The older I'm getting, the more useless I feel. Any way a near-40 can stop being an armchair anarchist and turn to action?

Submitted by doombear in AskRaddle

Throughout my twenties, I was a committed activist. I started in animal rights, where fellow activists introduced me to anarchism. From 21 - 28, if it wasn't protesting for animal and human rights, I was also helping in Food Not Bombs, free self-defense training (I had years of Muay Thai experience) for activists, and other activities with my fellow friends. This was nearly an everyday thing for me.

When I was 29, I had two violent assaults against me within a month, both stemming from the place I was working at the time. One almost lead to my death, and had a weapon involved. I won't go into detail on either, but I never processed the emotions from the attacks. I thought I could tough them out. I couldn't.

I lost interest in activism within a year. I found myself afraid of everything, paranoid of everybody. Even if a friend disagreed with something I agreed with, I felt panic. I couldn't talk. I froze, pretty much. I dealt with this for years, just thinking I had developed some sort of anxiety somewhere. Feeling like I couldn't operate in this world anymore, I fell into depression and pretty much lost everything. I had to move back in with my parents. I couldn't even keep a job without being absolutely paralyzed with fear by a boss telling me I did something wrong.

Well, I finally got into therapy a year ago. And was diagnosed with PTSD. We've been processing my trauma and my attacks, and although I feel much better and my life is so much better now than it was a year ago, I'm still terrified of getting back into activism.

Because activism means action, to me. And action usually means confronting people. And in today's political climate confronting those who are violently opposed to you. I'm at a point in my therapy that I can get through a civil debate without my PTSD triggering, but any overt anger directed towards me still triggers my symptoms.

I also feel like the older I get, the less of a voice I have. I'm sure that's just an excuse my anxiety makes to keep me on the sidelines, but it is there.

As I'm continuing therapy, is there anything I can do to not feel so hopeless? To stop being an armchair anarchist? To fight without actual confrontation, at least until my PTS symptoms start getting better?



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GaldraChevaliere wrote

The oldest folk I know in FNB are pushing their sixties. Grab a ladle. It's probably about the gentlest thing you can do for direct action and the least likely to bring you into conflict that you want to avoid.


ziq wrote

Helping grow the food in community gardens is another very peaceful thing where you can avoid confrontation.


celebratedrecluse wrote (edited )

Seconding both, also if you have an interest in medicine you can learning some basic nursing skills and help take care of elderly (edit: or other folks requesting a nurse's assistance) folks in your community. That kind of labor, while difficult to do on one's own without working with others, is dramatically underserved in many areas. Plus, as social benefits are cut from collapsing neoliberalism, more people are needing medical solidarity all the time


shanc wrote

Because activism means action, to me. And action usually means confronting people. And in today's political climate confronting those who are violently opposed to you.

Not necessarily, comrade. Look at Chomsky. You don't have to go toe to toe with the world; just calmly make your point in the best way you can (in writing maybe? you write very well) and move on. Good luck <3


Tequila_Wolf wrote

Writing and publishing, hosting reading groups, providing spaces like infoshops, generally funding radical projects, are some of the ways you can do things to help with minimal confrontation.

What are the needs of your local spaces? I'm sure you could find ways to help that suit your desires also.


matches_malone wrote

I think you just need to get back out there and pick up where you left off - self defense training, food not bombs - these are incredibly impactful things that help people.


TheLegendaryBirdMonster wrote (edited )

  1. its normal to be less effective at stuff if you have ptsd!

  2. Looks like you have a huge amount of knowledge/experience under your belt. that is something you can bring that other "more active" younger people don't have.

You could try doing education, I second TW in their proposition of organizing a reading group.

Another "soft" direct action could be the "zero waste" movement: you could do workshops about making DIY soap or something like that.


sudo wrote

Because activism means action, to me.

That isn't necessarily the case. Overthrowing capitalism requires enacting a long-term strategy of educating workers about the evils of capitalism, and what socialism really is. Educating your fellow workers is fighting back; you're laying the foundation for the revolution, even if that revolution won't happen in your lifetime. Only the smallest of the small-minded would reject long-term strategies such as this because they produce no immediate results.


Cheeks wrote

Find anything that needs to be done and find a couple of people to help you do it. As anarchists in action we are problem solvers, as anarchists the rest of the time we are analytical. Damn near anything can be direct action or mutual aid if it's eercised as such. Find out what your community needs and find a way to make it happen that involves them.