top of page

Popcorn vs. Mental Illness: 3 Surprising Similarities [Stress]

Does life sometimes feel like its spiraling out of control? Do daily tasks keep piling up and nothing ever seems to get done? Scroll down and you will discover how mental illness reminds me of popcorn and how you can slow down the constant popping.

The Question

How does popcorn relate to mental illness?


The Answer

The symptoms of mental illness are similar to popcorn popping.

To understand - we have to jump through the time vortex and visit my childhood.

Don't stare too long - you might get sucked back in time...

or get dizzy.

Imagine you are circa 1980-something...

"Let's pop some popcorn in an open skillet," Sam said, holding a bag of popcorn kernels in one hand and a cast iron skillet in the other.

"OK!" I squealed.


Try not to judge my lack of safety awareness 😊. Several variables led up to our highly unsafe venture.

  • I was 10ish and he was 12ish.

  • It was New Year's Eve.

  • We were bored...

  • And home alone.


We were confident that our bowls would be full of popcorn before Dick Clark started his countdown.

Sam poured oil in the skillet and we each threw a handful of kernels in the pan.

Like foolish guards, armed with empty bowls, we stared at the pan.

My body twitched with every crackle of oil. Adrenaline revved through my veins. My eyes widened as I watched Sam glide across the floor to catch the first piece of popcorn. Within moments we bounced around the kitchen catching the fluffy, white puffs as they shot into the air.

Uncontrollable laughter ricocheted off the walls.

We had everything under control.


Our egos quickly began to fade as the oil got hotter and the corn popped faster. Chaos sucked the life out of joy.

Popcorn (and hot oil - duh) flew everywhere. We couldn’t keep up.

We accepted defeat and watched the remaining kernels hit the floor.


The Comparison

AKA-Popcorn vs. Mental Illness

Imagine life is a popcorn kernel.

Innocent. Non-threatening.

As stress builds and life "heats up," daily tasks often become overwhelming.

We can manage a pop here and a pop there...but sometimes stress builds so quickly (popping out of control) that our brain shuts down and we are immobilized.