Mental Health After TEOTWAWKI

Today’s non-fiction writing contest entry was written by B

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.

Resources for this article:

Prizes for this round (ends April 23 2015 ) in our non fiction writing contest include… Please send your articles now!

  1. First place winner will receive –  A  case of six (6) #10 cans of Freeze Dried Military Pork Chops a $300 value courtesy of MRE Depot, and a  WonderMix Bread Mixer courtesy of a $300 value and five bottles of the new Berkey BioFilm Drops a $150 value courtesy of LPC Survival – total prize value of over $750.
  2. Second place winner will receive –  A gift a gift certificate for $150 off of  Federal Ammunition courtesy of LuckyGunner Ammo.
  3. Third Place winner will receive –  A copy of my book ”31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness“ and “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat” courtesy of and copy of “The Survival Medicine Handbook” courtesy of


  1. Well thought out article but I do see some problems in your theories at least IMHO. The daughter that would eat the blueberries needs to learn self control now. Trying to teach her in a shtf situation is not going to help with the stress or mental health of either of you. It seem you just don’t want the confrontation. The niece was the same situation. As soon as she decided to be rude to the children and act like she could do whatever she wanted she needed to be pulled up and have it explained that until she became part of the family unit she was a guest and needed to act accordingly. I had a stepson come and live with us that needed the same lesson. I worked,my wife worked our other son went to school and this one thought he should sleep all day and hang with his friends at night ( he was 19 ) this went on for a month and I talked with him several times about it with no result so I just said as of next Tuesday you don’t live here anymore. If you read Blackstone you will see the saying that the individual needs to pay homage to the whole so the whole can protect the individual. Which basically mean that all must work together for a common goal. This will be even more important in a shtf world. The mental health of all will be uplifted by the fact that they are part of a group and not alone. JMHO

    • poorman, I agree with you 100%… For a “normal” person, a good talking to with an ultimatum is a fantastic idea. I wrote the article not to ask for advice on how to deal with my own family but to use our experience as a way help the conversation about mental health get started. Let me give you a bit more history of the niece in question and you will see why situations like hers do not have black and white answers…She is of adult age – but her IQ is 70 so she is mentally much less capable than others her age. She was exposed to drugs and alcohol prior to birth. She grew up in an extremely abusive home – both physically and sexually. Her brother accidently blew himself up after raping her and SHE has been blamed for his death. She hadn’t seen her father in years as he was in jail for raping her aunt. In 2012, she sat in the bottom of a small boat for 4 days while it drifted in the Beaufort Sea (search – adrift on ocean for four days) willing herself to die. The boat was taking on water and as her boyfriend tried to bail it out with a coffee can, she refused to move – so he whacked her on the back with the can with every dip. She has nasty scars – emotional and physical. Perhaps, as terrible as she was at my house, it is quite possible that the 4 months she spent with us were the safest 4 months of her life. No one hurt her, or yelled at her, or blamed her. She had a warm bed in a bedroom with a lock on the door. She had good food to eat and was surrounded by caring people. But she needs decades of intense therapy to recover. I did what I could to find help for her but the waiting lists were too long and when she tried to jump out of my van while I drove at highway speed, it was a very clear sign that I was in over my head -I knew it long before this incident but there was no clear way to fix the situation. Unfortunately, she has returned to the life she has always known.

      • Ya know what? There are just some things we are not meant to fix, or manage. Your family gave the niece a safe place to land, but due to her damaged coping mechanism she is unable to mesh into any kind of normalcy. It is sad, but she will cope with her life in ways that you or I may find “crazy”. You can’t save them all.

    • A 22 year old should be on their own working, otherwise they are lazy slackers. I would never let relatives live with me because I am too independent and like privacy. We never raised kids because decades ago, we knew the country was going down hill. America now has a zero future. Adults are responsible for their immediate family only. If anyone’s children are over 18 they need to be on their own-out of the nest like my generation was..

  2. I agree that mental health is going to be a BIG issue.

    From denial, apathy, inability to cope, and just plain having your world turned upside down. Things are going to get increadably complicated before they get simple.

    Things like my 12 yr old grandson not being able to lock the van without the key fob. People who are used to going to the store multiple times a week, as a form of recreation, then finding nothing to buy. Loss of services, like internet, cell phone, even electricity will totally disrupt many, young and old. What are the functionally illiterate going to do without TV?

    And we haven’t even hit on the clinical mental health issues as those who are on medications can no longer get them.

    Then there are those who are lawless and/or thrill seekers, who have no moral self restraint, going out and doing something for which society protected them from being punished for, now ending up getting shot, or at least shot at.

