Cooking my way through depression

With everything that’s been going on — leaving school, not working, car broken down, health problems — it’s not really surprising that I’m not doing well mentally or emotionally. There’s a lot going on, and most of it hasn’t been great.

I’m not unfamiliar with depression, though. Nor anxiety. Actually, one thing that sort of has been surprising is that I’ve sort of settled in to my depression. After a while, things aren’t necessarily changing, and then depression just becomes the new normal. We don’t really talk about mental health, and so sometimes I think we get this skewed image of what depression looks like. Yeah, I have moments where I get in my head thinking about everything that’s happening and I’m just overwhelmed with emotions. But most days, yeah, I’m just sort of there.

Depression can be one of those sneaky, hard to see conditions. It can be easy to miss, even by people close to you. Living with endometriosis, something else that’s hard for others to see let alone understand, I guess I’m not all that bothered when people don’t notice my depression. Most days, mine manifests itself in just not feeling much of anything. I don’t like getting out of bed. Or getting dressed. Or cleaning. It’s just hard to be motivated to do much. I spend most of my time marathoning shows because it’s the fastest way to make the day go by. Only to go to bed to just have to do it all over again. (It’s also been manifesting itself as irritability, which has been an interesting discovery.)*

There is one thing, though, that’s sort of been helping me from completely falling off the edge. Cooking. I’m not quite eating like I should be — but I try to make sure I have at least one actual meal a day. The rest I sort of putz around the kitchen and scavenge. It’s a lot of chips and salsa, hummus and carrots, or just handfuls of wheat thins. But those actual meals I make? It’s one of the few things I really enjoy. I get to be creative, and the results are generally just super tasty. Right now the biggest struggle is not feeling in a rut with my cooking. So far, and yes, actually thanks to things like Pinterest and marathoning shows like Top Chef, I’ve been able to keep things interesting.

I’ve made things like lemon-garlic alfredo, more shakshuka, got over my avocado fear and put it in an egg salad as well as made probably one of the most beautiful food bowls I’ve ever eaten, discovered I make pretty damn tasty & juicy turkey burgers (and began experimenting with sauces, like that In-N-Out animal style sauce), played with fun cheeses and found I love havarti onion, and also havarti dill and attempted some garlic-dill bombs**, made some great taco soup, and found my new basic go-to in fish tacos. Guys, I’ve reach a point where my insta is more food than cats. (And also think I’m coming along nicely on that goal for better food photos.)

Thankfully, my lack of working transportation hasn’t hindered my cooking explorations too much. I have to plan a little more. But I’m kind of letting whims direct some of my shopping. Not always easy since I go to the most budget-friendly place in town, but I make it work. Have spices, will cook. And if that’s what’s keeping me going each day, I’m ok with that.

*So, fun story, just randomly as I was in the car with my mom we started talking about this irritability and how when I’m overwhelmed I just cry uncontrollably. Thing is, so does she. Something in my almost 33 years of life I did not know about my mother. I know it’s a little cliche to get older and realize you’re just like one of your parents, but yeah. My strong, stoic, half-Finnish mother is also sometimes an emotional mess like me.

**The local famous pizza place has these addicting garlic-dill breadsticks… and so I wanted to try to recreate them. I was more successful when I adapted that idea into pasta. Trust me: garlic, dill, and parmesan are a great combination.