OMG, I’m trapped in Catastrophic …

I’m being trapped in an ongoing onslaught of disasters… each one pulling me in with the sheer threat and then finally, the reality of it actually happening.  Only it’s not one; it’s one after another.  Hurricane after hurricane. Four in one season hitting and there is a month left to go.  An outlier hurricane hitting Ireland, of all places. The world feels unhinged. Flooding, unheard of depths of flooding, in Houston area. Vegas Mass shooting.


Firestorm outside Santa Rosa, CA Oct 9, 2017

Firestorm & fire tornado hitting outside my door in Sonoma/Napa county.  Porto Rico wiped away with a lackluster ongoing response by emergency responders.  Earthquakes & buildings collapsing. Schools crushed.

My heart bleeds. The catastrophes are never ending, and I’m seduced by the TV screen, the YouTube video clips, the radio reports, the emergency alerts on my iphone and am drowning in the wave after wave of hits.

I tear myself away and ask,”When is it going to end?”


My anxiety level is hitting the danger zone…despite not actually, really being in the middle of true danger. The closest I personally came to real danger, was the toxic smoke from the 200,000 acres that burned beginning 10 miles away from my home held back by 10,000 firefighters who stood the line.


Lost Sense of Control… Why?

Why? There are two parts to that why:

  • Why do I keep listening? and
  • Why is it happening?

The first is easy to answer. Why do I tune in? It’s part of our genetic makeup that has allowed us to survive the last million years or so. Stay aware of one’s surroundings.


1883 KRAKATOA – first event broadcast around the world



The problem being that one’s surroundings have expanded from a few miles around hunter/gathers, to telegraph network a 150 years ago that allowed intercontinental news to be passed around the world, to today’s virtually instantaneous audio and video portrayal of “news” to impinge on our every waking moment.


Trigger Words

Couple that deluge of information along with the media’s increased use of psychological imperative emotional words geared to trigger an adrenaline response, that trigger that need to know.  News Flash, Breaking News, this just out… the drum beat of  thumping continuously behind the talking head, to alert you to the drama.  Couple that with goal to not only tell you what is going on, but to have you feel like you are there; coercing disaster victims to play out their emotional trauma, for their ratings. “What did you feel, watching your ____ (fill in the blank) burn, flood, washed away?


I’m pretty sure our psyche was not engineered to cope with such a deluge of on-going disasters and yet we’re not setup to turn it off. It takes conscious thought and decisions to do so.

  • Yes, this is happening somewhere;
  • No, it is NOT happening to me or my family, and
  • No, I can’t change it/fix it.
  • Yes, I can contribute to relief measures, but
  • I can’t live my life and the lives of millions of others.
  • Well, not and stay sane for very long.


According to the National Institute of Mental Health:

“The rates of anxiety and depression among teens in the U.S. may be as much as eight times higher than they were 50 years ago – higher than during the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War and the societal turmoil of the 1960s and early ’70s. And teens from all geographic, economic and ethnic demographics are affected.”

“…the kind of hopelessness that young people experience nowadays is unprecedented. Never before have we been so well-informed about the insurmountable threat to our environment or had such constant exposure to the injustices faced by so many around the globe.”


Social psychologist Jean Twenge, author of “Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled – and More Miserable Than Ever Before,” wraps it up neatly:

“The research tells us that modern life is not good for mental health.”

“In a pre-smartphone age, young people were forced to interact face-to-face with their family, peers and community, and they learned empathy and social responsibility through witnessing the visceral, immediate impact of their actions in real time. In this way, they strengthened their understanding of themselves and their connection with others and the world around them.”

We used to have a world that included community connections through our church, clubs, community centers, etc. In our current world of connecting by social media, we interact on a stage.  Not really connecting with others but just fulfilling our preconceived roles and never knowing if they are valid.  They are just the “face” we put on, thus not grounded in action & consequences.  Never getting past the superficial because absent facial expressions, tonal inflections, reactions,  we never know how the written words will be interpreted.

Teens are not the only ones experiencing difficulty.  CNN reports that an astounding one fourth of U.S. women are now on antidepressants. So many, it has been showing up, across the USA, in our water supply.

Quiet Time

                     One day in the car, I turned the radio off, turned off my Audible book,                                  turned off my GPS map. 

I had an epiphany, “what if I just experienced the now, the quiet?”

If we fill up all our spaces with things, when do we have time for processing, thinking, sorting things out, allowing our imaginations to be active.  When do we have time to connect with the breeze, the smells, the little sounds (birds, crickets, dogs) that are part of the actual world.

We need to take back control of our space… we’ve given it over to the consumer-driven society in exchange for entertainment, non-stop. As they work to increase their “ratings” we suffer the loss of our connections with our family, our friends, our community, in real time.

Important, I think, to create a buffer space between “staying on top of the news” and living in real time.  To actively make choices that protect our psych from overload; especially those of our children.  On advice from my grandson’s pediatric neurologist (a micro preemie born more than 3 months early), once home absolutely NO SCREEN time for the first year, and minimal for two years, to facilitate healthy neurological development.

I suspect this should be true for all of us, “In all things, moderation.”

Ask yourself, is any more information useful or needed… and pull the plug, if the answer is no.   Take some time out and experience the outside world. Breathe, be thankful, smile. Spend quality time with family, with friends, in real time.


It rained last night, the air is cleared of smoke.  I take a deep breath and can see blue skies and the surrounding tree studded hillsides. I hear my chickens in the background and appreciate the absence of sirens & the whir of helicopters, today.

We have been blessed.

It should be savored.


Why is it Happening?

The second part of the why… is the subject of my next post.


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