Our listeners know that The Ebonistas are huge advocates for mental health. It’s important to break the stigma and shame of having mental issues. Below are tools that we have gathered through our own research that we hope you will find useful. Please pass along this information, share it with your loved ones or anyone. A little kindness goes a long way!

*Please note that we are NOT medical professionals. If you or someone you know is experiencing a medical emergency and is at risk of harming themselves or others, please contact medical professionals and/or local authorities in your area.

What is mental health

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

We now know that while we as adults tend to think kids have it easy but even though they are young it doesn’t mean that they cannot have mental health issues. Things like OCD and anxiety can present in children starting at a very young age but they don’t understand how to express that or how to get help. As we get older we become more aware of mental health issues.

Everyone is going through something

When we refer to mental health, we aren’t just speaking about diagnosed mental disorders, but everyday mental olympics that we all go through. According to the National Alliance of mntal Health, 1in 5 adults experience some form of mental illness and 1 in 25 have serious mental illness. That’s a fucking lot.

Here are some signs of what to look for:

  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little
  • Pulling away from people and usual activities
  • Having low or no energy
  • Feeling numb or like nothing matters
  • Having unexplained aches and pains
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual
  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
  • Yelling or fighting with family and friends
  • Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
  • Having persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head
  • Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
  • Thinking of harming yourself or others
  • Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school


There is nonprofit organization called the The Confess Project. They train barbers to help their clients deal with mental health issues in their communities. For a lot of men of color it can be the only time they allow themselves to be vulnerable and they are seen by the barbers at least once a month.. It makes sense and it is a worthy cause.

  • Don’t be afraid of costs. Always get costs up front
  • If you have insurance, that’s an awesome start, but if you don’t definitely try to sign up for Medicaid (no shame in the game).
  • Ask for a sliding scale. Explain your situation and sometimes you’ll get lucky and a doctor will work with you
  • Look for free support groups in your area. You don’t have to share. Sometimes just being there and listening and being in a space with others that share similar situations can be therapeutic.
  • Medication/Psychiatry
  • Because your doctor suggests it, doesn’t mean you have to. Most therapists will not even suggest the idea unless they feel treatment is not working and you need further assistance.
  • Medication does not mean you stop meetings. The goal is to get you to a place where you can deal with your day to day and learn tangible ways to cope with events for the long term. Ultimately, you control your treatment.
  • Again, check for costs beforehand and ask questions about side effects, schedule, and how to begin.

SIGNS OF A TOXIC RELATIONSHIP

Highly Negative Reactive.
  • Highly negatively reactive. Toxic parents are emotionally out of control. They tend to dramatize even minor issues and see any possible slight as a reason to become hostile, angry, verbally abusive, or destructive.
    • Usually typical of narcissistic parents or parents with mental health issues
    • Last but not least, toxic parents have their own narcissistic tendencies of seeing themselves as much better parents than they actually were.
Lack Empathy

The toxic person or parent is not able to empathize with others. Instead, everything is about them and their needs, and they fail to see how anything they do could be seen by others as disruptive, harmful, or hurtful.

  • Fail to apologize
  • No problem that you have is as bad as the problems that they have or have experienced in the past
Extremely Controlling

The most toxic the individual, the more they want to control everything and everyone in their vicinity. This means over-parenting and making unreasonable demands even on adult children.

Mommy Dearest was one of the first toxic familial relationships that I have been on TV. Here’s others:

  • Tiger MomsDance Moms
  • Helicopter Parenting
  • Incubator “Hothouse” Parenting
  • (Quick-Fix) Band-Aid Parenting
  • Buddy Parenting
  • Accessory Parenting
  • Paranoid Parenting
  • Secondary Parenting
Highly Critical

The toxic parent cannot or will not see the achievements of their children, regardless of how accomplished the child is or becomes as an adult. They are constantly putting down people around them while making themselves out to be exceptional, gifted, or talented.

Blaming Everyone Else

The disharmony, disagreements, hostility, and family breakdown caused by the toxic parent is always the fault of someone else. These parents cannot take responsibility for any problems, but blame the rest of the family and twist or manipulate how they see these events.

Codependency/Familial Obligation
  • Using the family structure and closeness to manipulate their child’s behavior
    • You can’t leave me alone, what would I do without you, your siblings rely on you
  • May overshare or insert themselves into every decision – TLC show about this – Smothered
Competitive

I used to do more, I can beat you, I am better than you. You’ll never live up to me

Abusive
  • Some parents tend to think that abuse ends at physical and sexual and that their actions and/or words could never be deemed as such.
  • Munchausen by Proxy is a way that some toxic parents exert control over their children by faking illnesses to get attention and sympathy from caretakers and family and friends. This usually involves the parent slowly poisoning their child or creating illnesses that their child has and subjecting them to unnecessary treatment.
  • Parents think that they are helping a child grow by practicing some of these techniques – Dr. Susan Forward: Toxic Parents – Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your life
    • Examples of such toxic beliefs are:
      • Children should respect their parents no matter what
      • There are only two ways to do things – my way and the wrong way
      • Children should be seen but not heard
      • It’s wrong for children to be mad at their parents
    • And examples of unspoken toxic family rules can be:
      • Don’t be more successful than your father
      • Don’t be happier than your mother
      • Don’t lead your own life
      • Don’t ever stop needing me
  • In Caribbean culture we tend use religion as a weapon and the status quo as a crutch
  • overzealous enforcement of religious beliefs. Practices that have no relation to trying to build a child’s relationship with God, only to scaring that child into doing what we would like.

Overcoming

  • Set boundaries
    • Walk away instead of reacting
    • Limit how much information they have about you
    • Remove them from social media if that has been a way into your life
    • Only offer help or assistance when you are emotionally able and not when they want
    • “If you let your toxic family member violate your boundaries, it sends the message to them that they can still control you as long as they push hard enough. You have to stay consistent and strong, even when it seems easier to give in.” https://abetterliferecovery.com/setting-personal-boundaries-with-toxic-family-members/
  • Control the location
    • This allows you to leave easily if need be
  • Self-care
    • Until you address the way that this toxic person has been affecting you, overcoming it may be difficult. Seek therapy, self-help books, mediation, journaling, you have to heal yourself first.
      • Family therapy
    • It will take may take time to truly realize that you are not the problem
    • But be aware of you own toxic behavior
    • Some Truths About Having Toxic Parents
      • You are not your parents.
      • You’re not the abusive things they say about you either.
      • Your parents don’t have to heal for you to get well.
      • Cutoffs don’t heal.
      • You don’t have to like your parents, but you might still be attached and love them.
      • Active addiction or abuse by a parent may trigger you. Set boundaries and practice non-attachment.
      • You can’t change or rescue family members.
      • Indifference, not hatred or anger, is the opposite of love.
      • Hating someone interferes with loving yourself.
      • Unresolved anger and resentment hurt you.
  • Adult Children Divorcing their Parents – Reasons Why
    • “You Weren’t a Good Parent”
    • “You Broke Up Our Family”
    • “You Still See Me as a Child”
    • “We Don’t Have the Same Values”
    • “You’re a Toxic Person”