Advice for mental health activists.
or, some things I learned over the past quarter century
You need much thicker skin. Ironic, yes, given the topic.
Helping the vulnerable demands the strongest armor.
Cultivate an attitude of utter indifference to criticism.
First of all: practice radical, transformational self-care.
You must wear your own oxygen mask first and foremost.
This should be obvious, but altruists are sadists by nature.
It’s thankless labor. If you expect thanks, quit while you can.
Your contributions, however, do not go wholly unnoticed.
If no one else will, I cheer, love, respect, and salute you.
Having said this, don’t expect acclaim, accolades, applause.
One more thing. Expectations. Heat. Pushback. Smoke.
You will get attacked. Dragged. Slandered. It is what it is.
You’ll lose followers, friends, readers, clients, jobs, money.
Yes, this has gotten marginally better in the past decade.
Sadly, thanks in part to high-profile celebrity suicides.
Anthony Bourdain. Chester Bennington. Robin Williams.
Kate Spade. Verne Troyer. Avicii. May they rest in peace.
This is sad yet true. Once it hits Hollywood, it MATTERS!
See: HIV/AIDS. Tinseltown literally bankrolled antiretrovirals.
Meanwhile, kids drink sewage in Flint. Nobody bats an eye.
This is to say mental health is the new cool cause du jour.
But it’s not a casual, weekend seminar, cakewalk workshop.
There’s no blue-check-verified badge of honor validation.
Not an extracurricular hobby, part-time passion pet project.
For those who live it, live with it, it is living. It is life itself.
Expect badmouthing, calumny, gossip, libel, and slander.
If I had a nickel for every awful thing said/written about me.
I lost my uncle to suicide January 1994. I was 4 years old.
You could say I have been doing this work ever since then.
South Asian communities, families, societies shun stigmas.
So you have to be each other’s therapist, even your own.
This is true for myself, my parents, and my grandparents.
25 years ago, I stopped counting the many vicious smears.
That is all. Do the work. Saving a life is worth everything.
You are doing God’s work. In this life, it is unglamorous.
Endure. Therein lies the dignity. Therein lies the integrity.
Therein lies the purpose. Therein lies the service. Endure.