3 Reasons the world should NOT be your therapist!

This was originally posted during Mental Health Awareness Month as a feature on www.chaneerobinson.com.

At this point the Kanye interview has been seen and  heard around the world. As a Kanye West fan and an admirer of Charlamagne the God’s interviewing style, the anticipation was real.  After his trip to TMZ, the anticipation was pretty much dead. I was not interested in hearing anything Kanye related for a few days. I did my best to scroll past any mention of it on social media, but finally I listened to the segments of the interview with Charlamagne on The Breakfast Club podcast.  Please keep reading my friends, this is not an analysis or my “woke” thoughts on Kanye, Charla, or the interview. This is about the very first thing I heard that made me pause and give a side eye like I was sitting next to Ye.

Kanye West, a musical genius to some, confidently told  Charalamage “I use the world as my therapist, anyone I talk to is my therapist…” .  He goes on to say how he pulls people aside to talk to and to get their perspective. He also mentioned how he will keep friends and family on the phone for 45 minutes at time to “talk through things”.

There are many reasons to NOT use the world, your friends or even your mama, as your therapist.  I know many African-Americans were taught that “therapy is for white people” or we were told “you will be OK” and we even tell our kids “what goes on in this house stays in this house!” , but when there has been mental or emotional trauma there has to be healing and our friends and family cannot heal us and here’s why:

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SPEAK OUT: Christina shares her story about Depression.

“ I think I’m depressed”

“What makes you say that?”

“Well, I am sad all of the time, I don’t want to do sh*t, and this isn’t like me”

This is a conversation I had with myself a few years ago.  Yeah, this was one of those conversations you have in your head, but some of questions you answer out loud.  For months I knew something wasn’t right because I’d been feeling down. I’d have periods that I felt OK, but my overall mood for months was sad.  Outside of being sad, I just wasn’t feeling like myself. I was irritable, and always tired (more than usual). I would either overeat, or not eat at all and I had difficulty focusing on my job.  For months I felt like I couldn’t get a grip on my life and I began to feel the affects. I gained weight, I quit pursuing my Master’s degree, lost my desire to go out with friends and I eventually got fired for my low performance.

CL-Depression 2

What brought on my depression?:  The short and simple answer is I was trying to handle all that life was throwing at me on my own.  (This is my opinion before therapy)  What I learned in therapy was all that I had been through led me to believe certain things about myself.  In addition to learning how to ask for help, I had to unlearn a lot of shit, and learn a new way to look at myself and how I responded to life. Read More


3 Signs It’s Time To See a Therapist

The energy of the mind is the essence of life~Aristotle

     Someone asked me last night, “So how did you know you needed to go see a therapist?”  To be honest, I couldn’t tell him the exact moment I said, “Let me find a therapist”.  I remember I did have a close friend that I discussed the topic with, but I don’t know if she suggested it or I mentioned it first.  The important thing is that I knew it was time to get help…. but what was it about THAT moment?  My answer, I was tired of feeling how I had been feeling and I wanted to get back to being myself.  Despite appearing to be content with my life at the time, I wasn’t happy.  I was actually very sad, over eating, taking EVERYTHING personal, crying often, and either not sleeping  or sleeping my days away.  That is not the life I wanted for myself.

     After I finished a lengthy phone conversation with my friend, the questions stayed in my mind.  “So how did you know you needed to go see a therapist?  “When should I find a therapist?”  In the end, I gave an honest answer, but it didn’t stop me from thinking about how I could better answer the question if I were asked by someone else. After much thinking, I composed a list of my top three suggestions.  DISCLAIMER: I am not a mental health professional, a doctor, nurse, life coach (though some people may disagree)-This is just giving my opinion. 

1. After the death of a loved one

     I would encourage people who have lost a child, a parent, a sibling, a best friend or a spouse to talk to someone, about their feelings.  If the person you lost was extremely close to you, or if there are feelings of guilt or extreme sadness, I would suggest grief counseling.  Everyone deals with death in different ways, you need to make sure you are coping with it in a healthy way.  Many times we have feelings of guilt, thinking about what we could have done to prevent it, or we often think about things we wish we would’ve said or done before they left us.  Talking through those feelings with a professional can make the difference between letting their death consume you and letting their life inspire you.

2.If you are a ‘bag lady or bag man’.

