Activist trauma

Dear Subcomandauntie, Although always a radical at heart, it was the Iraq war that finally prised me from my armchair and into a rapid upward spiral of political activism. Alas, my overwhelming experience throughout has been one of repression - mental and physical - from state, police, capital and those authoritarians within our own movement. Demoralised and depressed, the last thing I can face right now is the prospect of robocops running riot against me and fellow demonstrators in Scotland this July. But this cowardice racks me with guilt and I desperately don't want to feel this way. Can you help? Burned Out of Birmingham

June 1, 2005 · 2 min read

Dear Burned Out,

A few decades back, during Auntie’s armed insurrectionary days, she’d have been tempted to horsewhip you at dawn amidst a stream of obscenities for such talk. These days Auntie never swears and has become more appreciative of the psychological slings and arrows the revolutionary must endure and overcome.

You are not alone. Thousands of comrades are suffering from mental exhaustion and depression, burnt out from taking on too much and getting too little support back from fellow activists in harder times.

Thankfully, there is growing support out there. Your first port of call is your NHS GP – if you’ve still got one, that is. While you’re off your arse, check out the local community counselling scene and established bodies like Mind and the NHS Mental Health Trust.

But there’s really no substitute for experience and it warms Auntie’s heart to see that a cadre of UK activists who have been hit hard themselves over the years are setting up a network of support and information for compañeros and compañeras in need. Calling themselves Activist Trauma, the group are holding a series of training and gathering awaydays to help people learn how to deal with burn out, depression, post-traumatic stress, and much more.

I hope this helps. Now, where’s my f#@king horsewhip.



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