DIY Emotional Well-Being Tips

A drawing in profile of a cartoon head, with the words Mental Health coming out as a string from it's mouth.

taken from the 2009 Slingshot Organizer

Fighting oppression is hard work, both physically and emotionally. Too many activists burn out and disappear from their communities because of the frustrations of fighting an uphill battle. Sharing our feelings about the difficulties of working on the frontlines is a crucial form of solidarity and friendship.

Crisis Prevention
Everyone will eventually have a crisis — are you prepared for yours? It’s a good idea to develop your support network now. Modern society isolates; someday you may need a shoulder to weep on.

Crisis Recovery
Society provides few options for people in crisis other than mental hospitals, religion, and psychiatric drugs. The values of freedom, love, and community don’t end when you’re in crisis. In fact, they can save your life. The key is empowerment — what do you feel really helps? Examples:

A mutual support group is simply peers listening to and helping peers as equals — validating, if not “endorsing,” feelings.

Try to remember to breathe.

Nature and wilderness are our greatest healers. Spend some time outside the city to get centred and get away from mind-altering pollution.
Physical activity is often helpful for depression, etc.

Art, journaling, zine-making, music, singing, and other forms of personal expression are often safe ways to break the silence with others, and even yourself, about inner pain.

Don’t neglect your basic needs: sleep, food, shelter, fresh air, etc.

Find a counsellor who actually supports your self-determination. Ask lots of questions, especially about confidentiality, if someone else — such as your parents, boss, or the government — is paying for your therapy.

Practising meditation or spiritual disciplines may help you relax.

There is no shame in using psychiatric drugs if you know they work for you. Many communities have 24-hour-a-day crisis hotlines or centres. (See info in the resources section.)

If you have a loved one in crisis, ask them if you and/or their counsellor can hold an emergency gathering or potluck to assemble their mutual support network — and find out what they truly need at this crucial time. However, don’t act over their heads.

Evade the Brain Police
If you find yourself threatened with psychiatric coercion, it’s a good time to get real calm, real fast. Authorities — shrinks, doctors, cops, schools — tend to provoke and then diagnose your reactions of fear, despair, and anger. When they provoke, act even calmer. Know your rights, get a lawyer, and find help real soon.

Cartoon of an alien body eating itself.