kneading away depression

Bread is loveI’ve been baking bread for about 20 years, and have found that the thing I love most about it (besides eating!) is giving it way. Being a perfectionist, I would immediately toss out anything that didn’t meet my standards when I first began learning. A friend of mine saw this and was horrified, telling me there were missionaries living in my apartment complex that would love to have homemade bread. The look of joy on the face of the young man when I handed him what I felt was an inferior batch of English muffins, hooked me on spreading yeasty love.

 

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Greg’s Everything French Bread

Fast-forward 10 years when I first met my husband. He was making sandwiches for a picnic we were going on and pulled out a loaf of Walmart “Everything French Bread” (at least it wasn’t Wonder Bread!). Not wanting to offend, I kept my opinion of his bread to myself and decided to surprise him the following week with something a little better. I devised a recipe where I added minced onion to the dough, and sprinkled the top with sesame seeds and poppy seeds, about three years later I moved in…coincidence?

 

bread labelAbout a month ago, I came across a woman on Instagram who made gift bags full of wonderful things she made which she sent to people who were struggling with mental illness. I watched her push through a particularly bad episode of depression by staying on task with making her beautiful ceramic dishes and sending out her gift bags. Depression had a hold on me at the same time, and I hadn’t baked any bread for months. Unfortunately bread baking is the first thing I stopped doing whenever my depression would envelop me. I started thinking about my friends who have received my bread in the past and how pleased they were (one friend called me the Bread Fairy because I would just pop by with a fresh loaf of bread). Often friends would ask if they could buy a loaf, and I won’t take money but I ask them to simply do something nice for someone else. I put a post on Facebook, naming my project Knead Through Depression, and told any locals that if they wanted bread to message me with what they wanted. The response was wonderful, and my depression was slightly lifted with each loaf I delivered.

My depression is still dragging on me, but I try to make time each week to bake a few loaves of bread…this week I need to replenish my husband’s bread.

If you’re interested, I have a page with pictures of bread I’ve baked and resources I use.

I will share my quilt

 

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‘Contained’ Crazy Quilt at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Here, wrap yourself in my yesmetoo quilt made from words that pour out of my heart. Be comforted with the knowledge that you are not alone with whatever you feel. Burrow beneath the warmth from the surety that others have survived what you are experiencing.

Since I’ve started writing, I’ve learned that there are people all over the world that are very different from me yet we have shared experiences. The simple “Yes, me too!” comment is my favorite. After so many years of being told I’m crazy, stupid, or wrong, it’s comforting to know that there is at least one other person that knows exactly what I’m talking about.

So here, wrap yourself in my yesmetoo quilt whenever you need it.

Be kind to yourself

An “Ask the Therapist” question on the PsychCentral website entitled Too Hard on Myself really hit home. I can really relate to the part of the question that says “I always say ‘Always’, ‘Never’, ‘Can’t’, and more when dealing with social situations and anything possibly emotionally benefiting me or my relationships.”

I am so fearful of going out of the house and meeting new people, even when it’s just the clerk at the grocery store. I don’t know what to say to new people, and am fearful that they’ll see through my façade and recognize that I’m “crazy.”

I’m also terribly hard on myself about actions, or more accurately inactions in my daily life. My house is never clean enough, I don’t accomplish enough during the day (although an accomplishment is sometimes just getting out of bed), and when I bake bread and it doesn’t come out perfect I believe I am a failure.

I really like the part of the response that says “It is important to be realistic. If your judgment is impaired, then it will lead to incorrect conclusions and mistakes. This may lead to many problems in life.” In addition she also states “Ultimately the goal is to have a realistic opinion of yourself and your abilities. It is not healthy to overstate or understate your abilities. If you’re having difficulty recognizing your abilities then counseling is recommended. It is a problem that you can overcome.”

I tell others to be kind and forgiving to themselves but I can’t seem to apply that to myself, and I truly need to take it to heart.