I often tell people (using a whimsical, I’m such a special snowflake, kind of tone) that in times of stress, I turn to baking. I laugh with them as they say things like ‘I would love to be your roommate/partner/confidant/etc when you get stressed out!’. Right. As far as sharing my coping mechanisms, this one almost always comes first. It gives the impression that I mostly have my shit together and even at life’s hardest, the worst you could expect from me would be a kitchen full of breads, pies and cookies. Who doesn’t like dealing with someone else’s stress when they get free baked goods out of it?
There are many comforts found in baking; the fresh smell, the sweet taste of gluten and butter and sugar, the warmth of something straight out of the oven, the memory of my mother baking when my siblings and I were young, the sharing of food with people I care for. And maybe there are more insidious senses of satisfaction; the control of carefully measured quantities, the obsessively intricate pie-topping designs, the steady pressure on my physical health’s self-destruct button with each guilty bite, the hours of effort and time that amount only to something that can then be eaten/demolished/made to completely disappear within minutes.
One of the biggest issues I have when it comes to handling, accepting or trying to understand my depression is how to lean on others for support and not feel like a burden. To borrow an analogy from a recently listened to guided meditation, on my path of life I seem to walk down the same road so often, yet every time am confounded and helpless when I’ve – once again – found myself at the bottom of a deep, dark gaping hole that consistently materializes on my road seemingly without warning. When I’m down there, I spend so much time trying to rationalize how I got there, conceptualize how I could get out, maybe attempt the painful and slow climb out of the hole. I rarely yell out for help to someone else who might be on the road above, who might cast me a line, or lower a ladder, or even help pull me up.
The fear in asking for help is two-fold: first, the person who responds to my cries may see me in my helpless dark pit, filthy and hagard and weak. Second, if that person choses to try to help me, maybe they fall down into the hole with me. So, how does one ask for help or support without draining the energy of another person? Without risking pulling them down into the darkness? Obviously, my evil-witch-in-the-woods method, of baking sweets and luring people in, hasn’t gotten me very far…