“You can go and see a psychologist for many different things. But try and talk to a psychologist about peak oil, and they are likely to think you truly are ‘out there,’ if not worse.” Kathy is a professional, and a psychologist who actually understands Peak Oil.
For over six years, I corresponded with people on Peak Oil Blues, heard their stories, and shared their shock, horror and grief upon learning about the current state of the world. POB is a public forum, and I never list personal information or your real names. While my contributors and I would have very personal exchanges, the purpose of my public responses were to educate a large number of people about what are “predictable” reactions to learning about Peak Oil, climate change, and economic hard times ahead. The responses were not just directed toward the individual who wrote to me, exclusively.
The comments below are in response to these dialogues at Peak Oil Blues.
… Dr. K, has significantly strengthened our marriage, after methodically discovering and addressing many issues that were not really obvious to both of us. We were going through the typical Peak Oil related relationship issues that you read about and Dr. K was a voice of reason that continues to help us through this.
“I found this website that didn’t go into the usual technical aspects of peak energy, environment, or economy, but rather the feelings about all of these things. This resonated with me. I read the stories and comments and found a “group” that were at the same place as myself! That was a small relief right there, for I was alone In my circle of influence.
I noticed on the website that there was a link to send in a message to Kathy, the “peak oil shrink.” I had not ever sent anything to anyone on the internet before, but I was in a state of crisis. I needed to tell somebody. I didn’t have the time or ability to talk to somebody where I live. Not sure if they would even understand what I was referring to. Here was a professional, and all I had to do was click on the link. To my surprise Kathy sent an email back! There were many more emails sent back and forth. Each helped me along. Kathy was able to get my feeling right away, reading between the lines at times. She tapped into my thinking and helped guide my anxiety into a constructive, well thought out plan of action. It is an on-going situation as the world still seems to be riding the train of ‘everything is okay.” But we all know it’s different, but it can be rewarding as well. The people that will be blindsided by these coming times will have a tough time mentally. If you find yourself alone, especially in your thinking, it is very difficult to move in a direction that you know you must go. Having people with you on that journey makes a world of difference. Getting to think in the right direction is crucial.If you are prepared in your mind and body, you will better understand where you can be in this world. I have gotten hope and continue to get great ideas from Kathy and her website.”
“…I love your website and what you do for people.”
“Everybody that grasps the peak oil story quickly begins to understand the physical ramifications that it will mean to our lives, but few take that look in the bathroom mirror and see that bewildered individual looking back. It’s what this [Peak Oil] issue does to our mental processes.”
“…with the help of Kathy and a whole cyber community of peak oil friends and websites, I have worked through these questions. Now, I have feelings of acceptance and actually a belief that the world will be BETTER when it all… Specifically, Kathy helped me through the process of accepting these ideas – the stages of grief. Kathy helped me through some difficult spots with my wife’s spending habits and menopausal symptoms. She helped me understand role as a father and a community member. I like her because she tells it like it is. No sugar coating. No bullshit. And, she walks her talk with a yard full of chickens and a garden...Go see Kathy…If you know what it means to have the “Peak Oil Blues” and don’t have anyone to talk to about it then pick up a phone and give Kathy a call.”
“If the world consists mainly of sheep, I am a sheepdog…”
“You are the first person I have ever written to on the internet. I found your website through a few links (not sure what ones) and found solace in your words. I am truly grateful for the time you took to write back.”
“First of all thank you so much for your website. There are countless resources out there about the troubles we face from climate change and peak oil. Yours is the only I’ve found that addresses what its like to be a compassionate, emotional human during such a crisis. Your website has really helped me. Thank you.”
“I contacted Kathy privately about the issues in our community, and she has been invaluable in giving me advice and strategies on dealing with some of the more difficult people we have encountered. The result of this has been that I am more confident and happy that I’m doing the right thing, and that our increasing group of reliable friends will prevail. “
“You can go and see a psychologist for many different things. But try and talk to a psychologist about peak oil, and they are likely to think you truly are a bit ‘out there’, if not worse. Kathy is a professional, and a psychologist who actually understands Peak Oil. If you are trying to deal with Peak Oil and all its implications (whether it is partners who don’t agree, family, or friends who think you’ve gone off the deep end) and feel that it’s all getting too much, you would be hard pressed to find someone more qualified and empathic than Kathy to lend you a helping hand if you need it. As long as we are living in the current paradigm, we still all need to make money, and Kathy is no exception. I don’t live in the US, but if you have the opportunity to either meet with Kathy, hear her speak, or phone/email her to help you make sense of what you are going through, she will be able to help you. And as High Plains Drifter says, she is worth it.”
