Under Pressure

Picture of Selco


I am Selco and I am from the Balkan region, and as some of you may know it was hell here from 92-95, anyway, for 1 whole year I lived and survived in a city WITHOUT: electricity, fuel, running water, food distribution, without any kind of organized law or government. The city was surrounded for 1 year and it actually was a real SHTF situation. Our allies were our enemies from one day to the next. Today I’m prepared and share my experience on this blog.

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A month or two ago or so I made (promise to myself, and others too) a decision that I will write posts on my blog more often, because of a few reasons, first and most important is that you folks react positively on posts and want to read new posts more often, other reasons are simply because there are always good topics for writing, and I simply want to write more often.

But just like with lot of other good (and strong) decisions, very often real life jumps in and asks for all your time and attention. ‘Life pressure’ gets you and you are simply living day by day under it.

Pressure dictates all your actions because you have to live, and sometimes writing blog post is a fine luxury…

Point of this short intro. is that I have learnt, a long time ago, how to operate under the pressure, and it is simply about switching off some of your functions and pushing on and on, until you get again into the position of normal.

It is one of the most valuable lessons of surviving the SHTF, because if you do not do that when SHTF you will fail to operate properly and that will get you dead…

Anyway, now I (finally) have some time to write a post, I want too share with you this story:


The guy was about 45 years old when I met him. The SHTF maybe two months before that, and I met him while we were trying to make sense of some military power generator that we found in abandoned army storage.

It was hopeless attempt to make it useful, we did not had any clue about how that thing worked, what fuel it used, or even how to drag that beast to our home.

Even if we solved all that problems, starting it at home was like invitation for bad folks. But we did not know any of that in that moment.

That guy was something like “guy who knows stuff”, because decades ago he served in the Army and his duty was to operate that things, so he was there to explain to us what we actually found.

Generator was partially buried under rubble of collapsed roof and all kind of junk and we spent a lot of time to clean all that away, he helped us, and while he did that he was murmuring something all the time, like he is talking with someone, or arguing something with someone, I did not pay attention to that.

And then he started to explain to me what we have there, he talked slowly, I could see that he know that stuff.

But then he went quiet and turn his head like he carefully listening to something. My senses immediately go up, I crouched and look at him and whispered to him “what, WHAT”? because I thought he heard someone is coming, because then that could easily mean danger.

He raise his hand to me wanting me to be quiet, and I go quiet, then he kept his head in that position for couple of seconds then said to me ”all good man” then he continued with explanation about the generator.

Couple of minutes after that, he again go quiet, raise hand giving me sign to be quiet and turn his head like he is hearing something suspicious.

I started to sweat, something was moving in my guts and had feeling like we are gonna be jumped from someone there, I almost wanted the shooting to start just to have a target to break down the fear.

Then he continued and asked me ”you do not hear anything”?

I said “no man” actually I heard lot of things, water pouring somewhere inside, ruins tapping very slowly, probably from destroyed roof on some piece of broken glass, some piece of metal shivering somewhere in the wind, shots in distance, explosions somewhere far.

But I did not hear anything suspicious or I was not sure.

He said “ sorry man, I often hear things, now I hear someone calling my name”

At that moment I froze and  a tingling slowly went over my back.

Here we are in the middle of huge military complex, in almost pitch dark, all kind of noises that you have in destroyed buildings are there, probably other folks are somewhere scavenging for useful things, everyone have some kind of weapon, something smells awful-clearly there is corpses there,there is no law and punishment and I am sitting in middle of that with a psychopath…?

He was smoking a big, fat, handmade cigarette and when he “pull the smoke” I could see his face, it was completely peaceful, but all what I could think was did he have knife close to him?

I remember seeing that knife while it was still little bit light from dying day, it was on his belt, a big kitchen knife.

My friend was somewhere around scavenging, I was alone just then with this guy.

Guy continued “sometimes I hear music, but mostly I hear people calling me, usually I know and I am aware  it is only in my head, but from time to time, I just have to ask if someone else is hearing it, because it is so real and I know I am not crazy. I like when I hear music, usually there are my favourite songs”

I said, smartly” all good man, it happens” but in my head I was waiting for my friend to come back and I was thinking “fuck the generator, fuck the barracks, this dude is crazy…!”

