If it’s one thing I’m really good at besides writing, it’s baking.
From delicious cookies to layered cakes with buttercream icing and designs, even scones and cheese buns, I can make it all. But I’m especially famous for my chocolate chip cookies!
I have both my mother and grandmother to thank for instilling my love for baking (and cooking) over the years. How many hours would I spend watching them make cookies or muffin while I played with a pile of flour (when I was five… not when I was older!), or mimic their hand movements to perfecting the perfect dough? I am thankful for learning this skillset because I do enjoy creating new dishes and being in the kitchen on a regular basis.
But something I started to realize over the last year is that I’m a depressed baker.
Now, if you’re cocking your head to the side and wondering what I mean, please let me explain.
I’m a depressed baker, meaning, I tend to bake and create magical desserts when I’m feeling severely depressed. I’m not saying I don’t bake when I’m “happy”, because my husband’s growing waistline would tell you different (Sorry, handsome!), but over the years when my PTSD (and depression) started to get worse, I would spend hours in the kitchen to keep my mind occupied.
There were many times I would whip up batches of scones or cookies, or bake and decorate a full cake, with no intentions of eating any of it. (Yes, I know it was wasteful.) Many times while I baked, one of the top ingredients would be tears because I would be crying as I worked my way through creating cookie doughs. Looking back now, I know my baking has become a coping mechanism I use to help keep my dark thoughts at bay. Having my hands submerged in recently refrigerated dough helped calm my anxiety. Pigging out on cookie dough (because lets be honest, we all do it!) comforted me (and possibly gave me the risk of salmonella – oops!). Most times my baking routine was spent mixing dough as I struggled through the mixed emotions swirling around in my head.
Sometimes too, my baking adventures would end in total failure. Sometimes I would whip my cookie dough too much and the cookies would come out crisp and crumbly. Sometimes I’d forget to add the baking powder and end up with one giant-ass cookie. Sometimes I’d forget to turn on the timer (or watch the clock) and burn my cupcakes or muffins. These moments usually lead to tears being the topping on the cake, literally.
But the depressed cookies? They tasted miraculous! The cakes made out of fits of anger from my PTSD? They were always the most moist and delicious! Sometimes I find I’m a better baker (and cook) when I am depressed, because during my low periods is when my creativity really shines through (for me anyway). I’m sure I made many desserts and cakes over the years for people, who had no idea they were eating something that came from a dark place in my life.
Because isn’t that the silver lining of this for me? Sometimes beautiful – and delicious – things come from dark places. Like I said, I’m not always a depressed baker; there are times I can make a killer-ass cake when I’m in a good mood, but as I mentioned, sometimes the angry cakes are made with a little more flavour. Besides, having a sweet tooth helps when it comes to being crafty in the kitchen.
And why do I bring up I’m a depressed baker? Well, sometimes when we’re in dark places, our hobbies or our favourite pasttimes tend to take back seats, or sometimes we don’t have the strength to enjoy them anymore. The same goes for me when it comes to baking. There are days I don’t do it for enjoyment, but to help keep my demons at bay. And while that sounds depressing in and of itself, sometimes we gotta push ourselves through the dark times, even if the task at hand doesn’t necessarily make us happy, but keeps up occupied.
We all cope with our mental health issues in different ways, so it’s always best to remind yourself that we need to do things to keep busy, and find ways to cope, even if we’re already getting help through counselling or other methods. We still have to do things for ourselves. For me, that involves baking – even on the bad days.
And if all else fails, I can always drive myself to the grocery store and buy a batch of cookies or an already pre-made cake, made tear-free.
And as always,
Fight the good fight!