Engaging in anti-racism / activism as a white man while recovering from cPTSD


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Hi everyone,

I'm a white man who has been becoming more engaged in anti-racism work and activism over the past year. Due to the symptoms of my cPTSD I live an isolated life with few relationships. As anti-racism and activism is often promoted as requiring us to educate others through our relationships, I can find myself feeling like an imposter within anti-racism, which is fuelled by the toxic shame my family put into me. I'm in the process of learning that my activism will look different to others because of the specific traumas I hold and that my way of being an activist is valid and OK.

I wonder if anyone else here is engaging in anti-racism activism while recovering from cPTSD? And if so, how they manage their mental health while doing so?
You can do any kind of advocacy work you want, but you should be sure you listen to the people that racism directly affects in regards to your advocacy.

Feeling like an imposter while doing advocacy work for any group you are not a member of simply comes with the territory.


before covid i did a fair amount of activist work, on an individual and community level. which is actually being out in the community, doing things. which was always very rewarding for me and something that has helped my ptsd far more than it has harmed. when covid hit my husband got wildly symptomatic with ocd. so i withdrew from doing a lot of activeties to help support him.

it can be a lot. some of the stuff i encountered was directly triggering. dealing with teenagers was especially hard. but i found it stimuleting. on top of being something i could tangibly do for others. to be able to provide education and assistence from a place of experience, in particuler, was highly valueble to me. because there are times when you know that you are talking to someone who is now, currently, where you were. and you didn't have a you, there.

i try my best to be anti-racist. but i don't think i'm in a place where that is something i can reliably, like, help other people with. because i am white. and i was raised by racist meth heads who didn't f*cking know any thing. and so obviously that is a life time worth of garbage that i'm still unlearning my self. but a lot of my community is of color and it is a global community of people so i'm exposed to a lot, generally!

with regards to that i spend all of my time learning. and not a lot of my time telling other people how to not be racist. since i barely know that my self. it does tie together in the sense that all the things in our society that are going on are interconnected. it's all f*cking connected. poverty and class and everything. it's all part of this big system of society. that we have just agreed is the best system. when it's not. it's just the system that benefits the people who are responsible for maintaining the system.

all you can do is what you can do. and you do not need to go hard and go fast all the time. it is okay, and vital that you take care of your self and your family, first. and not to take things too hard and too personally and consider your self a failure if something doesn't get to fruition or backslides a little bit. getting all the pieces together can be diffecult. it was always the part i hated most. especially of with all the paper work and things like that.

your story is never going to one hundred percent look like someone else's. and thank god for that, right?


I've engaged in decolonial feminism and queer societies while I'm white. It's a nice group of people. Mostly I don't talk and listen, and then come back try to educate my peers with my findings and reviewing things that I did learn.

Since recovery I have stopped the meetings also given to the fact I moved out and also had an ongoing violent relationship that just reduced anything I'd try to do to ashes.

But in general I found it soothing to be in a group where you speak about problems you find and want to fix. There was also a white only decolonial group where people coming from supremacist or colonial background and wanting to stick out of it could discuss their specifics without exposing people of colour to the added distress of seeing white people stressed about being white. Jeez I think we can spare people of colour of watching this. And the rest of the time shut the f*ck up and listen. I do like to listen. I listen a lot. I dustpan my thoughts and value systems a lot. I bring what I can bring with my capacities. But I would not advocate for a cause I'm not directly concerned and very likely to be an agent of silencing. So I try to pick spaces I can actually bring something and not do worse even if I'm intending to do well. And in a certain sense it helps to understand that being a racial minority feels like. Which I also have been by other aspects. But it's complex.

However in terms of racism I just got that no one wants white people to be repenting or guilty. What is needed is change. If I'm feeling bad about having done racist things and had racist ideas, which I obviously did, well it isn't their problem, it's mine. I personally have a certain problem with white folks embracing that kind of cause but still placing themselves in the centre of the thing. Not saying you're doing that. But it's a caveat I've seen at play so many countless times. So, regarding that specific militancy, I tend to remain very peripheral.


One of the most gratifying and healing experience throughout my adulthood was to volunteer for organizations that help marginalized groups. I often look at things concretely in such I separate my political from social/psychological from personal experiences. When I did volunteering and it was basically activism, I wanted to relate to people, to help those who may have less than me materially, and also to gain access to people...since my childhood thwarted much of that.

What I am learning now is what I was doing then was more or less healing my cptsd in more prosocial manner, trying to learn how to reconnect with humans, and in the process expand my own empathy. The reasons I know this latter part is that when a child is abused to the point of short of coming a psychopath themselves, the closest they become is disconnect from humanity, no trust, not learned how to give/receive love, hate or apathy or dissociation fills where love should, empathy goes underground (hard to learn empathy if your parents are f*cking you over on a daily basis). So now I know I was healing many parts of me that needed others to heal. I could use my aggression in activism. My anger in relating those protesting against goliath (system etc). My empathy to understand how others were oppressed in their adulthood and communities while I was oppressed in my home and lacked safety and only had material.

So by the time I went to therapy for cptsd in my 40s, I was not shocked, or super afraid, or super tender - I sort of had hard life and saw what happened to me as a child still happens to even adults through real systematic racisms regimes that most of us just normalize cause well it does not impact us everyday. I am glad though I did not lose myself again in this process and could separate when needed but I felt I could use my fighting in adulthood proactively where as a child, I was crashed.

I applaud your courage. I think you will do good job and will heal some subtle things you may not even know such as even mini biases. What I learned the most and this was a life lesson was because I am not oppressed, I had to learn how to differentiate me and them and yet relate to others equally - power is real in society and those not aware of their power become like mini trumps. This is a serious mental breakdown for me as a child...never being allowed to be a person...over processed, over control, and extreme engulfment. With others not like me exactly, I could see the difference but I could go deeper (few layers down), and see we are not so different just our journeys are different and truly be empathic in their struggle as humans.

I think as long as you can accept that others will be also traumatized and just like you, their trauma may be triggered by a white man in the midst of all and you can hold that aside of your own humanity, and let them be and let you be...you will benefit and they will too from your interaction.

I really think this sort of community building is what we need in times of high ptsd and other traumatic events a lot of us are recovering from.

All the best to you. It is humbling experience.