Prepping & Survival Articles

Article 13 - Depression During SHTF
By Christine Kerrick

It’s a Saturday afternoon. You’re watching a the game on tv when suddenly everything goes dead. Your lights have gone out. Your cell phone is deader than a nightclub on a Sunday morning. Your car won’t start. Now you see your neighbors gathering outside, worry etched on their faces. The voice on your wind-up radio, tells you that there has been an EMP attack. All electronics are dead. Banks and ATMs are shut down, so the amount of money anyone had at home or on their person at that time is all they will ever have. Within hours, grocery store shelves are empty and gas station pumps are closed. Gunshots repeat a little too close to your home. The situation is going downhill quickly. 

After the shock wears off, in the coming weeks, your mind is still adjusting to what has happened. The police and fire have been overwhelmed and can’t operate without electric. Worried about their own families, many have gone to protect their homes.  
You are it now. You are law enforcement, fire rescue, the doctor and the grocer. Your life will never be the same. You have prepared for an ‘event’, so your physical situation is not as bad as the situations of many other people. You have a year’s worth of food, water for a few months, you know how to get more water, and you have medical supplies and weapons. You are well prepared. Your mind, however, is not as prepared. After all, you’ve never been through anything like this in your entire life. 

It is easy to become depressed after the shock of an event has subsided a bit. Panic gives way to anger, but you can’t just lose your cool. Anger turned inward becomes depression. It is most important not to sit around and dwell on things.  

I have no idea what this disastrous event will be like. As I write this, I am sitting in a well-lit room with chocolate in my belly about to crawl into my clean bed. There are no marauders, there is peace around me and the tv is on. When the event happens—and it will—I know that I will have to recognize my reactions then and acknowledge them for what they are. I did it in Florida when we lost electric for four days. My computer had power but no internet. None of us had tv, and there was ‘nothing’ to do. Needless to say, the first day was ‘torture’ (in quotes because it was the torture of a millennium brat who wanted her luxuries, not true torture). The second day, all of our neighbors brought their food to the parking lot and we cooked it before it went bad. I don’t think I have ever eaten so well in my life. I stayed up a little after sunset reading my bible by candlelight and then went to bed around 8. The third day was boiled coffee (it did its job), a cold shower (I got used to it) and threatening a couple of marauders who drove through our parking lot looking for what they could get. I worked for the sheriff at the time, so it really wasn’t a threat—I could back it up. By day four, after venturing out and eating free chicken and burgers at the local Outback, I got back home realizing I was incredibly peaceful. That night, the electric came on. 

I cannot imagine weeks or months or even years without the electronic things that have come to define our civilization, but I know that if we recognize our ‘withdrawal symptoms’ and just go with what is happening, it is far easier. That experience is nothing like a true SHTF (‘Stuff Hits The Fan’) event. People were still lawful and helping each other for the most part. No one got shot. The few looters were arrested and jailed. And in the coming weeks, almost everyone had electric back on.  

It won’t be this way during a major disaster, but when you feel those feelings of fear, loss and depression coming, you can fight them. (And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. – Romans 12:1) 

As another compartment of your preps, I would recommend some solutions to lift your spirits

1) Leadership.  Choose a leader who can be trusted to make wise decisions and take the group through the coming trials. Of course, this leader should stress not making him so important that the group would be lost without him. A second is a good idea. When there is more order, people are set more at ease. 

2) Communication. If people can talk about what they are feeling, it helps to relieve the pressure of what they are going through. Helpful and supportive responses are best, as opposed to judgments or condemnation. We are all in this together and need to stay encouraged. Depression should also be ‘nipped in the bud’. Once depression is allowed to take hold, it can drag the victim down. Unfortunately, you can only control your own mind, not someone else’s, but you can also encourage others. A person may need to cry or grieve, especially if a group member dies, but after a time, survival depends on guarding one’s thoughts and ‘soldiering on’. Our culture is in direct opposition to soldiering on, preferring instead to sedate and make itself comfy with pleasures and entertainment, but that is part of the reason we have gotten into this mess. (Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. – 1 Peter 5:8

3) Community.  Hopefully, before the event, you have already gotten to know your neighbors and have established a ‘community’ you can rely on during and after an event. And even more hopefully, you are not trying to survive an event alone—you won’t. We were created for community. After an event, contact your community and make sure they are ok. These are people you already know you can trust; friends, family and maybe neighbors. Get together. Check on each other. Move in together if necessary, depending on the disaster. Try to talk about positive things, but be supportive if someone else is experiencing depression. Acknowledge it, but don’t dwell. It will pull you out of your own fear and sadness if you are helping someone else. (Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken. – Ecclesiastes 4:12

4) Habits.  Ritual and habit are part of our lives as humans. Having a schedule for certain things during the day helps normalcy. Sometimes this may not be possible if there is a sudden bug-out situation which requires you to stay on the move, but there are still things you can do. When you arrive at your bug-out location or next homestead, it is good to try to fall back into those habits as much as you can. These habits may include: brushing your teeth like you did when things are normal (hygiene is very important to health during SHTF), reading the kids stories at night (make sure the house/dwelling is sealed against light leakage at night), washing clothes on a certain day, etc. Writing a list each day of things you want to accomplish is also a good idea. 

