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Forums / Staying well / Are you managing to be OK with all these dreadful fires.

Topic: Are you managing to be OK with all these dreadful fires.

21 posts, 0 answered
  1. White Rose
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    White Rose avatar
    6325 posts
    1 January 2020

    Hello everyone. I was watching the news this morning on the ABC. It was a special program on the bush fires. It made me cry because of all the damage to people's homes and lives. Also the dreadful new that several firefighters have died.

    How is everyone coping? I know some of you live near fire affected areas and must be worrying a lot. Restricted power available and no way to contact family and friends must be quite difficult to bear. Being out of contact with our loved ones is so very hard. Film footage on TV shows how desperate it's getting. People are trapped because it is unsafe to leave their properties, but they cannot contact their families.

    Is there any particular way you have to help you cope with this? Perhaps we can share tips on how to remain calm amidst all this mayhem. For me prayer is the way to go. I am not near any fires though a few weeks ago we had lots of smoke blowing into our homes.

    Share you tips and help each other to manage.

    Mary

    2 people found this helpful
  2. Summer Rose
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    Summer Rose avatar
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    1 January 2020 in reply to White Rose

    Hi Mary

    Thank you for this really timely and important thread.

    I am luckily not living in a bushfire area. However, some of my loved ones were holidaying at Lakes Entrance over Christmas and my worry level was off the chart until they arrived home safely yesterday. We had spotty communication for a couple of days, which caused quite a bit of stress and frustration.

    While I was overwhelming relived with the outcome, I still can't shake the saddness I feel for those who have perished, their families and all those poor people who have lost homes and/or livelihoods.

    I think we are a nation in collective shock and mourning. And it hurts.

    My way of coping is to keep busy and focus on doing rather than feeling. Donating to the ABC/Red Cross appeal felt good, such a positive and easy way to help. I am also making a conscious effort to spend time with my elderly neighbours.

    They are a beautiful couple in their 90s and I occasionally make an excuse to go around, you know bring some baked goods or flowers from my garden. But at present I'm checking in daily as they are really fretting about the fires.

    I'd like to do more to help those people directly struggling as a result of the fires but geography makes that impractical. Spending time with this couple helps me to feel less useless in this time of crisis.

    Kind thoughts to you

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  3. Doolhof
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    Doolhof avatar
    8755 posts
    1 January 2020 in reply to White Rose

    Hi Mary and Summer Rose,

    Thanks for starting this thread Mary. The fires have been very real for me as two of my siblings have been impacted by different fires. One has had land destroyed but their home is safe at present and so are they. Friends have been close to the fires as well.

    My heart goes out to everyone involved, to all of nature that has been destroyed and for the people who are trying their hardest to help in so many ways.

    Part of me also feels guilty that I am not doing my bit. As an ex volunteer fire fighter, I feel like I should be out there helping and not sitting in my safe air conditioned house.

    The place where I grew up is on fire as well at present.

    Sometimes my mind is so overwhelmed with what is happening, I don't know how to help.

    Thanks again Mary.

    My thoughts are with everyone impacted by the fires in any way.

    Regards from Doolhof

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  4. Paw Prints
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    1 January 2020 in reply to Doolhof

    Hello Mary, Summer Rose, Dools & everyone,

    One thing we should all do is have an emergency plan in place. It's not something that only those in bushfire prone areas should have. Any of use could lose power, phone/internet services, access to supplies for one or more days due to storms/floods/fires. We don't have to be directly in the path of an event, a fire/flood many km's away can cut power supplies to a very large region affecting many. Some of the towns currently affected by the fires whilst not in the fires path are isolated due to access roads being cut.

    There are lists of things you should consider for your plan on various useful websites. Google "household emergency plan" it will give plan ideas from the various state gov's/red cross etc

    Knowing you have a plan can help you feel more in control & less overwhelmed if it is ever needed.

    Thoughts with everyone affected.

    Paws

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  5. Doolhof
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    Doolhof avatar
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    2 January 2020 in reply to Paw Prints

    Hi Paws and All,

    Just to add to what you have written, having all of your documents available if required is beneficial.

    We are organising copies of all our documents, insurances, birth certificates and so on and will copy them to a USB or some device and leave it at my in laws home.

    Some people do practise evacuations so they have ideas of where to go and what to do before an event happens.

    Cheers from Dools

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  6. White Rose
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    White Rose avatar
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    2 January 2020 in reply to Doolhof

    Hello Everyone

    Such great responses.