“Thank you for comments, thoughts, suggestions, and wisdom. I spent the weekend preoccupied with what was written, and sort of marveling at the phenomenon of a virtual community so fixated on this issue. Many thanks, and the sincerity of everybody’s words was unexpected. I especially appreciate your input, Kathy. Your response to my email has helped me in getting over a mental hurdle, and it’s a strange sort of comfort knowing the like-minded aren’t so abstract in this portion of the universe. They actually interact, which is foreign to me given the anonymity. I guess that’s what prompted me to write in the middle of the night — throwing a burden into space in a hope of restful sleep.
My leaving NYC is not merely inconvenient, and I really didn’t describe the circumstances in great detail. I don’t play the victim’s role, Kathy, and I’ve never really considered myself a gambler. But, after some introspection, though, I’ve found you’re correct. That was a surprise to me. Despite regular outward failures, I don’t ever seem to lose.
If the world consists mainly of sheep, I am a sheepdog. I understand the human world is fragile and can be terribly hostile for those people whom are weakened during crisis. I am doing my level best to create a worthy world for my daughter void of fear and stupidity. Hence, the email I sent on 3/25 to strangers, in an attempt to tap every resource I may have yet to consider. I am immensely grateful for this forum. I don’t believe in coincidence. Thank you, Kathy, for saying the things most people would never tell me.”
“Thanks for such a quick reply! Your advice is really appreciated and it’s probably the best advice I’ve gotten so far.”
Each day I find your website more and more valuable. Heck, I’m an engineer and I rarely have the emotional skills to help people dealing with Peak Oil information, so I point them to your site. Go to the professionals when applicable I always say…”
Firstly, I would like to acknowledge that what you are attempting to do here, by allowing me and others to vent our deepest fears, is nothing more than a form of liberation. …Once again, thank you for having the political and therapeutic foresight to create this wonderful site and I can only hope that others are lucky enough to be directed here or like me stumble blindly until they find some kind of light.”
“I am very happy to have found your website; to see the support and interesting information you have to offer here. I thought I was either very unique or crazy (maybe both), however I feel better having found you & yours. One of the questions I have is how to find like-minded for dating purposes? I’ve just about given it up completely, as not too many people share the same viewpoint about the future and preparations for such….”
“You asked for updates from people who wrote to you two years ago… I wrote to you on July 4, 2006, and you signed my name as “Wise Grandmother.” We have made many changes in the last two years. We relocated to an agricultural community that we feel is a good choice for long-term sustainability. We are feeling a deep contentment and joy that somehow coexists with a vast sadness in regarding the problems in the world. I hope what we are doing will help others, and it feels right to be doing our best and doing our part, however small. There is huge comfort in that!”
“Kathy, I am so glad you are taking this bold step. I can’t think of anyone who has dealt with the peak oil issues that have cropped up in each of our lives as much as you have. Everybody that grasps the peak oil story quickly begins to understand the physical ramifications that it will mean to our lives, but few take that look in the bathroom mirror and see that bewildered individual looking back, and what this issue does to our mental processes. You have been involved with the mental impacts longer than anyone I’m aware of on the web, and have actually started taking the mitigating steps to alleviate some of the physical impacts in your own life. If we don’t prepare for peak oil between the ears so to speak, we will waste a lot of valuable personal energy and resources, working ourselves into a wasteful frenzy. The talks you are doing along with the counselling will be an invaluable service to keeping our thought processes from derailing our preparation processes. Your insight and background put you in a very unique place in history. Your website has let me understand what some of my anxieties are composed of, and that I’m not the only person who is experiencing these feelings.
I don’t think anyone else can claim the title of “Peak Shrink” except yourself, not a self proclaimed title, but one that has been obtained by careful research, years of practicing your professional skills, and an open mind in realizing that the people who have stumbled into peak oil are not the textbook case of one disorder or another, but something new. I have observed your thoughts, insights and advice over the past 3 1/2 years on your website, and have found nothing, that after careful consideration, didn’t cause me to grow. You are truly a pioneer, unfortunately out in this part of the country we often joke that you can always spot the pioneers, they are the ones with the arrows stuck in their shirts. I have no doubt that there will be an arrow here or there about this new service you are offering, just pull the arrows out and keep pressing forward.”
