March 12, 2015: Stressed
Levi and I had a chance to talk yesterday. He’s definitely struggling to come to terms with everything that’s happened in the last few weeks. We’re all struggling with the whole end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it thing. How could we possibly just pick up the pieces and carry on as if nothing happened? Levi, however, has had added a couple layers of additional stress recently. First, his daughter was nearly raped. Then he has to look one of the boys involved in the eyes while he shoots him.
Although I don’t have a daughter, I’m pretty sure the first of those two incidents would put me pretty close to the edge. Reflecting back, Levi seemed to handle it pretty well. That could be a part of why he’s struggling now. I’m no psychiatrist but maybe Levi internalized the emotional trauma of that event rather than finding a way to release it.
When you add to the near-rape of Carrie the killing of Daniel … well, it’s pretty easy to see how Levi could be dealing with some PTSD kinds of issues.
I told him how I reacted the first time I had to kill someone and how it took me a while to put Kuwait behind me. That seemed to help. It’s good to know that you’re not the only one who has dealt with issues like these. I also told him that he probably handled the situation with Carrie a lot more calmly than I could have. Maybe that helped. Maybe not. Again, I’m no shrink.
Levi is experiencing some of the classic symptoms of PTSD. He said he’s been having nightmares and trouble sleeping. He couldn’t sleep even after the raid on Hernandez’s place … even after being up for more than 48 hours. Not a good sign. He literally cannot bring himself to re-enter the barn where Carrie was nearly raped. He keeps thinking about what he could have done differently to prevent that series of events from unfolding and, ultimately, culminating in him having to shoot Daniel. His angry outburst at the Hernandez place was definitely out of character. He also said that he feels like our chances of long-term survival are pretty slim.
Personally, with Hernandez out of the picture, I’ve been feeling pretty good about our chances for survival. I mean, right now our biggest issue is what to do about our dwindling supply of toilet paper. Spring is just around the corner. Cows are calving. We’re about to have a litter of pigs. It’s almost time to start planting the garden and crops. We’ve begun to establish relationships with our neighbors. There’s a lot of good stuff going on.
Levi is focused on the news on the short-wave networks. U.N. forces are making their way in our direction. There have been reports of the spread of diseases, supposedly brought to our shores by the U.N. troops, that have killed hundreds or thousands due to the lack of medicine.
Sure, we need to be thinking about the implications of the approaching troops, but Levi is fixated on them. He can’t see anything but gloom and doom.
I have to admit, as a group I think we’re least prepared to deal with issues like PTSD. Food, water, shelter, defense … we’re in pretty good shape. Dealing with the psychology of the new normal … how do you prepare for that? I don’t mean to sound like some pop psychologist. Everyone in our family was raised with a pretty high level of mental toughness. But, we’re facing some pretty monumental issues here.
Heather is the closest thing we have to a mental health professional. She was a social worker prior to the crash with an under-graduate degree in psychology and a masters in social work. I’m going to ask her to talk to Levi. Probably better include Carrie in that same request. Carrie seems strong on the outside but you can look into her eyes and see emotional pain beneath the surface.
It would be a crying shame to survive a global apocalypse only to be taken out by stress.
Speaking of being taken out … Levi isn’t completely off his rocker when it comes to the U.N. troops. I’m thinking that we need to prepare on a couple levels.
First, we need to make sure we are prepared to deal with any attempts to limit our rights as free citizens. From the radio reports, it sounds as if people are being “rounded up” and “put into camps” by the U.N. troops. I’m taking that with a grain of salt. Short-wave radio has turned into the new Internet. There are a lot of individuals broadcasting that sound like they have their tinfoil screwed on just a little too tight. Conspiracy theories are rampant. Factual evidence is hard to come by. You have to listen between the lines to find a few kernels of truth. Some things never change.
Then, of course, you have the government-sanctioned broadcasts. They’re no better. Mostly propaganda and platitudes, they hold little value on their surface. On the other hand, if you can cut through all the B.S., you can get a sense of how things are really going.
Our second preparation for the coming U.N. troops is health-related. We need to make sure our immune systems are as strong as possible. This applies as we meet more closely with our neighbors as well.
I’ve never really been a big believer in the whole “alternative” medicine movement. Then again, I was never really a big believer in what passed for traditional medicine prior to the crash either. Keep fit. Eat well. Take precautions against spreading illness or having others spread it to you. Those are principles I can believe in.
My mother, on the other hand, is a huge proponent of alternative medicine – probably a big part of the reason that I was so dead set against it. Mega-doses of vitamins and minerals. Combining treatments with no knowledge of how they would interact. If you want my opinion, my mom made her health worse through the myriad of treatments she applied on a daily basis.
The funny thing is – and this bears out my theory – my mother is more healthy now, having run out of many of her vitamin and mineral pills, than she had been for years. She’s eating good food. She works outside nearly every day getting lots of exercise, fresh air and sunlight. Her numerous health complaints seem to have all but disappeared.
Ha ha, I’m right. She’s wrong.
OK, that was a little over-the-top. Maybe the stress is getting to me too.
Regardless of our personal beliefs, I think there are some things we can do – in addition to good food, fresh air and sunshine – to help boost our immune systems. Perhaps those of us on the anti-alternative side of the question can learn a bit from those on the other side and vice-versa.
Nothing like a good, old-fashioned family argument to raise the stress level.