Mental Health After TEOTWAWKI
So often, we talk about the enemy as the guy with the gun that might just come and take away your preps – or your family. There are a few more dangerous enemies that we should be thinking about. They are much closer to us than “gun guy” and are infinitely more dangerous.
Enemy #1 – ourselves
Mental health, like physical health is not always stable. There is a great deal of mental illness in our society. A friend of mine said to me that we don’t have to worry about the ones who take the medication – we have to worry about the ones who don’t. So if we are stable prior to SHFT but soon run out of medication, how will that affect our ability to survive. When there are no more happy pills, will we just curl up in a ball and wish for it all to be over? Now’s the time to be looking into reducing our dependence on drugs.
I’m not suggesting that mental health pharmaceuticals are unnecessary – Just like the thyroxine I must take for the rest of my life to replace thyroid hormones that my stupid thyroid refuses to produce, there are some people who require psychiatric medication to function normally. If you are solar powered and need sunshine or you get depressed, work out a schedule for getting out every day. Once you have discovered that exercise can elevate mood better than most medications, build that into your daily schedule. Sugar – bad, colorful vegetables – good.
Work on reducing what you need from outside sources. Do your best to stockpile your medication, research the best way to store it long term and then remember to rotate your stock – you life may depend on it.
Tied to mental health is lack of motivation. If we have had difficulty motivating ourselves or procrastinating prior to SHFT, how much better are we going to be at this after SHFT? If this is where you have difficulties, consider forcing yourself to accomplish ONE thing at a time. It can be as simple as taking out the garbage, or cleaning the cat litter box – but do it. Right now. Then revel in the feeling of accomplishment for a bit. I know from personal experience that procrastination can weigh heavy on a person’s shoulders.
I also know that when “I really need to….” has been swirling around a person’s mind for a long time and then the task is suddenly completed, there is a period of time when lack of a new goal (obsession) to focus on can lead to almost a depressive state. This might be dealt with by simply keeping a running “to-do” list. Top jobs are crossed off and new ones are always added to the bottom. I will put money on the fact that those who are task oriented are most likely to survive after SHFT.
Lack of confidence. Do we really believe that we could survive all alone in our BOL for 6 months? How can you be sure that what you are doing now really is going to be helpful or useful if SHTF. This is where we need to practice. When you have practiced something often enough, you can do it without expending much mental energy. This is important because all your mental energy will need to be used to deal with new situations. Learn now to make the biscuits, shoot the gun, set the traps, paddle the canoe – whatever skills you might think you need.
Make a list of useful skills – put essentials skills at the top and fluffy stuff at the bottom. Learning to make play dough for the kids without a recipe is a good idea but learning repair your own clothing is probably more important. Chip away at that list. For me, learning to knit socks has come to the top of the list.
There are at least 8 people in my family and we live in a cold climate. Socks are essential. To stockpile enough socks for us for a couple of years might not be as useful as learning to knit socks. I have the sheep, stockpiled feece from the past 15 years, spinning wheel and knitting needles.
My food preps are squared away and my water supply is as secure as I can make it. The hours that I sit and wait for my kids to do their music lessons is used to learn to knit. Security is also at the top of my list but knitting is easier than target practice to do as I wait in the baby room in the church where my kids have choir .
Enemy #2 – others in our household
As a leader in your house, it is up to you to make sure that things run smoothly and everyone knows their role. When a group of people have lived with each other for a long time, they can usually predict how others will react in certain situations. For example, my daughter loves blueberries. I know that if I leave a bag of frozen blueberries visible in the freezer, she will likely help herself to a bowl full. This is fine if I am not trying to ration those berries so they can be a treat for all 8 people in our family.
It is in my best interest and in the interest of everyone in the family to keep those blueberries away from her sight. Rather than risk a fight over blueberries, I take action when I can to avoid family conflict. Yes, she needs to learn self control – but if I want harmony and this behavior drives me bananas, I have to be the one to make the change to avoid the conflict. She can practice her self control on other things that don’t bother me.
The relative stranger. This is scary. I know first hand just how scary. Last year, just about this time, my niece came to live with us. I had not seen her since she was an infant and saw no reason why at age 22 she shouldn’t join us. I imagined that she could help with childcare, homeschooling and housework. In return, we would teach her about farm life, show her the sights in the area and help her upgrade her schooling and get a job. It was only a few minutes after she got off the plane that I realized that things were not going to match up to my little fantasy.
She did not like my children and was rude to them. I think when she saw stored food and supplies, she felt that they must be consumed – and so consume she did. Poured dish soap and shampoo down the sink, used at least a roll of toilet paper every day, left water running in faucets, ate and ate and ate. She was rude and demanding.
Several times the police were involved. But she was family, with obvious mental health issues – she needed help. I did my very best to get her into a mental health facility but in the end, she went back “home” to a less than ideal situation. I felt both relieved and terrible. We are supposed to take care of family but her needs were more than I could attend to.
What if she had been here when SHFT? What if there was no “home” to send her back to? What if I had been stuck with her long term? What if your daughter brings home the boyfriend she is in love with and he is awful – but if you kick him out, then your daughter threatens to leave also! What if you remove your elderly parent with dementia from the personal care home when SHTF so they won’t starve to death there – but then you are overwhelmed with their physical and mental needs?
There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. But they are real questions that you may have to answer. Start thinking about them realistically now. Plan for mental health just as you do physical health, food, shelter, and water.
Security from outside threats is important to consider and is infinitely easier to deal with than the almost invisible threat of the breakdown of mental health.
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