Why is it that one’s rice cooker never melts in the microwave when you’re having a good day?
Frankly, I thought all was well, and I’d put my rice cooker on for an extra two minutes, and maybe in my haste to pop in the shower, I neglected to fill the water right to the line, sue me.
But there I was, steaming in the shower, happily ignorant of the smoke pluming under my door from the kitchen.
You’ll be thankful to know that the fire alarm was sufficiently functional to alert me to the rapidly disintegrating rice cooker in my microwave.
Eventually, I began to connect my rice-cooker habits to my poor mental health coping mechanisms.
Excellent news, then, that it had a meltdown
Fair warning, if you can actually cook this article is about to really test your patience.
My relationship with my rice cooker was always fraught at best. In the same way, you learn to respect that alpha swan at your local lake cautiously.
I had an agreement with my rice maker that, while I would never learn how to properly use it, it would never betray me.
While my housemates’ glitzy, professional electric rice cooker resembled some sort of Star Wars robot and was always proudly displayed on the countertop, mine was relegated to the top cupboard out of sight.
How hard could it really be to cook brown rice, I wondered.
After allowing 12 minutes to cook it, I unclipped the plastic hinges with a flourish, feeling like a pastoral grain goddess.
After this first attempt, I settled at 12 minutes, and this unwillingness to commit my time was an indicator of my stress-based mental health issues and anxiety disorder. There were warning signs.
I didn’t listen to my loved ones
In fact, because the Covid19 updates upset me so much, I stopped watching out for health information. As a result, I developed unhealthy coping techniques.
Therefore, even though my friends and family’s daily activities left me feeling overwhelmed, I attempted to start taking care of myself. But, big shock, I didn’t listen to health professionals to reduce stress, I intensified it!
Next, I decided to be efficient and occupy myself with various forms of productivity while my rice ‘cooked’ for twelve minutes.
These activities included:
Doing 15 minutes of resistance and core strengthening training (putting all my eggs in the ‘strong body, strong mind’ basket)
Reading that book – that I’ve meant to get around to book.
Reading another one that you really ought to read eventually. Honestly, I can’t remember the plot of either.
I found myself spending these self-care moments increasingly wondering what else I ought to be doing instead.
I gave myself the illusion of a goal
It wasn’t healthy and I was making myself worse with these dangerous coping skills.
But, because everyone was socially distancing, I became not only socially isolated, but emotionally isolated too.
I only felt the need to make time for myself in these pockets of ‘productivity. It also never crossed my mind to make more time for myself.
Yet, as I listened to hipster podcasts about beers that I hated, I heard the robotic woman telling me what I’d known for months. ‘Searching for devices,’ she says—’Disconnected.’
I started to develop signs of dissociative disorders and all types of mental health issues. I put myself at an increased risk of not accepting help. But that’s changed now.
I can’t pretend that those 12 minutes are enough
On the eve of my essay deadlines, I try to not take the exploding rice-cooker as a sign.
This is the part where I tell you ‘what I learned’…
Ignore me because my mental health cannot be fixed in the time it takes to cook rice. Pretending that there is an easy fix is dangerous.