Last night at 1a.m, I read an American article on farm stress and suicide rates (link at the bottom of the page) .Part of why I was still up at 1am is that I am stressed, so extremely stressed about our farm, farm bills, personal finances and supporting my little family not just financially but mentally as well. If I am stressed about all of the above, my husband’s stress levels are through the roof and he is starting to hit a wall.
As I sat thinking about why the article upset me so much other than the obvious reasons I realized that at this moment in time; when it comes to farming I feel like I am digging my own grave to follow my dreams.
This was my 5th harvest, that’s how long I have been farming. I am still new at this, although my husband was farming before I came along. Since I came to farming every year has gotten harder for us to make it work. Every year we dig our hole a little deeper and add more stress to our load. Every year we think we won’t be able to make it another year and then somehow we scrape enough together to get next seasons crop in the ground. I don’t want to say how many times we have talked about the possibility of having to sell land to continue on and how detrimental that would be to our mental wellbeing.
One thing that has added to my personal struggle is the realization that when I try to reach out to friends who are not farmers or in the agricultural industry for support they do not understand my stress, my anxiety or my fears and this only adds to my feelings of isolation. In 2016 we had a 10 minute hail storm come through during harvest. We should have been in the field combining but our fields were too wet to get machines into from the insistent rains we received that year. In 10 minutes our crops were destroyed and I was devastated. I reached out to an online moms group as I didn’t want to show how upset I was to the world. They tried to support me and I love them all for trying but until you have been through that you just cannot commiserate. It is not the same as having hail damage your summer garden.
I am a proud person, I do not like asking for help nor do I like airing my personal failings to others; however my feelings, my struggles and my emotions are all to common in our industry. Below are stats from a Guelph University study on farmers. It is because of these stats and the knowledge that suicide rates are twice as high in farmers in the USA than war veterans, and that in France a farmer commits suicide every 2 days, every 4 days in Australia and once a week in England that I am sharing my own struggles. You are not alone and I am here if you need someone to talk to or a shoulder to lean on. Saskatchewan farm stress line 800-667-4442