    It is a scenario that is not often covered, even in fiction. Those of us that prep, have at least to some extent put ourselves mentally in this “new normal” place. But since we are in the minority, think of how many won’t we ready or able to adapt. It is something that needs to be taken into your survival plan.

    • I am counting on it to prevent the golden horde. They will all stay in the cities saying “Someone’s got to pay for my 15 illegitimate kids” & destroy the properties near by long enough to consume bad food/water. Big daddy government will take care of us.

  3. patientmomma says:

    A thought provoking article! As Christians, we are taught to take care of our family, so turn any family away is a guilt trip. It seems you are what I call “a soft touch” and have trouble dealing with conflict. We have to deal with poor behavior in our immediate family first. Trying to get selfish kids or spouses to voluntarily practice self-discipline is a loosing battle. There are consequences for every action and people need to “suffer” the consequence of poor decisions immediately. You must affix a negative consequence for bad decisions. It is the “if-then” law of both Christianity and society.

    I have several friends who are on psychotic drugs and and I have family members who have been substance abusers. I have seen them before and after. They are controllable on drugs, but unbearable without drugs. Addicts and the mentally ill are always in recovery. Even families cannot handle them when they return to using or when there are no drugs to keep them level. As your article says, we need to decide now how we will deal with these issues.

    • With 10% of the American population on psychotic drugs, there will be huge problems when they cannot get them and they experience a level of stress that they could not have imagined.

      That would be over 30 million people going off the deep end in SHTF.

    • I’d recommend having as many positive rewards (also called positive motivational tools) as negative consequences. Some studies show that positive rewards are more effective in actually changing children’s behaviors, than negative consequences.

  4. Great article, thank you!

    When TEOTWAWKI occurs, therapy and drug treatments for those suffering with mild to severe mental illness, will quickly become unavailable. Having a basic plan about how to deal with psychiatric situations will help you stay sane in an insane world – and may even help those who are suffering.

    I picked up some used nursing manuals books awhile back – so I would be able to identify the markers of basic psychiatric disorders. They have been well-worth the read.

    I really like your idea about socks! I never thought about knitting before, because I am allergic to wool – but I could learn to knit socks with other materials. Very smart! 🙂

  5. Chuck Findlay says:

    I’m not worried about my mental health now or after SHTF. I get my self worth from within and I’m a happy person. Also doing things keeps depression at bay and I always have things to do or that I want to do. I enjoy working on things, making things, repairing things and thinking about how to solve problems. I don’t envision a time when I will sit and have nothing to do. And if I did get down time I have a LOT of books I want to someday read but never seem to get to.

    I think some people let bad events overwhelm them, but action will cure depression as it engages your mind and also gets needed things done.

    • Good for u Chuck! What about ur family or group members? ur neighbors? How will they deal w/ their mental health post-SHTF? THis can be hard to know for sure, but if u’ve seen their reactions in a disaster or crisis situation, that can offer clues. Unless u plan on living alone in a cave or bunker, the vast majority of us will be affected by the mental health of those around us.

      • Chuck Findlay says:

        Red most people in my family are fairly active. Today my Dad (he’s 86) is complaining a bit because he can’t start the car and that it’s too cold to go play in the garage. And he dislikes sitting in front of the TV all day. I really don’t see any internal family issues to worry about that we can’t solve. Yea his car won’t start, but in a while I’m going to go over to look at it. He put a battery charger on it and we are going to get it running when I go over.

        Action (getting the car running) solves depression, and we work together well to do things like this.

    • What it comes down to is the only person that can make you happy is you. So many think their happiness comes from outside.

  6. Chuck Findlay says:

    Kava Kava and St’John’s Wort for calming down mental problems could help. And any Herbal / health store has them. Not that I need them but I have some stored away for others post SHTF.

    • patientmomma says:

      Chuck, thanks reminding me of herbs. When our way of life further deteriorates the prescription drugs will be one of the first things to go. I have been studying essential oils, herbs and natural foods which help depression, attention deficit disorder and bi-polar disease. I’ve also been researching natural remedies for type 2 diabetes. So many of my friends and neighbors are diabetic and need insulin injections. All these things worry me.

      • Chuck Findlay says:

        Look here for herbal diabetic help, Tony has a lot of knowledge, this may help.

      • Some foods boost the levels of hormones/enzymes needed for the production of brain chemicals. Broccoli, and cabbage are two. Being aware of those who have SAD, or other chemical based issues, is the first step only to addressing .

    • Compress says:

      All of which is fine for mild cases, but what to do for those of us who really need them?

      St. John’s Wort has a mild form of MAO Inhibitor, which is the last choice these days due to the unpleasant interactions it has with many foods. Probably the best choice for anxiety would be cannabis, although I personally don’t care for its effects. For bipolar, lithium salts (possibly from mineral springs) might be obtainable. Maybe.

