Mental Health: The Sad Clown

Holy mackerel, it’s December. I have two and a half weeks left of school, next semester is my thesis semester (no classes), and then I graduate in May – unreal!

I’ve been scrambling to do a lot of EOY things, ticking tasks off the list that’s ever-growing around the holidays, but of course finishing the semester strong is my top priority item.

Monday was my brother Alex’s birthday, and on that day I also turned into workshop a whopper of a meditation on the magic, tumult, hate, and tenderness inside of our childhood and adolescent relationships. My workshop instructor had challenged me to make Alex 3D on the page, likable. If you know him, you know that liking Alex is a hard thing NOT to do. So, it was with ease and sadness and joy and nostalgia I further painted him on the page, giving him the breadth and complexity he deserves. I peel back some onion layers and then begin to muse on when I can remember things going awry.

As I discussed in my previous mental health post Painting with Words, content that is most publishable/likely to end up in my book will be posted behind a small paywall on Patreon. As always, thank you all for being here and for your interest in reading the stories I have to tell. It means so much to me!

Read Mental Health: The Sad Clown here.

More on Bummed Out Baker:
Mental Health: In Motion
Mental Health: Finding the Glow
Mental Health: The Aftermath of the Birthday Hullabaloo


Do you love Bummed Out Baker? Want to help keep it going? Support here. Your contribution means more to me than you’ll ever know!

To subscribe to Bummed Out Baker by email, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website to find the form. Follow Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild, Facebook for mental health articles and discussion, and Twitter for sassy or informative tweets.

If you or someone you know needs help right now, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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Recipe: Quinoa Paella (Gluten-Free + Vegan)

I love paella. So much so that a vegetarian iteration was my chosen option to offer at my and Rick’s wedding (alongside Rick’s choice of ribeye, or whatever. Groan zone). When done well, it is 100 the bomb. I’m taking quick breaks from writing to eat it right now.

Ingredients

1 yellow onion, diced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T olive oil
1 t sea salt, divided
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
2 T tomato paste
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
random peas from the freezer (optional)
1 1/2 c uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1 t paprika
1/4 t black pepper, freshly ground
1 1/2 c water
2 t vegetable bouillon
1/2 c vegetable broth
lemon slices for garnish (optional)
parsley for garnish, chopped

Instructions

  1. In a large, oven-safe, sauté pan over medium, sauté onions and garlic in olive oil for four minutes.
  2. Add bell peppers and 1/2 t sea salt. Continue cooking for 15 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add tomato paste, asparagus, and random peas from freezer (optional) and cook for two minutes.
  4. Add quinoa (still uncooked), paprika, remaining 1/2 t sea salt, and black pepper. Sauté for about five minutes, stirring constantly.
  5. Add water and bouillon. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat and simmer uncovered for 25 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F.
  7. Stir in vegetable broth. Top paella with lemon slices if you like, then transfer pan to oven to bake for ten minutes.
  8. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Serves six.

Bummed Out Bailey Rating: 8/10
Rick-the-Meat-Eater Rating: 6/10

Are you gonna ruin it with asparagus?

Rick, to me

Adapted from Vegan Gluten Free Quinoa Paella.

More on Bummed Out Baker:
Recipe: Greek Quinoa Salad
Recipe: Cauliflower Queso
Recipe: Roasted Tomato Basil and Rice Soup


Do you love Bummed Out Baker? Want to help keep it going? Support here. Your contribution means more to me than you’ll ever know!

To subscribe to Bummed Out Baker by email, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website to find the form. Follow Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild, Facebook for mental health articles and discussion, and Twitter for sassy or informative tweets.

If you or someone you know needs help right now, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Mental Health: Painting with Words

Hello, good people of the internet! If this is your first time visiting Bummed Out Baker this post will be weird for you, so I suggest you start here and return to this post another time.

I wrote all day, continuing to draft my thesis on my immediate family, primarily Alex, and how the five of us have dealt with mental illness, addiction, and their devastating effects over the years.

In September I was instructed by a successful author to not post things I intend to publish elsewhere on my blog as it invalidates the content to agents and publishers, which is a shame. It means so much to me to connect with people who are going through similar circumstances and/or are seeking emotional intelligence via empathic reading online. Community, grace, and understanding are imperative. I also appreciate that sometimes it’s nice to read about someone else’s life so you don’t have to think about your own. It’s dark, but it’s true.

I’m buried in work for school and am considering a rebrand to Bummed Out Bailey, as traffic indicates you all like these narrative, topical posts much more than my recipes. ;) However, turning out consistent content is important to me, and I have every intention to continue doing so through the rest of school and, frankly, wherever my and Rick’s lives take us.

