What About Your Friends… The Energy Draining Ones

Depression. Of all mental health diagnoses, it is the most common of them all, affecting over 16 million people a year (National Institute for Mental Health, 2017). For us melanated kings and queens, 1 in 10 of us experience symptoms like consistent feelings of sadness, sense of helplessness/hopelessness, lack of energy, change in eating habits/weight, poor concentration, trouble sleeping and symptoms of the like. Take a second to think about it and be honest with yourself… Have you ever experience such symptoms? Has there ever been a time when it felt like the issues kept coming and coming and you questioned “How am I going to overcome this?”

If you raised your hand (I did too), it supports my idea that there are more of us who experience depressive symptoms than the studies report but I’ll save that for another post. Which further points out the fact that so many of us of are not the getting help we need and deserve. With that in mind, who then do we turn to?

Our loved ones, our significant other and more times than not, our friends! My personal belief is that they term “friend” has been used loosely, which can serve as a source of stress.

https://media.giphy.com/media/l4FGnPMWYC3JWhFWo/source.gif

Our friends, hittas, ride or dies… Do they really fulfill those titles? When you call your “friends” and mention the dreaded D-word (depressed), are they there for you? I don’t mean “Hey let me take you out to the movies?” or the “Girl, you’re going to be straight!,” I mean after you express how you’ve truly been feeling, are they attentive to your needs? Does that conversation switch real quick to what they are going through? Are they able to accept where you are in the moment and be right there with you? Are they even available to listen to you? Do your friends  support you in seeking the healing you deserve?

While things may be okay for you now, it is important to continually assess “Does this person bring about happiness to my life?” There are situations where one feels unheard or that she is constantly giving without receiving anything in return that trigger depressive symptoms. And then when you are in “the sunken place,” it is extremely hard to find the energy to get up for the day and fulfill your regular duties, let alone find it within yourself to tend to someone else’s needs or try to survive with little to no support.

While it’s important to set a realistic idea of what you envision support to look like and people will not always be available at your beck and call, it is also important to assess your relationships with others and determine if there is a balance of give and take between each other. That can lead you to wonder the purpose one has in your life and their worthiness within your life (just causing a lot of internal conflict huh?) As a book entitled  The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy suggests, people hold certain roles within your life which may be as a 3 minute friend, a weekend friend or not even a friend at all.

So grab a piece of paper (or The Crowning Workbook and take a complete the Who Can I Run To page) and begin looking at your friendships. It’s time to utilize your energy for you!

 

 

 

What It Really Means To Be A F@$! Boy

Today is February 14, Valentine’s Day and for many, yesterday was deemed as the end of “cuffing season,” just before any purchases were made for the holiday. Cuffing season defined by many is a period of time during the cold weather seasons in which people commit to serious relationships with the intent to break up as the weather warms up in efforts to maintain their ‘sense of freedom.’

While normalized and accepted within the Black culture, it comes with its price. Cuffing season comes at the expense of someone’s emotions, and typically it has been made that those are of a women. Of the women who may spend today crying their hearts out asking themselves “What was wrong with me?” as they thought that they met “the one,” they are now filled with feelings of confusion, hurt and frustration.

Within the Black community, it has become the expectation that women internalize such break ups. That they figure out what they did wrong to lead a man to treat her the way that they did. We tell them to read Steve Harvey’s  Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man (2009).  We tell them to listen to pastor’s like John Gray who preach sermons about how women should act to find a mate. We have conversations about how women are “dating wrong.”

While introspection is important, and helps us learn from previous mistakes, its important that such occurs for both sexes. Interestingly enough, we have shifted the blame towards women when it comes to relationships. Rarely is the conversation held that men need to be more honest and forthcoming. I honestly have never heard a sermon that focuses on men preparing to become husbands (and that doesn’t mean that its not out there). Thus, we have created “the fuck boy.”

So what is a “fuck boy?” He can be deemed as a smooth talking, nice-looking  brother that sweeps you off of your feet. He’s known to whisper sweet nothings in your ear, lavish you with the finer things in life and then just disappear at the drop of a dime because he was not “ready,” for such commitment. Often times, society praises him for his acts. Often times he’s not met with consequences and the women in his life just accept that he is what he is.

In reality, he is challenged with expressing himself. He has been conditioned to think that his confidence is built on his ability to inflict harm to others. The f$@! boy does not know how to respect himself and therefore, he does not know how to respect women.

Psychologically, there are a lot of components that go into obtaining the title of f$@! boy. Often times, they lack empathy, the ability to comprehend another person’s feelings. Research conducted by Baskin-Sommers, Krusemark and Ronningstam (2014) suggests that those who meet criteria for the diagnosis do not simply have challenges with being empathetic, they have challenges with  low self-esteem, sense of internal control, self-enhancement, and self-centeredness which ultimately impact one’s ability to be empathetic towards others.

