There are a ton of articles, listicles and infographics out there about how the “burn and bust” culture among activists is harmful and how important self-care and taking time to rest is, to avoid activist burn-out. When leaders take time to take care of their mental health and practice community care the movement continues. 


I am so happy that this is the case and that we are finally (FINALLY!) having this conversation. 


But this is not one of those pieces. 


Instead, I am going to talk about activism as self-care. More specifically, the ways in which being an activist has helped me cope with my mental health, the realities of living as a multi-marginalised person, and with the larger world and systems around me. 


I’m a person who faces multiple forms of marginalisation – including racism, homophobia/biphobia, transphobia, gender-based oppression, and ableism. It would be very easy to feel powerless when I am aware that much (not all, because I do have some areas where I hold privilege and therefore power over others) of the world is built to, at best, not work for me, but perhaps more accurately, to actively work against me. 


Even simple things like bathrooms or venues for gigs I want to go to are often inaccessible – simply because people like me are either just not thought of, or society at large has decided we are not wanted in those spaces. 


To put it lightly, it can really get you down. 


For me, that’s where activism comes in. It’s a way to reclaim my power, to find community, to fight against forces that want me gone instead of accepting them. It helps me to see that there are people who care about my disempowerment and connects me to something bigger than myself (in a way I feel my ancestors and future generations would be proud of) and provide a path to push my way into spaces I was never “meant to be in”. 


Most importantly, it gives me hope that another world is possible, where life won’t have to feel like a fight. 


Activism may require us to practice self-care, but to me it is also an act of self-care in itself. 

This piece was written by one of the ICLA eFriend Peer Support Workers. eFriend is an online platform where you can connect with a trained peer support worker whom has their own lived experience of feeling lonely, isolated, stressed or worried. You can speak to your eFriend Peer via video or phone call. Your eFriend Peer will listen, validate and provide hope. If you like, they can also assist you to identify any other services you may like to try or help you create plans to improve your personal well-being. Or they can simply listen.

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