With all of that being said, I want to alert you to my Bummed Out Baker Patreon, a place where you can access my more intimate (and apparently most publishable) content behind a small paywall, a contribution as low as $1 a month.

I’ve never addressed this front and center on Bummed Out Baker but I had the idea when thinking about what to post today after I emerged from my deep diving day of writing. It’s an awkward topic but an important one. See, writing is my art and passion. I paint with my words. It’s a joy, and I’m so grateful to be able to pursue my strength and dream. However, the emotional excavation required for high-impact pieces does take a toll.

If you feel Bummed Out Baker (soon to be Bummed Out Bailey?) has brought value into your life, I’d be deeply honored if you’d consider contributing to my Patreon. I feel like I sound like a creepy spam email, but every contribution truly helps me to continue dedicating so much time to the site and turning out content while also ensuring I still have a way to connect with those who’d like to read my more intimate pieces. It’s likely those on Patreon will see the first echoes of what will end up in print in a beautifully bound book. I can already visualize it, both in my hands and displayed on Keith and Staci’s mantle with a spotlight on it for all to see. I’m putting that out into the universe!

When you contribute, you validate my art and the stories I have to tell. I cannot explain how much it means to me, and I send you all the warmest thank you for your consideration, and a huge thank you to my three OG contributors. You’re my heroes.

Bummed Out Baker Patreon

More on Bummed Out Baker:
Mental Health: 31 Birthdays
Mental Health: Mourning the Living
Mental Health: My Lowest Point in Eleven Years

Wednesday posts cover something that’s top of mind for me that week and are written in a short period of time. This means that editing is not strong. While it’s not my best work, it is my best, unfiltered thought.


Do you love Bummed Out Baker? Want to help keep it going? Support here. Your contribution means more than you’ll ever know.

To subscribe to Bummed Out Baker by email, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website to find the form. Follow Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild, Facebook for mental health articles and discussion, and Twitter for sassy or informative tweets.

If you or someone you know needs help right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Mental Health: Becoming You (This is Not a Maxi Pad Commercial)

It was really hard to become who I am. I haven’t become this quirky, socially nuanced person by accident, but by egregious trial and error, painful experience after painful experience that either taught me something about myself or others. Usually both.

I’ve been left out, talked about, forgotten, isolated, ignored, belittled, offended, laughed at, and called both “weird” and “crazy” (not in the fun way). Despite knowing these things hurt so badly, I’m guilty of having done the same things in return at times. Now, if any of these inconsiderations or meannesses happen to me, I understand that the agitator probably has something else going on, past or present, informing their behavior. It doesn’t have anything to do with me. When I’ve been the mean one, it doesn’t have anything to do with them. I read The Four Agreements, a gift from my dear friend Brennan, when I was 21 and it changed my life. Not taking things personally is one of the key tenets in the book. This concept is hard to grasp in junior high, in a sorority house, or at 31. Sometimes even in your 60s, according to my mom.* I believe emotional sophistication is being able to read a room, be kind, and sincerely apologize.

When someone excludes you or makes you feel like crap, allow it to sting. Allow it to singe your mind so that you remember to never treat someone else that way. I recognize that this takes fortitude, and not everyone has the emotional bandwidth to allow such grace. Some days you might have it in you, other days you may not, and that’s okay. That’s what being human means.

Something that happened a lot in past and surprisingly still happens well into adulthood is me walking up to people having an informal conversation, and no one welcoming me into the fold conversationally or in terms of body language. It makes me feel awkward and dispensable, and I don’t ever want to make someone else feel that way.

I went to two weddings last summer a couple weeks apart and this one woman was at both. At both events, she approached the group I was talking with and immediately interrupted and started a new conversation with everyone else without ever introducing herself, including me, or even looking at me. The first time she did it I thought it was an accident. The second time she did it I reached my hand out to introduce myself, and afterward she still continued as if I wasn’t there. One time, during a cocktail hour, she literally boxed me out of the group. It was so bizarre it was almost funny. And I don’t believe it had anything to do with me.

So, whenever I’m in the throes of unpacking the latest season of Succession, or whatever, with someone and another person walks up, I turn my body to welcome the person into the group and catch them up on what we’re discussing. If they don’t watch Succession, I ask if they have another well-produced soap they like to get lost in. There’s always a way to fold someone else into the conversation. When you’re having a casual conversation, there’s no reason why another can’t join. If you need or want to have a more private conversation, then… do it in private. :)

This just got very Debrett’s. Allow me to recalibrate.