      But what would really be useful would be a formulary for some of the other antidepressants and antipsychotics. Is there one? Current generation drugs are out of the question, of course. The tricyclics are 1950’s-era drugs (originally developed as new antihistamines), so someone equipped with a small lab might be able to synthesize them.

      But I need to tell you, as someone who suffers from bipolar and depression, that most of the other suggestions are not going to work. Positive thinking, prayer, exercise, and better nutrition simply won’t cut it, just as it would not help someone with Type 1 diabetes. I am profoundly grateful for the modern medications; I cannot imagine how someone like me could have survived a century ago.

  7. Excellent article and very thought provoking. As a former nurse I’ve seen more than my share of mental problems. Some are minor and some are major. Our prisons are full of major mental problems. Insanity is not always a defense. If you know right from wrong you will do time. If you are criminally insane you will wind up in a state hospital and there are not enough of them.

    A lot of people on meds will go through withdrawal and be functional afterwards. Folks on antidepressants could have MAJOR depressive episodes from stopping some of these medications to quickly and should know how to taper them off. I always suggested to patients on them that they talk to their doctor about how they should taper off if need be and about getting ahead on their meds in case they can’t get a refill.

    A lot of mentally ill people are going to wind up in the hoard and it will not be pretty for them. I wonder about what will happen to our prisoners when the jails and prisons can no longer be supplied or adequately staffed.

    My step son recently married and fathered a son with what I can only describe as a good looking piece of welfare trailer trash. She already had three kids at least one of which was on antipsychotic medications. Would he have been welcome after a severe SHTF situation? Absolutely. Is he currently welcome, Absolutely not. Very sad but there can only be one solution to some people and that would be denial of what limited services are available. He was definitely thinking with the little head.

    P.S. I have nothing against people who live in trailers and have lived in them myself on more than one occasion. She doesn’t actually live in a trailer. She lives in a HUD financed house and on every possible kind of welfare she can get. She wonders why the rich people hate her. I told her they don’t. It’s the middle class that are working to support themselves and her while she sits around taking selfies and exercising her thumbs texting about her new tattoos they paid for that hate her.

  8. Petticoat Prepper says:

    Great article!

    I am at the tail end of my own TEOTWAWKI and I have learned a tremendous amount about myself and my ability to cope. Mine contained multiple problems from husband (30 years of deceitful alternate life and mental/emotional abuse) to my dad who was diagnosed with cancer and died and my daughter who survived a rape at gun point. All of this happened within a 10 month period of time. My mental health was beyond my ability to cope a few times. But I did learn that I only fall down for short times, a few hours each round. I also learned new coping skills…took up boxing at my old age.

    My daughter now struggles with PTSD and helping her during those extreme fall down moments has been hard. However, we are gaining on it. We both are learning new strengths and a new way to work together.

    My SHTF has been 2 years in duration and I’ve done better than I thought I could plus it’s been harder than I thought it’d be. In the end I feel we could survive and do so well. The preps I had in place helped in the beginning. I’m pleased not to have used all of it.

    I thought about TEOTWAWKI during all my struggles. Securing the site was frightening and took more than I realized but secure it I did. Mental health took a huge hit and until you’re in that spot you haven’t any idea how you’re going to react.
    Loved this article!

    • Chuck Findlay says:

      I work in home repair / construction, I have been going through TEOTWAWKI every winter for over 20-years. You learn to deal with it and in fact I look forward to the slow (to no work) times to relax. But it seems something is always on the front burner to do.

      The low to no employment times every winter has prepared me for SHTF better then anything else I can think of.

      I have been a prepper almost my whole life, but the down times has made me focus on having no income and made me adjust my life to allow for it. Most here really fear no income coming in, I don’t as it happens once a year to me and I buy, store a lot of things (including cash & silver) to get through it. And of course I have a lot of food put away, lots of wood for burning, and just about everything you can think of. I like chocolate so I put up 25 bags of M&M’s so I can have some on a cold winter day. Or make some cookies with them (and I just did last night.)

      • Chuck Findlay says:

        Anyone that wants a very good cookie recipe, on the back of the dark chocolate bag of M&M’s is what they call “Red’s Amazing M&M cookies” It makes some downright addictive cookies. I made about 25 of them and I don’t know if they are going to last more then a day… They are evil and keep calling to me.

      • How are you putting up the M&Ms. Just stockpiling, or dry canning or freezing. A chocoholic needs to know.

        • Chuck Findlay says:

          I leave them in the bag and put them in a bucket so rodents can’t get them. They are not really long-term food for storage. They get used up within a few months. I buy them around December just before the slow times and by spring they are gone. I used up 5 bags of them making cookies for Christmas time. Everyone took some home and we consumed a lot of them on the day.