Via www.giphy.com

When speaking about Black people in general, Hughes and Demo (1989) reported that despite social and racial tension, Blacks overall have equal or higher self-esteem (one’s ability to recognize his/her worth, abilities and strengths) than Whites. In conjunction, Blacks experience lower personal efficacy (one’s belief in his/her ability to complete tasks or handle certain situations). Based upon that research alone, it can be suggested that Black men may be aware that they are worthy of love, yet lack confidence in their ability to display love. It can also reflect back on societal and racial barriers which have limited many Black men financially and therefore, their confidence levels regarding their ability to contribute to a household may limit their willingness to be serious in relationships, so they exude their charm and wittiness because that, they are fully aware of.

Research on Black men and their mental health is limited.  A literature review concluded that conflict between sexes or martial status, psychosocial coping and racism/discrimination all played contributing factors in a Black man experiencing depression (Watkins, D., Green, B., Rivers, & B., Rowell, K. , 2006). As research is vague, it can also be concluded that depression in Black men is not diagnosed on the account that Black men’s presentation of depressive symptoms vary greatly from how the diagnosis is defined in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, used to determine mental health diagnoses). therefore we can only assume what their behavior may be reflective of internal challenges that they have trouble sharing.

So while you ladies celebrate Galentine’s Day, indulge in sweet treats and blast Trina’s Fuck Boy to fill the void tonight, remember that you and your actions are not the only solution to this cultural issue we are facing. Someway, somehow we have to create a nuturing community in which our men are willing to recognize their mental health concerns, seek healing and then we can foster more healthy, loving Black relationships.

 

 

 

References

Baskin-Sommers, A., Krusemark, E., & Ronningstam, E. (2014, February 10). Empathy in Narcissistic Personality Disorder: From Clinical and Empirical Perspectives. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment. Advance online publication.

Hughes, M. & Demo, D. (1989). Self-Perceptions of Black Americans: Self-Esteem and Personal Efficacy. American Journal of Sociology, 95(1), 283-288.

Watkins, D., Green, B., Rivers, & B., Rowell, K.  (2006, August 28).  Depression and Black Men: Implications for Future Research. Advance online publication.

Black Businesses are not Thriving Because They are Ignoring Their Mental Health

Hello Royalty,

I’m recovering from an awesome time at “The Crowning” Create Your Own Self-Care Toolkit event! The Conscious Queens and I had a wonderful time meditating, getting massages, creating our crowns and more!

As my first workshop ever, it was challenging to say the least. I experienced so many setbacks that emotionally, for a second (ok, maybe a few hours), I was “Set-back.” Fear had overcome me because as my guests arrived, I did not want them to think “There goes another Black business for you!”

This brings me back to several months ago when I got into an argument with a friend for calling his practice “a black owned business.” He was so angry that we literally stopped talking. At the time, I could not understand it. I mean after all, he was Black and he owned a business. It wasn’t until I went through the processes of launching The Conscious Queen did I realize that there is a stigma that comes along with being identified as a Black business owner that I did not want associated with my brand.

Black business owners are painted with statements such as “poor customer service,” lack of follow through, fraudulent and more. In reality, Black business owners are challenged with limited resources, lack of support and a plethora of mental health challenges.

A recent study conducted by Michael A. Freeman, M.D., Sheri L. Johnson, Ph.D., Paige J. Staudenmaier, and Mackenzie R. Zisser (2015) found that in a sample of 242 entrepreneurs, approximately 72% of them expressed experiencing mental health concerns. When paired with the fact that only 25% of Blacks actually seek mental health treatment, continued neglect for one’s mental health can contribute to limited motivation, lack of productivity, memory challenges and more. All of which can have a detrimental effect on a business.

The mental health of our entrepreneurs is often times neglected until it is too late. With the lost of pioneers such as Don Cornelius, creator of Soul Train, Titi Branch of Ms. Jessie’s and most recently Lowell Hawthorne, CEO and founder of Golden Krust due to suicide, it is important that we note the stress associated with success is significant and real. As I spoke to several business owners, they all shared of experiencing anxiousness, in which one stated “Then I don’t have no one to talk to about it because none of my friends are business owners.”

The creator of Soul Train committed suicide at the age of 75 reportedly of stress associated with health challenges. (Paul Natkin- Wire Image)

In addition, there is pressure to be twice as better to get the respect you deserve. Another friend stated “Although the White company can employ 10 employees to ensure their workshop goes off without a hitch, you (a Black business owner), despite having no employees, have to make sure you start on time, your speakers are engaging, your guests have all of their supplies and then some. No one cares about the circumstances outside of your control that may cause you not to have everything in order.” Another close friend of mine shared about launching her business, “I’m scared. My product has to be priced for what they think it’s worth versus what it’s really worth. My customer service has to be over the top in order for customers to return.”

Titi Branch, Co-founder of Miss Jessie’s who reportedly killed herself over challenges within her personal life. (Photo: Miss Jessie’s website)

Such  comes from the cognitive distortions many Blacks experience that Whiteness is equivalent to rightness or excellence. It reminds me of an episode of Sanford and Son when Fred had a dentist appointment and he rather receive services from the White dentist versus the Black dentist, despite him being less qualified. In reflecting on my own experiences, I recount numerous occasions in which I have been disappointed in White businesses due to their lack of follow through or poor customer service. Maybe even more than I have with Black businesses. As I share my experiences, I don’t recall a discussion regarding such leading to the questioning of their integrity to saying or hearing “Well, you know how White businesses are.” We tend to be a bit more understanding, accepting of their enhanced financial capabilities and their solutions to our concerns.

