidepressants are supposed to numb mental and emotional pain, but for me they numbed my five senses and heightened the intangible discomfort. My doctor didn’t press the issue of the psychiatrist or the meds, but she felt it would be good for me to continue counseling sessions with the social worker.

 

The root of my pain was the lack of control I felt in my life. My social worker knew I would not leave my child’s father and so aside from being a listening ear, she provided coping methods. Chamomile tea and breathing methods are what I used to calm down and bring myself back to reality in an anxious state. Music and frequent me-time kept most of my episodes at bay.

 

When I left my daughter’s father, the likelihood of an anxiety attack decreased significantly. Now, eleven and a half years later, I can probably count on one hand how often they happen. I no longer live in a state of fear. I’ll be honest, the idea of being sick and regurgitating still jolts me, but it’s not an all-day everyday thing anymore. There are still situations when an anxiety attack can creep in, and instead of completely losing my shit I face it. If I’m with people I say, “Hey, I’m having an anxiety attack, I want to sit, I want to go outside. Can I have some water?”

 

Fuck it. I am prone to panic and/or stress anxiety. But it will no longer control my life to the point where I need a Benadryl to walk to the corner store, or I am severely underweight.

 

The only depression I will acknowledge was the Postpartum. So much was happening to me mentally, physically, and emotionally that it made more than enough sense for my body to be completely out of whack, and cause me to literally neglect my own personal needs. For someone like me, anxiety is just a part of life and depression is not an option. I fight hard on the days that look dark. However, now I recognize the darkness only occurs when I feel helpless. In my helplessness I look for solutions. As long as I am working to solve my problems, I cannot be consumed by them.

 

I am not sure that I have ever told this story in full before. But here it is. Here are the rest of the pieces of the puzzle for those who know who Van Moore really is. I present no solutions, only my experiences and the coping mechanisms that worked for me. Still, I hope the story is helpful.

 

 

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Stay Tuned

20 Apr

Thinking as I watch a documentary while I work: I wish I was home. I have so much more to offer. My imagination is the shit, but I also develop pretty good theories and arguments. These are the fruits of a degree in English Literature. Critical thinking is constant. Lately I realized my audience deserves to read what I often have to say in conversation… when I get the chance to have intelligent conversations and debates.

My imagination is full of stories that anyone can tell. But things about me personally offer a twist. My stories are of the Black experience. Not just poverty stricken and crime ridden Blacks stories that make asinine amounts of money in various forms of media. But stories of talented Blacks in love. Coming of age Black stories. Up and coming Black stories. The ups and downs of Black families…

I didn’t grow up broke in a run down neighborhood. But we weren’t rich and you were safe in our neighborhood if you knew how to navigate. My babysitters were Puerto Rican women who spoke mostly Spanish. Friday nights we ate from Greek diners. After school I bought beef patties & cocoa bread for a snack. I played in the pump in the summer or all the boys congregated in my backyard to ball. And there was music every where all the time.

Drugs were present. But the dealers and users still encouraged us to go to school and do better. We were taught that education was the key to becoming free to use our talents.

There are so many different aspects of the Black experience. They are all unique to our environment and make up. On top of that is the influence of the times in which we live. A revival of Black Pride and renaissance, blatant government corruption, cultural appropriation, mass shootings, sexual discrimination and the Me Too movement, access to information and technology, and social media…

All of these things are elements of the Black experience.

Art should not only tell a story, but should present a message or argument. I am full of messages and arguments. But I have only just recently learned how to incorporate these elements into my stories.

I built all this background to say: stay tuned. Love and the Business is not just about Black relationships in entertainment. There is more than meets the eye and there will be more and more as the web of characters grows.

Why Vanessa Moore?

19 Mar

I’m cracking up as I write this…

One of my homegirls, when she realized the books I was advertising were mine said, “Well I don’t know Vanessa Moore. Who is Vanessa Moore?”

