5 Mental Health Prepardness Suggestions At Burningman

(emphasis mine)

 

1. Know Your Condition. 2. Take Care of Your Body. 3. Take Your Medications. 4. Pick your friends and environments wisely. 5. Never Be Afraid to Seek Assistance.

1. Know Your Condition.~ Burning Man is trusting you to know how to care for yourself. It is part of being as prepared as you can be. Before putting yourself into the stresses of the awesome adventurous playa, know your condition and how it affects you. Read up on it. Become a self condition expert and decide if going to Burning Man is a good idea or not for you, at the moment. Seek the advice of your medical advisor if you are in question about what the risk is for you in such an environment as Burning Man. If you decide not to go this year, or can not go, try to remember that the Burning Man community exist in many forms all year round. You can still be a part of the community in different ways, with countless people by going to regional events, staying in the online communities and making connections with year round projects. Some would say you might consider doing this even if you do go to Burning Man J.

 

2. Take Care of Your Body.~ Many tend to approach mental health solely from a pharmaceutical standpoint but your physical health is what makes everything else work. What happens to you physically affects you mentally. Respect your body beforehand, during and after the event. Before the event, EXERCISE is the first and foremost means to counter your mental challenges. If you are not already in good physical health, get that way, way before the event. Continue to eat health enriching foods, clean and soothe your skin every chance you get, get enough rest, drink abundant water all the time and do some sort of physical exercise (yoga, swimming, bicycling, aerobics, skating, etc..)The healthier you are before the event, the more it will help you enjoy the event. During the event, every little bit of self care helps you explore the wild side a little bit more. Give your self enough time to adjust, compress or acclimate to both the physical and social climate that is Black Rock City. Drink excessive amounts of water to remain well hydrated and a little bit of salt each day to help absorb it (handful of nuts or some miso soup, etc…). wearing plenty of sunscreen and eating correctly will all help you maintain a level of control over your mental state. Give yourself lots of self massage, cleaning sessions and time to rest, relax and regenerate yourself. Not only does it keep your head on strait, it is another way to enjoy yourself. Build Yourself a Comfort Space. ~ As your home for a few days, you can make your tent, your immediate camp space as comforting as possible. Think outside the regular camp items. Bean bag chairs, decorative fabrics for your tent and space, artworks you can hang that comfort you. Some people spend time photocopying passages from their favorite books or create comfort photo albums of pleasing and inspirational images, and put them into a binder so they can have comfort reading out there. A special drinking cup, an inspirational quote over the doorway of your tent, your favorite blanket or a good mixed tape of your favorite music, all can help you create a safe space that fills you with the familiar when you rest and take extra care for yourself. After the event, give yourself time to “decompress” as the default world can be a culture shock upon return. Make a great effort to stay in close touch with your friends and fellow burners as it may soften what most consider to be a harsh transition back into the year round world. Do not fall into the temptation to isolate yourself out of fear of being misunderstood, transition are hard for nearly all of us.

 

3. Know Your Medications.~ Burning man is an extreme enviroment. Your brain chemistry needs your help by staying on your medications to deal with the added stresses, even when the temptation to take a risk, break all habits, skip one dose or go completely “natural” arises. Your medications may feel like a burden but they can help keep you from harming yourself, others or simply having a horrible time. Most people will advise completely against mixing any drugs while on the playa. Be extra cautious about taking food from strangers or potentially “dosed “ treats and drinks from well intentioned people. Be smart about any decision to add recreational drugs to your already stimulated brain chemistry. If you do feel yourself tripping find a reliable (trip) baby sitter for yourself before as soon as possible, or find a Black Rock Ranger or other medical personal/staff to help keep you remain safe.

