“Caring for myself is not self indulgence, it is self preservation, and that is an act of political warfare” - Audre Lorde
I became aware of Audre Lorde after being given the book “A Burst of Light” by my colleague whilst we were both attending a multicultural feminist counselling course. (Yes, it was a real course, and yes, it was epic!) I thanked her for the book, promising to read it immediately. I did not of course and instead placed the book on top of the pile with all the other unread books I had in my flat. As the book collected dust over the months, I would stare at it and think, “when I find time, I’m definitely going to read that book”. Thing was, I never seemed to have enough time, working ridiculously long hours and never giving myself time to replenish my energies before I started working again.
I had always been told to take care of myself and have more of a work-life balance as I would likely burnout from the stress of being a practitioner and campaigner in the women’s sector. Being an excitable 20-something-year-old, working in a sector that I was so passionate about, I felt invincible and paid no attention to what was being said. I also had no idea what having a work-life balance meant and thought it was just therapist jargon. My colleagues were exactly the same, all running on adrenaline, so I figured this was normal. And anyway, my brash younger self would never admit to having any problems. I was a hard northern, Asian, working class woman. I can handle it!
As is the case with most activists, I did indeed succumb to burnout, the effects of which crept up on me slowly, although on reflection, I presented with very obvious symptoms quite early on, but ignored them. I realised that my diminishing emotional health was having a direct impact on my physical health. I needed to learn more about these somatic symptoms, but also, to look into why I was not taking my mental health seriously. Time to read that book!
In order to begin my recovery from burnout, and for there not to be any long term effects, I sought professional support, which I was able to do through my employers, and made radical changes in my life that helped me on my journey. It was essential that this therapeutic work was holistic and intersectional in its approach for it to have meaning for me.
Self care is a phrase that has become a bit of buzz word in activist circles, but what does that mean for us and where can we go for support? Well, luckily for you, I’ve trawled through the internet so you don’t have to.
You may be able to receive therapeutic services through your GP, or they can refer you to several psychological services including IAPT, which you can refer yourself too as well. Visit their website
Many higher education colleges and schools have in house counselling services for free, so it’s worth contacting student support services where you are to find out more.
Free and low cost counselling services specifically for the BME community. Counsellors are based across the UK. More details can be found Visit their website
Several therapeutic models of therapy are offered here, with a focus on holistic work. Trainees and graduates offer low-cost and full-fee counselling/psychotherapy. Minimum fee of £5 per session. Visit their website
A holistic LGBT organisation that offers a range of support services, including counselling. Visit their website
Offers a range of services, for individuals, families, couples and group. Based in Lancaster. Fees from £5 per session Visit their website
Cork Counselling Services
Based in the south of Ireland. The counselling centre offers service on a “pay what you can afford” basis. Visit their website
East Wing Practice
Free and low-cost therapy services that is based in Westbury, Wiltshire and covers the surrounding area. Visit their website
Affordable counselling and therapeutic services in Edinburgh and Lothian area. For individuals, couples and families. Visit their website
A range of services can be found across the UK through MIND. Many MIND branches offer free or low-cost counselling services. Visit their website
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