Lowell Hawthorne, CEO of Golden Krust committed suicide in December 2017 over reported fear of tax debt. (Photo: Ricky Flores/The Journal News)

That does not mean that we let our Black business owners off the hook for the negative commonalities they share. I can tell you, it has been disheartening to reach out to Black owned businesses and receive no phone call or email back. It’s frustrating to request a service, it not be delivered and receive a “I mean, there’s nothing I can do for you.” It’s been infuriating to not get a sorry when one was warranted.  A lot is the result of stress, anxiety and depression that is not being addressed.

Sometimes success comes at a price and while business maybe booming for one, the lack of sleep is having a significant impact on one’s mood and ability to interact with others respectfully.  One business’s downfall could be the result of the owner feeling overwhelmed, generating a lack of response to emails. And to be honest, exhaustion can be a downfall, especially for the business owners who have to hold down a 9-5 while also starting their business (Hey, I’ve been so exhausted, this post should have been out 5 days ago!).

So how do we resolve such?

We start becoming real about what mental health challenges we are experiencing. We become more focused on our self-care as it plays an important role in the success of our businesses. I’m thankful for platforms like Dr.  Janae Taylor’s Minding My Black Business or Erica D. Clark’s B.O.B (Black Owned Businesses), which fosters the importance of such. As patrons, loved ones and admirers of Black owned businesses, we show our support, we applaud them for their successes. We hit that like button, we repost their sales, posts, etc. We go to their events, we offer CONSTRUCTIVE  feedback.

With a rise in Black businesses of more than 34% according to the 2012 Survey of Business Owners, there is no reason that our community cannot experience economic empowerment. So now the question lies within you.  What are you going to do to help in this fight for economic and mental freedom?

 

 

5 Times Television has Made us Confused About Therapy

Hello Royalty! Happy New Year! As many of you experienced yourselves, closing out 2017 took some patience, reevaluation and determination. Thankfully we all made it!

If you have subscribed to my monthly e-mails (and if you haven’t, let’s get you started now), you know that it’s #nogoalsjanuary! I like to take January to rest, truly give myself the time to just be, get back into the groove of things and set a concrete plan that I can accomplish in the new year. In doing such, I’ve been watching lots of television, catching up on my favorite shows and preparing for the winter premieres. While I watch many of these shows, I’m excited to see writers and creators incorporate mental health and at the same time I grit my teeth thinking “WHAT IS HE (or she) DOING?!?! So for you guys, I’ve created a list of 5 times I’ve had to clutch my pearls and say “I hope no one believes this is real!”

5. How to Get Away With Murder

Photo by ABC Televison

So if you didn’t already know, How to Get Away With Murder teaches all us all the DON’TS of therapy. Between letting Bonnie know about his therapeutic relationship with Annalise, not referring her to another therapist after he recognized how his similar loss of a child impacted his ability to provide her with the care she needs and did we mention that his ex-wife sifted through records, found Annalise’s information and reached out to warm her? Dr. Isaac Roa probably needs his license revoked!

4. 13 Reasons Why

Photo by Netflix

I think that all of us who watched that final episode cringed during the last meeting between Hannah and Mr. Porter. Mr. Porter missed the signs on the wall. As Hannah cried out for help, he was reluctant to take her concerns seriously and let her leave without following up with Hannah or her parents regarding her safety. Hopefully in Season 2, we’ll get to see how Mr. Porter attempts to justify his negligence.

3. Love and Hip Hop Atlanta

Photo via VH1

Let me take you all back a minute to 2012 when Stevie J thought it would be a good idea to have Joseline join in on his couples therapy session with Mimi. After he caught the beat down, I hope he recognized otherwise, however, when therapists are aware of triggers that could cause conflict, it is their responsibility to prevent crisis from occurring.

2. She’s Gotta Have It

Photo by Netflix

While many have something to say about Ms. Nola Darling, I’m hear to read Dr. Jameison. She broke too many boundaries. First off, whenever someone comes in for therapy, payment expectations are to be discussed during the first session. Dependent upon on Dr. Jameison’s credentialing board and  code of ethics, bartering may or may not be allowed, yet with her slip about being broke proved that she was not comfortable with the situation. And can we also talk about her showing up to Nola’s art exhibit? While often times clients like to have their therapist’s support in such situations, it’s important for the therapist to set healthy boundaries with clients and remind them of their role.

  1. Blackish
Photo by ABC Television

Blackish has to be one of my favorite shows! My favorite episode was when Bow shared of her challenges with Postpartum Depression and Black women finally saw someone who looked like them who they could relate to in regard to child rearing and its challenges. When Dre and Bow went to see a therapist, the therapist was little slick at the mouth. While funny, it definitely violated their right to seek treatment without feeling demeaned or disrespected.

So while it’s important to recognize that this is television and many of these situations are for entertainment, when it comes to your mental health, ensure that you are aware of your rights as a client, share your expectations with your therapist and when challenges arise, let your therapist know!