“I found your blog through the Energy Bulletin and after skimming through it I new I had to add it to my favorites. I am at the stage of peak oil awareness where I am trying to figure what next step I should take and it is quite a paralyzing and confusing place to be. I happen to be a reporter in the Southeast who has tried to educate people about peak oil in the short time I have known about it. I guess we’re torn between making an investment in a neighborhood that has a lot of momentum, but whose outcome is unpredictable, or mainly paying off debt and saving, even if it means I can’t garden, ride my bicycle, etc. because of the location. What do you think?”
“After being a long time peak oil convert I finally stumbled across your very informative blog. It is really interesting to see people given a chance to express what it has meant to them as individuals, and also to get some positive feedback on how they are coping with the pressures and demands, and present day contradictions…
I first became clued into the peak oil issue during my honours year at University in subtropical Australia…To clarify-my PhD is in chemistry but with a biochemical slant to it. I think people like to fantasize about an overnight total collapse of society as it is easier to get your head around. Mundane apocalypses- unemployment, price increases, feeling bored and lonely and powerless-that is the reality that even the doomers can’t face up to most of the time. And in the mean time we still need to keep working, paying bills, but try to gently side step the usual acceptance that a paid job should eat your waking life, leading to a lack of opportunities to make arrangements for a different future..Thanks again for your wonderful website- Ill be reading through the archives over the next few weeks.”
“I have been following this blog now for a while and it has been a great source of strength and a needed reality check in this irrational world we find ourselves in….Just writing all of this makes me feel better about where I am relative to where I was two years ago. I still have my dark days and I have a long way to go but I think I’ve made a good start….Anyway,… Your blog has been a great source of hope and inspiration for me and for that I am deeply grateful. Thank You!”
“There is so much to say-your website strikes a chord with me like no other. It was great to learn that many people go through this experience after learning about Peak Oil. I don’t know if I am asking for advice, or really just sharing my thoughts about bumping into such a great site. In the future-it would be nice to talk about the social exclusion I fight to not happen, and how it affects my relationships with friends, family, and loved ones-as I feel I really alienate myself from people, with my views.”
“I am so pleased to be on this site right now.”
“Hi there –good to find this site. I found out about Peak Oil last autumn. It was the worst time imaginable because I already had big problems with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder….So it’s good to be able to get this off my chest somewhere where I’m not considered a kook or a party-pooper, but merely a realist.”
“What a wonderful website you have! And what a valuable service you provide – bless you! Where I used to have panic attacks, I am oddly more calm now that I can see the dim outlines of the train bearing down on us. It is really strange, though, going about daily life burdened with this knowledge. My friends and family think I’m either nuts when I warn them about resource depletion, climate chaos and overpopulation pressure issues, but a few tolerate my Cassandra mongering and are hesitantly and/or reluctantly listening. I do what I can and have concluded that my focus must be on myself –learning, upskilling and making a good future for my five year old child. Thank you for your inspiring words.”
“Thank you for your web site and the knowledge that others feel as overwhelmed as I do. It has been seven months since I became aware of the peak oil concept, and I am relieved to hear that the initial emotional reactions subside with time.”
“How many times have I searched the web trying to find comfort for my anxiety about the future and preparedness? Then I found this site. I haven’t read everything on it yet, but I intend to…You can’t be absolutely certain that what you’re doing is the right thing. It may prove to be a mistake. But if it seems the right thing to do at the time, or the only thing left to do at the time, you have to have enough faith to take hold and move forward with it. I intend to find great courage at your site. Thank you for the vision to compose it.”
“…I’m tired of people telling me to just “read my Bible” without letting me talk about what’s going on in my mind. I don’t want to scare anyone, but I want to stop feeling this impending sense of doom that’s been lurking over my heart for the past four years. I’m sick of it.
“I do appreciate that the website exists, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about it. It helps.”
