Dear advocates, activists and allies,
I saw on Twitter this morning that a few people were apologising for not being the ‘right’ kind of activist. People were saying sorry for not meeting certain requests by people in the community and being made to feel like a fake. I won’t name people, but I would imagine this will come as no surprise to those in the mental health community in particular who, ironically, seem to love bringing each other down. I know it’s not all of us, or even most of us, but it is still too many.
When we got into this, we weren’t tied to a specific agenda or cause. We never read a book on what you should and shouldn’t say and we never set out with the aim of being the perfect advocate for our cause. All we ever did was try and help, a few people at a time. For some, this help involved huge projects, rallying people together in a unified cause and gaining thousands of followers. For others, it was tweeting ‘I’m having a rough day today’ to three followers. And you’re all just as important.
There is no right way to campaign or speak out, but, more importantly, speaking out in one way does not mean you owe anything more than that to the community. You are probably not a trained professional in your field. If you write a piece on depression, you are not obligated to offer additional help to anyone who happens to have depression. You are not obligated to do anything at all. It’s your blog or social media account. If you wanted to close it today then that would be fine.
What I hope people take from this is that it isn’t about what you say or how you say it, it’s about your ability to say it in the first place. So if you have ever talked about your health (physical or mental), your ethnicity, your sexuality or anything that people just don’t know enough about, I am grateful for what you do, I will always be grateful for what you do, even if it doesn’t help me.
So please, never let me catch you apologising for being a badass speaker for your people ever again. Even if you only change on person’s outlook, that’s one more than before.