    Paws you are quite right. We should have an emergency plan in place. No good trying to decide what to do when the emergency happens. And as you say, events some distance away can effect us. I am thinking particularly of the smoke from the fires that I guess most of us have contended with. It may not sound much but smoke inhalation can result in all sorts of breathing difficulties. You don't need to have asthma or similar to be affected. I saw on the news that smoke from the Qld fires ended up in New Zealand.

    Great idea about your documents Dools. I have wondered what to do about these things. I would not like to leave them behind in the event of an emergency. My idea was to collect these into one packet ready to take them with me, but of course we cannot guarantee we would have time to pick up the package no matter how organised we are. It's the same with family photos. Losing them would be hard but then losing our lives by trying to collect them would be an even bigger disaster.

    So many of those precious memories are wrapped up in the various articles. We take it for granted they will always be safe but over the past few years I think we have all realised this is not necessarily so. In the 1974 floods in Qld we were isolated. OK we had a freezer full of food and a well-stocked pantry. Unfortunate we lost power and despite covering the freezer with blankets in an attempt to keep the food frozen we eventually had to cook it on the BBQ. And there was still the problem of storing it though not as urgent.

    We had some travellers billeted with us which meant they could help us eat the food while it was still good. Still had to throw away quite a lot. Also I was six months pregnant at the time and I stated to bleed. What then? Could not contact any emergency help because the phones were out. No good jumping in the car to reach help because the water had cut us off. In the end all I could do is rest as much as possible and hope everything would be OK. Yes it was OK and my eldest son was born in April.

    Didn't stop me worrying for the next few months in case something went wrong with the birth or the baby. So another spin off from the disaster.

    Thanks everyone for your comments.

    Mary

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  7. Doolhof
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    Doolhof avatar
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    2 January 2020 in reply to White Rose

    Hi Mary,

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with us all. That must have been a trying time, scary and maybe rewarding at the same time, being able to help out others. Not having medical assistance would have been very concerning I am sure.

    Another thing I thought of was medications. These days in S.A. at least, you can have the chemist take care of your scripts.

    People could be out of their homes when a disaster hits so would not have extra medications with them. Considering what to do if a disaster happened in our absence may be beneficial too.

    My heart is aching for those who are doing it so tough right now.

    Huge hugs to everyone. From Dools

  8. Doolhof
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    Doolhof avatar
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    6 January 2020 in reply to Doolhof

    This morning I have been crying for our nation.

    To see images of what is happening all around our country breaks my heart.

    I don't have words for the sorrow I feel.

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  9. romantic_thi3f
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    romantic_thi3f avatar
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    6 January 2020 in reply to Doolhof

    Hi everyone,

    Thank you for starting this thread; I know how important it is to talk about it and I can see how it's taking it's toll on all of our country.

    At the moment I live in a place that isn't prone to bushfires, but I do have friends in areas that have had to evacuate or lost their homes. Even though I'm not one of them, I can't help but cry too for the pain that everyone has felt as well as all of our wildlife and lack of support from the government.

    As to how I'm coping - not well. But I'm working really hard to look for the good. People who are letting strangers into their home, the donations that have been poured in - from locals to people overseas, people sewing and sending things, businesses donating percentages of their sales and of course the volunteers. I saw that the Red Cross, Wires and RFS are overwhelmed with the support they've gotten. If I look at these things, it helps.

    I've donated a bit too, and registered my interest as a volunteer even though I'm not sure if I'd be helpful.

    I also thought I'd post this here since there's some pretty helpful resources -

     https://www.psychology.org.au/for-the-public/Psychology-topics/Disasters/Bushfires/Recovering-from-bushfires

    https://www.redcross.org.au/get-help/emergencies/resources-about-disasters#respond-to-disasters

    Thanks again for starting this conversation. I think discussions around mental health get a bit forgotten in tragedies like these.

    rt

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  10. smallwolf
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    smallwolf avatar
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    6 January 2020 in reply to romantic_thi3f

    Not well.

    After a while you (read "I") can become desensitized to things. With the fires, it is constant and cannot escape it. But it is not just the fire itself or damage to the land and wildlife, towns etc. There is also the way events are reported by the media, and the blame game, either by media or armchair experts (in comment sections in news articles). Plus the long(er) term fallout with rebuilding which takes time - with the floods that were in T'ville, some people still are still rebuilding their houses let alone their lives.

    So in terms of feelings they are mixed - everything from anger, frustration, sorrow, inadequacy to some more positive ones.

    As far as rt comment on tragedies and mental health - I think this is a true enough statement. I have only seen a couple of results in the online news on this topic, and the most recent was today. Probably my greatest fear is that when the fires go out the issues will be forgotten.... at least by the media.

    Thanks for starting this conversation.

