From Issue 3
Diego Arreola Fernández
It is truly devastating knowing that my individual actions, though meaningful, are not making the real difference to accomplish climate justice or restore the ocean’s health. I understand that I am doing everything that I can to prevent it, and I keep myself motivated to improve my work and grow as an activist, to gain more power and presence and then use it positively to protect the earth.
A lot of the time when I feel eco-grief or eco-anxiety, I feel anger or sadness to the point where I may even cry. It is usually a very overwhelming wave of emotions. The way that I deal with eco-grief is going into action. I try to create campaigns and awareness with different organizations so that we can prevent the same things from happening in our community.
Eco grief has impacted me as I have looked back on the lost possessions and memories I’ve had in places where I can no longer live after the climate disasters. I cope with eco-grief through community building. My tip is to ground yourself in your community because at times, that will be all that we have.
I believe it is super crucial that we keep highlighting this intersection between mental health and the climate crisis on the part of young people and also vulnerable communities. Eco-anxiety is a valid topic that is most times swept under the carpet. I cope with it by reflecting on what matters in this movement, being optimistic, understanding that every action or solution (big or small) counts in tackling climate change, and also by reaching out to fellow and older activists.
Eco-anxiety has become a daily occurrence that I have grown accustomed to. At first, it was hard to manage but now I can recognize early signs of eco-anxiety and how it impacts me, from there I reduce my intake (especially on social media) and also reduce involvement to prevent burnout. From there, I look to the victories and progress that we are making in this space to encourage myself.
Coming from a Caribbean country, my eco-anxiety presents itself in the form of the fear of impending hurricanes and rising ocean levels, especially living in a low-lying country. Even seeing the reefs and mangroves around me die fills me with sadness. I cope with this eco-grief by making a promise to myself to always do what I can for the environment to ensure a healthy and sustainable future.