Then guy said “yeah, forget it, you do not hear it” and continued with explanations.

My friend got back and we moved from there, anyway generator was junk.

I was angry at my friend because he connected us with that crazy dude, I yelled at him “ I almost shit myself there in pitch dark with him and voices in his head”

My friend said” oh, he is fine, do not worry. He is fine guy, he is electrical engineer, when war started militia imprisoned him a week, and beat him all the time for fun.

Every day they would bring him in front of the prison and put a blindfold on his eyes and make a firing squad and acted to the last moment like they gonna shoot him.

After one week they released him, but he then started to hear voices, he is genius, but with a bunch of people inside his head.”

After that story I just said “shit”


Months later, I was on the upper floor of my house, drinking and smoking, having a moment of some kind of weird personal peace.

Noises of explosions and gunfire were there, mostly in distance. The moment was fine for me.

And then I heard music, and it was one of my favorite songs actually.

My first thought was ” great, my favorite song!”

5 seconds after that I jumped like someone stabbed me, remembering thinking” oh God, I am losing my mind, oh no please…”

I run down, enter my house, scare my family and pull my relative out from the house asking him “do you hear it, do you fucking hear it man”?

He was angry on me because I pull him out violently, he said “do I hear what”?

“song, do you hear the song”?

He said “ yes, it is Drago man, they probably drunk there”

I was staring to him, not understanding what he is trying to say. Then slowly I realize things:

Drago was the nick name for Army Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) with speakers on it – propaganda vehicle. Usually they blow our brains out with propaganda all the time, public declares, calls to surrender, all kind of junk, sometimes patriotic junk songs, insults and threats what they gonna do to us all the time, but never good music.

It looks like someone in that APC get bored from propaganda and junk and finally put some good music, or simply he got stoned.

I asked him again “you hear it”?

He said “ yes man, I hear it, you are fine, you are just drunk”!

I repeated to my self “thank you , thank you, thank you, I am not get crazy”


Later, in next couple of months I met more folks who “lost it”. Couple of times I personally heard strange things, saw people that were not there, usually when times got really bad.

Pressure on human body, and particularly human mind in real SHTF is usually huge and you can expect weird things sometimes. Brain will play tricks with you, and sometimes you just can loose it.

Prepare not to loose it.

Just in case, in my physical courses, I point out often that real survival things and skills are tested best in cicrcumstances when you are scared, and when you think that you saw something that is not there or hear something.

I am trying to test you in those circumstances.

That usually means you are so overwhelmed with events, and pressure is at the highest level, and the real art is to perform perfect on that level.

It is up to you and your well prepare mindset are you gonna “loose it” or not.

In the shortest summary, you need to prepare Bullets, Beans, Bandaids and Brains (mindset).







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17 Responses

  1. I Really Loved your stories today, and how it fucked with your mind. I think you would go nuts with me as a partner 🙂 I embrace the voices and music, they keep me sane and alert.
    My life experiences has taught me that those who can not disconnect from harsh realities are a danger to my and others well being. (I know this is contrary to popular belief). Nothing will drive you nuts faster than not having an escape valve to high tension affairs.
    I was asked by my partners why the fuck was I singing while doing some serious nasty on the enemy. If I do not, I will second guess myself and we all die. While stalking 25 miles in dense brush, the music is playing in my head. A sound of a bush moving/a branch breaking does not belong in the song, thus I go from alert to high alert and pissed-off something ruined a good song in my head.
    I have had partners who did scare the hell out of me. They were ‘really’ insane and not insane by design. They disconnected too far and became lost in their madness. Those ones are placed at a far distance or eliminated, if they fail/refuse to come back to reality. In SHTF, there is no room for the ‘truly’ insane.
    Lone wolf or those who lived through hell alone, will hear things/noises, songs/music, talk to guardian angels/self…. It is a normal survival instinct and survival tactic, if not allowed to get out of control. I have worked with many who were off-centered and most are the most trustworthy people I have met. The ones who pretend to not be at least a bit off-center or are acting as if they are 100% sane, scare me the most. As they can/do snap without any warning or reason.
    ” I see a black door and I want to paint it red. I lived a hard life, but I am still not dead. So what if I mess with the words of a song. Makes me happy to meet my words in my head.”

