In two separate contexts now, I have suggested that perhaps I have Climate Change Anxiety. I just put it into my search engine to see what came up. Mostly, you get various media forms giving advice on how to deal with it. I haven’t read them all. I get the impression that mostly it’s about being pro-active and making the changes you can in your own life. I feel that we (as a family) have been doing that in a fairly consistent and systematic way.
This morning I listened to a podcast called “How to Fail With Elizabeth Day”. The episode I picked was just the most recent one – an interview with Frankie Bridge who I had never heard of. She is a 31 year old, was lead singer of a girl band in the UK called “The Saturdays”, is now a Mum and a TV presenter… and she suffers from depression (nothing to do with Climate Change). However, a few of the things she said resonated with me (most particularly from this summer).
* She was living on adrenaline, shaking all the time, didn’t feel like eating.
* She felt guilty for being miserable when her life was so good
* She would cry (sometimes sob) over small things
I don’t have depression. Clinically, I almost certainly don’t “have” any mental illness. But, having listened to Frankie Bridge talk about her journey, it seemed relevant to this blog to share the truth about what this summer has meant to me as a person. Perhaps other people have noted these “symptoms” (if I may call them that) and felt them to be unusual or extreme in their own lives. The number of media articles would suggest that it is a kind of quiet epidemic, being pushed to individuals to deal with, as some governments continue to shirk their responsibilities.
Even just writing this, I feel my heart begin to race and my hands begin to quiver a little. Soon after that starts, my stomach begins to grow unsettled. I can’t tell if it is anger at those governments or anxiety about what they are doing to us.
My sister-in-law asked me what climate-related achievement would “cure the itch” (I think that was the phrase she used). It’s a good question and I didn’t have a simple answer but here are a few thoughts.
* I really feel like even just knowing that everybody (particularly those who wield significant power) was on the same page would really help.
* I also think it would help if the media stopped comparing facts to opinions like they had equal weight. A farmer defending his right to farm as he has always farmed (be he ever so wise and ever such a successful farmer) does not have the same facts to hand as a climate change scientist. I am not discrediting the farmer. I am just saying that they have different areas of expertise.
* In that context, I think the fight about coal is stupid and old and boring. Last night on Foreign Correspondent they explored the closing down of Germany’s “black coal” mines and the continued discordance over the need to close down the “brown coal” mines. People still think that it is the only way to get electricity. People still think that their way of life is at risk. And yet Germany closed down the black coal mines without a single miner being put out of work. The government, the unions and the businesses collaborated and made a smooth transition. Germany has proved they can do it and yet some Germans are still scared! WTF?!?! Where is the communication break-down?
I have a good life. I have a loving family and beautiful children, I don’t feel anxious about getting the next meal on the table, we are wealthy enough to include the odd holiday and unnecessary luxury in our lives. And yet, this summer I have struggled to feel safe or positive about the future.
Climate Change is not the sole contributor. The whole world is a little bananas, right? Trump’s own party is allowed to design the rules around his impeachment trial. BREXIT goes ahead and now nobody wants to sign a trade deal with the UK until the European Union does (even although that conversation has already failed over the last three years). In China, CoVID19 is running amuck despite history-making quarantine laws and unheard of co-operation between countries and scientists. Australia’s government seems to be making up its own rules about how it gets to spend public money.
There’s a lot to watch. And if you add any personal dramas in there (and we’ve all got a few of those) and extreme weather events up the wazoo, it’s hardly surprising that low level anxiety gets pushed to new heights and perhaps becomes its own health risk.
#ClimateChangeAnxiety. We need to watch this space.