     Did you have an unstable childhood? Have you had several failed relationships?  Do you have anger issues?  Do you blame your failures in life on other people?  If so you should consider seeing a therapist.  Many times the feelings from a bad situation stay with us, and we don’t realize it.  An absent parent can often lead to abandonment issues and a lack of self-love.  Staying in a bad relationship can destroy your self-worth, and make you question everyone’s intentions, preventing you from developing healthy relationships.  Many people think they are justified in feeling how they do.  They believe it is normal because they have lived through these bad situations.  At some point, we have to place those ‘bags’ on the ground and walk away.  Carrying around those constant negative feelings, leave no room for love and happiness in your life, and everyone deserves to be  happy and loved.

3.When things are changing (or you want them to)

     This statement may be too broad, but it is the best phrase, to express the point.  Change is inevitable, however it can be difficult to initiate when we want to make specific changes.  When we want to change but for whatever reason we cannot, it is important to know what is preventing you from moving forward, and a therapist can help you figure that out.  Many people want to change their job, their relationship, their lifestyle, or even their religious beliefs but find that it is difficult. Other people want to get rid of anger issues, trust issues, abandonment issues, body image issues, feelings of guilt, and feelings of insecurity.  So many people stay in their current state because they don’t know what lies on the other side of change. There is an element of fear of the unknown, that is expected. Often we settle in our unhappiness because… that’s part of life, right??  It doesn’t have to be. If you want to change, you can, but not always on your own.

 A therapist does help those who have been diagnosed with a mental illness, and those who may have a mental illness but have not been diagnosed.  A therapist can help you deal with the stress of change in a healthy way.  They can help you look at life with a different perspective, but you must be open to it.  It is such a great feeling to sit and talk to a professional whose job is to just listen and help.  Success in therapy requires you be totally honest with yourself and your therapist.  This person doesn’t know your family or friends; this person does not judge you so you can speak freely.   While finding the right therapist may not be easy, once you have found him or her, you will know it.  So if you are considering getting a therapist, take the first step and look for therapist in your area, set an appointment and keep it! Don’t get discouraged if after a couple of visits the first therapist isn’t the right fit, there are plenty to choose from!  


“Everyone can be part of the solution, if we know what to look for…” Q&A with Joanna Nunez for Dads & Depression Event

On June 24 Speak Away the Stigma is hosting Mental Health Conversations: Dads & Depression.  Mental Health Professional Joanna Nunez will be one of the speakers.  Read more about why Joanna knew from an early age she wanted to be in the Mental Health Field.  Find out why she believes that sharing stories can eliminate the stigma, and why Depression impacts more that just the person with the diagnosis.  The event will be held in Fayetteville, NC at the Cumberland County Headquarters Library Downtown from 2-4pm.


Joanna Nunez MSW, LCAS, LCSW, CCTP
Hometown/Current City:  Fayetteville
Education:  UNC-Charlotte, East Carolina University (graduate)
Name of Practice: Square One Counseling PLLC
Q:  Why did you choose a career in Mental Health?
A:  From about the 8th grade on I was fascinated by the nature vs nurture debate. How could two people from the same household experience the same event and have different outcomes? I was hooked from that point on.
Q:  What makes you a great Mental Health Professional?
A:  I am extremely non judgmental, to the point where I don’t think I’m shockable anymore. I won’t judge your past, your lifestyle or decisions you’ve made. I’m just here to help.
Q:  Why do you believe there is a stigma surrounding mental illness and mental health?
A:  I think many people don’t fully understand that there is a spectrum of levels of care- and that most people have received outpatient therapy in some form or another in their life.  Unfortunately, we tend to glamorize and seek out the negative, so people associate mental illness and the help that comes with mental illness in the extremes they see on the news- 1 out of 4 people suffers from a mental illness, but they aren’t all going to be on the news involved in a mass shooting, or as a serial rapist, or a police standoff, thank goodness. We need to put more focus on what is the norm, not the extreme.
Q:  Do you think it is possible to eliminate that stigma?  If so, how?
A:  I think if more people shared their stories, even a anonymously, that would help. I’ve had so many clients get relief when they realize there is a name and treatment for their disorder and they are not alone.
Q:  In your opinion what is the biggest obstacle when it comes to men getting care for their mental health?
A:  I think in many cultures, men are told to be strong, and part of asking for any kind of help is seen as weak. In Fayetteville, so many people are connected to the military and there can be clearances involved. So many people think that going to therapy will make them lose their job or their clearance.
Q:  What is a common myth people have about going to therapy?
A:  Other than the aforementioned immediate loss of job and clearance, so many people think therapy is “just talking” and that there’s no way that it can help help them. It’s so much more than talking.
Q: It is estimated that Depression affects 6 million men per year, how would you say that impacts communities or families?
A:  In communities its loss of productivity, loss of resources, loss of creativity. In families, its the loss of a parent from time to time, putting all the parenting responsibilities on one parent. Its children walking on eggshells and wondering what kind of mood the depressed parent is going to be in today.
I choose to Speak Away the Stigma of Depression because…….everyone can be part of the solution, if we know what to look for and how to help.

