(Vice) In the summer of 2015—the warmest year on record at the time—it was the literal heat that got to Meg Ruttan Walker, a 37-year-old former teacher in Kitchener, Ontario. "Summers have been stressful to me since having my son," said Ruttan Walker, who is now an environmental activist. "It's hard to enjoy a season that's a constant reminder that the world is getting warmer."
"I think my anxiety just reached a peak," Ruttan Walker continued. It felt like there was nowhere to go, and although she had spoken to her primary care doctor about anxiety, she hadn't sought help with her mental health. Suddenly, she was contemplating self-harm. "Though I don't think I would have hurt myself, I didn't know how to live with the fear of... the apocalypse, I guess? My son was home with me and I had to call my friend over to watch him because I couldn't even look at him without breaking down," Ruttan Walker said. She eventually checked herself into an overnight mental health facility.
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Her case is extreme, but many people are suffering from what could be called "climate despair," a sense that climate change is an unstoppable force that will render humanity extinct and renders life in the meantime futile.