When my wife and child leave for the weekend to visit her sister, I am not guilt laden about feeling a special sense of relief and freedom. The house is quiet. I can watch the TV shows I want, eat what I want, go out to places I might not normally get to go to including a gun store or two, big box bookstore or a restaurant.I can write in peace and quiet with my buddy dog Molly at my feet. I can stay up late, go outside, smoke a cigar, and drink a bottle of wine. What’s wrong with that? Surely after 60 plus years of life and hard work I deserve that? Is there an issue with a little “me” time? Funny thing is though, after about two days of being relatively alone, it starts to eat at me.
By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog.com
Maybe the house is too quiet, too lonely. Do I really miss my wife yelling commands to my daughter? Do I start to talk to myself and ask questions to which no answers come back? Is the junk mail really starting to interest me that much? Isn’t it a bit unusual to flag down a neighbor (that I might not particularly like or have anything in common with) just to have some direct human contact and conservation? I have friends out there, but they are busy elsewhere or with their own families and lives. Is this what solitude is all about? And do I really like it?
It should make one stop to think who is actively involved in the prepping process for any type of SHTF black cloud that might form on the horizon. Can I go it alone, if I have to? If I have even minor issues with living by myself for a few days, what would my psyche be like after a week, a month or longer? Regardless of whether I Bug Out or Bug In if the plan puts me in a position of going solo, is that really the best case scenario if I am human dependent? What steps can I take to offset the solitude in a struggle to maintain my sanity? Well, let’s see.
What is it exactly in the purest sense? Solitude is the condition of being alone or remote from others. It is isolation in its most restrictive definition. It means being totally withdrawn from society. This condition is likely to be more pronounced in a Bug Out option if you go it alone. In theory during a Bug In there would be neighbors around, but there are pluses and minuses to that. You may also get uninvited visitors as well.
The emphasis on solitude is the complete detachment from others. Obviously from a prepper’s perspective the plan you develop for survival under adverse conditions may or may not imply solitude will be the operational condition, but it well could be. The recommendation then is to take steps to prepare for that eventual likelihood just as you would to prep for stocking needed supplies, exit strategies, defensive measures, and the like. It needs to be part of the total prep package.
Functioning in a solitary environment can be just as serious a skill undertaking as starting a fire in the rain, or changing out magazines while maintaining steady fire. Trust me if your personal psychology has a breakdown, then the performance of all other essential skills will suffer greatly. In the worst case situation it can be like near paralysis.
What is it they say about an idle mind being the devil’s workshop? This old proverb may actually have real life application during a SHTF event, especially if you find yourself going solo with little or no outside contact or prospects of such. It can be a lonely existence, but there are ways to weather a long drawn out Bug Out or In strategy.
The real key element to success in fighting psychological nagging at the brain is based on the concept of staying busy. If you have stuff to do, all the time, then you have little time to dwell on the negatives of your situation. It’s an exceedingly simple principle but it works.
Think about your days at work or at home concentrating on a particular project to accomplish. I am willing to bet that during those days the time flies by and you paid scant mind to other issues as you focused on the task at hand. Keeping the mind and body active is essential to defeating the devil from getting between your ears.
As you plan your prepping in home stay or escape elsewhere, plan to take along a hobby or several of them. This may sound totally silly when you’re worried about having enough food to eat and water to drink. But beyond the essentials of sustaining life, you need other stuff to keep you active, too. Things you like to do are a really good start.
This could be starting a garden, which is a super idea. It might be wood carving, bird watching, painting, drawing, reading books, leather work, honing outdoor furniture from wood in the forest, whatever. Have a battery operated radio so you can hear broadcasts, news or music. Even a battery powered CD player would be good to have. You get the idea. Take some stuff along that would be fun to do and help you occupy what might otherwise be idle time.
If you can develop several hobbies or projects then you can divide your time among them. Having alternatives helps keep the interest level high and your attention span honed to a sharper edge.
Avoid daily ruts and routines at all costs. Sure you may have certain obligations you have to do like cook, clean, personal hygiene (very critical), gather wood, repair or build stuff, but try to break up routines into smaller segments and infuse other activities in between including rest or exercise into your daily plan. If safe, take a walk around the neighborhood or base camp property.
This goes hand in hand with varying your daily schedules. Don’t do the same things every day the same way or at the same time. Variety is the spice of life, and you’re going to need some spice if not in that pot of venison chili you have over the fire.
Create and Pursue Activities
Beyond the hobbies and fun things to spend time doing, also start making an active to-do list. There will always be things to do. Having these projects written down on paper will initiate goals and objectives to be reached. It may be constructing a gate at an entry point into your Bug Out camp. It might be building ground blinds for hunting or security observation of various points around the camp.
Bug In projects can include fortification work around the house. As in hurricane territory you may want to fabricate plywood window coverings to have ready just in case. Maybe a door entry needs strengthening or a garage door locked down from inside.
You may want to create the ultimate “safe room” in the house. This will need lots of planning for barricading inside as well as stocking up essential goods for several days of hiding out.
One aspect I read recently about that seriously had not occurred to me personally was the preparation for a fire at the house. This could be a common strategy for thug outsiders to breech your castle by setting it afire. You need to plan to defend against that, but also have a vehicle ready to go slamming out of the garage to escape the flames and the marauders . Let’s hope against hope that such never comes to pass.
I feel certain as you assess your own situation and take a personal accounting of all the aspects of surviving alone, that you will come up with plenty of projects to do to keep active. That is the key to surviving solitude. You may be alone, but you don’t have to succumb from a solitary existence. Stay busy and stay alive.
All photos by Dr. John J. Woods