          I looked it up, here it is.

          1 cup (2 sticks) butter
          ⅔ cup brown sugar
          ⅔ cup sugar
          1 egg
          1½ teaspoon vanilla extract
          2 cup flour
          1¼ teaspoon baking soda
          1 teaspoon salt
          1¾ cups M&M’s® Milk Chocolate Candies

          Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

          In a large bowl, cream butter and both sugars until well blended. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix to combine.

          In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking soda and salt together. Slowly add these ingredients into the butter mixture and stir until combined.

          Fold in the M&M’s® and chill the dough for 1 hour, or overnight.

          Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto a lightly greased tray, about 2 inches apart.

          Bake for 8- 10 minutes for chewy cookies or 12-14 for crispy cookies. Enjoy!

        • Thorn:

          I just seal mine in a plastic bucket.

    • Petticoat Prepper,

      With all that you and your family went through in 10 months, its great to hear that the awful events generated more inner strength and coping skills. Hope your daughter will be okay.

      Took up Boxing? You go, girl! 🙂

      • Petticoat Prepper says:

        Thanks Nancy V

        It’s really been an amazing journey. I took up boxing to find a place to put ‘rage’. It was a new emotion that I was having trouble controlling. That poor bag really took some beating. There were a few times where it was more like kick boxing!

        I’m happy to have a place to live again and have wifi so I can have morning coffee with the pack again.

    • Antizombie says:

      You made me think of of my own SHTF moment. 7 yrs ago I had a period where I thought I might even entertain ending my life. My father passed, my business of 11 years folded, my DW and I were in one of those “valleys” that marriages go through and my teenage daughters seemed out of control. All this happened in the span of a few months. It was almost too much to bear.

      I went to my doctor and told him of my intent and he suggested getting on an anti depressant. Being of german descent I told him I was tough enough to get myself out of any hole I’d dug. He convinced me to try them, so I did. They helped tremendously. Kind of flattened out the peaks and valleys, so to speak. Anyway, I was out of work for almost 6 months and if my DW wasn’t so good with our money we would have lost the farm (literally).

      Anyway, I stayed on them for about 6 months and worked on all of the issues until thank God I felt I didn’t need them anymore.

      My point is that there will be people that can’t get meds anymore but not all of them will turn into zombies. Some will find help in the lord and some in banding together with others. The other thing is that one never knows how they will react to adversity. I never dreamed I would have needed any kind of medication to help me through the bad times. Now I know I’m not the rock i thought I was and even the best of us can get to a dark place. A real Bad SHTF situation will test our metal and our faith.

  9. Good article! I am a psychiatric mobile crisis responder, so I deal with folks in mental health crisis every day. There are thousands of people on psychotropic medication that will become unavailable. There are many group homes with folks that are stable on meds embedded in neighborhoods not to mention the psychiatric hospitals. All these people will be set loose and many will be floridly psychotic, a sobering thought. Most psychiatric meds cannot be stored long term or at the least they lose potency. Tincture made from plants can treat mild mental illness and are a worthwhile skill to learn for possible people under your roof.

  10. Very good article B! Thanks. As a pastor, I deal w/ some ppl who have mental health issues. I recall reading that about half of Americans take an antidepressant. Now, imagine half the people u know, going off of their antidepressants or psych meds, & how that’s going to affect ur world? I’m talking about just the ones u’ll see during a disaster or after SHTF. What about the people who see psychologists, counselors, or clergy about their personal, mental health stuff now, & can’t see their psych, counselor, or clergy during an extended crisis – how will that affect ur life post-SHTF?

  11. I have been on a rather high dose of antidepressants for about 25 years. This is one of the things I worry about. For many years I was not medicated and believe me I tried everything to shake it. Massive amounts of exercise, vitamin pills, forcing myself to do things. It’s like being in a marathon race that never ends. People who haven’t been depressed or were mildly depressed and pushed through it just can’t seem to understand. I have several months of medication stockpiled and can function on half a dose if I have to. I don’t know what I want to say, except you can’t fix it with willpower. I would not want a person like me, unmedicated, in my group. My plan is to make everything as easy for me now as I can and plow through as best I can later. Sorry for the rambling.

    • To underscore your concerns, if you are on selective serotonin re uptake inhibitors (the so called SSRIs) antidepressants such as Zoloft, Celexa, Prozac, you need to taper off these and therefore should always have a month to six weeks taper supply in case you are cut off from your medicine. Cold turkey withdawal from antidepressants can really, really mess you up.

