Camille is a lover of all things skin, curls, music, justice, and wanderlust; oceans and islands are her thing. Her words inspire and her power is her voice. A California native with Trinidadian roots, she has penned personal essays, interviews, and lifestyle pieces for POPSUGAR, FEMI magazine, and SelfishBabe. Camille is currently creating a life she loves through words, self-love, fitness, travel, and empowerment. You can follow her on Instagram @cam_just_living or @written_by_cam.
I used to be a child that sought constant acceptance, approval, and validation from my mother. I longed for the mother-daughter relationships that I saw on TV, in movies, or that my girlfriends had with their mothers. I would be triggered watching mother-daughter Lifetime movie scenes. Warm tears slowly rolled down my face as I watch rehearsed scenes of what a mother-daughter relationship should look like.
As a child, I remember feeling like I was not worthy of my mother’s love. I remember feeling jealous of the love my mother would show to my twin brother and cousins. But when it came to me, my mother seemed to treat me differently. Every difference of opinion seemed to create distance. Every conversation turned into an argument. And I could never understand why.
From the time I was in middle school or either high school, I looked for motherly love in other women – my older cousins, aunts, godmother, my girlfriends’ mothers, and colleagues. At one point, physical distance made our relationship more amicable. But as I started to undo conditioned beliefs, become my authentic self, and heal my inner child, my relationship with my mother went from strained to completely estranged over the years. Believe me — I have tried to fix things with my mother. The pain just lingers. This is never what I had wanted. And I still don’t want it to be this way. I mean, what daughter would want that?
It took time and therapy, but I had to protect my energy and make peace with my reality. I love my mom as any daughter would. My mother is the reason I stand on my feet and not on my knees. I am more than grateful for my mother and everything she sacrificed for me. Because of my mother, I present and carry myself well. Extremely well. I am strong, independent, respectful, confident, responsible, educated, eloquent, well-dressed, successful, compassionate, well-rounded, graceful, disciplined, and hard-working. She raised one hell of a woman.
The relationship we have with our mothers is seen as one of the most important relationships in our lives. It is this type of relationship that dictates your interactions with other people. It is said what happens in your childhood shows up in platonic and romantic relationships. It’s true. Most of the time, mother-daughter relationships are portrayed as healthy, secure, loving relationships. Women often say, “My mother is my best friend.” However, this isn’t true for some women. As women have become more transparent about generational trauma, it’s definitely not true. What is true is that more and more women are sharing their experiences with having a toxic mother.
And I think it’s time we elevate the conversation about toxic mothers. It was within the last year or two I learned that the psychological term for an unhealthy relationship with our mothers is called the "mother wound." Thanks to theInstagram page @motherwoundproject, women like me have a resource to understand, validate, and cope with our own mother wounds. Let’s take a closer look at what the mother wound is, the signs of the mother wound, and how to find healing.
What Is the Mother Wound?
According to Stephi Wagner, the founder of the Mother Wound Project, themother wound is all the pain we carry from our relationship or lack of relationship with our mothers. It is thegenerational pain and a intergenerational complex trauma inherited and passed down between grandmothers, mothers, and daughters. The mother wound usually affects women of color, women from immigrant families, or women living in poverty. This pain can stem from childhood, adolescence, or adulthood.
It is important to note that the mother wound is not gender specific – both men and women can have mother wounds. However, it is more common in mother-daughter relationships. The mother wound can also be described as a loss or lack of mothering. For example, your mother may have been able to provide physical needs but could not provide for your emotional needs. Causes for the mother wound can range from neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse, financial abuse, and/or sexual abuse.
The Signs of Having the Mother Wound
Every mother's wound is different and is experienced differently. It can cause emotional and mental damage. For me, my mother wound showed up as wanting my mother’s approval, trying to please my mother with my academic accomplishments, shaming my body, thinking my mother didn’t love me, conflict avoidance, and having weak boundaries.
According toPsychology Today, signs of the mother wound can look like this:
"Never feeling they had their mother's approval or acceptance;
"Concerns about not being loved by their mother or not being loved as much as other siblings or family members;
"Difficulties in relating to the mother on an emotional level;
"Feelings of having to protect, care for, or shelter your mother rather than her protecting, caring for, and sheltering you."
And according to theMother Wound Project, other signs of the mother wound may be described as the following:
"You feel responsible for the feelings and happiness of others;
"You have a history of unfulfilling, difficult, or even abusive relationships;
"You are either afraid of conflict and find yourself avoiding it at all costs, OR You find yourself seeking out conflict for the wrong reasons;
"You believe deep down that you are 'unlovable' or 'hard to love';
"You have a hard time saying no, setting boundaries, or asserting yourself, especially when others may be disappointed or upset;
"You care too much about the judgments and opinions of others."