11 Things that made us talk Mental Health in 2016!

What made us talk about mental health in 2016?  The short answer is a little bit of everything!  From senseless killings to hashtags to Solange’s latest album to Myleik Teele’s podcast mental health, mental illness, and self-care are becoming more common for us to talk about.  Even though there is still a lot of stigma around mental illness and self-care, 2016 can be classified as a year of progress!  In no particular order, let’s take a look at 11 things that made us talk about mental health last year!

NYC Well & Chirlane McCray:  ThriveNYC: A Mental Health Road Map for All was released in November 2015 and gave an outline of 23 new initiatives for New Yorkers img_3189mental well-being (there is a total of 54 initiatives outlined).  The NYC.gov site gives data on why these programs are needed, and one of the numbers that stands out is 14 Billion; that is the estimated amount of dollars lost annually because of losses in productivity.  This astounding amount isn’t the only reason NYC’s First Lady Chirlane McCray made mental health her signature issue. In September 2016 Chirlane sat down with Essence and discussed promoting mental health, read it here. In the article, she is open about mental illness in her own family, which many people in the spotlight don’t discuss.  In October 2016 NYC Well launched and it is a free, confidential connection to mental health support for New Yorkers.   

The Veteran’s suicide Rate:  The Department of Veterans Affairs released a study in July of 2016 that states on average 20 Veterans a day are committing suicide.  About 18% of all suicides in the United States are U.S. Veterans, however, they make up only 9% of the U.S. population. Throughout 2016 Veterans Affairs had come under fire for various issues related to the care of our veterans, but the release of this number is staggering.  While providing assistance can be difficult if Veterans are not reaching out for help, the VA has increased the amount of mental health providers, support personnel, and established partnerships with community health providers.  

  

The shooting death of Deborah Danner:  In October 2016 an NYPD officer shot and killed img_3185Deborah Danner; she was well known Bronx resident that had been living with schizophrenia for years.  In New York Times article it states that an officer shot her twice after Ms. Danner took a swing at him with a baseball bat.  NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio and the Police Commissioner agreed the incident was not handled according to protocol. This is only one of several incidents that led us to discuss the training officers are receiving or the lack thereof.  Ms. Danner’s attorney shared an essay she wrote a few years ago about Living with Schizophrenia  (The essay IS worth a read!)

Dr. Phil’s interview with Shelley Duvall: Shelley Duvall was a famous actress and not many people knew she had been diagnosed with a mental illness until she appeared on The Dr. Phil Show.  Dr. Phil offered to get Shelley professional help, however, many people felt that this interview was exploitation.  Even though Duvall consented to the interview, those that opposed the interview feel if she were well she wouldn’t want the interview to be aired. The controversy of this episode was so serious, to date, we have not been able to find the full episode online.

Kid Cudi:  Black Men’s Mental Health captured the spotlight when Kid Cudi took to img_3187Facebook on Oct. 4th, 2016 and shared his own struggles with depression.  The post, which has 137k shares, states he has been living a lie, living with depression, anxiety, and suicidal urges. He also admits he is nervous about the next steps but he has to do this not only for himself, for his family and fans.

#yougoodman: According to the Huffington Post, #yougoodman began on Twitter during a conversation between @DaynaLNukolls & @TheCosby.  The hashtag was created for Black men to have a safe place to discuss mental health.  This hashtag is significant because men have higher rates of suicide and also because mental health in the Black community is swept under the rug and not discussed.

Kanye West:  In November of 2016 Kanye West went on another rant during a show.  At this point, a Kanye West concert isn’t a Kanye West concert without at least one 20 minute rant!  However days after he abruptly ended the Sacramento show he was hospitalized in  LA, some reports say due to exhaustion other reports say he was placed on psychiatric hold.  There was even a leak of a mental health evaluation that supposedly belonged to Kanye. Although we may never hear from West about why he was hospitalized it reignited the conversation about Black men’s mental health.

A Seat at the Table:  Solange Knowles released her third studio album on September 30, 2016.  This album was described as a therapeutic collection of soulful tunes by VH1.com and some features include Lil Wayne, Kelly Rowland and BJ the Chicago Kid.  The interludes on the album from Mama Knowles, Papa Knowles, and Master P make img_3191you really understand that this album is about the Black experience.  A Seat at the Table is Solange’s first number one album in the U.S. and the song Cranes in the Sky is grammy nominated. This song is the most therapeutic song on the album for many.  “I tried to drink it away/ I tried to put one in the air/ I tried to dance it away/ I tried to change it with my hair”, this opening verse makes you want to hear more probably because we have all had issues we have tried to deal with in various ways.  Cranes in the Sky describes a metal clouds in the sky (those things that weigh on us and that follows us everywhere).  