    • as Carl referred to, SSRI’s can be difficult to come of off, , boosting the foods that contain enzymes used to make the brain chemicals some people have in too little supply… Try adding cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower…these help me when I get in a funk.

  12. Thorn, I can totally relate to what u say, as I’ve been thru numerous depressive periods, include one extended 6-8 month period of major depression related to my chronic pain & family members. U mentioned being able to function on half a dose if u have to. Would it be possible, when things are going well, to get by on half to 3-qtrs dose sometimes, to increase ur med stockpile? Say, try using half-dose every other day for 1-3 weeks, & then full dose everyday for 1-3 wks? That could gradually increase ur stockpile, to enough to last a year or longer.

    • This is something to think about. I’ve tried just switching to a half dose and I start going down hill after about 10 days. Maybe a half dose every three days would be workable. I need to look into herbal treatments also. Thanks Red C.

      • RedC and Thorn,
        I have had much success in treating depression with vitamin D.
        Depression (true clinical depression) runs in my family so I totally get what you’re saying.
        Best wishes

  13. Chuck Findlay says:

    If you can keep of depression meds it’s good as the government is more and more using it as a reason to take away the right to own guns.

  14. People have no real clue how bad our mental health problem is right now. Much of it in the US is covered and protected by HIPPA. The actual number of people who are being treated for anything from depression to severe mental health issues and walk on our streets everyday is incredible. Many of these people are to remain on their medications and under no circumstances are supposed to stop taking them. To complicate matters these people who have difficulty holding down jobs, lack the money to re-new their prescriptions. After they stop taking their meds, many will end up creating issues where they get picked up by the police, are taken to a hospital, later moved to a temporary mental health facility until they can be get back on their meds and stabilized before being released back on the streets. YES! This is the real world! And it re-occurs frequently. Another group of people, those that you say are not on meds, are the ones dependent on alcohol and other drugs. A vast population fall into this category due to their sense of hopelessness, no job, poor family life and unable to cope with things in their lives. Imagine now a collapse and these people can’t get their meds or medical help. Many of the cases out there are severe too. You will see a sharp increase in suicide, domestic types of violence and very chaotic behaviors. Even in normal behavior under pressure, some people will to break down. Put that under a long term strain from a social collapse of some kind and we will have serious society issues. I think in the back of everyone’s subconscious we think of these things and that is why many we want to, at least in our mind, run off to some kind of rural (bol) place and avoid all the issues that a collapse would bring. Great article!

    • Don’t forget all those who are on sleeping pills, of various kinds…when someone has not slept in 3-5 days…it makes people have vastly inappropriate reactions.

      • Curley Bull says:

        Yeah!! Don’t forget that the next time you want to disagree with me! I got up the other morning, looked in the mirror, and scared my ownself!!

        • Kinda reminds me of an old western I once saw. Cowboy was standing up to the bar downing shots of whiskey. Another cowboy enters, walks up to the bar and says howdy. Without the blink of an eye the first cowboy draws his six shooter and shoots the second one dead on the spot. The bartender says, now why the hell did you do that? The cowboy replies, I didn’t like the tone he used with me. I think if the shtf that’s how life will be.

  15. How to deal productively with added stress in an already highly stressful situation. It’s incredibly difficult.

    Sometimes you can remove yourself from it by isolating yourself from the stressful person: I was able to do that to some extent in Lebanon by closing myself in my bedroom, other times by going for very long walks when there was no work to be done, or working in the orchards, but at a distance from the others.

    That still didn’t deal with the stress of living in a household with three highly abusive adults, all of whom were effectively my hosts: it was their house. I couldn’t tell them to stop it, but they could tell me to leave.

    Twice I tried to escape it by leaving town for Beirut, planning on getting a plane out, but had to turn back because of the fighting, and return to the abusive environment.

    Another family member retreated into taking pain pills, enough at times to zone out into staring fits, unable to function. That brought on more abuse.

    Can’t escape, can’t stay. Must stay: No choice. Leaving will probably get one killed. It is an impossible situation. Witness physical violence by one of the hosts against his step-child: What to do? Their nuclear family: What does an outsider do about a host?

    Normal people get stressed out by situations they cannot control, and violence is everywhere. I saw multiple fistfights in the streets every day in Istanbul during their inflation in the late 1970s. Interest rates over 100%, cost of food going up daily. Stressed people get violent. Normal people having a minor dispute with a neighbor, normally nothing to worry about, but now it ends in a knock down fist fight in the street.

    I lived in NY City during the crack wars, in Spanish Harlem, which was a decent neighborhood of hardworking people, mostly Latin American immigrants. Every single time I rode a bus through black Harlem, north of Central Park (not often) I saw a fist fight in the street. Every time. Crack was driving crackheads crazy, and along with them their families and neighbors: they had to deal with the crackheads committing robberies, burglaries, assaults. Neighbors using hallways and elevators as toilets because they just couldn’t be bothered to use their own. Feel like it? Do it. Right here, right now. That gets the other neighbors pretty stressed.

