Boundaries Strategist and Psychological Safety Consultant Talks about Struggle with Mental Health System

Katrina Strohl

“Because Black people are less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD at younger ages they are more likely to develop a substance use disorder,” Strohl said. “It is systemic to associate certain groups of people with certain substances such as marijuana. We need to have a better conversation about substance use.”

Katrina Strohl

Katrina Strohl (They/She/He) is the creator of the podcast Absolutely Not! About setting boundaries in the workplace and emphasizing the vocabulary needed to name harm in those spaces. Katrina is a psychological safety consultant, boundaries strategist, and mental health advocate who identifies as Black and Samoan and Queer. In 2018, she tried to end her life and while in the hospital was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD, Major Depression Disorder, and substance use disorder. But more recently, she was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder and Hyperactivity ADHD. Katrina is a veteran who served as an aviation structural mechanic in the US Navy. 

During Katrina’s first hospitalization, she was one of two Black women and was constantly called the other woman’s name. 

“We are at the lowest point in our lives and constantly dehumanized,” Strohl said.

Most of the time during the hospitalization Katrina spent going to sessions and lying their way out of the hospital. Katrina was a single mother of a three-month old son and they needed to get back with their son. The hospital let her go in four days.

Two months later Katrina took their own life again. Katrina had no support as a single mother and when they had to breast pump or take their son somewhere Katrina’s employer in the office she worked as an administrative assistant didn’t understand. They brought Katrina into a room and criticized and berated Katrina. 

“I felt like I didn’t have a place on the planet anymore,” said Strohl.

During her second hospitalization, Child Protective Services got involved and made Katrina prove that their son lived in a happy, safe family or he would be taken away. 

“This is when I decided I needed to move forward and figure out what we needed to be safe,” Strohl said. 

“I left the practitioners who diagnosed me with PTSD, MDD, and substance use disorder because they weren’t helping me,” Strohl said. “They didn’t give me resources I needed to feel better.”

Katrina then went to a few white, women therapists who acted dismissive whenever she brought race into the picture. 

“A Black woman therapist was the first person who taught me about boundaries that most people learn in their first therapy session,” Strohl said.

Katrina doesn’t take medication anymore and has a new Black woman therapist; the old one turned out to be homo/transphobic. This therapist correctly diagnosed her with ADHD. This was shocking to Katrina but she felt it rang true when her therapist asked her during her evaluation if she felt like she had a motor inside her that never stopped. Katrina cited an article that said Black children are less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD and it often leads to suicide. 

“I’m still processing the diagnosis and I cried a lot in the final assessment because it rang true,” Strohl said.

“Growing up there was an ugly stigma toward ADHD in the black community,” Strohl said. 

“Because Black people are less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD at younger ages they are more likely to develop a substance use disorder,” Strohl said. “It is systemic to associate certain groups of people with certain substances such as marijuana. We need to have a better conversation about substance use.”

Today Katrina is self-employed and works with organizations to make them aware of what psychological safety looks like and how to create boundaries for employees. 

“I create boundaries in everything I do. Every facet of my business helps me hone into who I am.”

“I have to figure out new boundaries because I live with ADHD.”

“With the PTSD, I cannot be in emotionally activating conversations for longer than 45 minutes and I cannot be interrupted or my thoughts will derail.”

“Sometimes my work makes me sad and the responses I get from my posts on social media is eye-opening as people with my shared identities and lived experience have been through the same things.”

Katrina knows their work is creating a safer world for their son to grow up in. Katrina can be found at http://katrinastrohl.com.  

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: