In some form or another, everybody has that “perfect vision” of how their life will turn out. I can be pretty cliche, so I have imagined the white picket fences, the ‘90%’ fulfilling job, a set of twins, and all-consuming happiness. Other days, I come back down to earth. Do not get me wrong, I am grateful for all the things I have (JH, family, friends – my support structure), and I know that whatever I do have, I can make it “perfect”. It’s all about my own perception of what ‘perfect’ should actually mean. Right now for me, it’s all about getting to ‘stable’ happiness. I understand for myself that there may always be low days (because I am told this will be a lifelong challenge), and there may be numb days, but I will have built enough defences to feel strong enough to climb out of them. I understand that I may never get all-consuming happiness, but maybe all-consuming happiness just doesn’t exist.
No matter what anybody said about my envisioned “perfect life”, it was those visions or visions of JH and I laughing with people that we love that pulled me out every time I felt suicidal – every time I picked up a knife, a razor or piled my accumulated pills in a colourful circle. (Yes, our house was not very well proofed for someone in a continuous low, or maybe that was unconsciously intentional). Something in my conscience slowed my pill intake, or stopped the cuts from becoming too deep. Or in two instances, two of my best friends showed up at my house at almost the right time to actually stop it. For whatever reason in this world, I lost my grip on happiness a couple years ago and I entered into this perpetual circle of grey.
All I want is to be a stable happy – for JH, for my family and for my friends. I just want to be myself again. I hate so much that I lost a part of myself in this whole process. I hate that I see everything in negativity and grey. I hate it. I hate it so much. I just want to slap myself continuously until I can be my old self. Right now, I am pumped so full of drugs that some days I feel nothing. I feel like the whole world is circling around me and I cannot move. I cannot even cry – I feel that numb. I cannot discern between emotions. I just do not feel anything at all. If I were feeling suicidal, I would desire to feel pain just to feel something. But I am so full of drugs, that I just want to lay down and sleep. But I have been pushing myself through the fatigue and side effects – by working, reading, doing anything so I do not become dependent on 24 hours of sleep.
Today I really ‘met’ my roommate for the first time (I had moved from a private room to a shared room in the hospital for about a week now). I think there was some social anxiety with us actually talking to each other, but we actually talked to each other out of nowhere this morning. Even though we don’t have the same diagnosis (well, I don’t have a real diagnosis), for the first time ever since this whole thing started, I think I found someone who actually got it, which makes sense, because of course, a person with a mental health issue would identify with and understand a person who had a mental health issue. But it was like every single negative feeling I had felt with people in general for this past year resonated with her as well – upset feelings with those who only ask ‘once’ how you are and gradually forget if they see you smile once; those who give up after they cannot stand the reclusiveness; those who just don’t want to learn about what you are going through. She too felt numbness with her drugs. I needed this so badly to identify with another person and actually talk to someone who ‘got it’, and for once this whole year, I kind of felt a little at peace. We didn’t talk about suicide but I can almost imagine that if we did, she would get the ‘demons’, the negative cycles, the out-of-body experiences.
Beyond that positive experience, the negative still is that the doctors do not know how to diagnose me, but they are discharging me today because the medicines appear to have stabilized. One doctor says I show characteristics of bi-polar (which is what I had tried to force out of my regular psychiatrist earlier this year). Another doctor says I have borderline personality disorder. It’s all grey, well except that I have strong anxiety and my depression is chronic. I am given all this literature to read about these different sicknesses, and almost asked to diagnose myself. I find this completely ridiculous – the doctor should be diagnosing me, not the other way around. So because I’m “grey”, we just continued to play with antidepressants and mood stabilizers until I feel stable. I may not be happy, but stable, okay, and not anxious is what we are going for.
Thank goodness for hospital passes. I needed fresh air and sun this weekend. I ran from my house near St. Lawrence Market to my dad’s house near Square One – 34 km. I actually felt stronger after that run; it made me feel alive again. And I baked. And as always, after I talk in circles about negative things, I will share some recipes, all (pie and hot cross buns) of which are below.
- Mood– A bit numb. A bit stable.
- Focus– Getting to happiness.
- Craving – Anything that is not hospital food.
- Feedback from the husband
- I kind of made the pie up based on components from several different recipes. So on the first try, it was underdone, but I put it in for a bit longer, and it was great.
- We loved the buns so much. They were so good right out of the oven.
The Not-So-Secret Secrets:
Rhubarb & Raspberry Frangipane Pie
- Pie crust (recipe below)
- Matcha Frangipane (recipe below – I doubled the recipe for the entire pie)
- Rhubarb & Raspberry (1/2 – 1 cup each)
- Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Toss rhubarb & raspberry with 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoons of cardamom, nutmeg and cinnamon.
- Grease and flour the pie pan. Roll the dough onto the pan (make the edges using leaf cookie cutters).
- Fill with frangipane.
- Fill with rhubarb and raspberry mixture.
- Create a lattice with finely cute rhubarb strips.
- Bake pie at current temperature for 20 minutes. (I did not do this, but you may want to shield your crust with aluminum foil or a pie shield)
- Reduce heat to 350 degrees F for another 45-55 minutes. Our oven took approximately 1 1/2 hours. This was just a test experiment – maybe next time, I would leave it at 425 degrees F longer or test around with the lower temperature.
Pie Crust – Adapted from here.
|2 1/2 cups all purpose flour||Mix together the flour, salt and sugar.|
|1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
|Cut the butter into the flour mixture until crumbly, OR process the butter into the flour mixture.|
8 tablespoons ice-cold water mixed with 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 cup cold unsalted butter cut into mini pieces
|Add the water to mixture. Mix or process until it comes together.
Allow the dough to sit in the fridge for about 1 hour.
1 egg yolk for brushing (mix with a little water if too thick)
|Roll dough out into pie pan. I used a leaf cookie cutter to create the edge.
Brush the edges with egg yolk.
Matcha Frangipane – Adapted from here.
|1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup sugar
|In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar.|
|3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
|Add almond flour and matcha powder.|
|1 teaspoon matcha powder
4 tablespoons (57 grams) unsalted butter, softened
2 extra-large eggs
Add flour and salt.
Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly each time.
Because it was Easter I decided I also wanted to make Paul Hollywood’s Hot Cross Buns.
- I did not have caster sugar, so I used granulated sugar.
- I did not have sunflower oil, so I used olive oil.
- Added 1 tsp each of nutmeg and cardamom.
- Replaced sultana, mixed peel, orange zest with 1/2 cup of rhubarb and 2 tsp of matcha.
- I added an extra more visible cross by piping confectioners sugar mixed with milk.