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Eco-Grief & Eco-Anxiety. Help For A New Reality.

12 Jan

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Eco-grief is the grief felt in response to experienced or anticipated ecological loss. Eco-anxiety is a chronic fear of environmental doom. Creeping environmental changes are now cascading ahead at a catastrophic pace and have been rightly upgraded to a climate emergency. 

When our senses are inundated with a torrent of news, filled with the horror and sadness of global disasters, sensitive people begin to wobble and topple.

Scientists are telling us “like it is.” We need to listen. Dire warnings, horrific natural disasters, death, displaced people, species extinction, rising seas, soaring temperatures, extreme drought, diminished air quality, degradation of waterways and raging bushfires destroying trees, homes, animals, people and even those saving the people, are becoming more and more commonplace.

Even when it’s not us experiencing terror, fear, anger and trauma from injury, loss and damage to lives, property and livelihoods first-hand, second-hand it has the potential to flood us with helplessness. This can cause feelings of grief, anxiety, despair and panic which can overwhelm and dull our ability to act. The more we see planet Earth going to hell in a handcart, the more emotional distress we are going to feel. The social impact will make our hearts ache. We need balance. The media needs to communicate facts to make us care, rather than cause panic. We need to research positive news stories, search for kindness and gather as much information as we can to find out what we can do that’s helpful.

We didn’t expect to begin 2020 with Australia, our neighbour, burning. Areas that aren’t burning are choking from the smoke. Over a billion animals have already died horribly in those fires. And what about the frogs and bees and other insects? Maybe now their climate denial PM will stop selling cheap coal to China and India? The least we can do is to embrace this new reality. We need to wake up and quit avoiding the demise. We need to take more self-responsibility to change what we can. We need to help one person, one cause or donate to help many. Then we need to question and demand business, societal and political change.

If you’re upset, know that it’s okay. Validate your feelings, know that we are all in this together in this world and if you are suffering, reach out and get help expressing and normalising difficult feelings. Part of the solution is to take action. Action counteracts hopelessness. Below are some of my ideas to encourage action.

  • Look at humanities better traits. Who is working to fix things? Read articles like this one from Skip Spritzer and learn more about climate change and disrupted eco systems.
  • Keep being self-responsible. Make many changes. This is the time to turn me into we and think of the greater good of the planet.
  • Find even more ways to be mindful of your impact, like how you use and produce food, water, and energy. Read this brilliant article by Jonathan Foley.
  • Learn from people trained to deal with long term catastrophes. The world is full of passionate people. Policy makers. Climate researchers. Trauma researchers. Infrastructure experts. Mental health workers. Animal welfare specialists.
  • Every problem requires different solutions. Try to pick one or two that resonate the most with you.
  • Practise mindfulness and meditation and bear witness to both joy and suffering and help build your emotional strength and resilience.
  • Empathy leads to right action. It encourages and motivates us to become a part of the solution. If you can’t do it alone join a group.
  • Sign petitions. Write letters. Donate if you’re in a position to.
  • Speak up and question business practices that could be improved.
  • Vote with your dollars. Food is a good starting place where personal action can impact the planet.
  • Inspire social change and follow accounts that do.

Is it time to give up? I say a big fat NO. Get therapy to grieve healthily, reduce anxiety and keep hope in your heart. And this one I love – Find a way to be a force of good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dementia. Becoming a Stranger in an Unfamiliar Body.

18 Aug

The prettiest tree in the world, full of tuis, just down the road from the resthome.

Mum’s grandkids might think that a zombie has stolen her brain. Apparently only high functioning zombies go for the brain. They are after serotonin, the happiness hormone. Our mum hasn’t actually been near any zombies, they didn’t steal her brain, but something has partly stolen her happiness. Mum very sadly has vascular dementia, brought on by mini strokes, which now affects the way she thinks, feels, behaves and perceives things.

Dementia appears to sadly be a taboo subject. An article in psychology today says that somehow, to many of us, the idea of dementia seems more horrifying than cancer. Perhaps we fear the idea of losing who we are – becoming a stranger in an unfamiliar body. I think if we focused less on it being a mental health issue and saw it for what it really is, a most complicated brain disease that is fatal and cannot at this time be cured, it could take the ‘stigma’ out.  The most challenging part of late stage dementia, psychosis with symptoms that present a danger to the person and others, where someone is inconsolable and in persistent distress with a declining ability to function, can be helped greatly by anti-psychotics. 

Although memory loss wasn’t the main early symptom of mums dementia, she now has hardly any recollection of recent information or experiences. She can ask the same question 5 or 6 times in a loop and yet still remember her way from one town to another. She knows where her mother was born and that mushroom soup is horrible. She also knows she has never had to have anyone help bathe her before. Continue reading