These negative feelings lead to reduced self-esteem in your childhood and as an adult. Ultimately, one can end up having codependency issues in their adult relationships or struggle with an attachment disorder.
Healing From the Mother Wound
For the longest time, I thought I was the only one who had a difficult relationship with their mother. By speaking my truth, I found that three of my close friends also do not have healthy relationships with their mothers. And honestly, there was so much comfort and healing in knowing I had a friend that could relate to my experiences. It’s not easy to talk about the pain of not having a relationship with your mom. You are often envious or feel a way knowing that your friends have what you desire. The type of mother-daughter relationship filled with open communication, transparency, love, affection, and friendship.
Most of the time, friends like this don’t understand or can’t relate. They say things like, “I can’t imagine not speaking with my mom,” “You only have one mom,” or “It’s still your mom.” And to someone who struggles with not having their mom in their life - it’s probably the worst thing you could ever say simply because that is not our truth.
An article byMindbodygreen states that in order to heal from a mother wound we must learn to re-mother ourselves and set boundaries around the relationship with our mothers. We have to create a new relationship with ourselves and learn to meet our own emotional, physical, and practical needs. This means acknowledging our pain and grieving that pain with our inner child. It is recommended to work with a therapist to process those feelings.
I first addressed my mother wound in talk therapy and journaling. I also worked through my pain in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), a past life regression (hypnosis), and equine-assisted therapy (horse therapy). The memories and feelings I had to unpack were uncomfortable but necessary for me to heal. I had to come to the understanding that the women before me didn’t know any better and were doing what they thought was right. By acknowledging this, I was able to change my reaction and/or responses, show compassion, and forgive my mother.
Please note that the mother wound is not a clinical or medical diagnosis. The mother wound just cuts deep. It is something that many women struggle to heal from. And if you are trying to heal from the pain of having a difficult mother-daughter relationship, I want you to know you’re not alone. It’s going to take some time.
And it’s going to take remembering things you don’t want to remember. You’ll unpack a whole lot of feelings. There’s going to be some ugly crying too, but the pain will soften. You will still have your moments and internal battles, but you will find acceptance, comfort, and peace. I have found that women have the natural ability to connect through our pain and heal each other just by sharing our truths.
So, if you think you are suffering from a mother wound or have a broken relationship with your mother, you can and will find healing.
I did and I am still healing.
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I usually pride myself on being a healthy person. I consistently eat the right foods, stay hydrated, and work out four times a week. It wasn't until this year that I realized I may not be as healthy as I thought. I was devastated and I still am. For me, the key symptom was my inability to lose weight. This went on for eight months and continues to go on.
No matter how much I kept a clean diet, burned calories, and tracked my macros, the weight would not move. It seemed so simple – eat right, do cardio, and lift weights. At least, that's what we're told. It's what we read and see on our social media feeds. My personal trainer was patient yet frustrated. And I was even more frustrated and had no patience. Nothing he did, or I did was working.
For months there was no progress or results. I could not understand it. I thought to myself, You can’t tell me I’m going to be stuck weighing 180 pounds for the rest of my life, it makes no sense. Something is wrong with my body.
In February 2022, my primary care physician referred me to an endocrinologist. It was then I learned about the role of hormones in our bodies. Of course, I know about reproductive hormones at a basic level. At my big age of 37, you would think I would understand that other hormones regulate our entire body. But I didn't know until I did.
After extensive blood work, the results showed I was insulin resistant and diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. Now, what does this mean? It means that the cells in my muscles, fat, and liver don't respond well to insulin and can't use the glucose from my blood as energy. Therefore, I store fat instead of burning fat. As a result, my body overproduces the insulin hormone.
What I understood was that I'm metabolically messed up. I now have what is known as a hormonal imbalance.
Since I learned of my diagnosis, I started doing all the things to begin to heal myself. When I learned I had uterine fibroids, I changed my diet. I reduced the intensity of my workouts. But because I have fibroids coupled with a hormonal imbalance - this still wasn’t enough. My body was completely unresponsive. I desperately scrolled the 'gram trying to learn more about hormones and what I could do to balance my hormones.
I started following every single hormone coach and functional doctor I came across. A friend of mine slid into my DMs and sent me the profile of Dr. Jolene Brighten. Dr. Brighten is a board-certified naturopathic endocrinologist, clinical sexologist, and leader in women's medicine. She is known for educating women on hormones through a variety of resources and uncovering the root causes of hormonal imbalances in women.
Let’s take a closer look at what a hormonal imbalance is, the symptoms, the types of hormonal imbalances, and how to balance your hormones through natural practices.
What Is a Hormonal Imbalance?