I find that I invest so much of myself in the feelings of others that it then begins to deteriorate my mental health and quality of life. PLOT TWIST: I’m not a martyr but actually a narcissist, meaning I’m so concerned with the feelings of others and how it reflects on me that I then ultimately make the original situation in question about me, which helps no one. I’m working on it.

I’m not saying allow yourself to get trampled. In an appropriate moment, pull a person aside and let them know that XY hurt your feelings because XY. How they respond will speak volumes. Remember, you can always “unfollow” people IRL.

There is a balance, and you can’t prioritize others over yourself constantly. Sometimes you just need to be you and not feel like you have to apologize for it. I’ve gotten better at this with age and its slowly shaped my personality. Also, as I’ve gotten older I’ve been better able to curate those I surround myself with as dear, trusted friends. I identify particular boundaries in others because I’ve broken them in past, hurting them, hurting me, my pride.

It can take a lifetime to get these things right. Sometimes, even a lifetime isn’t enough!

It took me years to assert the things I need to be comfortable and high-functioning because I was afraid I was going to upset someone else or I’d be talked about behind my back. For instance, for my mental health I need a wealth of time alone and good sleep, which means I need my own bed, ideally in my own room. (I’m thinking of trips with family and friends, here.) Instead of pretending I don’t need those things to appease others or manage others’ perception of me, I say what I need and, again, how others respond speaks volumes about them and doesn’t actually have anything to do with me. We all have our “stuff,” our particularities. By asserting what I need I’ve let down a wall to let others feel safe doing the same.

What’s your learning curve look like? Any horror stories or big victories?

TL;DR I’m who I am because I embarrassed myself and learned and got my feelings hurt a lot and learned. How about you?

*Not that my mom is in her 60s. That was just her making an educated guess…

More on Bummed Out Baker:
Mental Health: Compassion Fatigue and Hyper Empathy
Mental Health: When it Comes to Someone’s Well-Being Ask, Don’t Assume
Mental Health: Finding the Glow

Wednesday posts cover something that’s top of mind for me that week and are written in a short period of time. This means that editing is not strong. While it’s not my best work, it is my best, unfiltered thought.


Do you love Bummed Out Baker? Want to help keep it going? Support here. Your contribution means more than you’ll ever know.

To subscribe to Bummed Out Baker by email, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website to find the form. Follow Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild, Facebook for mental health articles and discussion, and Twitter for sassy or informative tweets.

If you or someone you know needs help right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Recipe: Best Damn Mashed Potatoes (Gluten-Free + Vegan)

Thanksgiving or, as we call it in my family, Franksgriffin, is comin’ in hot. We call it Franksgriffin cause one time we heard someone bungle “Thanksgiving” on live TV, or something, and then it just stuck. That was probably ten years ago.

Anyway! What’s an autumnal family and/or friends gathering without some stellar mashed potatoes?

please pardon unrelated olive oil spill

Ingredients

~8 gold potatoes
1 1/2 t sea salt, divided
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
dash of olive oil
4 T vegan butter (I like organic Earth Balance)
1/2 t black pepper, freshly ground
1/4 c fresh chives, chopped

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, cover potatoes with water. Bring to light boil over medium-high and add 1 t sea salt.
  2. Cover and cook for about 25 minutes, or until a butter knife slides easily in and out of center of a potato.
  3. While potatoes are cooking, sauté garlic in olive oil for about three minutes.
  4. Drain potatoes and place back in the hot pot, off heat, for one minute to evaporate any additional water.
  5. Careful not to over-mix, mash potatoes with a masher.
  6. Add butter, sautéd garlic, remaining sea salt, and black pepper and stir to combine. Taste potatoes and adjust as needed.
  7. Last, stir in chives.

Serves four.

Leftovers can be refrigerated for a few days. To reheat, put potatoes and a dash of vegetarian milk in a small pot on the stove over low. Stir until heated through.

Bummed Out Bailey Rating: 10/10
Rick-the-Meat-Eater Rating: 8/10

I like my recipe better. There should be half a stick of salted butter for every potato.

Rick, a person who isn’t joking

Adapted from The Best Damn Vegan Mashed Potatoes.

More on Bummed Out Baker:
Recipe: Shepherd’s Pie
Recipe: Twice-Baked Potato Skins with Cheese Sauce
Recipe: Roasted Artichokes


Do you love Bummed Out Baker? Want to help keep it going? Support here. Your contribution means more to me than you’ll ever know.

To subscribe to Bummed Out Baker by email, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website to find the form. Follow Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild, Facebook for mental health articles and discussion, and Twitter for sassy or informative tweets.

If you or someone you know needs help right now, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.