Some things to think about if you haven't already, which might save yours or someone else's life.
40% of soldiers coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan are diagnosed with either PTSD or depression, and for many it is a crippling ailment. We put guys in harms way for tour after tour, and while I disagree fundamentally with that practice (having seen first hand the effects of it) it does give us a reasonable way to predict what the effects of extended periods of time living under stressful circumstances and witnessing traumatic events might do.
It's not a function of how tough you are, and no one can ever really predict how they will react to prolonged exposure to traumatic stress until it happens. But I can say this for sure - no one is immune to these effects, and sooner or later they will catch up with anyone.
I didn't really start to suffer until after my fourth combat tour. I had episodes before that - flashbacks, sleepless nights, that kind of thing - but it really hit me when I got home from my second deployment in Afghanistan. I know guys who I thought would last longer than me who in fact lasted shorter, and some guys with whom the opposite was true. There doesn't really seem to be any rhyme or reason to it.
When guys arrived in country on deployments, I used to tell them that it was my thinking that everyone has sort of a built in "stress bucket". It's just something you are born with and everyone's is a different size. Some people get a shot glass, and then I've known guys who had a 55-gallon drum. Into that bucket our brain puts all of the trauma and stress that we experience, and as long as it stays in the bucket you're fine. The problem is that with enough exposure, even the largest buckets fill up and overflow, and you don't really know how big yours is until you've been in the s--- .
So, my question is, have you thought about what you'll do if your stress bucket overflows?
In terms of the profound effects of this ailment, it just can't be understated, but so far I've not heard much thought put into it from a prepping standpoint.
These are my thoughts:
1. We know that the veteran suicide rate in the United States is 18 a day, with PTSD and depression being the driving force behind that statistic. Untreated PTSD and depression will kill you as easily as untreated pneumonia will.
2. Most people probably don't have access to pharmaceuticals that can help mititgate the symptoms, and can't squirrel them away - so are there other options for responding to this silent killer?
There are a few things you can do to help yourself if you start experiencing the symptoms of PTSD and/or depression and can't get quality medical care for whatever reason.
One thing you can have on hand is some St. John's Wort. It's an herbal supplement that has been used for hundreds of years to treat depression - and while it won't give you the same results that Prozac will, it might get you up and out of bed when you otherwise wouldn't have been able to do so.
Avoid alcohol. It's a depressant and even in small quantities it will make things worse.
You might also consider stashing some OTC sleeping pills. Again, it won't give you the same effect as prescription meds, but it might mean the difference between getting some sleep and getting none at all, and without sleep your problems will be compounded greatly.
You should read and thoroughly familiarize yourself with the symptoms of depression and PTSD. There's a ton of stuff out there and if you just google it you'll get good results right away, but if you have trouble just let me know and I'll research some sites and post them here.
I know this isn't a sexy topic compared to hunting wild boars with a spear, but it just could save your life if you find yourself in a prolonged period of strife.