Did you know our body produces over 50 different hormones that contribute to how our body functions? I did not. A hormonal imbalance occurs when the body has too much or too little of one or more hormones. When this happens, it can lead to different medical conditions.
According to Dr. Brighten, "Many women experience hormonal imbalances that manifest in menstrual cycle issues. Irregular periods, for example, can be due to elevated testosterone, which is common among women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Hypothyroidism, when there is too little thyroid hormone, can result in heavy periods, long cycles, irregular periods, and failure to ovulate. PMS, heavy periods, and breast tenderness can be due to lower levels of progesterone, which creates a state in which the tissues can be stimulated by estrogen."
Symptoms of hormonal imbalances vary. An article by the Cleveland Clinic states that if a hormonal imbalance affects your metabolism, you might experience fatigue, constipation, diarrhea, depression, anxiety, dry skin and hair, high cholesterol levels, unexplained weight gain or weight loss, skin tags, and extreme thirst.
Sex hormone imbalance symptoms include acne, hair loss, heavy periods, excess body hair, hot flashes, infertility, irregular periods, loss of interest in sex, and vaginal dryness.
How to Diagnose a Hormonal Imbalance
Hormonal imbalances are discovered by testing specific hormones and other markers through a series of blood tests. I lost count of how many times I drew blood from my veins this year. For me getting a proper diagnosis seemed like the most discouraging thing. My doctors were not listening to me. I was told, "Your lab results are perfect. You are healthy," except I wasn't. And I knew it. I mean if I was, my body would not be fighting my efforts to lose weight."
In addition to unexplained weight loss or weight gain, symptoms of a hormonal imbalance can include tachycardia (or a slow or rapid heartbeat), constipation, fatigue, anxiety, depression, high levels of blood cholesterol, and even diarrhea. If you are experiencing these symptoms, Dr. Brighten advises seeing a "primary care physician, gynecologist, or naturopathic physician who can help you in troubleshooting hormonal symptoms. If they are significant, that may warrant a referral to an endocrinologist."
It Starts With Your Diet
The saying "you are what you eat" is true. Foods play a vital role in our health. What we put into our bodies ultimately dictates how our body functions. I personally have eliminated the foods that cause inflammation and may make my symptoms worse. In Dr. Brighten's book, Is This Normal, she mentions that, "Women should include nutrient-dense foods that provide us protein, fat, and fiber at each meal. This trifecta helps stabilize blood sugar, while also keeping us full and our bowels regular. Because many women experience menstrual cramps, I often recommend focusing on increasing omega-3 fatty acids in the diet, while decreasing omega-6, the latter can make cramps worse."
Some foods that women with hormonal imbalances are encouraged to avoid are caffeine, sugar, alcohol, red meat, soy, dairy, processed foods, gluten, fried foods, and white carbs (potatoes, pastries, white rice, or white bread). These foods may cause inflammation and worsen current symptoms. When I removed these foods from my diet, there was such a big difference in my skin, energy, and my period. Not to mention, my fibroids have not grown any bigger either.
Prioritize Lifestyle Changes
When it comes to lifestyle changes, we automatically think of food and exercise alone. While nutrition and movement are daily essentials, we often neglect the role sleep, stress, mental health, and other environmental factors play in our health in general. It really is a holistic practice to heal the body, let alone hormones. Women must consider every aspect of their bodies and health. I had to and I do daily. I’m in bed by 9 p.m. and my phone is on do not disturb.
"Making quality sleep and stress management a priority is a must," Dr. Brighten emphasizes. "Both of these issues can create problems for our hormone and metabolic system that makes it very difficult to maintain optimal hormone levels."
Did you know certain household products or home goods can contribute to your hormonal imbalance? One example is candles – they contain phthalates (usually found in scented candles) which are endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals, or endocrine disruptors, mimic the body's hormones and can therefore interfere with the body's hormonal functions. While there has been some opposition to whether or not scented candles are truly harmful to you, Dr. Brighten says "removing endocrine-disrupting chemicals from your personal care products, cleaning supplies, and kitchen can have a tremendous impact on hormonal health."
For me, this meant switching to glass food containers, non-toxic cookware, clean beauty products, and a metal water bottle because plastics have synthetic estrogen in them.
Supplements Are Your Best Friend for Balancing Hormones
As a woman in her late 30s, I have learned vitamins are key. Vitamins help support the body and provide the nutrients I may not get enough of daily. I have a whole kitchen shelf dedicated to vitamins and supplements which I take daily. Multivitamins, vitamin C, fish oil, and biotin. Supplements to support your hormonal imbalance are dependent on the type of hormonal imbalance. Dr. Brighten believes "including supplements in a routine that is focused on nutrition and lifestyle changes can really move the needle with regards to your hormone goals."