 

4. Plan Your Friends and Environments Wisely.~ Radical Inclusion is a goal our whole community strives for, but does not always achieve. Burning man can be a very welcoming, inspiring and overwhelming place. It can be soo big, it can also help people feel left out, abandoned, ignored, un-welcomed and shunned on the Playa. Because the Playa has a way of drawing people away from their normal expectations, you might find yourself feeling like you are the only person concerned with “you”. If this happens, try to do two things: A. Stay calm. Remember that just because people are enjoying themselves does not mean they do not care about you, they are just occupied with their own attention at the moment. B. Reach out for company, until you get it. Don’t give up on others or yourself. It takes time and condition for people to realize you need company and support, and you will get it, if you can remain patient, till they are ready to change their focus to you. Having said that, the old adage “Pick your friends wisely” is very important and on the Playa. People not currently dealing with depressions and other mental health challenges are not always thinking of “your health” when they get “their burn” on. You know yourself better than anyone and while we are all trying to be open minded, friendly and loving to all, not everyone has your best interest in mind or is capable of befriending you the way you need. You can love these people from afar. Keep your expectations about others, smartly. Find others who suffer from the same and similar issues and share community with them. They do exist and you are not alone, even when it takes longer than you would like to find them. Being picky extend beyond just friends. It is friends, situations and environments. Nobody thinks you should live in fear of the playa or be paranoid about what is healthy or not, only that you take a little extra care to think about what you can really expect from Burning Man in terms of what is best for you. Know your limits and abide by them. Just because your friends want to party for five days straight without sleep or decent food doesn’t mean the same behavior is healthy for you. Radical Self-Abuse is NOT one of the Ten Guidelines, nor is Radical Peer Pressure. Many people feel a sense of urgency to try to cover the whole event, to do everything possible and “ Go wild!” Some even feel the need to “out-do” each other. Radical does not have to mean self destructive, obsessive risk taking or pushing your limits. Radical simply means uncommon. The stress to “burn out of control” is stress enough to put the person into a unhealthy cycle. In many cases a cycle that leads to a horrible time and in extreme cases, harm to self or others. You can help yourself avoid these mistakes by making a mental health plan, and sticking to it. Plan and make allowances for problems including finding others who are sympathetic to your unique situation. Try not to camp alone. Surround yourself with people whom you already know you can trust. Meet others with smart glove on. Being well prepared beforehand with coping skills and resources (like friends well versed in your issues ahead of time) can save you time and energy searching for help on the playa. It can save not just your trip, but might just help someone else as well. You are in a unique position to help others because you understand. We need you. You can always make yourself a list of reminders/sayings/quote that help inspire you to keep your feet on the ground (written on an arm band, pined to your water bottle etc…). Having a plan in itself can help your feel assured that you have the means to keep your feet on the ground, while you celebrate the festival.

 

5. Never Be Afraid to Seek Assistance.~ There is always a Black Rock Ranger posted at one of the Ranger Stations spread across the city. They are there to help you no matter what you need. Near center camp is a help center called Sanctuary. Sanctuary is there to help every member of Burning Man. If you even suspect that you need a shoulder to lean on emotionally, or are having difficulty staying calm, clear headed or any tinge of dark or destructive thinking, find the nearest person to take you to a Ranger, or find some other means to seek out the Sanctuary without delay. There are people who care about your health and happiness, you just need to reach out far enough to meet them. No matter what you feel, if you need help, you can seek help. Radical self reliance does not mean you have to take care of everything that happens to you, only that you are responsible to know when you do and do not need help. The people at Sanctuary are not connected to the police but instead are trained caring burners, who volunteer because they actually want to help you. They understand how “out of bounds” we all get and can use someone on our side, no matter what mistakes we’ve made, troubles we face or substances we’ve ingested. Never ever give up. Never surrender. There is HOPE and Help for you and all of us. We need only find it even if that means finding it together. You may find that you are in a position to be needed by another person. Maybe a person feeling blue, or just overwhelmed. Helping others is one of the keystones of our potential as a community. We can help each other if we make ourselves available to others and work to making that extension known. If you know or suspect someone need, you can assist them yourself, point them in the right direction to get assistance (if you think they can manage that themselves), or find someone else who can assist them. Be respectful and ask the person first if they need assistance first, and if they say no and you are still worried about them, then find a Ranger and let them know your concerns, they are there to help. All of us can help each other just by showing we care. Ours is an extreme community that attracts extreme experiences. Part of this, is the extremes we go to care about each other.

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