Self-care is the buzzword of the pandemic. What happens when self-care isn't enough? Are you supposed to suffer alone, curl up in a corner, cry and just disappear until you feel ok?
Abeni Jones, a trans woman of color, artist, educator, writer, and designer writes that when we apply self-care:
We’re taught that we have all we need, that the power for transformation and thriving is within us, just waiting to be harnessed. That we alone can beat back the demons plaguing us and come through to the other side refreshed and ready to fight again.
Paul Napper and Anthony Rao define agency in The Power of Agency, as:
The ability to act as an effective agent for yourself — it requires getting your mind, body, and emotions in balance to think clearly, advocate for yourself, and make choices that create positive things in your life.
Psychologists refer to the inability to make good decisions due to mounting stress as the main reason for the loss of agency. The authors quote a 17-year-old high school senior describe a typical day:
Nearly every minute of my day, everything I do isn’t what I care about.
Nakita Valerio, an award-winning Canadian writer, researcher, and Muslim community organizer, tweeted:
Shouting “self-care” at people who actually need “community care” is how we fail people.
Valerio says community care involes:
People committed to leveraging their privilege to be there for one another in various ways. … They (the care providers) know that when they will also need care in the future, others will be there for them. It’s about being there for people without them having to take the initial first step.
If someone you know has lost their agency, an important question to ask is:
How can I best support you?
Community care makes it possible for a friend to stand with you when you are suffering alone. You realize you might need community support when yet another self-care bubble bath, massage or whatever it is you do alone, no longer works.