She adds, "For estrogen issues, I often recommend DIM, sulforaphane, and Calcium D-Glucarate. When progesterone is the problem (which is common), I like to use Vitex and vitamin B6. Clinically, I've seen a lot of patients benefit from these, which is why we included them in our Balance Women’s Hormone Support formulation."
Healing a Hormonal Imbalance Naturally
Every woman and every hormonal imbalance is different. You have to be intentional and make a conscious effort to want to heal, which is what I am learning about myself. And while most struggle with making such a dramatic change to their life, for me it came with ease. I love a good time, but I value my health more. I jokingly tell my friends it all starts in your thirties. I swear. I don’t want to be on medication ever or have surgery for anything.
I had to learn acceptance. I had to accept my body was not functioning how it should, even though I looked healthy.
The lab results revealed the truth. And I know I’m one of many women that have a hormonal imbalance. It’s a common thing. But for me, it was a big deal and was a hard pill to swallow when you keep being told you’re healthy. I also had to accept that hormonal imbalances do not go away overnight. It takes time to get your hormones back at the right levels and stay there. Our hormone levels are constantly changing.
When asked how often women should test their hormones and how long it takes to correct a hormonal imbalance, Dr. Brighten states that "it really depends on what is going on. For example, with hypothyroidism that is treated with medication, we often retest 6-8 weeks following dosage changes. Once the thyroid levels are stabilized, we may only follow up every 6-12 months or if symptoms arise. My approach to testing is very individualized, as are most providers."
Maria Korneeva/Getty Images
If you think something in your body is off, don’t ignore the signs. It’s probably your hormones. The slightest symptom could be a sign of something more serious.
If you've been struggling with a hormonal imbalance, there is hope. Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before. Any healing journey begins with forgiveness of self. I had to do this very thing.
Hormonal health is trending. And in 2022, women are taking control of their health by being their own advocates with the help of doctors like Dr. Jolene Brighten.
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I was never a coffee drinker. My body simply cannot handle the caffeine crash three to four hours later. However, I do love tea, especially black tea with flavored coffee creamer or milk. I usually go for a spicy chai, English breakfast, or Irish breakfast tea. That changed recently when I discovered I have uterine fibroids and a hormonal imbalance. Like most women who love a good cup of coffee or black tea to get them through the day, the main ingredient found in our favorite morning drinks isn’t always good for us.
Yes, I am talking about caffeine. I have learned caffeine feeds the growth of fibroids and doesn’t help balance your hormones. I was never the biggest fan of herbal teas, but I had to make the switch for my health. And I am still exploring the type of herbal teas I enjoy. Nowadays, I start my mornings with peppermint, turmeric, ginger root, or chamomile tea. The thing about herbal teas is that they are naturally healing to the body. And dandelion tea is one of those herbal teas that can do wonders for your body.
What Is Dandelion Tea?
If you've never heard of dandelion tea, you’re not the only one. As someone who is new to finding holistic ways to heal my body, I am still learning the basics. Yes, dandelion is a common weed and/or flower that grows in one’s yard, but dandelion has also been used for culinary and medicinal purposes for centuries. Dandelion tea is made from the dandelion root along with the stem, and leaves. It is also considered an ancient herbal medicine. Dandelion tea is also a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, and zinc. But most people drink dandelion tea as a coffee substitute due to its smoky flavor and dark coloring minus the caffeine.
How To Make Dandelion Tea
The easiest way to make dandelion tea is to buy store-bought tea bags and steep them in hot water. But, if you’re old school, you can pick dandelions from your yard (as long as there are no herbicides, pesticides, or animal feces). Rinse the leaves and/or flowers. Place six leaves and/or flowers in a mug, add hot water, and seep for 10 to 20 minutes. Be sure to remove the leaves when you’re ready to drink.
If you use the root of the dandelion, you want to chop the root into small pieces and roast it for two hours. Place 1 to 2 teaspoons in a mug of hot water and steep for 10 minutes. Any remaining leaves or roots can be stored in an airtight container.
Benefits of Dandelion Tea
Around the world, dandelion tea is a common home remedy for urinary tract infections, inflammation, detoxing the body, and the common cold. Here are a few ways that dandelion naturally heals the body.
If you struggle with feeling bloated, dandelion tea acts as a natural diuretic and increases urine output. The high potassium levels found in dandelion flush out sodium from the body. Studies show increased urine output after one cup of dandelion tea made from the plant’s leaves.
Lowers Blood Sugar
Blood sugar has been trending in health and wellness on the gram, and people with diabetes can benefit from dandelion tea. The healing power of dandelions can help moderate blood sugar and improve insulin resistance. This is due to the phytonutrients found in the dandelion plant as it stimulates insulin sensitivity.