She’s ME! Lol.

Y’all wanna laugh? She’s an alter ego. If Beyonce can be Sasha Fierce, why can’t I be Vanessa Moore sometimes? And so many writers have pseudonyms. Vanessa Moore is mine. I’m a Gemini by the way. So my dual personality is actually always present. I love her. If you know me, you know I always do my own thing. I have no problem sticking to my own opinion even when I am even less than the minority in my thinking.

Van Moore, however, is able to play devil’s advocate and not only have opinions, but boldly place herself in the shoes of the undesirables. For that reason, Van does the writing. She can think from villains’ point of view. Some of my characters have done and will do some dumb and/or foul shit. Things I would neeever do. Things I wouldn’t know how to begin to do in the first place.

So I don’t need my real name to be “type cast,” in a sense. Some ideas don’t need to be associated with me. But Van Moore can take it. I’m not hiding behind her. Everybody has a role. Including our alter egos and dual personalities.

Vanessa Moore plays her part and I hope people come to appreciate her the way I have.

Now go on and check out Love and the Business 😉

Somebody Always Mad

16 Feb

Sooo whassup with the folks mad about Black Panther? Why are Black people mad at Black people for being excited about Black people???

Yes, Black Panther is a Marvel Comic. If you thought after ALL the talk and publicity that this was a movie about revolution, slavery, race relations, etc., I’m gonna need you to come out your cave.

No, Black Panther is not the first Black superhero. However… this is the first time this much money and effort has been put into the production of a Black superhero. I am not at all discounting or ignoring Blade, Meteor Man, my boo Luke Cage, or even Blank Man. I am also not discounting other Black superhero characters that were a part of super squads and teams. But, all too often we are portrayed as the token, the add-on, the sidekick. Never the main, the ruler, the Kings and Queens.

Some of y’all don’t know shit about Africa, or African tribes. A lot of y’all still think Africa is a damn country inhabited by naked hunter gatherers in huts. Look at a map. It’s a CONTINENT, with many different countries, and many different types of tribes. Many of us have been cut off from our roots. Why y’all mad at people for reveling in imaginary roots? Why y’all mad at people for identifying with superheroes with naps, coils, curls, locs, twists, and braids?

In the words of Angry Man from Martin, “man sitcho ass down.”

This world is depressing as fuck. There’s a turd in U.S. office referring to other countries as “shithole countries.” Can we live? Shit 🤦🏾‍♀️

You damn right I’m going to see Black Panther, dressed cute and feeling proud. Why the fuck not? I need a lil joy. We all do. I like seeing Blacks as we really are, not as what so many of us have sadly become. And I’m sick of slave movies. How many more ways can I️ be reminded that my last name is that of some French or Brit that owned my family in the West Indies? I’m good on that 🤚🏾.

You mad about Black people being excited about Black people? I feel sorry for you. There are WAY bigger things to be mad about in this suck-ass world. Get laid and get a little joy, please and thanks 🤦🏾‍♀️

The Daily Overwhelming Sense of Dread

2 Aug

I live that life. I am that person. I hate my job. I am deeply unhappy with my employment. I am not overworked and underpaid, because the work takes no brain power. But I am immensely undervalued. And although the work takes no brain power it's insanely disgusting that the person who previously had my position was paid more than me, and she could literally barely read.

So every morning I dress with an overwhelming sense of dread. I arrive every morning with the thought, "man fuck this place."

I feel battered. This is without a doubt employment abuse. It's crazy to walk into some place every day knowing, the minute you leave, your miserable complacent boss is gonna lose his shit. He doesn't even know what the fuck you do all day, he just knows it needs to get done and you're getting it done and your thanks is an occasional free breakfast or lunch on him.

But the rest of my life is like Cheers… everybody knows my name and they're always glad I came.

