Author Archives: SuzyKnew!

About SuzyKnew!

SuzyKnew! is dedicated to improving the sexual and reproductive health and sexual pleasure of women of color.

ASK JANICE SPECIAL: Obsessive Love Disorder (OLD)

Have you ever heard of Obsessive Love Disorder (OLD)? I wish I could definitively cite where I first read about this. But I can’t. I accidentally stumbled upon this term while researching something else and fell down a rabbit hole. If you want, you can check out psychcentral.com, healthline.com, or any other prominent mental health publication to learn more. What follows is my interpretation of what I learned, so don’t sue me for not citing more specific sources!

First of all, Obsessive Love Disorder (OLD) is not currently classified as a distinct mental health disorder in the DSM-5. Don’t know what the DSM-5 is? Don’t worry – I got you. The DSM-5 is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition, a book by the American Psychiatric Association. So basically, it’s like the psychiatric Bible of mental diseases. It’s the official last word on whether a condition is considered by the professionals as a specific mental health disorder. Back in the day, being LGBTQIA+ was considered a mental health disorder and listed in earlier editions of the DSM. Hence the need for a 5th edition, which is the most current.

Anyway, OLD isn’t a distinct mental disorder, though some mental health professionals think it should be. So stay tuned for later editions of the DSM-5. In the meantime, while it’s not considered an official mental illness, it is a serious condition that can be diagnosed, and often accompanies other mental disorders. More on that in a bit.

When a person has OLD, they become fixated on someone with whom they believe they’re in love. But symptoms of OLD go way beyond the boundaries of healthy relationships. A person with OLD becomes obsessive and controlling to the point where it not only adversely affects their own life, but also the life of the object of their fixation. This person feels an overwhelming need to “protect” and control the object of their obsession and often feels jealous and insecure. They become possessive and can even socially isolate themselves so that they can focus all of their time and attention on the person they believe they love. These feelings can lead to stalking, harassment, abuse, and even murder. Especially when the object of their desire rejects them.

Symptoms vary, of course. However, there are some commonalities among people diagnosed with OLD. Here are a few:

  1. An overwhelming feeling of love and attraction to someone, whether they’re in a relationship with them or not.
  2. A reduced ability to function and live a normal life.
  3. A need to constantly contact the object of their obsession, like sending constant texts, dms, etc.
  4. A total disregard for boundaries, including time, physical space, social life, work, etc. (like showing up to your job).
  5. Extreme insecurity requiring endless reassurance.
  6. Low self-esteem.
  7. Jealousy and an overwhelming need to “protect” and control.
  8. Extreme possessiveness and a need to control who the object of their fixation sees, wears, and engages with; as well as a need to control where and when the subject of their obsession goes and why they do.
  9. An inability to maintain normal relationships.

As I said earlier, people with OLD often have other mental illnesses, the most common of which include Borderline Personality Disorder, Delusional Jealousy, Obsessive Jealousy, Reactive Attachment Disorder, and Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder. I don’t have the time or space here to define all of these for you, but feel free to use context clues to get a general idea of the kinds of mental disorders often accompany OLD. Or Google them like I did.

The most interesting thing to me is that while very rare (it only affects about 0.1% of the population in the US), it affects women more than men, and no one knows why. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve watched too much “You” on Netflix, too many true crime videos, or because of all my research on domestic and intimate partner violence. But I was totally shocked to learn this affects women more than men. Who knew?

Anyway, that’s what Obsessive Love Disorder is all about in a nutshell. Have you ever experienced anything like this in your life? Ever been stalked? Ever done any stalking? Let us know in the comments below. And if you answered yes to either question, help is available!

(No, really. Please seek help if you or someone you know displays any of these symptoms. Please.)

Until next time, stay safe out there!

 

 

Black. Ice. Bodies – by jessica Care moore

Except from We Want Our Bodies Back, by jessica Care moore 2020 pp 83 – 88.

(for Debi Thomas and Alicia Hall Moran, after her show “Breaking Ice: The Battle of the Carmens”)

1.

I was pre med. fresh. Stanford.

I was a refined black girl magic.

I was gold, already.  Ask my mother,

Janice. I was born gold.