Detoxes The Liver
Did you know our bodies are full of toxins? These toxins come from the types of foods we eat. This is why it’s important to eat whole foods and reduce processed foods. Drinking dandelion tea can help the body remove toxins from our body systems. Dandelion helps the liver filter out harmful chemicals from the foods we eat and reduce markers of liver damage.
Improves Skin Health
Flower extracts and other plants are common ingredients in skin care products due to their ability to soothe and heal the skin. When it comes to skin care, dandelion is the ultimate skin glow-up. It protects the skin from sun damage, signs of aging, acne, and reduces inflammation. It has also been said that dandelion can increase collagen production and hydrate your skin.
Promotes Gut Health
According to prevention.com, dandelion makes it easier for the body to receive the nutrients it needs. Dandelion tea soothes the stomach lining, allowing our gut to absorb more minerals. It also increases our body’s natural probiotic properties as it enhances a beneficial bacteria called lactobacillus. And gut health is key in regulating other systems of the body.
Supports The Immune System
Since dandelion is high in vitamin C, it helps the body with healthy cell growth and cellular health in general. The antioxidants found in dandelion protect our cells from free radicals which can lead to health conditions such as heart disease and cancer. Overall, the nutrients found in dandelions strengthen the immune system to fight against common colds and cases of flu all year long.
Whether you are looking to reduce your coffee intake or heal your body, dandelion tea has infinite healing benefits for the ultimate health glow-up.
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Health and wellness have always been trending topics on social media. Our social media feeds are oversaturated with resources for balancing our hormones, improving our reproductive health, and prioritizing our mental health. Even the concept of spirituality has become a wellness trend. We focus on questions like, "What does it mean to be spiritually healthy?" But for the purpose of this article, let's focus on gut health.
Gut health has been a highlighted conversation in the wellness industry. More and more people are recognizing how our gut health plays a role and affects our bodily systems. I myself, also have become more aware of how to heal my gut with food and probiotics. And thanks to TikTok’s newest wellness trend,internal showers, we now have the latest at-home remedy to make “going number two” a whole lot easier.
What Is an Internal Shower?
The concept of an internal shower is a holistic approach that many TikTok users have been swearing by to help alleviate constipation. And how do you make one? An internal shower is a concoction of two tablespoons of chia seeds, the juice of half of a lemon, and a cup of water which is consumed and said to help relieve constipation and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). But the key is the mixture has to sit for ten minutes to turn into a gel-like substance prior to consumption for it to work. So, what happens next? You let your body do its thing and be prepared.
Where Did It Come From and How Does It Work?
It has been said that board-certified chiropractor and celebrity nutritionist Dr. Daryl Gioffre is named the creator of the internal shower drink. He promotes it as a “constipation reliever shot” that has helped him with his owndigestive and gut health issues. OneTikTok user, (@_mimzilla) has said the origin of the drink isn’t a trend, it's an ancient Aztec and Mayan tradition known as “agua de chia” (chia water). According toCosmopolitan, the link between chia seeds and constipation is that fiber is needed to bulk out the stool, and water helps soften it. Now you know why they say drinking a lot of water helps you go to the bathroom. As long as there is enough water and fiber in your system, it is easier to pass bowels with less pain and constipation.
Is Drinking the Internal Shower Drink Good for You?
The short answer is yes and the long answer is no.Chia seeds are considered a superfood packed with protein and antioxidants. Chia seeds also contain about half the daily fiber our body needs (25 grams per day). So, two tablespoons of chia seeds is an adequate amount of fiber to meet your daily intake. But while we are told our bodies need fiber, too much fiber can cause abdominal pain, bloating, cramping, and gas. If we consume more than the daily amount of fiber required, it can lead to diarrhea or constipation.
The internal shower drink is generally safe but not recommended to be a part of one’s daily routine. I was once told by a gastroenterologist that we should be having bowel movements at least three times a week and anything over that is excessive. You have to listen to your body, what is normal for someone else, may not be normal for your body. It is highly recommended by most doctors, nutritionists, registered dietitians, and wellness practitioners to eat a regular balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, and high-fiber foods like oatmeal, whole grain bread, or avocado.
With over 150 million views on TikTok, the internal shower has become a popular wellness trend to try. I am not sure if I would try the internal shower drink. The issue with health and wellness trends is that they are quick fixes and oftentimes can be addictive. It is not always sustainable and can cause more damage than good. And sometimes the damage done to the body can take several months or years to reverse or repair. To be honest, I am going through this right now, and healing the body is a very slow yet frustrating process. But nonetheless, natural home remedies do work and can be incorporated into your daily routine depending on what they are.
Now that you know what TikTok users have been raving about, would you try an internal shower?
