The Walking Dead, Survival Rule Of The Week: Hold it together


Our minds are a crucial element of our survival in a zombie apocalypse. But, as The Walking Dead has shown us, they can be our worst enemy if we let them.

The human mind is one of if not the greatest thing in the entire world. Think about this: Every weapon, tool, item, invention or achievement you have ever used, seen, or heard about is the product of the human mind. There are few limits to what the human mind can (Eventually) achieve.

What this means in a zombie apocalypse is that, if you’re clever enough, you can think your way out of nearly any situation you find yourself in. Whether via a well thought plan, some old-fashioned ingenuity, or on-the-fly improvisation, a sharp mind can save your life.

Conversely, our minds can also be our biggest liabilities. There are countless ways our minds can work against us, and each one of them can lead us to death and disaster in their own ways. Maybe, if you can recognize the problems before they get out of hand, you can steer yourself away from the proverbial cliff.


Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee, Scott Wilson as Hershel Greene, Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, The Walking Dead — AMC
Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee, Scott Wilson as Hershel Greene, Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, The Walking Dead — AMC /

First and foremost, let’s just get the obvious out of the way: A zombie apocalypse will be very depressing. Between watching the world go insane, watching friends and family get eaten alive, or worse, turn on you to save their own skins, there will be plenty to be sad about.

Naturally, all these sad occurrences can, well, make people sad.

…Surprising, I know.

With the apocalypse only causing things to deteriorate as it wears on, people will soon see no future for themselves beyond pain and death; From there, hopelessness ensues.

Once someone starts losing hope, it can quickly spiral out of control and march them down a path to suicide. Some may choose to drown their misery in booze, others might opt for a more…direct approach.

Emily Kinney as Beth Greene, The Walking Dead — AMC
Emily Kinney as Beth Greene, The Walking Dead — AMC /

I’ll be the first to say that conquering depression isn’t as simple as saying “Get over it”. It’d be nice if things were that simple, but, they just aren’t, and a zombie apocalypse won’t make that any easier.

That said, suicide is not much of an answer to the problems of a zombie apocalypse. If you’re surviving alongside family and friends, what do you think that will do to them? They’ll likely have risked life and limb to keep you safe from the dead, only to discover you gave up and just killed yourself anyway. Especially early on, if your friend or loved one isn’t hanging on by much themselves, this might just push them over the edge, too.

I know it won’t be easy, but, the goal in a zombie apocalypse is to survive. No matter what, zombies won’t last forever. Even in a worst-case scenario, their bodies will decay eventually. It may not seem like a rosy prospect in the short term, but, there is hope. You can outlast the dead, humanity can reclaim the world, and you need to be there when it happens.

Always remember that, there is hope so long as you are willing to believe there is. Giving up won’t make things easier.


Seth Gilliam as Father Gabriel Stokes, The Walking Dead — AMC
Seth Gilliam as Father Gabriel Stokes, The Walking Dead — AMC /

Despair isn’t the only thing that can mess with our minds once the dead walk.

In fact, just think about that for a moment. Imagine what you would do if you saw a person die only to watch as their now lifeless, emotionless, soulless corpse got back up and started eating people.

If you think your reaction would be to go into some sort of “super badass mode” and kill the zombie with your bare hands, my reaction would be to call you a liar.

The fact is, I believe that everybody, even if only to a small degree, would be at least a little scared.

Why? Because the idea of a corpse walking around and eating people is supposed to be impossible. If any of us saw that, we’d be witnessing something that, by all accounts, shouldn’t be happening. To see something we know shouldn’t happen, will be absolutely terrifying.

Jonathon Kleitman as Sturgess, Justin Miles as Barnes, Ethan Embry as Carter, The Walking Dead — AMC
Jonathon Kleitman as Sturgess, Justin Miles as Barnes, Ethan Embry as Carter, The Walking Dead — AMC /

And, while that is a natural reaction, we can’t let it dominate us.