With killer smile &

strong beautiful

legs.

I was trying desperately to concentrate

I didn’t feel like I could

I don’t want skating to control my life

You gotta make yourself happy.

Maybe your body will just do it

Maybe you will backflip and land on one skate

Puzzle them by doing something that has

Nothing to do with them, scores

or ice.

How dare you be that unapologetically black. Girl.

?

They   call you a rebel, rebellious.

A trouble maker.

Don’t bring all that honesty to the ice.

Your gotta represent. Pretend those scores are way

Below the mason dixon.

I just want to hear one, “beautiful”

For one brown girl surrounded by all that

frozen, white.

I want to hear one, “beautiful”

From one white commentator.

A gorgeous.

A stunning.

I want my dark lover in the audience to have

a close up, as he admires me and promises

his own gold, if I don’t win.

Now, that’s a love story.

Let’s see it.

Let’s hear it.

How many times have heard this non story

This disappearing this melting of spirit this madness

Oh, yes, that is dark beautiful mother

in the audience. Stage left.

She wants the commentators to applaud Debi’s double

the way they saw the same flawless

double that was a double on Katarina

You see, we must

triple

their doubles

Contort into something unrealistic, unreachable

Stanford. Stay firm. Study Hard. Don’t fall.    Balance.

You can’t be average and brown and girl.

That won’t do.

You must absolutely dominate. Always.

This is not a pretty sport, despite all those pretty dresses.

2.

Ask Mabel Fairbanks.

Scorpion child in 1916 Harlem

Black leather pawn shop skates

Stuffed with cotton.

Turned ponds into city Olympic stadiums

Not allowed inside to skate, not allowed

To practice on public rinks.

Taught in private. She created her own

Ice shows. Coached and taught the next

Ones how to grow & skate alone.

She skated with me

She felt the trauma inside the freedom

The pain with every push away from the edge

CALGARY, CANADA – FEBRUARY 27: Debi Thomas of the USA skates her Long Program of the Women’s Singles event of the Figure Skating competition of the 1988 Winter Olympic Games on February 27, 1988 at the Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Thomas was the bronze medalist in the event. (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)

3.

I’m skating to Carmen. It’s an Opera.

It’s not like we are wearing the

Same prom dress.

Katarina.

Beautiful. Gorgeous. A Natural Beauty.

She was crowned queen before the bow.

They said/I had/a street smart musicality

Is Katarina not from the streets of East Germany?

Does she not have a street smart musicality?

These are not shell toe Adidas. This is not black top.

this is black ice

I didn’t take Carmen to the East German corner.

This was not a breakdance beat down in a Brooklyn

Alley.

This is figure skating.

Go figure.

I should feel pretty

good about myself.

Not proud, not invincible, not bad.

She said “not bad.”

I was just okay?

How many triples equals feeling pretty good.

I am on fire.

I am ready to just be a student again.

Become doctor, an intellectual.

My soundtrack, black excellence.

 

Fertility Friday: Surviving Pregnancy Loss And Miscarriage

This weekend we share Fertility Friday’s podcast on surviving pregnancy loss and miscarriage.

Pregnancy loss is far more common than most of us realize. Nearly 15% of all pregnancies end in loss – that works out to approximately 1 out of 6 pregnancies. The rate of miscarriage also increases with age. By the time we get to our mid 40s, miscarriage rates can reach as high as 50%

Our culture does an incredible poor job of informing women about anything related to our menstrual cycles and fertility. Particularly when it comes to how our fertility changes with age.

We’re told to avoid pregnancy at all costs when we’re in our teens and early 20s, but what should we do in our 30s and early 40s?

Click here for more information and the podcast

ASK JANICE SPECIAL: COME ON, 2023!!

BRING ON 2023!!!

I don’t know about y’all, but I’m so ready for the ball to drop on 2022. I’m super excited about 2023 and can’t wait to get started!

Now, I’ve never been big on New Year resolutions, vision boards, or anything like that.  As a single mom, I was always too exhausted from the frenetic pace of the holidays to really get excited about the New Year.  Plus, my kid’s birthday falls exactly one week before Christmas, which about doubled my holiday stress levels. For more than two decades, by the time the end of the year rolled around, I was running on fumes: financially, physically, and mentally.