    I moved to Milwaukee while the crack wars were getting going there, on the other side of the river. People were freaking at the violence. One guy in the wrong neighborhood got tired of getting no response when he called the cops to report drug deals in front of his house. He finally got so tired of it that when he saw another deal going down on the sidewalk, he opened his window and shot the dealer dead.

    Guess what? The police responded to that. Big time. The Rule of Law magically reappeared for him. We won’t protect your neighborhood, but we will put you in prison for years if you try to. That adds a lot of stress. It tells the criminals that the law will act to protect THEM. Thanks.

    Most mentally ill are not violent, but that doesn’t keep them from stressing people around them. The mentally ill who are violent may not be fully responsible for their actions, but that doesn’t make them less dangerous. People who are not mentally ill, but are stressed highly enough, long enough…I don’t know if they are diagnosable as mentally ill, but some will get violent at the drop of a hat -like shooting a neighbor dead for peeing on your bushes again (happened in Milwaukee during the crack wars)- some may retreat into deep depression and close themselves off… I don’t know what to do about any of them.

    If there is rule of law or any prospect of it returning, you can’t ignore the violent, and you can’t just kill them on sight, either. The police and courts are so overwhelmed they cannot stop the non-violent crimes, but they will come down like bricks on a decent person who shoots the drug dealers the government refuses to deal with.

    And that is a very stressful situation in which to be. So people put up fences, install steel doors, bars on the windows, buy guns, pop pills, and stress out.

    How do the non-violent but mentally ill cope? I don’t know. What about their families and neighbors? Again, I don’t know. In a major breakdown, the organizations which normally cope more or less may still exist, but they don’t function well, if at all.
    That is what a major breakdown is.

  16. Happy Camper says:

    Great article. I take a few meds and have been stockpilling for a few years.
    This is slightly deceitful but i get the dr to prescribe me more or higher doses than i actually take generally. But as i do have health issues i often need the higher doses, so when i can be on a lower dose (example anti inflammatory meds) i put the excess into my cache.
    Ive got a good amount of antibiotics, pain meds, arthritis meds etc. but in saying i do this, whilst i do have to bend the truth a bit to my Dr, in the long term i need to do this.

  17. I think I’ll be fine without my meds come shtfteotwawki. I’m am the boss of all the voices and I’m in control. I asked you not to talk bout us. I don’t care, I say what I want ,when I want and you can mind your business! You’re a jerk! No, you’re a jerk!,,,,,,,,,,,why can’t you two ever get along?
    We’re leaving now. Great article.

    • lol Bc, thanks for lightening the mood in an otherwise heavy thread. U are so creative! 🙂 Or wait a min, doI recall that thinking one is in charge of the voices -is that a real symtom?

    • bc:

      I’ve got all the voices out except 2.

      One says it’s time to clean my guns.

      The other says it’s time to get them dirty.

      I like the second guy better.

    • Chuck Findlay says:

      Many voices, but I bet all of them like bacon.

    • Did you hear about the suicide hotline that used a call center in Pakistan? Their first question is can you drive a truck.

  18. Lots said about mental illness. I don’ know if herbals are strong enough to replace strong mental health drugs. Also – think it would be helpful to have those difficult advance conversations with loved ones about what we would do in certain situations. If I was no longer any use to anyone: with dementia and having to be fed and have my diapers changed would I really want my kids to have to take care of me after TSHTF? NO. I say mulch me. 🙂

    • Having gone thru similar things w/ many over the yrs, I know it can be very difficult or impossible for a family to think clearly or objectively in such situation when losing a loved one to dementia or other mental illness or death, I recommend writing & signing a statement w/ ur wishes, or ur loved one’s wishes, & putting in a file somewhere. & consider telling 1-2 other loved ones of ur wishes, w/out violating ur opsec.

    • Chuck Findlay says:

      I don’t know if herbal stuff is as strong, I would think not, but I just don’t know. They probably don’t cover as many problems either. But if it’s an issue I would try them out now. It may be that they with your regular meds (alternating) would help.

      Not offering advice or any real knowledge as it’s not an area I have had to deal with or even know anyone that had to deal with it.

      My X-Wife may say different…

      Really not, we get along quite well as we have a friendship that as always been there despite her getting pregnant without my help.

    • BlueJeanedLady says:

      Hello Jan. Please know I’m replying under your post because your darkly humorous comment about “Mulch Me,” really hit a funny / sad note with me, personally, but I really hope everyone reads such – – – as this, my response, is a generic message that I hope all read and digest well.

