There comes a time in life when the red mist descends. To those happy souls who have no idea what this is, I will explain. It is an uncontrollable rage that bubbles up within your very being, making you take leave of your senses and howl, shriek, shout or scream uncontrollably. It is usually triggered by circumstances or people’s behaviour.
It strikes anyone – the drunken young man in the pub who has just had his pint spilt, the meek housewife who has found letters from her husband’s lover in his trouser pocket, the teenager who has been refused another night out , and the toddler who can’t have a third lolly. We’ve either seen it or read about it. And the weird thing about the red mist, it blankets your mind such, that once it has cleared, (and it does very quickly, leaving behind a shaking body in fight or flight mode), you rarely remember exactly everything that you said or shouted, but are left with this overriding feeling that you have fought for what you truly believed in at the time, and that therefore it is justified. I’m not saying that a crime of passion is justification for the crime, but it is a reason for the action.
And why does the red mist descend on some people and not on others? What makes one persons’ spilt pint a potential motive for murder, and another ones’ an opportunity to accept an apology and a new drinking buddy? What makes one cuckolded female go round to the mistress’s house and attempt to scratch out her eyes, whilst another is content with stabbing holes in her partner’s suits and scratching his car?
Can it be that in this day and age, with technology giving us all the information, wanted and unwanted, necessary or unnecessary, pleasant or unpleasant at the push of a button, that we are simply getting a sensory overload, and our mind short circuits, making our stress levels rise and our reactions to situations become extreme.
There is no doubt that stress on the mind and body plays a huge part in the anger that we all carry around with us. The prescription of antidepressants in the UK continues to go up, reaching 1 in 6 adults in some parts of the country, and at its lowest in areas where there are proper therapy treatments available – i.e. regular contact with someone who can talk through any mounting problems before it builds into a red mist moment. Holistic exercise classes such as Yoga and Pilates have never been so popular, full of people wanting to empty their minds as well as tone their bodies. The popularity of walking, hiking and outdoor sports ensure that endorphins combat negative feelings. And there are hundreds of self help books out there – all vying for the key to a peace of mind.
As a mum to teenagers who are in the midst of exam fever, I have long been conscious of the red mist. Coupled with the hormonal changes coursing through their bodies, teenagers are extremely vulnerable, and it is a source of worry to all us mums who hear what stupid things they or other kids have been up to. It doesn’t matter that we did equally as stupid things, because it is a different world out there. Drunken partying was not instantly relayed around the world on social media in a matter of minutes, to remain for a lifetime of employers and employees to discover. Porn was not easily accessible. ‘Duck Face’ was a character in a jolly British film. The school bully couldn’t access you at home. And bikini shots were saved for the beach.
In this highly volatile world where there is so much pressure to conform, and so much uncertainty in the future, our teenagers need us now more than ever to provide a stable base in which they can vent in safety, knowing that anything they say will not be used in evidence against them, but will be used, once they subside shaking on to the sofa, to illustrate the points of tension, and how best to move on.
My car has a feature called ‘Ambient Lighting’. This enables you to change the colour of the internal lights. There are five choices. Perhaps we can’t change the kids, or even the world, one family at a time. But perhaps we can change the ferocity of the red mist. Maybe to a topaz blue, or a cool white. One button at a time…