This year felt different, though. Medical issues, bad weather, and rising COVID/flu/RSV numbers kept me home and alone for most of the holidays this year. But don’t feel bad for me. I mean, I definitely missed seeing everyone irl (thank God for Zoom). However, I was finally able to some much-needed rest. And so, for the first time in decades, I finally have enough energy and the emotional bandwidth to actually look forward to the New Year.

I still didn’t make any resolutions or create a vision board because I’m just not organized or crafty enough to pull it off by January 1st. But I do love making lists and writing them down, so …

In addition to all the good I plan to manifest for myself in 2023, here’s a short list of my hopes & dreams for all of us in the coming year:

  1. Federally Codified Reproductive Rights: I know, I know. The recent SCOTUS decision on abortion may make this a pipe dream. But I’m actually optimistic about this one. Even though more than 2 dozen states raced to ban abortion with no exceptions since Roe was overturned. You see, dismantling Roe will work against the radical, far right. Because it’s galvanized all those women who’ve been politically “quiet” to finally join our fight. They finally have some skin in the game. So, I’m hopeful for 2023. Or maybe I’m just delusional and still riding high from getting our first Black woman Supreme Court Justice.
  2. A Reduction in Violence Against Women (Especially Black Women): Admittedly, this may be a stretch given that violence is on the rise worldwide. However, the recent guilty verdict in the Tory Lanez case (from when his drunk ass shot Megan Thee Stallion back in 2020) gives me hope. Remember, this verdict comes on the heels of the “Me Too” and “Times Up” movements. And it follows both the Bill Cosby and R. Kelly convictions, which sends a clear message that times really have changed. In the past, powerful men easily got away with violence against women. Just look how long it took to finally convict Cosby and Kelly? So, this recent win for Meg is a win for all of us. And it shows that are we’re moving in the right direction when it comes to holding men accountable for harming women.
  3. Increased Mental Health Awareness and Resources (Especially in the Black Community): As heartbreaking as it is when a celebrity dies by suicide, it at least pushes conversations about mental health into the open. The recent suicide of Stephen “tWitch” Boss, a famous 40-year-old Black man has done just that, and in a major way. Boss was a multi-hyphenate entertainer, loving husband, and devoted father. His suicide reminds us that Black men experience depression, anxiety, and other mental illness, but rarely have the space or freedom to talk about it without stigma. Boss’ death may just be the catalyst to change that going forward. I certainly hope so.
  4. Better Healthcare and Better Health Outcomes for Black women: Healthcare inequality among Black women is rooted in white supremacy. It’s resulted in untold numbers of unnecessary, preventable deaths. You know this. I know this. And thanks to the recent spotlight on this issue, damn near everybody knows this. So, here’s why I’m optimistic going into 2023: we’ve seen our broken healthcare system pivot hard in the face of a global pandemic, during which all of its failings were laid bare for all to see. For example, the pandemic forced the healthcare industry to increase pay for everyone from nurses to EMTs and invest heavily in new equipment and technology. It only stands to reason that grappling with the rampant healthcare inequity among Black people would be a priority going forward, as well, right? Right??

So, there you have it: my short but ambitious list of hopes and dreams for 2023! The cynical among you may consider this list a delusional pile of wishful thinking. But I’m not gon’ let y’all steal my joy. For the first time in years, I believe that we can make real strides in these areas and change lives for the better. After all, something good has to come from the shitstorm of the past few years, right? It’s going to take all of us to pull this off, though. And it won’t be easy. But I’m ready to do my part to make this happen. Will you join me?

HAVE A SAFE AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!

A Sista’s Guide To Celebrating Kwanza

Happy First Day of Kwanza!

Created as a way for African-Americans to celebrate their heritage and reflect on African cultural values, Kwanzaa has seven principles and is celebrated for seven days from December 26 – 31. These principles are Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity) and Imani (faith). Celebrated all over the world, Kwanza is just starting so there is still time to plan how you and your family and friends will take time to observe and benefit from this reflective holiday, even if you’re not an annual adherent. (Like me.)