“Kathy, you provided excellent advice to this individual and I have to admit, I’ve felt much like him before, always overwhelmed with the possibilities of peak oil that I could never predict, feeling like a ‘crazy person’, worrying about myself and my families ability to survive, and all around feeling helpless and as if nothing could be done.”
“Thanks for this note. I scare my kids with worry over my obsession with peak oil. I have been aware for at least 4 years, am coming through the depression as light filters in by means of what I can do to prepare. The hardest for me is knowing that I may not be able to convince my children that they need to take the issue seriously. Your advice to this young man was kind. It helped me too. Thanks”
“When reading this post I recognized myself in the roommate’s story. Thanks to your blog I realize there are so many like me, who have “come out the other side” and watch back to see all their friends and family members are still on the “oblivious side” and are happy to be there and want to stay there. I fully agree with the advice you gave his friend, and I think it will better equip him to salvage his friendship.”
“I was so happy to find my way to the peak oil blues website–to me, you are responding to what must be a huge psychological need among millions of people who in different degrees are slowly realising that the future may not just be a calm progression from the present and always better than the past. The compounding factor that makes your website most important is the fact that we may not in fact ‘wake up’ in time, and so never move from an unconscious adolescence to a balanced adulthood, and it may in fact just result in chaos and self-interested grabs for the remaining resources and manic drive to maintain material quality of life right to the end. that’s why those of us who worry about this scenario–me included–do suffer psychologically from the knowledge of that possible worst case scenario. so, yes, i and many others need your help–all the help we can get. we need to share our sadness and sense of frustration and cope with the knowledge of the enormity of what is at stake right now. every day that passes without real change means an exponential foreshortening of our future – tragic beyond words. We need help!!!”
“This is a beautiful conversation. I am grateful to have read it.”
“Thank you very much for your response. I found it insightful, reassuring and made me realize a few things…I think I will add to my PO prep list–“reach out to other families.” Again, I appreciate your comments and support. You are right that no matter what happens, life is full of wonder and good things too and exposing my kids to that will be key. Good Luck with your work. I enjoy your website!”
“I hesitated to write back to you, to see how your reply would impact my life. And it has, in the most positive and uplifting way. I feel much more secure in my decision to go forward with the activities I wanted to pursue. I agree that instead of gathering money, I should gather skills. Basic, necessary skills that could be accomplished in the event of a peak oil occurrence. My boyfriend, and I are going to proceed with building our solar house, but I’ll also grow a garden and learn to can and preserve the vegetables…I agree with you wholeheartedly. Life is in the doing. It may be in the words, but it’s also in the actions. Follow through. So let’s roll up our sleeves and honor those who have come before us. They did it, and I can, too.”
“First of all I’d like to thank you for establishing and maintaining peakoilblues.com. It’s a much-needed website for anybody who finds out about the whole Peak Oil thing, especially for those of us who led complicated, troubled lives well before stumbling onto the sad tale of the upcoming energy crisis. I’m a 26-year-old disabled man, confined to a wheelchair since birth with an extremely rare spinal condition. So I guess you could say life hasn’t been as easy for me as it has for some….Thanks for getting back to me and thank you, sincerely, for your kind words. Again it’s wonderful that your website exists for the Peak Depression crowd—it’s been good to finally communicate with somebody who “gets it.” You don’t sound like a cheerleader at all; I feel you’ve offered a good, balanced response to my situation. Carrying on in the face of hardship is really the human condition, and even if it’s futile, the alternative —admitting defeat and sticking one’s head in the sand—is guaranteed to produce no positive results. We play the hands we’re dealt, because if we don’t play, we definitely don’t win. With your help I’ve established a new game plan…”
“…I’d like to thank you for your website. It’s one of the positive responses to Peak Oil. The ones that I like: focusing on solutions rather than problems. I love reading other people’s stories. They really help me put my own situation in context…Thanks for the inspiration…”
“My first reaction to your site was “Thank heavens, I’m not alone!” I did get depressed and somewhat obsessive about purchases when I heard about peak oil. It was like it flicked a panic button in my brain, because quite honestly, I have never been “prepared” even for slight emergencies like losing the power for 2 days in a blizzard…”
“Just a quick note to say that I just found your site and I think it is a wonderful resource – I will be pointing a number of people towards it.”