One foot out door. They just don't know…

If It Ain’t Getting Me Ahead…

7 Jul

So, growing up, by some people’s standards, my siblings and I were somewhat “privileged.” We lived in a house, that my grandmother owned. There was always a decent car parked in the garage. We had a basketball hoop, a vegetable garden in the back, a hafl-ass flower garden in the front. My grandmother was a nurse, my aunt was a beautician, who owned a salon, and my mother stayed home with us, but she did have childcare certification. We ate well. Stayed well-dressed. And on occasion we hit rough times, like living with a broken boiler or bad windows for some years, but we never actually went without.

 

As an adult, I know our lives were simple, but good. The good in my childhood undoubtedly outweighed the bad. We were basically raised to work hard and play harder, and if you have a gift explore it. We were also told on a regular basis, even when we were total entitled little assholes, that we were smart, attractive, and funny, and that if people didn’t want to be around us, that was their problem, and they were missing out.

 

We didn’t make friends easy, especially me because I was quiet. But a lot of the kids we went to school with lived in the projects around the corner, and the fact that we veered off down the block with three bedroom private houses on the way home, didn’t sit right with a lot of people. So sometimes we got picked on. That came to an abrupt halt when some kids followed us home, teasing us, and I decided not to do anything, but let them follow us. They foolishly followed us right into our backyard, where I let my German shepherd/collie off her leash to chase them down the driveway. They had no idea that she wasn’t vicious. She was just big, and happy that we were home, and had brought more kids to play with.

 

Anyway, not long after that, our house became the hangout. See, unlike a playground we could ball in our yard all day without interruption. My family sometimes ordered pizza and shared with the kids, or if there was some extra fried chicken, they’d share. My grandmother was raised in Fort Green projects in Brooklyn when she arrived from the south. She had 5 siblings. So she knew some of these kids running around in our yard might have to battle other siblings for a second piece of chicken, or maybe no one was home to cook in the first place, or maybe they didn’t want to have encounter certain things before entering their home so they stayed late in our yard for a slice of pizza knowing there was dinner on their own tables.

 

There were times I still encountered envious people and I would try to downplay my childhood. Like, yeah I lived in a big house but, our boiler was broken, and our fence was held up by a rope. Then I grew up for real, and my attitude changed. Fuck that shit, my childhood what bomb. Hi-5 to my mother, aunt, and grandmother for giving us everything we needed and wanted. Thank you God for their constant love and encouragement. I will not apologize for the fact that my siblings and I were blessed beyond measure. You mad about it? Tough. Go get your own, nobody is stopping you. My family worked hard, and the last thing I’m gonna do is walk around denying their blood, sweat, and tears. Fuck that.

 

That brings me to what inspired these thoughts. One of my brothers has been involved in one of the weirdest ongoing fake Internet rap wars I have ever witnessed in my life. It’s fake because its not rooted in art, but rooted in real envy and hatred. My brother never did anything to this guy. In fact, they used to create together, but because one day things didn’t go his way, homie has been fire angry ever since. He used to be close friends with my other brother. Okay, okay, lemme be real… he was never a real friend. My brother, lets just call him Pop, short for popular, because he was literally a really popular kid. I was the oldest, Pop was second, and my other brother, who we can call Number Three, was the third. We were close in age, but everybody knew Pop. I don’t think anybody even knew my name then. I was just his sister. I knew his so-called friend was never a real friend. He always displayed a little jealousy in subtle ways, even when they became adults. He always seemed to be determined to sabotage something. Every year he would come up with these elaborate birthday plans to celebrate with Pop since they were the same sign, and every year the plans always fizzled out. The last one I actually witnessed was utter bullshit. Homeboy supposedly made a table reservation at a local club. When I got there I found out, there was no promoter they had spoken to, no manager they had spoken to, no reservation, no deposit… nothing. Dude showed up hours later, after my family secured a table and bottle package. He arrived by train with about five other guys and bought ONE bottle of Hennessy, and the lot of them drank that ONE bottle of liquor.