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  11. White Rose
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    White Rose avatar
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    6 January 2020 in reply to smallwolf

    Hello Everyone

    Thank you for your comments. It is obvious we are all distressed both for the fire situation and for those people who have lost homes and business, plus the loss of life which last time I heard an update was 18. It is truly horrific.

    I think RT that your idea is great. If we can do some good then lets concentrate on that.

    Tim, yes we can become desensitized to tragedies and that is a huge tragedy in itself. How many people are in tears constantly over the fires. It's awful. We can put to work the skills we have learned from writing on the forum I believe. This may help us as well as anyone else we speak to.

    The references RT has put up can be a great help. I do urge anyone who needs some help to read these and see how they can stay in as positive a place as possible. Not easy I know. We can also spend time with our families. I know being with my grandchildren is helpful. They have an innocence that becomes a blessing to us. Paying attention to what is in front of us may be the way to stop brooding over the events of the past weeks. It doesn't make us uncaring or selfish. We too need to keep ourselves together and when we can help, find the energy to do so.

    Tim, it is a bit of a worry. When the emergency is over everyone breathes a sigh of relief and goes back to what was happening before. I cannot blame anyone because we do not need to be constantly reminded. But maybe this time we can put pressure on our politicians to be more proactive. I see the Army Reserve is being called out, the first time in Australian history since we had reservists. It sounds great if these reserves can get to the areas where they are needed.

    One of the major problems as I understand it, is the firefighters etc cannot get into some places even though there are people needing help.

    I don't usually put my spiritual feelings on posts but today is an exception. May God help us all to come out of this and become healed from the hurts we have received.

    Mary

    1 person found this helpful
  12. smallwolf
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    smallwolf avatar
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    6 January 2020 in reply to White Rose

    Hi Mary,

    Julie Bishop was talking about the bushfire on the Today show and there was a suggestion of a royal commission. You would need to watch the interview but there were comments about recommendations from previous commissions not being followed through. You are right in putting pressure onto the politicians into being proactive, though I remain skeptical.

    Tim

  13. Hanna3
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    6 January 2020 in reply to White Rose

    Hi White Rose and everyone else,

    I find I have to turn off the TV and get away from it all sometimes simply for mental health. I hate to see all the suffering, not just the people but the stock and wildlife suffering so horribly and the loss of habit and beautiful places. I feel a lot of frustration when I hear the experts and fire fighting personnel say they were asking for help from the government as far back as April, knowing they were heading into a bad season. And I feel helpless as I can't find a way of being useful in all this.

    We are in the most appalling drought here with everything around us dying, we've had months of dust storms and smoke, so people here were already depressed. The fires in so many other areas on top of it all make it all seem worse.

    I am frustrated with our government. I am sorry for my country. But I remain hopeful that we will all learn something from this and come out of it more aware, more conscious of caring for our environment and our planet.

    Meanwhile I try to switch off and watch something on TV or read a good book. Last night I went onto YouTube and watched some old Monty Python sketches - I love the one about the Latin graffiti! Finding something silly to make you laugh really helps. Best wishes to everyone.

    1 person found this helpful
  14. Elizabeth CP
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    Elizabeth CP avatar
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    9 January 2020 in reply to Hanna3
    I am struggling. I have PTSD due to being caught in a bushfire as a child but this has escalated due to the recent events. I feel guilty & stupid for not helping & not being directly impacted yet feeling so anxious and upset. Little things will trigger intense emotions. The suggestions of preparing by having a plan & storing important documents etc are excellent but I struggle to focus on things related to fire including practical preparation sends my mind into a downward spiral. I wish I could help or at least say something uplifting
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  15. OverwhelmedMarlon
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    9 January 2020 in reply to White Rose
    Hi Mary, I cried the other day as well and had to put my phone away. It all feels a bit much at the moment. Thoughts to everyone doing it tough right now :( x
  16. Summer Rose
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    9 January 2020 in reply to OverwhelmedMarlon

    Hi Mary and others

    I'm just picking up on something Elizabeth said, I feel guilty & stupid for not helping & not being directly impacted yet feeling so anxious and upset. I feel the same.

    I don't have a mental health condition (I care for a child who does) and, despite being in normally good mental health, I am now struggling--and I am not directly impacted by the fires in any way. The crisis is so overwhelming, the devastation so vast, that I feel anyone with a heartbeat and a pulse is feeling grief, shock and sadness.

    I actually believe that we are in the midst of collective mental health crisis, with each of us facing our own battles to different extents and for different reasons. Some of us will bounce back quickly, others are in for the long haul. It's heartbreaking to imagine the pain but so heartwarming to know that there is a place like our forum to help each other through it without judgement.

    Today, I am grateful for the forum and all of you.