      As much as I appreciate fictional, dark humor & your light heart-ed comment, “Mulch me,” should you become incapacitated, I know from experience (my 90 something year old in-law parents are both in different stages of devastating dementia issues these days) that “mulching” is not a practical option if any of us don’t want loved, healthy family members to end up in prison for murder charges! (Yikes!)

      Just to let you know, Jan, I’m not taking your comment “Mulch me,” without a sense of humor! Most of my family and friends often make such dark humored jokes about what they want their family / heirs to do should they become devastingly mentally impaired or physically disabled: “Just shoot me,”; “Push me off a cliff,”; “Leave me in the shed with a pack of cigarettes and a lighter so it looks like an accident and then burn down the shed;” “Lead me to the pond and let me fall in without turning back;” are just a few of the dark, darkly comically imagined scenarios those I know & love, can & do, sarcastically joke about. We’re all twisted that way!!!

      On the other hand . . . “Sure. Okay. Whatever you say,” is always such a simple, light heart-ed yet useless response often stated to merely avoid dealing with such an emotionally laden subject altogether when we really do need to learn of a loved one’s long term wishes before SHTF (either personally or nationwide.) And of course, it’s human nature to avoid the worst by delaying &/or denying the inevitable as long as possible . . . so that’s where many of us go, many a time . . .

      Just saying the jokes really do, completely – intentionally or unintentionally – avoid the really challenging conversations which we must all eventually deal with and suggesting we each have sincere talks with our loved ones long before such situations become actual realities.

      My own parents died young but my in-law parents – whom indeed & gratefully are still living well aged lives – did, fortunately, decide to get all their financial issues in order years ago . . . Yet, Yet, Yet . . . they never even considered they might not simply die of old age, in their sleep, in their own home as they had “planned.” They simply had no belief that they might become mentally or physically disabled before they died. As I’ve stated, they are now in their 90’s and in ill health & are both mentally & physically challenged.

      My FIL started down the dreaded road to dementia a few years back when my MIL was able to take care of him at home but then she had a stroke which eliminated her ability to help him. There was no way she could continue caring for both him and herself even as she first insisted the kids just leave them alone to die in their own home.

      (As if we would even consider leaving them home alone was an option – We did hire a few part time household helpers, life line type services & different health care takers to try to keep them in the home as long as possible, but they lived in a small, rural community and the few options available were dramatically considered “unacceptable” as my MIL was not happy – in fact ungrateful – with the additional aids “invading” her home. Sigh . . . )

      The siblings (and us spouses) all offered to help them out asking that she agree to move the elderly couple closer to one of us younger couples – – – but she refused to move too far from home base and then began insisting it was the children’s obligation (at least one of them) to leave their own homes and come care for them in the original family home. SHE REFUSED OUTRIGHT to consider anything else. (This was when we all realized she was beginning to travel down the dreadful dementia road as well, as her “normal” self would have never put such “give-up-your-own-life-for-mine” type demands on her own children & their families.)

      We finally did get her to agree to move him & her into a residential dementia care facility (it’s a reputable & attractive place and the couple are allowed to share a studio apartment which is a rare find in such facilities in our corner of the world) not too many miles from their home to “help dad” as she has never admitted (and still doesn’t) that she, too, needed (needs) full time assistance.

      Months passed & FIL dived deeper into dementia as MIL had another stroke and continues her own slow but seemingly consistent, descent into dementia. Sadly, but realistically, there is no hope that the couple can ever move back to their home place. As well, both have experienced further health declines with more recent health issues. FIL is mostly lost in the past & reasonably agreeable most times, but MIL keeps insisting she should be allowed to move home and die in her own home & refuses to move closer to one of the children and of course, she wants my FIL to move back home with her because she’s convinced she can care for him by herself. It’s a no win situation any which way you view it and very, very sad.

      I’m just sharing this as a reminder to all that say, “just push me off a cliff” or “ignore me and let me die in my own bed” is an understandable first reaction but it is not an option when the worst actually happens! It really needs to be addressed, completely, while all are still of sound mind . . . as unpleasant as the idea of doing so remains . . .

      Please – and I say this to ALL reading this – talk with your parents (&/or adult children) before any of you are forced to deal with the unimaginable & do try to develop a reasonable plan of action (no one being asked to commit or be accused of murder) before real life circumstances rudely slap you about the head & shoulders!

      Take care Pack. Stay smart. And Godspeed.