“Firstly, I just need to congratulate you on your site. I’ve been looking for such a release valve for ages but have so far been somewhat disappointed with the usual level of ‘peak oil point scoring’ often found on various forums….I stumbled across peak oil about three years ago, and ever since it has been a major part of my life…”
“Thank you for developing this site. It is a tremendous service to those of us who are aware of the coming crisis but are unable to discuss it with most people (lest we be thought of as crazy). My husband doesn’t even want to talk about it. I feel so alone…Anyway, thank you again. I will certainly be a regular here.”
“Thank God I found Your Website! I’ve been enlightened and it was scary. Like the majority of Americans, I believed I lived in a safe, secure world where resources would never dwindle to the point of affecting us. How wrong I was…Thank you for your article. It returned a balance to my thoughts and gave me hope. As a matter of fact, it’s difficult to put into words just how grateful I am. A mere “thank you” doesn’t seem to convey my feelings but for lack of a better phrase to express how grateful I am, I’ll leave it at that!”
“I live on the completely energy-dependent island of Saipan, a US Commonwealth in the far western Pacific, north of Guam. A place that will revert to savagery fairly quickly once the 99% of consumable goods that are shipped in become non-existent. Peak Oil has already started here, started hard, and will get even uglier as months & years go by. Sorry for blathering on, but you did invite this outpouring. Thanks for allowing me to vent…”
“…much praise for getting this blog going, its much needed. There’s a huge emotional aspect to processing difficult and disturbing information that we often forget about.
I’m a post-graduate student in Adelaide, Australia. I first found out about peak oil watching “The End of Suburbia” and quite frankly, the whole concept kept me fixated for days, I could think of nothing else. I had trouble sleeping the first couple of nights, processing the possible consequences of peak oil through my mind at a million miles an hour….For me, I’m in a growing state of awareness. Fear paralyses us when we don’t know what’s going on. I’m still scared, but I’m trying to process my fear through action. All that lies before me now is the daunting and complex task of figuring out what to do. Thanks again, your blog is the bomb.”
“I’ve just stumbled on this site during that very same information-hungry-blitz you described, Mighty Australia. It’s so comforting to read of others going through exactly the same emotional upheaval as I have this week…Anyway – keep up the good work Shrink – we need more sites like this!”
“I really appreciate what you are doing. To have a chance to tell my story is wonderful. So many people don’t want to hear about peak oil or global warming, or any of the other looming problems on the horizon…Peak Shrink, I forgot to say thank you. Once in a while there is a peak oil seminar in town and sometimes someone will comment that this whole topic is depressing and they don’t want to hear anything at all negative (ie. carrying capacity, population overshoot, resource depletion). I’ve tried to say that yes it’s depressing, but if we don’t at least acknowledge that this is heartbreaking, anxiety and stressful that our whole way of life will change radically, it’s really hard to move on and start doing something.”
“Thanks for your very timely and reassuring web site…I wonder if my desire to get away is a natural reaction…you know a “run to the hills” kind of thing that may be a hang over from primitive days?…Anyway Thank you so very much for your prompt response. And for the reassurance that more than just a few people are taking this seriously.”
“I spent the weekend preoccupied with what was written, and sort of marveling at the phenomenon of a virtual community so fixated on this issue. “Thanks so much for being here for us…Any tips are utterly appreciated… Thanks for your great website. Your intention is wonderful.”
“I dropped the PO bomb on my therapist 2 weeks ago. He had been on vacation for a month prior to that and during that time I first became aware of the phenomenon. I was reluctant to bring it up since I thought he’d misattribute it to his absence and my anxiety. Yes of course I *was* really anxious but the PO reality was almost too much for me to handle. He wasn’t receptive and I left disappointed and during the following week, I decided to stop seeing him if he couldn’t help me.
I brought it up the next session and he said, “I’m not sure how I can help you with that”…so had to tell him how he could. This helped to break open a dialog and by the end of it he asked of Peak Oil, “Is this something I should know about?” I’m wondering if he is going through the same period of adjustment that I went through in the first days of my awakening…next session should be pretty interesting…Thanks for your website and story. It was helpful to know that I am not the only one having these feelings. Also, I gave my therapist your URL…
<strong><a title=”“I’m Ready to Get Started! Tell me how!”” href=”http://www.peakoilblues.org/blog/?page_id=3008″ target=”_blank”>I’m Ready to Get Started! Tell me how!!</a> </strong>