5) Hygiene and dress.  Keeping yourself well groomed, clothes repaired and clean can make a world of difference. You will feel better and you will stay healthy. 

6) Jobs.  Giving people jobs—especially kids—and telling them you need their help goes a long way to giving people purpose and keeping their minds busy. Kids can gather food, find sticks for fires and other small tasks. Adults can help with construction, gardening, cookingor keeping the kids busy. 

7) Teach.  Along with jobs, those who have special skills in the group can teach others their skills. Kids would love learning soap making or making a sweater out of dog hair (yes, you can). This helps both parties to thrive: the potentially inactive person who is heading toward depression, and the person who loves teaching. Both have goals now. Humans love goals; we thrive on them. (For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. – Philippians 2:13) 
Games. These should be in your preps. Games take your mind off of circumstances for the moment. They are great for kids, who love games. It’s a good idea to get them used to playing these ‘analog’ games too, when they start whining about why their video games and kid shows aren’t working and why they can’t watch streaming cartoons. 
Books. Another good distraction. Have a variety of them for you and kids. They can also be used for barter. Try to choose books that will lift your spirits. Maybe leave the apocalypse or serial killer books alone or use them for fuel. Fiction, cookbooks, how-tos and more can take your mind elsewhere. The most important book you should have is a small bible or five, easy for transporting. There are also waterproof bibles you can use in your bug-out-bag. God’s word is the perfect antidote to fear and depression. (Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. – Proverbs 3:5-6

8) News.  It is helpful to try to get news about what is happening, preferably from your wind-up/solar or single-side-band radio. Do NOT leave your dwelling to search for news. During the civil war in Bosnia, people were killed when they ventured out of their dwellings to try to get news. If a leader can’t get news, it’s best he avoids the subject. Get the news from the radio if you can, and then tell your group, if it pertains to your survival. Try not to give false hope. The best mindset to have is that you will be in this situation for a very long time, and that you need to acclimate as best you can. Otherwise, hopes will rise and fall daily with each piece of real or propagandized news, and with it, emotions will become raw. 

9) Fasting. This would be considered a ‘pre-prep’. In other words, try fasting while times are still good and peaceful. We should all be fasting and praying for this country right now. Fasting makes your flesh come under the authority of your will, and helps you practice self-control. Later, when disaster hits and food is rationed and may be sparse, you will think back to your fasting and say, ‘I’ve done this. I’m not going to panic.’ You will recognize the humility that comes from missing food and will take it in stride. 

10) Nourishment. It is important to stay nourished and drink often. This disaster will come with many surprises and will require work we are not used to doing (unless we are farmers). Eat only what you need to survive, which will give you energy and bring refreshing. (“Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke?” –Isaiah 58:6

11) Exercise. You may get a lot of this during the course of the day, just trying to survive. Gardening, preparing meals, securing your home against marauders and other work are great for working off nervous energy. If you are more sedentary, try to help out with the work. If you are infirm or elderly, try to walk around the house a bit, or go outside with someone so you avoid injury. 

12) Savor.  When you were watching the game, playing on Facebook and talking on your new iPhone, you probably missed many sunsets. Now is the time to savor those--and more. Don’t worry if it’s difficult in the beginning. It is a choice and you will acclimate. Have a piece of your stored chocolate, as a special ‘thing’ every once in a while. Coffee or tea are good diversions and bring back memories of more normal times. 

13) Pray. This goes without saying, but I am going to say it anyway. If you are of the opinion that we were coughed up from a cosmic sneeze and ‘cease to exist’ when we die, you might want to change that view. This event is happening because God wants our attention. In His grace, he allows tsunamis, economic collapse, EMPs, martial law and any other disaster you can think of to draw us to Him. But there is a far worse experience than any of these disasters I just mentioned, and that is hell. These disasters on earth are not forever. You can still hug people during a disaster, and you can probably see the sun and the sky. You can still eat and drink, even if supplies are sparse. You can still make choices. Our country has grown soft and selfish, so these disasters will feel like hell. But in the real hell, after a human soul leaves the grid of time, there will be no more choices. Ever. There will be thirst, mourning, crying and hopelessness and eternal pain that no human living now has ever felt. Jesus Christ saved us from that, and all He asks is for you to give your life to Him. Only He can provide the peace a human heart longs for. Do you really want to cling to a life where you think you know what’s best—especially during a global or national disaster—where it only gets worse when you die? The most powerful antidote to depression in normal times, and in extreme times of disaster, is the knowledge that a loving God wants you to be with Him in heaven. You may still experience the range of human emotions that come with a disastrous event, but the assurance of heaven and of God’s love will temper those and, most importantly, will lead straight to His arms.  (It is appointed for a man once to die, and then the judgment. – Hebrews 9:27) 

During SHTF, you can control yourself and your thoughts, even though our culture has trained us to be passive and that things only ‘happen’ to us. Don’t surrender to helplessness. Don’t fear. Everything that happens in SHTF is filtered through the hand of a loving God. Get to know Him.  

‘Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.’ –Matthew 28:19-20 



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