Here’s how:

  1. Participate in your local Kwanzaa celebration – Many cities have Kwanzaa celebrations. Many of these celebrations take place during the last days of Kwanzaa or on New Year’s Day.  Google the cities around you to find a Kwanzaa celebration to join.
  2. Reach out to a few girlfriends and organize a “salon” to discuss and reflect on Kwanzaa principles. Kwanzaa was started in 1966 during the civil rights’ era. This was also when African countries were becoming independent from colonial rule and Marxism hadn’t been debunked by the fall of the Iron Curtain.  Discuss how Kwanzaa principles can be put into practice in today’s context.  Principles such as unity, self-determination and cooperative economics seem a lot more profound and take on a whole other meaning in the era of Trumpism.  How do friends close to you think we can put such principles in place?
    Happy Kwanzaa 6th Principle (Creativity / Kuumba)
  3. Make do with the candles, time and food you have.  Each year I vow to order a $77 Kinara and red, green and black candles way in advance of Kwanzaa. But, I never do. I also know from experience you just can’t  run out to Target and buy a Kinara or black and green candles.  (Red candles are usually easy to find.) You have to order these things from special sites or Amazon.  Making wonderful African or soul food for 7 days can take time and money you may not have. Not to mention the special mat, unity cup or ears of corn for Kwanzaa ceremonies. Don’t feel like to have to skip out on Kwanzaa because you don’t have all the right accoutrements, time or food. Make do with what you have and celebrate how you can.  Ok – I confess that this has been my approach, and I get a lot out of Kwanzaa even though I’m far from a perfect observer.
  4. Take the principles of Kwanzaa to heart and put them into action on a daily basis, instead of viewing the observance as a seven-day event. Kwanzaa isn’t a religious or political event. But, for many it’s a life style.  Start 2019 by taking the principles of Kwanzaa to heart and living them out on a daily basis. As one young Indianapolis woman explained: “It’s about knowing who you are and what your worth is. No matter what you do for a living, if you don’t have these principles, you will fall short.”

These are just a few of many ideas out there on how to celebrate Kwanzaa. SuzyKnew! hopes you don’t let the holiday slip by without reflecting on a principle or two and determining how you will put them into action.

Joyous Kwanzaa!

Photo courtesy: Blogging Black Miami

This article was originally published December 30, 2018 and has been modified

Black Christmas Movies 2022

 

Ladies, I confess.  I love Christmas movies during the holidays – especially Christmas romance movies. I spend way too much time in front of the Hallmark channel right after I finish my turkey dinner. You have to admit, it is hard to avoid Christmas movies after Thanksgiving.    (But, I do skip the “Christmas in July movies.” Way too extra).

These days there’s more choice outside of BET. Hallmark is getting all DE&I these days and has some nice pieces with non-white characters.  And, I do love the Hallmark channel’s Mahogany movies which feature wholesome black people falling in love.  I am enjoying their Christmas pieces.

Click here and find Mahogany Christmas movies.

Oprah’s Own channel has Black Christmas movies as well.  I was looking around on YouTube and was pleasantly surprised to see someone put together a bunch of Black Christmas movies so we don’t have to have cable or netflix to enjoy.  See below.

Happy Holidays

 

 

ASK JANICE SPECIAL: Grieving During the Holidays

The Holiday Season 2022 has officially started! Happy Holidays, everyone … especially to our readers who may be grieving.

Listen. Everyone experiences grief differently. But grieving the loss of a loved one is especially hard during the holiday season. Try as you might to remain upbeat and festive, you can’t help but notice the empty chair at the table. And it doesn’t really matter if it’s your first holiday without your loved one or your tenth. When that wave of grief hits, it feels like a punch to the chest.

The holiday season is for spending time with family, reminiscing, and making new memories. That’s why we tend feel our grief more acutely at this time. All those strolls down memory lane remind us of the loved ones we’ve lost. And that makes us feel awful, even as we enjoy the company of those loved ones still here.

So, if you’re grieving and your emotions are all over the place these days, you’re not alone. It’s both understandable and totally normal. Don’t feel bad for feeling bad. That’s just how grief works, and you have to go through it to get through it, if you know what I mean.

