Protecting your mental health while protesting/advocating

“In Nigeria, the only wrongdoers are those who do no wrong; to live a day in Nigeria is to die many times.”- Ken Saro Wiwa

Doesn’t matter if it’s online or offline, you’re doing hard hard work!

Like joke, like joke, we’ve been protesting for almost a week, and I’m so inspired and proud of everyone standing up and speaking against SARS on and offline. I know for a lot of us it’s personal and a lot of us just want a better life while some of us just want to stand for a cause. All thought processes are valid.

It’s not easy and it’s difficult, complex work. The other day, I suffered a panic attack and even in my sleep, my hands were still shaking, I saw someone’s guts online, bruh I wasn’t made for that gory shit.

For clarity, mental health isn’t just about being calm, it’s about acknowledging the reality on ground. The reality now is that SARS is a menace and we are honestly tired. Mental health is about experiencing emotions even though they are bitter sweet. Mental health is feeling sad when you lose someone, anger when you’re crossed…

You don’t want to be involved to the point that you spread yourself too thin and get to the point where you’re like, ‘You know, I wish things would just go back to the way they were,’” where there wasn’t a heightened call to action, where all this drama wasn’t happening, where we were taking life jeje.

You don’t want to begin to hate all the positive efforts and strides you’re making because you’re burning yourself out.  

When we get into advocacy/protesting at any age, there are some hard conversations we have to have with ourselves, ‘what am I protesting against?’, ‘why am I passionate about this?’, ‘which of my core values are being crossed?’

A few ways to take care of your mental health while protesting:

• Eat some food, drink water, and rest properly

• Don’t develop a hero complex or an air of superiority as that’ll constantly make you upset over unnecessary things

• Take a break from social media and twitter, don’t be like Yommie and scroll yourself into a panic attack

• Speak to your immediate family and loved ones a lot, their love and compassion will outlast the current SARS unrest

• Find allies who support what you’re doing, so you don’t feel isolated or alone

• Invest some time in exercising

• Find your strengths and stick with them, instead of trying to do everything at once ask yourself where you can be the most effective without being burnt out. Personally, I’m better with writing and online advocacy than taking the streets. This doesn’t mean I won’t take the streets but my core focus will be gaining online traction and telling stories about the movement. Doing all forms of protesting is not sustainable long term.

• Having community is more important now because suffering from mental health issues is more prevalent in isolation. Protesting in the middle of a pandemic is heavy work. You don’t have to tell your family and friends how you’re feeling specifically but sometimes you just need to laugh with someone or share a drink

• It’s important to manage how involved you are every day because it can lead feeling burnt out . “If you’re going to be updated, tell yourself, ‘I’m only really going to check in once in the morning and then once in the evening’ and stick with it, implémentation is key.

• Protesters and advocates need to learn when to step back and when to tap back in.

You’re a hero, you fighting on the frontline, you fighting on your keypad, you having the difficult conversations, you donating food, money, raincoats, drinks, water, you educating yourself about the menace from SARS we are experiencing.

We are all hero’s and the journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. In the words of my lovely mother ‘Moderation in everything’ this is a huge chunk of advocacy and protesting so whole fighting for a better life and a better Nigeria, please take care of yourself. Na person who Dey alive dey advocate o.

Please feel free to share how you’re also taking care of yourself with me, plus your comment may help someone.

Your favorite neighborhood slay queen,

Yommie

2 thoughts on “Protecting your mental health while protesting/advocating”

  1. Anthony Onwukwe

    Sorosoke werey!!!!!!. Yomi this piece is amazing.
    Personally based on the fact that I can only agitate online , I still see things. I mangae my mental health by not letting those things get to me and try to keep myself sane. Watch comedy videos, listen to gospel messages and laugh with friends. And try to put sense in any Werey wey dey disguise 😁. #A better Nigeria.

    1. Hey Anthony, thank you so much, protesting online can also get pretty overwhelming honestly, My heart is broken for all the people who lost their lives but hopefully this is the first step in the change we need.

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