You see, something that will become apparent to you very quickly as the outbreak begins is how quickly fear can boil over into full-blown panic. And panic is bad.

Half of the reason the zombie apocalypse will be so bad is because in their panic, mobs of people may riot trying to get to safety or escape and trample anyone in their way. God only knows how many will die just from this.

You see, panic and terror will not be your friend in the apocalypse. To survive, you need to keep your wits about you. The last thing you can afford to do is fly off into a panic and not make rational decisions. Survival requires as clear a head as possible.

Obviously, this is easier said than done, but trust me: Panic helps nobody. You need to control your fear. As I said last week, fear is necessary, it stops you from being reckless, but if the fear is controlling you instead of you controlling it, you won’t last very long.


Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee, The Walking Dead — AMC
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee, The Walking Dead — AMC /

Remember what I said about how you’d react when you first saw a zombie for real? And, remember when I talked about how sad watching the world implode would be? Well, I imagine that for some people, the combination of the two might cause some to go, well…crazy.

Now, to be fair, that term covers a lot of ground. In some cases, it simply means the person slowly descends into an increasingly violent and unpredictable person. In other cases, it means the person does things they wouldn’t think of doing before the outbreak, like become a cannibal. And, in the worst-case scenarios, it means the person, so horrified by the apocalypse, may be unable to cope, and has a total break with reality.

Morgan Jones - The Walking Dead, AMC
Lennie James as Morgan Jones – The Walking Dead, AMC /

Obviously, none of these are terribly conducive to a healthy existence in a zombie apocalypse.

First, having a person who is becoming increasingly violent and unpredictable means that, if you’re in a group with them, you have to worry whether or not they may get violent with you or someone else in the group.

Second, having someone essentially lose all semblance of their former identity means you have no idea what kind of evil they may now decide to partake in. I gave cannibalism as an example, but for all you know, anything might be on the table.

Lastly, a person who has broken with reality, even if only temporarily, gives a whole new meaning to the word “unpredictable”.

Unless you’re a psychologist or a psychiatrist, you’ll have no idea what might be happening with them. For all you know, they may become paranoid, thinking that you or someone else in your group might be plotting to harm them. Another possibility is they may be suffering from delusions or hallucinations. At that point, you don’t even know what they’re seeing when they look at you; They could see you as anything from a lost loved one to a zombie version of yourself, to something you can’t even imagine.

Lennie James as Morgan Jones, Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, The Walking Dead — AMC
Lennie James as Morgan Jones, Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, The Walking Dead — AMC /

Once you start thinking of the possibilities, you realize how bad the situation can become. Nearly any one of the situations I described can result in the afflicted person attacking anyone at any time.

Now, assuming they are not suffering from schizophrenia or another disorder which requires some legitimate medication to regulate, you can do something for them.

By reaching out to your friend, reminding them of who you are, who they are, and that they are not, in fact, in Hell, you may slowly be able to bring them back.

This definitely won’t be easy. It will take time and effort, but, it is possible that you can get through to them and get them out of the fog of madness that’s enveloped them.

Ultimately, our minds can play tricks on us in the zombie apocalypse. They can be overrun by despair, fear, and madness; Any one of these can get us and those who might depend on us killed.

However, our mind also gives us the means to fight back, if we let it. By having hope, courage, and reason, we can overcome those things that might lead us into disaster. Our lives, and the lives of others isn’t just in our hands, but in our minds.

This is why we gotta keep it together.

This is why you followThe Rules.

Next: The Walking Dead, Survival Rule Of The Week: Complacency

And that’s our survival rule of the week!! Hopefully, it will help you should you ever need it and give you that mental edge that will prove so crucial once the dead start eating everyone.

If you like this and want to find out more rules to survive the zombie apocalypse, why not pick up a copy of my book, The Rules: A Guide To Surviving The Zombie Apocalypse! You can get it on Kindle here and on iTunes here!