I have clinical depression. It stinks. It’s especially not fun during a global pandemic, when I can’t really see my friends much, go to church or the gym, and have kids running around my house a lot more than we are used to (often with a preteen yelling about how we can’t go anywhere and obviously it is my fault).
This is probably why I have retreated into my safe space: the kitchen.
With depression, it’s easy for my mind to start to go down some dangerous paths. Usually for me, these questions look like:
- Would my family be better off without me?
- Does anyone really care about me?
- Am I just the maid around here?
- Will I survive who knows how many more months of pandemic life?
Also throw in a lot of worrying about what-if scenarios, and my brain can be a painful place to be. Even medicated. And yes, I have gone to actual counseling, and definitely think that is incredibly beneficial! And yes, I am on antidepressants. And yet, this is my brain on depression. (It probably looks like fried eggs, huh?)
Baking is my everyday therapy of choice. I’ve always loved whipping up sweets in my oven, but more and more I am drawn to my cupboards, measuring out baking powder and flour, even trying to learn more about baking and decorating from sites like Craftsy.
The process always calms me. I feel more myself and more at home than anywhere else when I am making a cake.
I think it’s the fact that it moves me out of my brain. Baking from scratch involves following a recipe, using precise measurements, watching how the ingredients in the mixer are coming together and gauging whether it’s time for the next step. If you mismeasure or if you do things in the wrong order, it matters. Baking requires attention.
And unlike getting lost in a book, my other brain distraction of choice, baking is tactile. Hands working with the brain lulls me almost into meditation. The rhythms give me calm. The wonderful scents make me breathe deeper and means all my senses are involved. (I even listen to my cakes after being influenced by The Great British Baking Show!) And I feel my creativity sparked as I decide how to mix cakes and frostings, how to flavor, what tweaks I might want to make.