Taraki x Movember: Reflection 12

Taraki x Movember: Reflection 12
A Year into Our Journey: Turning Pain into Collective Joy

It’s been a busy couple of months here at Taraki in our Social Connections Challenge project, probably the busiest part of the project. As a result, I’ve not had much time to reflect and share for the past couple of months.

In a ‘typical’ job I would feel a level of guilt, however, this isn’t the case at Taraki. At Taraki we’ve cultivated a belief in this project and in our wider work that we don’t do things for the sake of it or to ‘show face’. Ultimately we believe everything has a time and a place, we try not to force work, especially reflective practices.

Having had a couple of months away, I wanted to reflect on how far we’ve come as we hit the halfway mark in this 2-year project. While there is a lot to reflect on at the halfway mark, I wanted to celebrate what we’re doing through our work. This is especially important given how intimately tied our work is to our lived experience and challenges with mental ill-health.

Looking back, growing up with severe anxiety was tough and the sense of mental suffocating was only made worse by the stigma around mental ill-health. It was something you simply didn’t discuss, especially as someone who was socialised as a cis-het (straight) man. While it was challenging growing up and navigating the stigma around mental ill-health, it’s incredible to see and be a part of the progress that’s been made since. I would have never imagined I would be part of safe spaces where men can come have a chat about how we are feeling, without being shamed, excluded or labels being placed on our masculinities.

I guess for this month’s reflection I have nothing profound to offer other than the fact that there’s something so beautiful and nourishing about being involved in work that directly brings men together from different life experiences and identities to support ourselves and each other to build a better future. For ourselves and future generations. There’s so much power in that, it’s hard to put into words or convey on paper (a blog in this case). In a personal capacity, as someone who experienced debilitating anxiety in my early 20s, it felt like I had lost 2/3 years of my life. For the longest period, this narrative consumed a big part of my identity. This is why, it’s such a moment of pride for me to know that not only have I been able to overcome my mental health challenges, but more importantly, I’ve been able to shape my identity positively about my mental health work.

So, while we may have hit the halfway mark in our 2-year journey of this project, through this work and the community we are building, we are positively impacting and re-writing the narrative for mental health journey’s for folks taking part (participating or organiser like myself) that may have started a long period before that. Narratives that may have been very harmful to individuals. This is where the power of this beautiful work is, it’s the ability to rewrite and build new for old narratives (individual and structural) that would have historically defined people and stopped them from achieving their full potential.

I guess I’m trying to get at that is that while we work in mental health through peer support, we’re ultimately trying to remove barriers in mental health that stop men from being their best selves.

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