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I don’t know about you, but the natural scent of a man just does something to me. Ladies, you know what I mean too. But what if your natural scent can make a man more attracted to you or get the attention of that one person you’ve been secretly crushing on? And when I say your natural scent, I am talking about the natural scent of your vagina. According to the latest TikTok trend, there is some type of truth to this and it's called vabbing. A mix between the word "vagina" and "dabbing," influencer and fashion writer Mandy Lee’s (@oldloserinbrooklyn) video about vabbing has gone viral with over 1.5 million views. TikTok users are swearing that vabbing is working for their dating life too.
Let’s explore what exactly vabbing is and what it means for women, sex appeal, and feeling more confident.
What Is Vabbing?
So, the idea of vabbing is inserting clean fingers into your clean vagina and dabbing your vaginal fluids onto your pressure points (wrists, neck, and behind the ears), and using it as perfume. According to Healthline, our vag fluids contain pheromones and its smell is our “sexual scent of attraction.” Who knew? Now, vabbing isn’t as “new” as we think it is. In 2019, sexologist, intimacy expert, and author Shan Boodram shares that she has been vabbing for more than 15 years! She actually put the polarizing concept on the map in her 2019 book, The Game of Desire.
In a YouTube video, Boodram broke down the origin of the word pheromones and its meaning. She explained that by transferring your pheromones you’re transferring your excitement which makes people drawn to your raw human scent.
Does Vabbing Actually Work?
Unfortunately, biology and science say that vabbing doesn’t work. Here’s the thing, pheromones have a role in mating behavior as studies show with animals. According to medical experts, there isn’t enough research to support how pheromones affect human mating behavior. Gynecologists also say vabbing is safe and it does not pose a health risk. With that said, it's important to be aware of your sexual status when it comes to sharing your bodily fluids. Let’s not forget that STIs still exist.
However, there are others who believe vabbing is absolutely absurd. According to ABC network, Professor Mark Elgar says when it comes to attracting a significant other that, “It could be how you look, it could be how you speak, the frequency, your voice that seems to have the influence.” He also states, “If you’re going to look at it from a biological perspective. You don’t need to do any of this stuff. It’s the boys that should be dancing in front of you, telling you how great they are.”
It's Giving Confidence and Sex Appeal
If it’s one thing that women are doing more of in 2022, it’s becoming empowered, building their confidence, and having sex appeal. So, why wouldn’t we vab? It seems that vabbing is more of a state of mind than just a physical act to get a reaction or stimulate the desired response. Shan Boodram further explains that vabbing for her is like a secret weapon. It is her reminder that her vagina is intoxicating AF. In an article by The Cut, Boodram states when it comes to vabbing, “It's not necessary and the fun is when it's something you do because you believe it will make you feel confident.”
In a recent Reel posted to Instagram, Boodram shares, "For me, it's feeling like I have a secret weapon and also it's me claiming the truth that the smell of my vulva/vagina is intoxicating, NOT toxic, which I believe we get the reverse message in society. And whether it's placebo or something legitimate, there have been occasions where I've noticed very different reactions from people when I've 'vabbed' versus when I have not."
Personally speaking, I have yet to try vabbing. But for the ladies looking to feel empowered and explore more of their sexual side, I wouldn’t disagree that vabbing would be one easy way to start. I mean, not every woman is comfortable sticking their fingers in their lady parts, let alone masturbating. Science says one thing, but I would argue that psychology says another when it comes to vabbing. It’s internal. You know what they say, our thoughts become our reality. Confidence and sex appeal are all about what makes you feel comfortable, turns you on, turns your partner on, and makes you feel good.
So, ladies are we vabbing, or nah?
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Early last year, I visited a girlfriend that I have known for quite some time. For the purpose of anonymity, we will call her "L." At the time we met, I was a legal assistant studying for my master’s degree and she was attending law school. “L” and I both graduated from our respective schools around the same time. She started her career as an insurance defense lawyer and I was so happy for her. But “L'"s journey to becoming a lawyer wasn’t an easy one. Like most law school graduates, passing the bar exam is one of the biggest challenges.
One summer morning, “L” texted me and said, “Hey Cam, I just wanted to let you know I didn’t pass the bar.” I replied, “It’s OK. You’ll pass on the next try.” And she did pass on her third try. Coming from similar Caribbean backgrounds, I know the pressure of meeting expectations, being an overachiever, and being placed on a pedestal. I understood because at one point in my life I had wanted to be a lawyer too.
That afternoon we met for lunch. Our conversations are always filled with transparency, love, charisma, and laughter. This particular afternoon, there came a point in the conversation where “L” wholeheartedly revealed to me her daily struggles with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). And I wanted to know more. It was the first time I heard of a woman with ADHD. Let alone a Black woman.
“L” had hidden her struggle so well. I had no idea how it affected her life.