      • Yep. I am a person of few words. But here’s a few words to add to original post. I took care of my own mom for 12 years. Have worked in a care home. We’re talking here about a post tshtf situation = no law. People of advanced age and decreasing mental powers can degenerate into a very childish, selfish mindset and have very unrealistic expectations on their kids, laying undeserved guilt on them. A very real scenario could be burying the old folks somewhere on the homestead. An advance conversation on the subject could alleviate a lot of guilt and stress. People in the end stages of their lives can spend years laying with their mouths open, looking like a cadaver, pooping their pants. It’s not pretty. People like this probably won’t live long without their meds anyway. It’s not always possible to take care of folks like this with limited time and energy. There’s sometimes no good solution. It all should be discussed and written down ahead of time. Quality of life is important. And YES I am a Christian and know that God won’t give me more than I can handle. You can call it dark. I call it reality.

  19. IF anyone here has been in a hyper-stressful experience (war zone, or real threat of violence to or a friend, or w/ mentally ill who were off their meds), I’d appreciate ur sharing ur experiences. Thanks.

  20. Chuck Findlay says:

    From the movie Johnny Dangerously

    1/3 of all Americans are mentally off, Look to the person at your right and left, if they look OK, you are it…

  21. Not Yet Home says:

    Thanks B, for the thought provoking article.
    I know from experience how difficult it is to welcome someone into your home who doesn’t share the same lifestyle or behavior as your own family.
    Our 12 year old daughter was sexually abused by an emotionally unstable young man we were trying to help. Consequently, he spent 13 years in prison. Not long enough.
    Looking back, I can see what a master manipulator he was, always playing the victim to gain other people’s sympathy.
    I also know a young woman (28 years old) who still lives at home, doesn’t have a job, but refuses to lift a finger to help. (She can’t wash dishes because there’s spit on the silverware.) Her mom has enabled her to become a self-centered, lazy, spoiled brat.
    There’s a huge difference between diagnosed mental disorder/disease and “playing the role” for the sake of manipulation. But when the SHTF, we’d better know the difference, especially when it comes to family members.
    It seems that there’s a fine line between compassion and gullibility.
    I will personally have a big problem with family, friends or neighbors who come knocking on my door, who have failed to make any preparations. That has nothing to do with a person’s mental state.

    Thanks also to BlueJeanedLady for your comments about end-of-life issues. I couldn’t agree with you more.
    Today is my dad’s 94th birthday. He has dementia and is declining rapidly. Thankfully, he has 5 daughters who have cared for him for the past 8 months, since mom died, so he can stay in his own home.
    Most families aren’t as blessed.
    It’s imperative to have discussions about end-of-life issues before the emotional stress hits and it’s too late to have discussions anymore. It may be uncomfortable to bring up the subject but, we’d probably all like to know what’s going to happen when we can’t take care of ourselves any more.

    I’d also like to thank all of you who share your lives, struggles, frustrations, insights, ideas, etc. on The Survivalist Blog. I often read with tears in my eyes.
    This isn’t just a place for disgruntled preppers, but a place of shared camaraderie, of encouragement and prayers, of shared passion and relationships. So, thanks M.D., and all of you who make me feel like I’m not alone.

    • Not Yet Home,

      You’re not alone, there are more of us “preppers” than you think.

    • Not Yet Home,
      I share your struggle, I have two ill parents, like MIL in account above,my DM had a life changing event and dementia already in other parent. Hang in there, it will probably get worse before it gets better.

  22. There are two kinds of mental illness. There are genetic mental illnesses and there are environmental mental illnesses. Sometimes there are predispositions from the genetic side which allows for the environmental side (such as the case with a personality disorder), and there are some genetic ones which are genuinely debilitating (such as schizophrenia), but the distinction is still important. That distinction is important because many genetic mental illnesses (ADHD, Bipolar Spectrum, and Autism being big ones) aren’t mental illnesses at all.

    The most common mental illnesses are most likely nothing but genetic differences that are a throwback to an earlier age. I myself have both ADHD and Bipolar II Disorder (and potentially a personality disorder thanks to having a shitty father, but I digress). I can’t operate in society on basically any level; I can’t hold a job, I can’t converse with ‘normal’ people and I accidentally insult people all the time simply because I don’t process the conversation the same way (oddly, Israelis think I’m great).

    But take me out of society and suddenly I’m a god.

    In the wilderness, I never get depression (in fact, if I’m severely depressed taking me out to a park eliminates the depression entirely), I learn survival skills and other new skills more easily than when at home, I have more energy and more ability to use it constructively and I’m easier to get along with.

    I’m moving into a homestead over the next couple years so that I can stop being a leech on society and finally take care of myself. I won’t have to worry about money and I can live a more primitive life that my genes are built for. So keep in mind that mental illness isn’t cut and dry. There are people like me that you wouldn’t want to spend much time with in our current world, but would be your ultimate survival tool in a SHTF scenario.

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