  2. We were riding on the BIAP highway in Baghdad on our way to the IZ once and we got a flat tire. The crew escorting us looked like guys in Indy 500 pits working so fast to change it. All the while, 4 of our gunners with AKs with Drum mags were watching/tracking a couple of guys on frontage road doing circles in their rigs. Nothing happened, fortunately, and a short time later the Army showed up, shut the highway down until we were done, and let us go on our merry way. But while we were sitting there waiting, I looked over at the guy next to me and he had a grimace on his face and was gritting his teeth so hard I could see his jaw muscles quivering. It was upon seeing him that I realized I was doing the same thing. Stress has a way of taking over our bodies in somewhat involuntary ways, and our minds have to find a way to deal with it or lose it. Sometimes dealing with it means to lose it a bit. Every pressure vessel has a relief valve of some sort or another.

  3. Another very interesting and useful post. Thank you Selco.

    I am very sorry to see postponement of your US seminars. I very much would make that a priority if you reschedule and in fact make it over here. If you do one in Southern Cal, I would be delighted to act as a tour guide or otherwise make your trip more interesting and fun (not just all work for you).

    Meanwhile, I hope and trust that the postponement is not for reasons of health or family difficulties or that sort of thing.

    Thanks for all you do

  4. Why were you denied a visa? Is that part of the Trump decision to slow immigration? I appreciate the post you wrote today. Looking into the mental challenges in a shtf situation is a little different topic, but extremely valuable. It’s one of those things we normally don’t “prep” for. Thanks.

    1. Hello Grover!
      When seminars were planned several months ago, requirements for US visa looked OK, but situation changed, it looks like “changes” in visa requirements have been made in last month or so.

  5. You mean I’m not supposed to take advantage of information provided bythose 3 different voices that show up in my head from time to time?

    I thought they were my Guardian Angels!

    Thanks Selco! We all loose our minds at times…and recover to some level of sanity or the illusion of sanity.

  6. Selco,

    US Visa approval (unwritten rules) really require your US business partner to obtain his Congressman’s or Senator’s support for you to visit. It’s not hard to obtain if your sponsor is a registered voter.

    Friends of ours tried to visit, but got rejected. That when I learned about the unwritten rules, sponsored them, and got easy approval. It’s not hard.

  7. Thank you again Selco for this latest article. I really appreciate you taking your time to share with us. My two tours in in Afghanistan was high threat level but fortunately low action. I learned very quickly to spot which groups among our soldiers were most capable and level headed. For example some of our National Guard units were far more experienced and confident than some of our regular Army guys in their units. It made me very unhappy to see that the many of our (mostly younger) regular Army soldiers treated everyone as a threat to their personal individual safety even though there was very little danger to themselves. As a result they were never fully focused on making the team successful and would gossip to others and make crap up that would damage efforts, and lie to themselves about what would actually be going on. We were advisors to the 201st Corps and I would listen to the US staff officers brief the team leader and my jaw would drop open when I hera some of the things even the regular Army officers would make themselves believe and then work to convince their General of what was fact and not. See these people were not even under serious threat but they would make themselves believe they were under instant attack threat and their brains would seem to be short circuit and endless looping in circles. I would not want these type of professionals to be my backup. Thank God there are a few with ability to think and act to acheive success but the percentage seemed to be low to me. It is emotionally painful to me to see this going on after spending so many years of my life as a soldier. Like pulling your hand out of a bucket of water and wanting to see a hole left in it, or like pouring a cup of clean water into a dirty bucket of water- all your work to improve was wasted. The water is still dirty and no good to drink.

    So what makes things better? How do you make a mind that is quiet and capable of withstanding severe trials? I have heard people claim things like Buddha and Hindu meditation and yoga and chanting but really doubt those things would actually stand up under severe abuse. The only things I ever heard of working to carry pepole through is what the prsioners of war say worked for them. The ones I have met who were US POW in Germany and Viet Nam tell me that they did believe in God and Jesus.

    If anyone else has facts of differences I hope you post them here. I’m interested in how resiliency gets made. To a certain extent, a higher percentage of the National Guard soldiers I worked with overseas tended to be more grounded and have a level of faith in God, compared to most of the regular Army soldiers I worked with.

