Climate Change Depression – Part Two
On part one of this essay I described a few reasons why depression can creep up on climate scientists and those writing about global warming because the subject is so dark and foreboding. Today I’m simply going to relate what personally cheers me up, brightening my days in between fighting the climate war with my statistics and blogging. Take it from someone who actually tried to end his life by jumping off a bridge suffering from chronic depression, now stuck in a wheelchair with a lot of physical discomfort. I know how to ease some pain. Again, please drop me a note if you also would like to relate some pleasant ways to chase off the blues.
Before mentally getting so low that I attempted suicide I didn’t have much of an outlet or way to release steam (loosening that mental pressure valve from the first post). After a long hospital stay and some painful rehab a friend of mine suggested starting this site, which makes me very happy. I do like writing about climate subjects and presenting statistics, meaningfully reaching others with my thoughts and getting feedback, finding a voice.
The key words in the last sentence are “reaching others” and “meaningful.” Depressed people need to be somewhat gregarious. Bad medicine is when we isolate ourselves away from others holding any dark thoughts inside.
Now I’ll make it clear here that since people are different since writing is not for everyone. Some people would rather speak publicly about weather and climate. Also, the climate issue makes me sad at times, but it’s not the issue that literally set me over the edge. If the issue gets too dark to handle, try to take a few days break. As an aside, it was a security issue and a feeling that I was no longer needed or wanted in this world which set me off. Finding meaning and purpose to one’s life can be crucial in fighting depression.
One former colleague of mine did successfully commit suicide over passion from a relationship, losing control for a few critical hours before killing himself. In this case my colleague harmed only himself, not his partner. This person was one of the smartest human beings I have ever met, so high intelligence does not preclude depression. And yes, the vast majority of scientists have very high IQs.
For those who are depressed having a healthy relationship with one’s significant other is crucial. It takes a strong person to love someone who is chronically depressed having witnessed what happened to my struggling parents. I’d recommend that a couple in which one person is depressed seek therapy.
Next, just flat out have some fun! Before I starting writing this article I looked at some art to post on Facebook. My personal favorite art genre is 19th century Impressionism. Others may enjoy music, food, etc. Go to museums, which will get you out of the house. Some of my meteorologist coworkers liked roller coasters, although amusement rides were never my cup of tea. Climate people are often environmentalists liking to be outdoors among nature. Hike and yes storm chase. A lot if my former coworkers could not wait to go on vacating to try and film tornadoes.
Speaking of tea there are plenty of non-alcoholic drinks out there that do sooth the soul like tea. Sing, bike, or swim to stay healthy. Have a night out on the town. Get together with some pals occasionally to play cards, board games, or actively play tennis or recreational team sports. I like watching and following a few sports teams, but try not to get too upset when they loose. P.S. traditionally being an Atlanta Falcons fan can be depressing, so you might not want to get too upset over a few choice teams.😉 Sitting around the house alone brooding about life and work without doing or seeing, as Julie Andrews would sing, “my favorite things” for more than 24 hours is never good.
Back in late 2014 I also suffered from anxiety, so I missed out on a Geophysical Science conference I did want to attend. That literal gut wrenching experience did fade with time but was so debilitating that I could hardly get out of bed. I should have forced myself to get on a plane to that conference. For climate people attending conferences is great because all attending can commiserate about new, dark science and their experiences dealing with deniers. Also, conference attendees usually get recognized by peers for successfully completed projects, which can always be uplifting. Just be aware of enlarging carbon footprints from any jet travel.
Since the start of 2017 I’ve begun to take a spiritual journey, a key component missing from my life. Quiet meditation can also stave off depression. Yoga comes to mind. Worshiping with like minded individuals might be an answer, which can also give isolated individuals a sense of community. In my opinion science does not necessarily preclude religious belief.
It wasn’t my case, but if strapped with too many projects at work, depression and anxiety could be the end result. Adding pressure on oneself to finish scientific papers by a deadline is probably not a good thing. Don’t procrastinate when initially tasked with a project. Yesterday I wrote a description of chronically depressed people and filling mental cups. If mental cups are filled to overflowing with stressful items some people literally do snap. Have a frank conversation with your boss about how much work you can do in a reasonable amount of time. If you have a bad boss by all means try to get another job if possible.
Finally and most important, don’t self diagnose if feeling depressed or told that you seem to be down or not yourself by close friends, colleagues, or family. Seek out good psychologists and psychiatrists. Besides, talking out issues with a psychologist and getting good medicine from a psychiatrist might prove very helpful in the long run. Yes, if necessary one can scream, yell and cry to a therapist in order to release built up pressure and tension. Any money spent will be a very good investment.
Related, Dr. Marshall Shepherd of the University of Georgia has written an article linking suicide to warmer temperatures. It’s worth a good read:
Well, I sincerely hope that my two cents worth of advice here helps.
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The Climate Guy