As a friend, I thought, what could I have done to help or be more supportive. The saying is true – you never know what someone is going through. And today, I am proud of how “L” prioritized herself, took control of her life, and not be defeated by her condition.
Oftentimes, the diagnosis of ADHD in Black women is misdiagnosed and overlooked. According to The Washington Post, “Black girls with ADHD often remain undiagnosed because their symptoms are mischaracterized. Signs of inattentiveness or impulsivity, the two main features of the disorder, could be mistaken for laziness or defiance. And the longer these girls aren’t diagnosed and treated, the more their problems are likely to worsen as they grow into adults.” The article also states that ADHD in girls leads to increased rates of anxiety, depression, drug use, and self-harm.
From a cultural perspective, it is even harder for Black parents to accept that their child has a learning disability with having to protect their child from gender and racial biases not only in the classroom but in life too. In a review of published U.S. studies that included 155,000 Black children, the CDC (Center For Disease Control) found 14.5% of African-Americans had ADHD. This statistic is much higher compared to the estimated 9.4% of all children in the U.S.
In an article byVerywell Mind, the most common symptoms of ADHD in women are paper clutter, overspending, disorganization, indecision, problems listening, and difficulty focusing. Treatment for ADHD includes prescribed medication and/or behavioral therapy. Drugs like Ritalin or Adderall are commonly used to help ADHD patients stay focused and control their behavior. But it doesn’t come without side effects. Some downfalls of ADHD medication are trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, high blood pressure, weight loss, moodiness, and headaches.
There is hope to manage ADHD. Celebrities such as Solange Knowles or SZA have struggled and are successfully navigating life with ADHD. Even Simone Biles has publicly discussed her own battle with ADHD while balancing a demanding career as a professional athlete.
Here is what it is like for “L," a young Black woman, to live with ADHD, balance a demanding career as a lawyer, and succeed in everyday life.
How old were you when you were diagnosed with ADHD?
I was officially diagnosed at about 15 years old. It went undiagnosed due to prior trauma. However, my parents had me in therapy here and there when they could afford it. I was always a hyperactive child who would always get in trouble because I couldn't sit still or keep my mouth shut. I got a lot of "feedback" for being random in my actions and through my words.
What were some of the signs that you were struggling with ADHD and how did it make you feel?
The obvious sign for me was the fact that I was behind in my academics and kids used to always refer to me as "crazy" because of how random I was. I could not focus like my peers. I was always in and out of therapy for other reasons. It was always suggested I should be on medication. I didn't even know what ADHD was until I was about 16 years old as my parents did not believe in medication or this new-age diagnosis.
My parents had me in every tutoring program imaginable in order for me to keep up with my fellow classmates. I got my ears and eyes tested before I went to a psychiatrist to get a test for ADHD.
Ritalin or Adderall is usually prescribed for many ADHD patients. Is prescribed medication something you have used to treat your ADHD? If not, what are some natural remedies you have tried?
Yes, I've tried Ritalin (when I was a teenager) and as I got older, I graduated to Adderall, as well as Concerta. I've also tried hypnotherapy and talk therapy. The thing about prescription medicine they won't tell you is that it works, but you have to gradually increase the dosage as your body becomes used to it. I would sometimes come off the medication because I hate being dependent on a drug to function. I would feel really depressed and tired.
How did you get through law school and what were some of the challenges?
By the grace of God and really great friends. I had to learn early on in life to make friends with people smarter than me in order to stay motivated and just to keep up. I would also cycle on and off medication in law school in order to cope. I went a semester without any prescription drugs, just to see if I could do it on my own. Yes, I could do it on my own, but it was very difficult. I had constant anxiety, could not sleep, mild depression, and spiraled.
Now that you are a career lawyer, what are some challenges you face at work?
Every day is a new challenge. My biggest challenge is working. Literally sitting my ass down to work, especially after the pandemic. I had to learn quickly to create a new routine. Having a high caseload as a civil litigation attorney helps as I am always busy so I have no time to procrastinate as much. The organized chaos of heading to court in the morning, working on drafting motions and pleadings for cases in the afternoon, responding to emails, and settling cases throughout the day were no longer serving me. Organization and structure are my biggest challenges. I get distracted easily and fall into these "wormholes" and never finish my assignments. So, I'm always having to work late to play catch up. I had to create realistic structures that worked for me.
For example, time blocking or working on alternating weekends and/or late nights to stay ahead of my tasks to not overwhelm me. Working for a solid law firm that has systems and teams in place to complement my own systems is imperative. I've cycled through many firms (big and small). So, I know what works and what doesn't. Working with the right people matters and is often overlooked. Having a good case management system along with excellent support staff (paralegals or assistants) is how I am able to succeed.
