The right to remain sane

You have the right to remain
sane,
and the right to do whatever it takes
in self-care,
to ensure that you do.

Chi Ohi

You can also listen to this on my podcast “Enlightenmental”, here.

The whistle reached its highest pitch as the pressure peaked in the pot. I rushed into the kitchen to turn down the fire. The whistle died down to a low, constant whooshing noise. As a scientist, I would explain this phenomenon like so: there is a set number of particles (air, water, food) in the sealed pressure pot (which is what we call a “closed system”). When heat energy is added, pressure increases as the energised particles of air and steam (water) to bounce around more frequently than before, putting pressure on everything they touch. They bounce around so frequently that they push open the valve on the pot that lets out some of the air and steam, which reduces the pressure. When I turn down the pot, the pressure decreases slightly then, too.

Science-speak aside, sometimes, just like a pressure cooker, all the things in our lives (the particles in the “closed system”) are just about balanced until something lights a fire under us- some additional external factor that creates enough intangible pressure to make everything else feel unmanageable. The pressure on us builds up so much so that it reaches fever-pitch, and we feel unable to cope. Like the loud hissing of the pot, there are warning signs that the pressure has built up, and it is at this point, that we must find a way to “turn down the heat”- by this, I mean, do some essential self-care to be able to keep going.

I recently found myself at “hissing point” again (which, by the way is a normal part of life- hissing point can and will happen every so often, but more on that later). Anxious, feeling the depression creeping over me like a thick, toxic smog, I needed to act, fast. It was either stay where I was, become infected and spread my toxicity to my loved ones around me (so not an option), or GTHO and find a way to breathe some fresh air. Obviously, my choice was to run away to breathe. I got up, still in my onesie and fuzzy, three-day-old-plaits, grabbed my keys and jumped into my car for a drive. It was about 1:30 in the afternoon.

I consciously decided to ignore whatever madness from others I would encounter on the road, and just focus on clearing my mind, and protect my space within the car. I chose a familiar place that was a reasonable (approx. 30 minute) drive away from home to give me at least an hour to think. I put on my worship music and set off, on the more scenic of the routes to my destination.

I sang. I spoke out loud. I prayed. As I did, being as real and acknowledging my tiredness, sadness and frustrations, I felt the pressure begin to be released, and my toxic, cooped-up, untrue, negative thoughts begin to give way to sense, scripture, and faith. Sometimes, I’d want to say something I knew would be a catastrophising statement, and would pause, finding myself saying the words of the promise I believed to be true, rather than the lie that was circulating around my head, tormenting me.

I felt freed. Nothing had changed, per se. All the “problems” were still there- but good God, my mind was calm. My view of everything in this “closed system” had changed.

Don’t drive if you feel inconsolable, or if you can’t drive, obviously. I’ve told my story to say this:

The person who needs to turn down the heat on the cooker is you. You need to let out some steam, and if that means getting away from everyone for a wee bit, then that’s your prerogative. You have the right to remain sane, and the right to do what you must to ensure that you do.

Listen to this here

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