It’s only 9.30am and I can already feel like it’s going to be one of those weeks where everything feels difficult and clammy. I do so well at giving advice regarding mental well-being that I often neglect my own but it is worldly known that taking your own wise words of wisdom isn’t always the easiest. Easier said than done. The waves of anxiety and sadness come more aggressively now and it takes me by surprise. I’m finding it more and more difficult to motivate myself and it often stops me from leaving the house even though I really want to. I want a better future and a better job and a better me which I guess is better than wanting nothing more than to stay in the confides of my really comfortable bubble of a bed. Sometimes I want the latter but most of the time I manage to kick myself out and move into the dining room where it’s brighter, airier and more social. Some people wouldn’t see that as much at all, those few steps from room to room, but it is.
I once read a book, around a year ago, about mental health. After I finished it I felt light as air because I felt like I wasn’t the only person feeling this way. I know I’m not but depression often makes you feel secluded. It put into words exactly how I felt and the message I wanted to get across to people who had the great fortune not to feel to this way. The message that you cannot just get over it. No, I can’t just sleep on it or take a bath or read a book or colour in some swirly patterns in a book. I cannot concentrate on single words, never mind a sentence or a whole paragraph of a story. None of these things make it any better, a slight distraction maybe, but nothing will stop the fear of anxiety. The beating of your heart getting progressively more frantic, the rocks making a mountain in your stomach so that you feel so heavy you cannot move, the fog getting thicker. The shaky hands and that feeling of fingers round your throat so that you cannot breathe. But no one sees this. I look fine most of the time. I’m chatty, I’ve got a smile on my face, I talk normally about anything and everything, I still get excited by things, I make dinner, I wash up, I clean the house, I go do the shopping, I go to work. There are some times when I can’t control it and it’s difficult to hide but I’ll smile and say I’m fine at the risk of being told i’m being dramatic or to just stop feeling sad. I get that a lot. “Stop feeling sad.” “Cheer up”. “You’ve just got to try”. Like we’re all not trying, day in and day out, to fight the battle with our own minds.
When I’m feeling like this, which is 90% of the time, I take a second to remember why I’m not in the same situation as I was 3 or 4 years ago. Those years were bad, really bad. I took this frustration I had out onto my body. I starved it, I fed it measly half cans of soup and I ripped up my sandwiches and took them apart piece by piece to make it look like I’d eaten it. I’d hide my body in baggy clothes and lie about it. I’d then be so food deprived that i’d binge so much it hurt. I’d stuff it with so much food and then exercise like a mad woman to burn it all off. I’d then repeat the cycle. No one even knew. I felt so proud and so ashamed at the same time. All of this because I was depressed and I didn’t know else to distract my mind from telling me all of this vile stuff. Telling me I was worthless. I still feel this way, but I am stronger and I have learnt not to do all all of those terrible things with my body. I’m stronger because now I feed it well and I try as much as I can to love it. My body loves me because it has held me together for 24 years and 7 months. After everything I have put it through, it still wants to keep me alive. I fuel my body with goodness. Vegetables and fruits and nuts and grains. Cakes and doughnuts and chocolate. I don’t exercise anymore because I associate it with being poorly so I’ll go for a walk or use the time I spend on my feet at work as exercise. The times I spend dancing around the kitchen to a song I like. I do things now because I enjoy it. I don’t put myself through things that cause me stress and pain because that will fuel the ongoing fire in my head and that fire is big enough. I take time to soak in everything that there is around me and tell myself that i’ll never live this moment again so I might as well make the most of it. That is how I carry on. I am fortunate enough to have a family that loves me, a partner and friends that love me and that makes it that bit better but no matter what you situation you’re in you can still feel like you’re out there in the open ocean, drowning in it.
So it’s now 10.30am Monday morning. A whole hour has gone by and my brain is screaming at me because I’ve wasted it by sitting at my dining room table, still in my pajamas and Bambi slippers, writing about something that I can’t even win myself. It’s telling me I’m a hypocrite. It’s telling me I could of spent this time doing something useful or attempting to tick off at least one thing on my job list but instead I’ve just been lazy. In reality, I’ve spent this time collecting my thoughts and putting it down neatly instead of trying to decode the jumbled mess in my head. I’ve people-watched from our glorious kitchen window with a cup of tea in a new Mickey Mouse mug my favourite team bought me as a leaving gift. I spent the half hour previous simmering down cherries and cocoa nibs with orange zest because there’s this recipe I’ve been wanting to try since I saw it in the Waitrose magazine a few months a go but I was too afraid of making it myself because I thought it was too indulgent. This morning I wanted indulgence so I took the time to make it with love and it turned out beautifully. I finished it and felt satisfied and full which is something I don’t feel very often because I neglect to really relish what it is i’m eating or doing. I forget to notice how it makes me feel because I’m too busy listening to all of the other crap that’s fogging my senses. But this morning I sat and took time to myself and enjoyed it. The nervous flutters are still present, I can still feel the tingles in my fingers, but they’re controllable. Maybe I can turn this week around after all?
original recipe from Waitrose
- 1 punnet of fresh or frozen cherries, pitted
- 3 tablespoons coconut sugar
- zest and juice of half and orange
- 1 tablespoon cocoa nibs
- slices of your favourite bread, doorstop wedges
- your favourite nut butter, I used peanut butter
- a few tablespoons of alpro yogurt
- toppings/ orange zest, pumpkin seeds, cocoa nibs, cinnamon, etc etc
- Place the cherries into a saucepan with a splash of water and simmer for 10 minutes or until soft
- Sprinkle over the sugar and add the orange zest, juice and the nibs. Cook for 15-20 minutes until glossy and fragrant.
- Toast your bread and then spread over a thick layer of nut butter. Pile of the cherries and then spoon over some yogurt and top with anything you’d like.