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Black, indigenous and women of color are not your sin-eaters, we don’t exist to endure pain for the sake of our communities.

The 1st of May marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Month, and Wear Your Voice’s writers and editors have always worked on shedding light on the mental illness, health and the stigma attached to both. Mental health is a feminist issue—it is inextricably linked to oppressions like misogyny, queerphobia, transphobia, racism, ableism and a multitude of others. Studies have proven what we already know through our experiences: racism is literally making us sick. Micro and macro-aggressions take a toll on our mental health, and for those of us with mental illnesses, treatment is often difficult, heavily stigmatized or ignored. In our worst moments, mental illness can lead to the police killing us rather than helping us. Our pain goes unnoticed or untreated because there are limits to the empathy people feel for us, especially for indigenous and Black women and femmes. Resilience happens to be the thing people praise about us rather than our vulnerability or softness. But when do we get to be open, honest and broken without being discarded because we cannot take care of everyone around us? Why is it that people expect us to fix everything without taking the time to heal from our own wounds?
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Committing to self-love whispered quietly in your mind is all you need to ground yourself in the work.

Self-love is a term that's honestly gotten a bad rep. Maybe it's from buzzing around social media for so long without committing to the work of unpacking what it really means, but there's a lot of confusion on the role that self-love plays in our lives. It's more than a fun buzzword — it's the starting point for all of the love that we feel and connect with others in our lives. It all begins with self-love.  So what exactly is self-love? At its simplest terms, self-love is, well, love that you have for yourself. But where most people go awry with this is seeing self-love as a destination that they need to reach. Creating conditionals for yourself — if I lose weight or finish this class or change whatever it is about myself that is holding me back — isn't the way to build a strong self-love. The love that we all desire and crave already exists in ourselves, no conditions necessary. As corny as it may sound, the following is the trust statement we could learn about self-love: self-love isn't a destination, it's a journey that we embark on, and every day we make the choice to take another step. Even in romantic relationships, making time to center self-love is important. Too often we can lose ourselves, our identities, the core of who we are in exchange for how good it feels to be part of a partnership. But who does it serve if we create a hierarchy of importance between our identities as self-loving individuals and loving romantic partners? Both are important. If we want to incorporate more love into our relationships, no matter what form they take, we have to start with a strong foundation of self-love. There's no other way around it.
Related: TAKING SELF-CARE BEYOND ITS COMMERCIALIZED VERSION

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