This is a post for those of us who know that is it imperative that we FIGHT, and simultaneously have a barrier to fighting, whatever it may be. Our barrier is a barrier, but it’s not a shutdown. There is a way to care for yourself and participate fully.
If any of the following apply to you, you’re in the right place:
- you KNOW that you cannot and will not look the other way
- you don’t want to find yourself using your mental illness as an excuse not to fully participate — but you admit that it’s possible you are
- you want to participate and likely already have
- you feel that you’re not doing enough because you’re not able to keep up with the efforts of others
- you are lost in finding ways to participate with your full self
- you’re aware of your certain privilege as you try to avoid and/or disengage from current events, and/or
- you’re here
I hope that this post would give you some food-for-thought that will allow you to assess your participation and participation capacity, and reexamine what participation looks like for you.
STRATEGY/IDEA 1 is understanding your participation capacity, which includes the time, emotional energy, and physical and mental abilities available to you.
In short, understanding your participation capacity is asking the question: How much can I take and how much can I do?
This takes bit of:
- trial and error, experimentation. What images, videos, stories can you take in? In what context? How many? What speaks (or encourages) you into activism, and what makes you shrug away from it?
- boundary setting. Media consumption, social media scrolling, bedtime.
- reflection. What has my activism looked like in the past? How did it work out for me? How have I participated in the fight this week? How did I feel? Could I have done more?
We want those fighting to be contributing with their full selves. Find out what that means for you. It could change, BTW, so check in with yourself often.
STRATEGY/IDEA 2 is understanding what constitutes participation.
Protests are wonderful. And political rallies and fundraising events. Any big event likely the most visible to passersby and the media. But it would be silly to believe that those are the only right way, the best way, the most important way to participate and make headway in human rights. What makes change is the combination of a sweeping variety of efforts, in all realms, at once. The Tipping Point, anyone?
A person who has attended marches and rallies and fundraisers, why wasn’t I participating in local protests? Clearly I am complacent! But there are myriad ways to participate that we must not forget about. The sweeping variety of efforts, in all realms, at once:
My advice to you is to pick one or two actions that are up your ally and really do them. Like really do them sustainably. Do them because those actions makes sense for you and will make a difference over time.
STRATEGY/IDEA 3 is to keep pressing the gas.
When getting from point A to point B, most times you can’t just go 60 miles/hour. There are going to be stoplights or traffic or some merging or bad weather or an accident. But you still have to press the gas almost the entire time the whole way there.
You might need to hit a stop sign and hit the brake for a minute. That doesn’t mean that’s it, trip’s over. It means you approach a stop sign and hit the brake for a minute, then continue toward your destination.
If and when you make it to a more emotionally stable state (meaning you can actually do things during the day (movement-related or not), you feel resilient, you feel semi-productive, you can take in information): encourage yourself to try one of the ways that makes you feel a li’l less comfortable. Or add an additional action to your list.
That’s how we keep pressing the gas while participating fully and caring for ourselves and others.
P.S. in case we haven’t met…
you seem normal is a mental health medium run by 24-year-old communication professional (hello!) who… well, seems normal. Turns out, my roommate is mental illness. Actually more like my unborn, and non-conceived baby. Because it’s like, inside of me. This is getting weird already. Topics of focus: self-awareness (we love it), mood, anger management, perfectionism, relationships & boundaries.