You’re Really Stressing Me Out!
As we prepare ourselves and our family for an impending economic collapse or natural disaster we are constantly thinking about how much water we need or how long we can survive if the lights were out for an extended period of time. One thing that is just as important as all of that is your mental well being and dealing with stress in a SHTF scenario, how you will not just react during the beginning stages of a disaster, but how will the effects of a disaster wear you down mentally over time.
Turn The Lights Out
A way I have tried to see how my family would react without having what we think we need on a daily basis is simulate an off the grid event by shutting the power off for 24 hours. Although this does not tell you exactly how someone will react it will give you some small clues that will tell you how they could possibly react when the real thing happens.
Keep in mind that not being able to flush the toilet for 24 hours is far less stressful than not being able to flush the toilet and having to figure out how to remove the waste from your home, come to think of it I don’t think anyone went #2 that night.
Some things I learned about my family that night were.
1. In the beginning it was all fun and games, until slowly you begin to realize how many things we do and take for granted that you are not able to do without power.
2. Frustration becomes a bigger issue as the day goes on, the children run out of things to keep them busy and “get bored” very quickly
3. When the sun goes down and the realization that the lights are not coming on sets in (especially to the children) and you begin to see how bad it could be if you had to do this every day, and you have plenty of time to think about how you would adjust.
4. On a positive note it gives you the opportunity to bond with your family without all of the other everyday distraction and discuss what you would do if there was no power for months, because you basically have a “captive” audience.
I wouldn’t suggest doing this unless you and your spouse are both on board, you might end up with less money to spend on preps because you are spending it all on a lawyer…just saying.
The Beginning Stages Of Stress
In the beginning stages of any off the grid event or disaster you will not have as much time to think and react as we do now, this is why prepping is so important and is not just about stockpiling food and water. Take a look at yourself and ask yourself “how well do I handle tough situations?” The odds are you are giving yourself too much credit.
In some cases people would become just like heroin addict or alcoholics, willing to do whatever it takes to get what they need, and willing to hurt anyone they have to in order to get what they need. Have you ever gone the whole day without eating? As the day goes on that is all you think about, and at some point this becomes your first priority. Now just imagine how that would be if you had no food, and you had to figure something out quick to ensure your survival. What would you do?
Trying times can bring out the best in people; it can also bring out the worst. If criminals know that there are no police around to stop them, they’re job just got a little easier, and the people who do not commit crimes only refrain from it because of the threat of prosecution.
On the other hand most people tend to band together, create communities and work together for a common goal. Hopefully we become these people, and hopefully we are prepared to defend ourselves not only physically but mentally as well.
As time goes on there will be two types of criminals you will need to be ready for, the people that are just wired that way, and the people who become that way out of desperation.
Desperate people could be more dangerous in this situation for two reasons.
1. Because they will be just that, desperate, and as a result be willing to do whatever it takes to get what they need to survive.
2. because it would be easier for us to justify defending ourselves against a “bad” person than it would to justify having to injure or harm a desperate woman with a child that is willing to kill you to feed her family.
The Effects Of Traumatic Events
Traumatic situation have a way of changing people, we see this all the time with our soldier who fight in wars or are involved in a stressful environment for long periods of time, it’s called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (P.T.S.D.) We could possibly face the same traumatic events that causes this disorder if our infrastructure were to crumble and crime death and chaos were to become part of our everyday lives.
How would you react if seeing dead bodies or seeing people get killed became a part of your daily life? At first you be horrified by this, but eventually you would become desensitized to the situation because it became a part of the world you lived in. Some people handle this stress better than others, but in some way or another it would affect all of us.
In the beginning stages of any catastrophic event shock and denial are typical human reactions. In an article from the American Psychological Association they explain what happens to people after a disaster or other catastrophic event this way…
Shock and denial are typical responses to traumatic events and disasters, especially shortly after the event. Both shock and denial are normal protective reactions.
Shock is a sudden and often intense disturbance of your emotional state that may leave you feeling stunned or dazed. Denial involves not acknowledging that something very stressful has happened, or not experiencing fully the intensity of the event. You may temporarily feel numb or disconnected from life.
As the initial shock subsides, reactions vary from one person to another. The following, however, are normal responses to a traumatic event:
– Feelings become intense and sometimes are unpredictable. You may become more irritable than usual, and your mood may change back and forth dramatically. You might be especially anxious or nervous, or even become depressed.
– Thoughts and behavior patterns are affected by the trauma. You might have repeated and vivid memories of the event. These flashbacks may occur for no apparent reason and may lead to physical reactions such as rapid heartbeat or sweating.
– You may find it difficult to concentrate or make decisions, or become more easily confused. Sleep and eating patterns also may be disrupted.
– Recurring emotional reactions are common. Anniversaries of the event, such as at one month or one year, can trigger upsetting memories of the traumatic experience. These “triggers” may be accompanied by fears that the stressful event will be repeated.
– Interpersonal relationships often become strained. Greater conflict, such as more frequent arguments with family members and coworkers, is common. On the other hand, you might become withdrawn and isolated and avoid your usual activities.
– Physical symptoms may accompany the extreme stress. For example, headaches, nausea and chest pain may result and may require medical attention. Pre-existing medical conditions may worsen due to the stress.
Long Term Stress
After that shock and denial subside it does not mean the worst is over. In the event of any long term disaster there will be no doctors or psychiatrist to help you work through this, and on top of that the problems are not going away, they have just become different problem.
As a SHTF situation becomes more long term it becomes a reality you need to face and adapt to in order to survive. Decisions we would have made 6 months ago might not be an option today, and how we handle stress or how mentally stable we are at that point could cause us to make completely different decision, possibly justifying a very bad decision.
It really is hard to tell how someone will react or deal with stress during a disaster scenario and that is why they say “trust no one” you never know what even the most respected and trustworthy individual will do if they are affected by psychological problems or situations that require them to make decisions they would not have made if everything was “normal.”