03 January 2013

Time for a little self-raising SELF

"If you create a GOOD situation out of a BAD one, than the MEANING of the event has changed." - Bev Aisbett, A Guide to Being Your Own Best Friend.

I've been quiet in the self-raising kitchen.

The oven's left cold, the stove's gathering dust, the knives are left blunt and unused.
Once loved cooking magazines and books are now untouched, unseen.
The kitchen bench once a platform for herbs to be cut, garlic to be crushed and spices to be pounded, is now a collection point for piling bills, alone.

Yes, I've been quiet in the self-raising kitchen.

The light went out. The darkness engulfed me and the self-raising kitchen.


So what is this about? I've had a few people contact me about why the updates of my kitchen adventures vanished for a while. I've even had friends email or call asking why they've not seen me for months.

What have I said? To many I have said nothing, or avoided the calls or questions about where I've been. What do I say? Will they understand? Or will they think I'm a freak and a person who should just get over themselves?

You see, I have an illness. An illness that has left me unable to work, socialise, love or care about myself and those around me. An illness that has left me loathing the very core of who I am. An illness that has made me hurt myself as a way to release the unbearable pain within that I do not understand or comprehend.

This illness strikes so many - and the numbers are increasing - yet it's rarely uttered in civilised conversation. Whisperings of its name can be heard within private discussions, but it's treated as if the mere mention of it will leave the speaker suffering from the condition themselves. Maybe it should be labelled 'the-illness-which-shall-not-be-named!'.

After much angst and realising that bringing this illness into civilised discussion can sit with me, I've decided to be open about what I've been suffering with for most of my life, and medicated for over the last 10 years.

I have depression, closely followed by a dose of anxiety and panic disorders, and topped with an eating disorder (the irony!).

I originally started to cook and blog, not only because I have a love of food, but because it helped give me purpose and kept the depression at bay. What I love the most about cooking is the clear beginning, middle and end. Within a few hours, give or take, I can see an achievement - a cake, a curry, a roast - which fills me with a great sense of satisfaction. However, this latest depressive episode even took my joy of cooking away.

I had become so disengaged with life and my own wellbeing that standing up and caring enough to ask for help, again, - as I'd already felt like I had been down this road so many times before with various doctors, counsellors, psychologists, nutritionists, self-help books, friends, family, personal trainer and medication - felt near impossible this time around.

But, I'm one of the very lucky ones. One, because I'm still here therefore can share my story, and two, because I have a partner who saw the signs and insisted on me seeing my GP. That was about six months ago, by which time my cozy black fog was securely wrapped around me happily threatening to throw away the key.

After several changes in medication, time with a psychologist, time with a psychiatrist and time with a mental health nurse, I'm getting there.

Actually no, I'm not okay!
Image owned by SRKitchen

But I will be!

So where's this leave the self-raising kitchen? The kitchen will continue as before because it gives me purpose, but I will also share stories about my progress with this illness.  It is time to show that life is not always gourmet meals and rich gooey cakes, sometimes it's just good ol' bangers and mash or Vegemite toast, and that's okay.

So as the image says above, actually no, I'm not okay…but I will be. And that is my focus for 2013.

If you or someone you know needs mental health help in Australia, please contact Lifeline 13 11 14, Beyond Blue 1300 22 46 36, or Salvo Care Line 1300 36 36 22.