Recovering Outside the Western Medical System – Part 1

In this two-part staff blog, Bootcamp and Everyday Activism Trainer Karen reflects on her work as an activist and how it led to combining social justice and self-help.

My background in activism came as a result of experiencing injustices in the mental health system. As a result, I have spent over a decade researching self-improvement techniques in an attempt to manage my symptoms, overcome trauma and build on my ability to heal myself outside of the mental health system. 

Initially, what I was learning about self care didn’t resonate with me, because these techniques are often expensive and inaccessible to most people. They are used to maximise profit and productivity, rather than helping people understand and heal from oppression.

I felt the self-help industry blamed marginalised people for their trauma and inability to manifest material success. The more I got involved in activism, the more these frustrations increased. Alongside these feelings grew an awareness that social justice work is full of people who are passionate, engaged and driven to make the world a better place, but who are also overwhelmed, traumatised, exhausted and underpaid. This informed my passion for bridging the gap between social justice and self-help. 

Since embarking on this journey, I have come across Black, brown and queer astrologers, tarot readers, crystal healers and other alternative practitioners on social media that are healing themselves from the wounds of oppression and helping others to do the same. I have discovered people who are changing the mental health system from within by developing trauma-informed modalities. I have met inspiring and truth-telling practitioners in the self-help and coaching industries who are passionate about social justice and calling their colleagues out on their privilege and the oppression they perpetuate. 

Concepts such as healing justice, mutual aid and collective care have helped me to re-conceptualise my recovery journey. I am on a soul-enriching journey of self-discovery which involves developing new ways to show up in my own life, be of service to others and decolonise my approach to mental health and wellbeing.

This is an important part of my social change work and has helped me to develop the self-compassion, vision and clarity needed to heal from the wounds of oppression. It helps me have an outward focus for my healing intentions so I can be part of creating a more caring and just world.

As activists, we are often focused on fighting against systems of oppression, fuelled by emotions such as fear, anger and resentment. For me, this has led to burnout and emotional rock bottoms. By shifting our focus towards uprooting the oppressive messages and behaviours we have internalised, letting go of our need to change other people, and prioritising our inner peace and wellbeing, we can step into our power and help others do the same. In doing so, we can transform ourselves and the world around us.

To be continued… Part two, featuring Karen’s 5 top self-care tips, will be up on our blog and in the newsletter next month. So stay tuned by signing up to our newsletter

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