Bipolar Faith:Monica A. Coleman’s great-grandfather asked his two young sons to lift him up and pull out the chair when he hanged himself, and that noose stayed in the family shed for years.  The rope was the violent instrument, but it was the mental anguish that killed him.”  These are the first two lines of the description on Amazon to Bipolar Faith: A Black Woman’s Journey with Depression & Faith.  This book was published in July 2016 is “both a spiritual autobiography and memoir of mental illness” that discusses Monica’s own journey with bipolar II.  What is sure to make her story more interesting is the fact that Monica is a minister and a Professor of Constructive Theology and African-American Religions at Claremont School of Theology in southern California.  Click here to read more about Bipolar Faith and other books written by Dr. Monica A. Coleman.  

Myleik Teele asked a therapist:   Myleik Teele is an entrepreneur and does a podcast when time permits about lessons she has learned in business and in life.  Curl Box is a huge success and Teele is open about her struggles with starting the subscription-based business, previous relationships, dealing with her achievements.  One area she has also been open about is the fact that she has a therapist.   A happy, successful Black woman that discussed having therapist was bound to get a lot of questions from her followers, so she dedicated an entire podcast to questions for a therapist.  Myleik has met all of her podcast guests, so when she ran into Jor-El Carabello again, she asked him to do the podcast!  Jor-El Carabello, who isn’t Myleik’s therapist,  is a licensed mental health counselor in New York.  The interview ranged from ways to find a therapist to advise for a young woman whose mother is suffering from mental illness.  Listen here on podomatic or find it on iTunes.   A couple of Teele’s other podcasts that made us talk about self-care, self-fulfilment, and self-esteem: How I Found Peace & Happiness: A chat with Necole Kane.  Myleik and Necole Kane, of xoNecle, have girl talk about dealing with change and what finding happiness looks like.  The other was a surprise podcast sparked by a listener’s letter.  A Letter for Late Bloomers & Comparison will make you rethink your own success and question the story we tell ourselves.  Check out a listing of all of Myleik Teele’s podcasts here.

TRUMP! Yes, our President-elect Donald Trump made us all discuss mental health and mental illness.  Even though we questioned his mental wellness at times, our main concern was the way he answered questions about our Veterans and mental img_3184health while on the campaign trail.  While he acknowledges the high veterans suicide rate, he also seems to suggest that some soldiers have mental health problems because they are not strong enough to handle things they see during wartime.  His comments upset many people,  but also made us take a closer look at PTSD and the Veterans suicide rate.  Trump becoming our next president is sure to give most of American some added stress and anxiety so he may make the list again next year!

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Her name was Jane

Do not give your past the power to define your future.”~ Unknown

I only remember her face, not her name, so  I will call her Jane.  She looked like a Jane. When I first met Jane she greeted me with a glimpse of a smile; that would be the most emotion she ever showed me.  I would be OK with that because Jane changed my world.

The afternoon I first met Jane, I left work early.  We had a 5:30 pm appointment, and I didn’t want to be late. I wasn’t thrilled to meet Jane, I was very reluctant and nervous, however, I wanted to respect her time so I didn’t want to be late.  It was a sunny fall afternoon, and I took the 20-minute drive in silence, that’s how I knew I was really nervous.  The drive entire I wondered what she looked liked.  We spoke briefly on the phone, but I could not begin to assign her facial features based on our short conversation.

I arrived at the address, parked, and stayed in my car.  I was about 10 minutes early and sat there for nine minutes before getting out of the car.  I was nervous.  I didn’t know what to expect.  I wasn’t completely sure why I was even doing this.  I wasn’t sure what I’d say to Jane, or what she would say to me.  I felt so uncertain in this moment, but I was here so I had to at least meet Jane.  Right?

I found the door, it was red.  The blinds in the window looked a little tattered.  I immediately thought this was a mistake, because, well her blinds were tattered.  Yes, I judge people based on how the blinds look from their window.  I always have and probably always will.  I rang the bell and I waited.  I rang the bell again  and waited.  I was growing impatient with Jane and her tattered blinds.  I rang the bell one more time, and she opened the door right away.  She was old.  Her face was soft yet wrinkled and her hair was gray and frizzy, somehow the tattered blinds fit.  She invited me in, and I stood staring at this older lady with old hair and an old face, thinking THIS is my therapist? Read More