"Organization and structure are my biggest challenges. I get distracted easily and fall into these 'wormholes' and never finish my assignments. So, I'm always having to work late to play catch up. I had to create realistic structures that worked for me."
How have you adjusted your routine because of your ADHD? What does your morning and nighttime routine look like?
Yes, having a routine is imperative. I've had to shift my mindset through many therapy sessions. Having been a burnt-out lawyer, my mornings look a bit different now. I'm no longer competing to be the best and striving for perfection. I'm not trying to prove myself anymore because I know what I bring to the table. I show up, do my best on that particular day, and don't dwell on my mistakes.
8:00 a.m.: I start my mornings with a prayer, then I check my phone for any work emergencies or changes to my schedule. I will communicate with my assistant on what's important and what needs to be done.
8:10 a.m.: I lay in bed, contemplate life, and make my intentions for the day.
8:20 a.m.: I literally jump out of bed, (work is supposed to start at 8:30 am.) and make my bed. I love making my bed because it feels like such an accomplishment to me. I always say that if I don't accomplish anything for the day, at least I made my bed.
8:25 a.m.: I log on to my computer for work to test the waters. Thereafter, I brush my teeth, wash my face, shower, brush my hair, and put clothes on. I do all this while arguing with Alexa about music selection. Pro Tip: I set timers while I'm in the bathroom with Alexa (5 min. - snooze; 10 min. - snooze; 15 min. - snooze) to stay on track.
8:45-9:00 a.m.: I'm logged in to work for real-for real with my first cup of coffee of the day.
I immediately check the deadlines on my calendar, prioritize tasks and/or cases then attack them in segments with multiple breaks in between. I like to do the same tasks during blocks of time (reviewing case files and drafting a case plan, emails, client conference calls, etc.). Through trial and error, I have learned that I work more efficiently when I'm doing the same tasks over and over again.
On days where I have court hearings, depositions, mediations, client calls, or any event, my days look very different. I wake up earlier to hand-write a script of what I plan on saying. I do this to calm my nerves and to stay focused on the task at hand as to not go off on tangents. No matter how many times I've made the same speech or argument - this is what works for me.
6:30 - 7:00 p.m.: I'm logged out and head to the gym for a Zoom training session with my trainer. I try to work out at least 3-4 times a week with a trainer. Even if I do 10 haphazard jumping jacks, any sort of physical activity helps to maintain my routine and makes me feel good. I have coworkers who work out during lunchtime.
Personally, I can't do that because it's hard for my brain to switch gears after a workout and get back into work mode. I highly recommend doing physical activity early in the morning prior to work. It really sets the tone for the workday.
Does ADHD affect your mental health? If so, how?
Yes, in many ways and often. There are many internal battles of self-doubt, not doing enough work, being slower at a task than others, or lingering feelings of unworthiness. I have days where my head is so cloudy that it takes me hours to do a task which usually takes me about 15 minutes. On days like that, I have to mindfully give myself grace for my own sanity because beating myself up won't make a difference.
I remember times where my ADHD got so bad that I was feeling defeated, depressed, and became physically sick from the stress which also caused crippling anxiety. As a child, I remember I used to breathe at a rapid rate which they thought was asthma-related. Come to find out later to find out it was anxiety. I was given an inhaler to help. I still have days where I'm literally spinning in circles from task A to B then to A again, only to start a new task, D, then remember task C, only to realize A, B, C, and D are all incomplete and unnecessary tasks.
"I have days where my head is so cloudy that it takes me hours to do a task which usually takes me about 15 minutes. On days like that, I have to mindfully give myself grace for my own sanity because beating myself up won't make a difference."
What would you tell other women who are struggling with ADHD, mental health issues, and a demanding career?
Give yourself grace, lots and lots of grace, and seek professional help. Find what works for you. I'm still trying to figure it out, but therapy has transformed my way of thinking and my life. It has helped me to re-evaluate my life, career, and plan a more sustainable life/work balance. Life first, work second.
If you’re a Black woman struggling with ADHD, you are not alone and it doesn’t have to be just your secret anymore. It’s nothing to be ashamed of either. There are many women of color with ADHD and other learning difficulties and/or disabilities. And it doesn’t mean you are less of a person because of it. It means your journey looks different than most women of color. There is just an extra layer you’ll have to manage. And that is OK.
You have to give yourself grace and permission to accept your diagnosis and find ways to cope. Unfortunately, we live in a society with so many stigmas that we constantly neglect root causes. If you are looking for support, check outBlack Girl, Lost Keys, or Unicorn Squad, For Black people of Marginalized Gender with ADHD, a blog, and a private Facebook group by Rene Brooks. Having ADHD herself, Rene Brooks helps educate and empower other Black women who have ADHD.
You can start your healing now.
Featured image by Getty Images