Here are a few tips for coping with grief during this holiday season (Source: Vitas Health Care).

  1. Set realistic expectations for yourself. Remember things are different this year, so go easy on yourself. Consider not taking on all of the holiday tasks you’re used to and scaling back a bit. Your loved ones will understand if you’re not up to cooking an entire dinner for 20 this year. They’ll also understand if you need help, whether it’s with shopping, cooking, wrapping, or hosting. Let someone else do the heavy lifting this year if you’re not really up to it.
  2. Surround yourself with people who love and support you. You may be tempted to burrow under your covers and isolate yourself until after the New Year but try not to do this. I know it’s hard but communicate with those closest to you and let them know how you feel. Inform them of any changes to your holiday routine so that they’re aware and can adjust. Most importantly, keep those lines of communication open so that your loved ones can love on you and support you through your grief.
  3. Don’t cancel the whole season! I know it’s tempting but don’t cancel everything. It’s ok to avoid some circumstances or events if you’re truly not up to it. But don’t totally isolate yourself. Make some time for solitude but balance it with planned social activities.
  4. Allow yourself to feel “All the Feels”. You’re going to feel joy, sadness, anger, and everything in between, so let yourself feel them. Experiencing joy or laughter during your bereavement doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten your loved one. It means you’re human and still living! Trust me. Your loved one would want you to be happy.
  5. Give back. You can draw a lot of comfort from doing for others. If you’re in a position to do so, making a donation or gift in memory of your loved one is a wonderful way to honor them. After all, doing for others is an instant mood lifter. It doesn’t have to be monetary or material gifts, either. Sometimes, the best gift we can give is the gift of our time. Consider volunteering with a charity like a soup kitchen, or your favorite church charity. Or maybe invite a guest who might otherwise be alone for the holidays to join your family. Giving back gives back in so many ways.
  6. Take care of yourself. Self-care may seem like a cliche these days, but for real. Take care of yourself, Sis. Enjoy that fattening holiday fare with moderation. Try to get in some exercise several times a week, as exercise is a proven antidote to depression. Treat yourself as well as you treat others and indulge in something frivolous just for YOU!

Finally, if you’re really struggling with your grief, please reach out and seek professional help. If you or someone you know is in real crisis, please reach out to the hotline by dialing 988 in the U.S. Help is available.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, EVERYONE!

 

ASK JANICE DVAM SPECIAL: Stop Asking “Why Doesn’t She Just Leave?”

Why doesn’t she just leave?

This five-word question, often asked somewhat in good faith, makes my teeth itch. Sorry, not sorry, but this post is a bit of a rant.

Listen. It was one thing to ask “Why doesn’t she just leave?” years ago, when even talking about intimate partner violence was taboo. Or back before social media blew up with its endless supply of awareness months, keyboard activism, and true crime podcasts. This was long before we had newsfeeds that were jam-packed with horrific stories about violence and murder.  Remember those good ol’ days? It was easier to bury your head in the sand and ignore such topics unless they affected you or your family personally.

But it’s 2022. And unless you’ve been living under a rock, by now you’ve seen, read, or heard countless stories of women dying at the hands of the men they loved, most often after they’ve left (or tried to leave). You already know that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), and have at least a vague knowledge of the stats, like how every 9 seconds a woman somewhere is physically assaulted by their intimate partner. Or that 1 in 4 women (and 1 in 9 men) have been victims of severe physical assault in the United States.

But if you’re still asking why a woman won’t “just leave” her abuser, then either you haven’t been paying attention, or we (activists, survivors, and allies) haven’t done a good enough job of getting the message out there.  So let me make it plain. According to the Domestic Violence Intervention Program, intimate partner violence is the single greatest cause of injury to women!

Wait. There’s more:

  • Only 34% of people (women and men) get medical care for their injuries after a DV/IPV incident.
  • Only 27% of women report their attacks to the police.
  • Domestic violence hotlines get more than 20,000 calls per day.
  • A woman’s risk of dying increases by 500% when a firearm is present.

