more on self-care during these times // trigger warning: news and politics

I guess I’m not alone:

Friend, writer and L.A. comic Angel Castillo on self-care

Compassion, self care, guilt, motivation.

A post shared by Angel M. Castillo (@angelmcomedy) on

Building and maintaining community is so important right now.  Being unable to tolerate being in groups of people, most especially protests, one thing that has made such a difference to me has been regularly connecting with my like-minded people on the phone.  These people have become my family.

Social media can be helpful, but also very tricky.  I drew back from fb (I just hate doing free advertising for them, so I tell myself that by abbreviating the name of the site, and by not linking to it, I’m waging a small protest.  Yeah, right, kat).  Yet, I get so much from instant messaging with certain folks.  I get to give and receive emotional support.  I get to learn that I’m not alone in my outrage, fear, anger and in feeling kinda helpless…Kinda ‘What the hell do I do to change my country?  I’m so freaking lost!’  I get to have dialogue with people, and I value that highly, particularly right now.  Plus, that’s the only place where I’m in contact with certain friends-who-are-family.

My social media self-care strategy is something like this:  I dart in real quick on all the sites I use (like, with a hand covering one eye).   I do a quick glance.  If I see something that triggers me, I look at it for a quick sec to check whether or not it’s news from a reliable source (not triggering // not a polemic from the left or the right).  If it passes the test, then I open up the article.  I scan the article, applying the same safeties.  If it passes the second test, then I start reading.  If I come across something that triggers me (the way I know is that I start having a panic attack), I skip it, and then scan the rest of the piece.  If anything jumps out, I stop reading and get outta there.  Otherwise, I read it.

So, social media sites can be helpful and hurtful.  I’ve found valuable information, both news and what friends are saying and experiencing.  I’ve also found meaningful daily connection and support.  If you can get through the potential obstacles, you find your community.  This is what I’m learning.

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Advocating for Social Justice While Managing Your Health Condition

That’s it. The end is here. It happened. Our President, his Cabinet and our Congress are already at work. They’re going to make the poor poorer, and make it even less safe for people of color, refugees and immigrants, the climate, LGBTQ+ individuals, and those of us who have particular health challenges or Disabilities.  That barely describes the minimum of potential damage.

I’ve been limiting my news intake to sources like ProPublica , Democracy Now!, and the odd Washington Post  or Guardian article that someone posts on facebook. I can’t listen to soundbites of Donald Trump without having PTSD flashbacks about my dad. It’s like hearing my dad all over again.

However, a friend pointed out that I can’t hide. I thought about it, and she’s right. As an articulate, educated person with skin color privilege and a bourgeois/middle class/wealthy background, I get so many passes.

Living below the poverty line for most of my adulthood, and then going through the NYC shelter and benefits system opened my eyes to how many passes I get. I wonder how helpful it is to name the instances here. It may just be hurtful. But you can ask me, and if we have trust between us, I’ll tell you. You just have to take my word for it.

So now it’s time for those of us with white privilege to advocate, advocate, advocate. I admit I’m new at it. I’m on a limited income, but I give a monthly pittance to the news sites I mentioned above. I’ll put the donate buttons for ProPublica and Democracy Now! below. I sent a little money to the bail fund for Inauguration Day (#J20) activists. I’ll put a link to the activist group below. I bought an issue of The Social Justice Journal from AK Press .  I plan to read it when I am reasonably sure that I won’t get a migraine from reading.

We need to follow #BlackLivesMatter.  We need to listen to what the Latino community is telling us they need from us.  They’re really spelling it all out for us:  Police aggression; wage theft; ICE raids against nonviolent criminals; slavery in the prison system; the disproportionately high number of people with brown skin who are arrested, prosecuted and incarcerated; and where the money from the private prison industry goes.

Let’s really fucking talk about this!  How do those of us who have chronic or acute health conditions manage our health and still participate?  How do those of you who have a demanding job, or 3 low-paying jobs, or a hard day with the kids all by yourself do it?  What do you tell your kids about hate?

I know that I stay away from cable news and most newspapers.  I absolutely do not read the President’s tweets, unless I see a debate among activist friends on facebook.  However, I glance at it quickly, consider the source, see if I can find some good reporting on it and GET OUT OF THERE FAST.  Then I write in my journal a little, or sing really loud to Lemonade, or take an angry nap, or go for a walk if I’m down with that.  Or I order a massive amount of Penne Alla Vodka and a pizza.  God, I can’t wait for John Oliver to come back.

How do I be Bi-Queer-Fluid and out and stay safe?  What about having Disabilities and staying safe, particularly Mental Health conditions?

I know I sure as hell am scrambling to get back into a BA program and planning to get as many degrees as I need to in order to be employable:  Because as we speak, this administration is putting together policies that will dismantle Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, Food Stamps, Cash Assistance, Unemployment and Social Security benefits.  Yes, that’s what the previous four or five administrations have been doing, but it’s looking like this one will do it faster, louder and with less accountability.

There’s so much to talk about.

I normally don’t get comments, but please contribute!

In solidarity,

-kat

donate to Democracy Now!

donate to ProPublica

donate to the National Lawyers Guild, who represented arrestees on #J20