Mental Illness in the Post-Apocalypse

Panic-attack (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hi there. I am a crazy person. My mental illness impacts every part of my life. Specifically, I am a person with severe depression and a panic disorder. It’s possible (undiagnosed, but confirmed as very likely by a psychiatrist) that I have Borderline Personality Disorder. I am medicated in order to control this, taking a regular dose of Citalopram, and I am in therapy.

Obviously, none of these things will be available to me post-apocalypse. This could be a problem.

First things first, I am not ashamed of my mind, or how it works. Thanks to a combination of trauma and screwy brain chemistry, it makes me miserable and frightened much of the time. It’s not my fault, and it’s nothing to pity me for. It’s the reality of my life, and all I can do is learn how to manage it.

If you are mentally ill, how are you supposed to manage at the end of the world? The apocalypse will be full of situations likely to worsen my brain and make me even more ill. There are some people whose mental illness is so severe they can NOT go un-medicated. What do they do?

Well, first things first, raid Pharmacies for your medication. Every time you come across a pharmacy, get your meds. Fill whatever space there is in your go bag with meds. Keep doing it. If you have to, track down manufacturers and raid them too.

That’s the obvious out of the way. Get yourself in a situation where you can continue to medicate your mental illness.

However, the next bit is a little bit more difficult. You have to find the advantages in your mental illness- the traits it gives you that makes it more likely you survive.

With mine, I am deeply paranoid. I don’t trust anyone or anything, even my own perceptions, which will be a great advantage when dealing with potential enemies.

My mental illness means I plan obsessively for things that will never, ever happen (oh look, who writes articles for an apocalypse site?). I am PREPARED for every fucking thing. I have plans for things that will never happen, and I stay up all night panicking about them.

I’m already used to baseless terror and panic. It might even be a relief to have a reason to be scared, for once.

Likewise, I’m used to sleepness nights and skipping meals for days.

I sleep with weapons beside my bed, so I’m already in the state of mind for protecting my compound.

Even the more severe mental illnesses might have advantages post-apocalypse. Can you think of a way yours might help you? encourages awareness of mental illness, and wants us all to work towards the abolition of stigma against the mentally ill. Please visit the MIND site for issues of mental illness in the UK.



5 thoughts on “Mental Illness in the Post-Apocalypse

  1. I have GAD, so I imagine all of the cognitive-behavioral strategies I’ve learned for managing worst case scenarios would be useful in the event of an actual catastrophe.

    This article reminds me something Scott Stossel, author of My age of anxiety, said,
    “Some people say that in stressful situations I can seem unflappable, and I think that’s partly because I’m always kind of internally flapped. And so … when there’s actually something real to be concerned about, it’s actually less anxiety-provoking than these irrational things.”

    1. Absolutely. I’m very good in a crisis, perhaps because my over-stressed brain finally has something to focus on.

  2. I worry about these kind of things, too. Really. Recently I had to take my youngest child to the hospital because he woke up, unable to breathe properly. The fear he had as he looked at me, gasping… it was awful. So I took him down to the hospital, and they said, ‘Ehh, it’s probably croup,’ and gave him a steroid and it made ALL the difference. And I was just thinking, geez, what would I do if neither the medicine, nor the expertise were available?

    1. It’s a scary thing for sure. So many of us have conditions that mean we rely on medication or professional help, and without it things could be dire.

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