31 May 2014

Facing a lion and Blueberry upside down cake

Have you ever feared something so great that all the blood rushed from your head and the breath left your lungs? 

I don't mean fear like if you're caught in an armed hold up or running from a hungry lion. I mean what others could judge as being unfathomable fear: the fear of public speaking, the fear of driving a car, the fear of great heights or the fear of tiny spiders. 

Do you think our brain knows the difference between the fear of running for your life from a lion or running from a spider? Ask a person paralysed by spiders, who is unable to utter a single word or move a muscle while that spider is 'hunting' them down. Do they think their fear is any less than the person paralysed by a would be lion attack? Fear is fear after all, is it not?

This week I have been going through my own unfathomable fear, and it's caused me to lash out at those very people trying to help me. It's also left me in a dark pit of despair and shaken me to my very core.

What could this great fear be?

My doctor says I need to go back to work.

Doesn't sound like much, does it? But to me, hearing those words sent me into fight or flight. First, I fought those attacking words with my own attacking words on why I'm not ready to go into a workplace after an almost 12 month hiatus. Then I went into flight response and simply became mute while my doctor talked to me about the importance of this next step in my recovery process. I responded with no eye contact and no words. What could I say, after all?

For all my brain knew someone could have been threatening my life. Our brains are smart, but they aren't that smart to work out the variances in fear. My brain was telling me this woman was threatening my life. How was I to work when my concentration can't even get through a page in a book? How was I to fit into a workplace for a whole day when spending a few hours with dear loved ones exhausts me? What work am I going to do? I can't do what I've been doing for the last 16 years because it's too stressful. Where do I go? What do I do? How do I do it? How will I cope? The lion had caught me and I was awaiting the final death blow.

It's been a few days now since this experience. Slowly I'm coming back out of my darkness. Slowly the fear is ebbing away. Slowly.

You see very little rational thinking can be done when you're in a state of fear. Does this excuse my behaviour? No, I don't think it does. What it does mean is I have to learn more tools to control that fear. I have to work with my support team by admitting I'm scared and that we need to work on some coping strategies. Most of all I need to not let this lion beat me, but to learn to run with it instead.

Today I'm dusting myself off and getting my apron back on. It's my dear old uni friend's birthday and she deserves the very biggest of smiles from me PLUS a birthday cake. A blueberry upside down cake should do the trick for a very upside down kind of week.

Blueberry upside down cake
Adapted from Thibeault's Table

Blueberry upside down cake

60g melted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups blueberries (fresh or Frozen)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
125g butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla or vanilla bean paste
1 1/3 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
3/4 cup milk

In a 20cm diameter round cake tin, combine melted butter and brown sugar. Spread evenly on bottom of tin. Spread blueberries evenly over top. Sprinkle with lemon juice.

Cream butter and sugar, beating until light. Beat in egg and vanilla. Mix together flour, baking powder, and cinnamon if using. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk to creamed mixture. Spread batter evenly over blueberry layer.

Bake in 180°C oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes in pan, then turn out onto large flat plate.


  1. There are many things we must face in life, things we fear, deeply.... I wish you every success and much strength in your challenges.