Not only that, but domestic and intimate partner violence is deadly. And here’s the kicker (and the reason for this rant): the deadliest time for women experiencing DV/IPV is from the moment she plans to leave to up to a year after she does leave! In fact, women are 70 times more likely to be killed in the two weeks after leaving than at any other time during the relationship!

Read that last sentence again.

Now read it one more time.

In 2017, The Huffington Post calculated that the number of women killed by a current or former male partner added up to nearly double the soldier lives lost in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the same 11-year period. More women were killed by intimate partners than soldiers died fighting in two wars, and y’all still wanna ask why she didn’t “just leave”? GTFOHWTBS

While “just leaving” isn’t always feasible, there are ways for a woman to extricate herself from a dangerous relationship with the help of experts and proper planning. Now, I know that sometimes, a woman has to quickly leave when her life is in immediate and imminent danger. But most DV/IPV experts recommend first developing a comprehensive safety plan to leave. This will require stealth, as abusers tend to isolate and monitor their victims’ online activity. That’s why most DV/IPV websites and hotlines have safety features to protect and cloak a user’s searches. The most important thing is that a safety plan be developed with the help of experts and other trusted individuals to ensure the woman can leave, stay free, and live.

Even if she wants to, more often than not, an abused woman can’t just up and leave. Not without a comprehensive safety plan to ensure she survives her escape. Because an abuser is most dangerous when he feels like he’s losing control, and that’s often the case when she tries to or does leave.

You’ve seen the statistics. You know the facts. And hopefully, you understand that the responsibility for the abuse lies solely with the abuser. So instead of asking her “why don’t you just leave”? Ask him “why does the abuse keep happening?”

Ok. Rant over.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. If you or someone you know is experience intimate partner abuse, help is available. You don’t have to do this alone. Please reach out to the experts who can offer you confidential counsel, resources, and assistance, regardless of your situation. The best place to start is the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or Text START to 88788. 

Be safe and take care

#DVAM2022 #DVAM #DV/IPV #domesticviolencekills #enddomesticviolencenow

Fertility Friday: Healing From Painful Sex And Bladder Leakage

 

Good evening, Ladies! This evening SuzyKnew! is sharing Fertility Friday’s latest podcast on healing from painful sex and bladder leakage.

So many women experience bladder leakage that you may already have the impression that it’s a normal part of life.

Experiencing bladder leakage when coughing, sneezing, or working out — though common — shouldn’t be considered normal!

If you haven’t personally experience bladder leakage, you’ve probably heard the “jokes” about it? Like, “I laughed so hard I peed a little.” Not sure if this joke is actually funny, but loss of bladder control is one of the signs of pelvic floor dysfunction.

Your pelvic floor are a group of muscles and connective tissues that support a variety of organs in your pelvis including your bladder, bowels, and uterus. Your pelvic floor muscles hold these organs in place while also facilitating key functions like urination, bowel movements, sexual function and more.

Pelvic floor dysfunction is a general term for a host of symptoms related to pelvic floor health that can affect the bladder, bowel, uterus, vagina, or a combination of these.

In addition to bladder leakage, symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction include various bladder and bowel issues, pelvic pain, painful sex, and pelvic organ prolapse.

An estimated 25% of women have some form of pelvic floor disorder. And at least 1 in 10 women will develop symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction severe enough to warrant surgery during her lifetime.

Given how common pelvic floor dysfunction is, it’s terrifying how little most of us know about pelvic floor physiotherapy to improve symptoms.

Lifestyle factors play a role in the development of pelvic floor dysfunction, such as pregnancy and childbirth, advancing age, obesity, menopause, and medical conditions including diabetes, depression, constipation, and urinary tract infections (UTIs).

The good news is that many women experience an improvement or complete resolution of symptoms through pelvic floor physical therapy.

This issue is definitely on Fertility Friday Lisa Hendrickson-Jack’s radar at the moment, having just gone through pregnancy and childbirth with baby #3.  Lisa had a few questions and concerns after delivery and fortunately her pelvic floor PT pointed her in the right direction, giving her various exercises to strengthen her pelvic floor as her  body heals from pregnancy and birth.

Click here for Fertility Friday’s podcast with Dr. Melissa Thompson to learn more about recovering from pelvic floor dysfunction.