    Kind thoughts to all

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  17. White Rose
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    White Rose avatar
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    10 January 2020 in reply to smallwolf

    Hello Tim

    Thanks for your comments. I did briefly hear the suggestion of a royal commission but wonder if it will get off the ground, how thorough it will be and especially if any recommendations are implemented. Once the bush grows back and everything looks OK I feel much of the trauma is forgotten by politicians etc and they can get on with their lives.

    I also heard a suggestion that the number of psychologists visits should be increased from the current ten in order for firefighters to get help. They have been there since the start even though they get breaks. They should be provided with unlimited help and perhaps no fees. May be a bit radical. This does not only apply to firefighters. All those people who have lost homes and livelihoods, not to mention loved ones who have died as a result of the fire. They also need help to get back on their feet emotionally.

    Mary

  18. White Rose
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    White Rose avatar
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    10 January 2020 in reply to Hanna3

    Hello Hanna

    It is indeed difficult to watch these distressing scenes. The death of so many animals both domestic and wild is heartbreaking. Finding an alternative program to watch is good idea. I have watching reruns of old programs I enjoyed a while ago and find that gives me some relief. The problem I find is the most innocuous program can remind me of the fires in some way. The old triggers come back.

    Sometimes I feel I am being hyper-vigilant which wastes my energy and barges in on my mental health. Just when I think all is going OK this event comes out of left field and smacks me in the face. Definitely not good for us. I wonder if you can gather some friends together and talk about how you feel. It may be you can decide on a course of action together which will help you cope with these distressing emotions. A group of you meeting every couple of weeks can provide great support to each other especially on those days when you feel the world has gone crazy. Giving someone ring and having a chat is good.

    Mary

  19. White Rose
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    White Rose avatar
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    10 January 2020 in reply to Elizabeth CP

    Hello Elizabeth

    So sorry to learn you had that experience as a child. Every piece of news etc must really stir pot. If I remember correctly you see a psychologist or similar. Are you still doing this. It would be helpful I imagine if you can talk about these fears and memories. Not that any of it is happy until you remember you survived and I hope all family as well.

    Feeling guilty & stupid for not helping & not being directly impacted is probably a common reaction, but please focus on yourself and what makes you happy or at least not unhappy. If you had been impacted it would add another casualty to the toll but would not change the plight of those who have already been impacted. I understand the feeling of helplessness and expect the majority of people feel the same. We are all hurting in some way. Our task is keep ourselves well as much as possible and to allow those people out there at the various scenes to focus on the needs of those who have been impacted.

    I think we need to look for the good things but I also know how difficult this can be. When we are overwhelmed by grief and sadness it can be difficult to find something pleasant to remember. Alternatively we can find activities that help to settle us. I know I go for my embroidery but I do need sound in the backgrounds. I used to listen to books on CD and find very helpful. Surprisingly I cannot read books at that sort of time. It requires too much concentration. So I have the satisfaction of producing something good and keeping busy that part of my brain that can get into a tizz. Must remember to get more CD books from the library.

    Mary

  20. White Rose
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    White Rose avatar
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    10 January 2020 in reply to OverwhelmedMarlon

    Hello OverwhelmedMarlon

    Tears are a good safety valve so cry when you need. I know I have cried a lot but it's OK. I do switch off TV and radio at times because it's too much and as I suggested above, keeping busy by doing those activities we enjoy can help to keep us calm and bring some order into our lives. I often suggest weeding the garden though it's a bit hot at the moment. Pulling up weeds can be quite cathartic as you make them represent anything you wish.

    Thanks for your comments.

    Mary

  21. White Rose
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    White Rose avatar
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    10 January 2020 in reply to Summer Rose

    Hello Summer Rose

    Nice to see you again.

    You are absolutely right in saying those who have not been directly impacted by the fires are also upset on behalf of others. To listen to and read about the devastation feels as though there is a huge tsunami of grief washing over us.

    I agree we are in the midst of mental health crisis. Working with the practical and obvious problems is usually place for politicians, charities and community groups to start. What do people need, how can we comfort them, what practical help can we provide? The emotional and mental health difficulties can easily be pushed into the background and in some ways this is logical. However I see no reason why psychological help cannot be provided from the start. I hear the pollies say things like finding the extent of the problem. Well obviously, but there is an immediate need for for counselling and no matter how large the problem is discovered to be, emotional support is really a no-brainer. If ten people are affected or ten thousand is really beside the point. Everyone is needy.

    What can we do? Well depending on where you live you may be able to help with the practical efforts and perhaps through this can talk with those who come for help. If you are like me and do not live near a bushfire area I think we can talk to pollies and perhaps help with fund raising.

    Just a couple of ideas.

    Mary

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