But back to the fake beef though… so in the process of this beef dude keeps inviting Number Three to two things: fight me or suck my dick. Mind you, homie is in his thirties, and Number Three is still in his late twenties. I am baffled as to why he has time for either event. Like, don’t you have a job? A life? Hobbies? And this is supposedly stemming from a music situation… my nigga go write a song! Not a freestyle. Not a dis record. Go write a got damn song!

 

The shit is super duper uber weird. He’s written a dis record or two about my brothers, and is steadily stalking Number Three on social media. I have never seen anything like this, and I am literally creeped out. Reminds me of that scene in House Party when Full Force is talking about Kid… Lets roll to the video tape:

https://youtu.be/vuorzPBF2-k

It’s literally just like that.

The things he’s been saying and obsessing over reminded me that although Jay Z hit us with 4:44, and in the past few years we’ve had Kendrick Lamar and J Cole spitting deep shit to make us think, be inspired, and uplift us, there are still people out here harboring envy for things they didn’t have in the past. Their jealousy is making them so sick, they obsess over people and situations, as opposed to working towards what they want. Since Black people aren’t too quick to address mental illness, I’m sure nobody is side eyeing homeboy, and asking if he’s okay. And then there’s the spiritual aspect, like are you sick or possessed? But I can’t even get into that, because Jesus’s greatness wasn’t used for our benefit in this country, so he can’t address Black American problems.

 

But nah, dude makes me wanna ask, “my nigga, you aight?” Unfortunately though, he’s just an example. There are way more out there just like him. Do I think we can all come together and sing Kumbaya? No. But I do think Black people could get so much further if they weren’t studying their neighbor 24/7. I just don’t have time to feed into what doesn’t inspire me. If I don’t like you, I won’t know you, or shit about you, simple as that. So I don’t understand Internet stalking, to curse people out. I halfway wanna say to these types, “You’re Black in America, how in the fuck do you have time for this kind of stuff?” We have to be three and four times as good as our white counterparts just to have life’s simple pleasures. How could you possibly make time in your life for anything that’s not nurturing your soul and improving your life?

 

I’m all about progression and moving forward. I know this one vent filled blog is not going to make a huge impact, but if I had access to a bigger platform, that would be my main message. Get tunnel vision when it comes to your progress, Black people. Stop worrying about who had what, and what you didn’t have in the fifth grade. What you’re doing in the moment to better yourself is always what matters most.

 

Peace.

DELETE

6 Apr

No. 

Stop. 

Do NOT hit send. 

I will hit delete. 

Unless… we’ve had a few months of mind blowing sex that I like to reminisce about. 

No but for real. I don’t wanna see your dick. I don’t want anything to do with your dick until it’s totally about to go down. I might think about what it would be like to have sex with you. Who doesn’t when you’re dating or talking? But trust me, I’m not thinking about the details of your penis until I’m faced with the possibility of you using it. 

I realize it’s a little different for men. Y’all are all in. You are not the least bit uncomfortable with nips, cheeks, or camel toes that you might not ever touch. Women aren’t quite like that. Especially me. I hate club-booty-rubs… y’know when I guy is dancing with you and gets a woody and it’s rubbing all over your behind? Omg! That is the most disgusting thing ever! Get your nameless penis away from me! I should never know your length & girth without knowing your name!

Don’t get it twisted. We might talk a little shit. I like to let on how much I like sex, so if the guy is a prude I can dip early.  It’s just me. I’m just sexual like that. But… until it has gone down and I have claimed you as my new Wonder Wood, please do not ever think I want to see your penis at 8 a.m. when I am at my desk typing and researching shit, 1 p.m. when I’m having my lunch, or 8 p.m. when I am indulging in ratchet television. 

Bottom line, we’ll let you know when or if we’d like a dick pic. We will say it. Don’t attempt to read my mind on that one. This is not one of those situations. A dick pic is the worst kind of surprise.