    Thanks for being,

  8. Another excellent article and lesson from Selco. I’m thankful we have such a man who survived and is helping many thousands of people to get physically, mentally, and emotionally prepared. Who knows? Most of us may never have to live through such a hell as experienced by Selco, but I would bet that some of us will. And those who follow Selco’s articles and training will survive and help many hundreds of people around them because of this education. Thanks again Selco.

  9. (Though I’m frequently referred to as “GS” in the SHTF forum, I’m not the same “GS” as the one commenting above.)

    As with those commenting before me, I am also more appreciative than words can express, Selco. One of your many gifts is to “expose” yourself by admitting your vulnerabilities – which really translates into meaning your human-ness. You have most certainly helped many from whom you will never actually see comments – just know they’re out there. My professional background is primarily in mental health in a military setting for over two decades, plus additional cases from time to time all the way back to post-Vietnam. And one of the things that I stressed to “my” Soldiers (and others) over the years is that they were NORMAL – they didn’t believe that, at least initially of course. But gradually most of them realized they were NOT crazy. Anyone truly wanting to understand PTSD MUST read, and truly study, the definition (diagnostic criteria) for PTSD. Boiled down, it really says that when a person is exposed to such extreme circumstances that have exceeded the design limits of the human brain, then the brain essentially starts popping circuit breakers or burning out fuses. Those circuit breakers and fuses are DESIGNED to do that – pop or burn out, in order to keep the overall mechanism from burning UP. The list of so-called symptoms of PTSD read like the symptoms commonly associated with what I cautiously call the “crazy diagnoses.” But the difference is that when a mentally/emotionally healthy person goes into the kinds of circumstances associated with combat (SHTF), that healthy brain is not designed to operate non-stop in that environment, so the circuit breakers start popping – in other words, “crazy” stuff starts getting generated in those brains. But that’s subtly (but of critical importance) different from being truly “crazy.” Oh, the person might get diagnosed as psychotic at any given moment – which really means just simply that they’re out of touch with reality to a significant enough degree that they can’t function in a “normal” world – temporarily. But psychotic does NOT necessarily equal severely mentally ill.

    Seeing things and hearing voices (or music, or other noises), and being able consider that they may not be anywhere other than in one’s own head, says a massive amount about the person’s true sanity. The person that went INTO SHTF comfortably sane, and starts experiencing “crazy” things, is reacting just as normally as the popping circuit breaker is reacting to the overload in an electrical system.

    Ah, one might ask – what about after they come home, or normal conditions resume in the formerly SHTF zone? Shouldn’t they just settle back to “normal” functioning, with no voices, no visual hallucinations, no paranoia? No, not any more than a person whose brain experiences a heat injury. From then on, they’re much more likely to react to heat at a lower temperature than they ever did before. Electronics (upon which the brain actually operates, by the way) work much the same way – overheat a processor, and it will start doing crazy things are lower temperatures than before the overheat – that’s NORMAL. It’s why the Vietnam vet still sits far away from the door, against a wall, but FACING the door, in a quiet suburban restaurant 40+ years after he came home. Their brains did change, BUT they know it! And that’s what separates the combat vet (or some other traumatic circumstances) from the truly and fundamentally mentally ill person. What other people think is “crazy,” only looks like it on the surface. In reality, it’s a NORMAL reaction to a grossly ABNORMAL situation that is beyond the normal human brain’s design capability. Certain types of therapy CAN help significantly (I’ve witnessed and participated in it many times). But while it’s still a troubling factor of real life, perhaps the single most important thing is for the person experiencing it (and those closest to them) to know THEY ARE NORMAL, and not broken – even though it seems like it. They are not to be feared if they can still operate within a “normal” world. (Of course there are exceptions – don’t jump on daddy while he’s napping on the couch on Saturday afternoon, and don’t shake your husband awake during a nightmare or you become the enemy and get hurt. But those accommodations can also be learned by those who care enough.)

    Selco, thank you again for insight that few are able to articulate as well, and few still are willing to share.

  10. Thanks for sharing, Selco. Appreciate when you share and what you share from your experiences. Life does indeed happen. After what you and others have shared, it’s clear some have ways that help them cope due to trauma or shtf.
    In our world we’d toss them aside as crazy. Boils down to being wise to when someone is truly dangerous and not throwing everyone away from us.
    Under stress and in a shtf situation when tensions are high is when one needs to be on top the game to make those decisions.

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