Mental Health: Communicating Mental Unrest

Whenever I’m not okay, I almost always look and sound like I am.

The confusion is likely furthered by the fact that when I’m at my best, I’m still wearing all black and moping around listening to The Cure, blaring Disintegration and praying for rain at a first promising clap of thunder. I suppose it’s all very misleading!

One of the worst things about mental illness is that it often falls into the “invisible illness” category. Since you don’t have on a cast, your inner torment is nonexistent, even farcical, to some.

Laughing about my afflictions is how I mask, cope, and survive. Even when I’m sparkling around others, my thoughts could very well be, and often are, in a sinister place. I’m not trying to venture into reportage, don’t worry, but in December 2018 CNN posted an article about “the sad clown” concept and comedians suffering clinical depression. A lot of the ideas presented resonate.

In lieu of a suicidal ideation blindside, my psychiatrist has instructed me to inform my loved ones by saying something to the effect of “My face and tone of voice seem okay, but I’m not okay.” That way, we can then work together to find an appropriate immediate action, a treatment plan to move forward, and a way to normalize communication via my mental health in future.

For me, and perhaps others, the humility involved in admitting mental weakness and the need for help is tremendous. My pride has, quite literally, almost killed me.

To actively normalize and destigmatize mental illness and conversations surrounding it, we must open ourselves to reinvented ways to communicate our mental states. The more we talk about it, the more people with mental illness will feel comfortable getting help when they need it, and people who don’t understand mental illness will begin to be better informed. Hopefully.

This whole process requires mercy and patience on everyone’s behalf, but these conversations are vital. In terms of helpful conversation, another way to support your loved one on with mental illness is to not assume well-being.

Related on Bummed Out Baker:
Mental Health: When It Comes to Someone’s Well-Being, Ask, Don’t Assume
Mental Health: Guilt and Golden Retrievers and Headaches
Mental Health: Dealing With Suicide


To subscribe to Bummed Out Baker and get my mental health musings and recipes emailed to you directly, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website – Follow on Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild – Follow on Facebook for mental health articles and discussion – Follow on Twitter for sassy tweets and a sprinkle of nonsense.

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

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Mental Health: When It Comes to Someone’s Well-Being, Ask, Don’t Assume

Or, “well-bean” if you like it when people pronounce “being” like “bean” as much as I do. Dealer’s choice.

Initially queued up for this morning was a loose annotation of Destiny’s Child’s hit song “Bug-A-Boo” and how it’s actually one giant allusion to mental illness and not, in fact, about a smothering romantic interest, but I went ahead and pushed that poetic brain-buster to another week because something else came up.

Last week was a wreck, a revisitation of terrible events and feelings for me and my family, for those who know us personally and, most surprising and inspiring of all, for people who don’t know us personally. The fact that the vibrations of Alex’s story are being felt far beyond the reaches of my family and touching a wider expanse of people further assures me that the book I’m writing is important. Necessary, even. Sometimes, I’m not sure. The people who know my family reading a book about well, my family, might find it to be a healing reconnaissance, especially for those who’ve so faithfully been along the ride with us all. But, it’s the folks who relate to Alex’s stories outside of his realm of contact that make this story a book opposed to a blog. Every single reader and sharer is critical and I thank you for your collective, perhaps unwitting, reassurance. You’re the best.

Now. When I had Le Meltdown 2k19, I became closed off due to how weak I was in every sense of the word. When I felt I was ready, I penned the account I posted last week. I left the house a couple of times and even spent some time with Rick’s friends when they came through to see him. It’s largely been a low pressure environment.

I don’t know why I’m dancing around what I want to say here.

Someone’s voice, body language, activity, routine, or expression seeming to change for the better does not mean that person is okay or “now okay.” It’s crucial to give agency to the person with mental illness to express how their feeling via answering a question, opposed to having to counter a surface-level assumption, however innocent, thrown their way. It kinda makes things worse, to be honest, to have made a joke and then people think “Oh, there she is! She’s healed!”

The below series (you can click through it with he faint arrow on the right without leaving this page) is a sweet, succinct way to understand what I mean.

Of course, because I’ve been conditioned as a woman to be apologetic about everything, I now feel the need to say that I don’t mean to be a sassafras about how I want people to ask me how I’m doing. Rather, I’m writing to inform those who want to best support their loved ones, and beyond, living with mental illness.

As always, thanks for reading and for your open mind.

Related on Bummed Out Baker:
Mental Health: No, You Don’t Have Anxiety
Mental Health: Compassion Fatigue and Hyper Empathy
Mental Health: Saying No in the Spirit of Self-Care


To subscribe to Bummed Out Baker and get my mental health musings and recipes emailed to you directly, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website – Follow on Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild – Follow on Facebook for mental health articles and discussion – Follow on Twitter for sassy tweets and a sprinkle of nonsense.

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

Mental Health: Mourning the Living

This post has been removed in order to submit to publications, but can be accessed behind a small paywall on my Patreon. Your contribution means more than you’ll ever know.


Writing this post felt like flipping over a hard shell and exposing a big, soft belly to figurative daggers. For me, this is the essence of vulnerability. No matter how hard I work on this piece, how many times I revise and rework it, it’s still coming out emotionally discombobulated and, at times, confusing, which I suppose is a poetic parallel to the complexity of my and Alex’s relationship.

Something has happened to me, and I’m still feeling tidal waves of emotion like a meteorite landing in the ocean. My psychiatrist and I have made the provocative decision that, aside from edited events with my family, I need to distance myself from unnecessary engagements until this book about Alex fully emerges from my head. Unfortunately, it’s not a project I can turn on and off between birthday parties and happy hours with friends, but this is a story that needs to be told. It’s hard-earned content that needs to be exorcised for both the sake of my mental health and that of my relationships. It’s not fair to anyone, especially Rick, to drag this out any further. Also, Alex deserves it. What’s that saying? Something like you can’t go around it or over it, you just have to go through it? Well, I’m going through it.

The last time I saw Alex in person he said, “I hope you write my story.”

I’m on it, Ally.


Writing through PTSD helps me name my feelings and heal, and I encourage you to share Bummed Out Baker with anyone you think may find it helpful or relatable. I put days and days of work into it for that very reason, to create community and conversation around what are often painful topics.

Subscribe at the bottom of Bummed Out Baker to get my mental health musings and recipes emailed to you directly – Follow on Facebook for mental health articles and discussion – Follow on Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild.

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

Mental Health: My Lowest Point in Eleven Years

On Thursday I experienced some kind of psychotic episode that concluded with the strongest suicidal ideation I’ve experienced in eleven years. I’m working with my psychiatrist and family to address what happened to me and how to move forward. I’m still reeling from the episode and am physically, emotionally, and mentally weak. When I’m able to, I have every intention to share the details of that day. But right now…

I’m walking the walk.

Recipe: Strawberry Shortcake + Coconut Whipped Cream (Vegan)

I knocked it outta the park with this one. The carnivores love it, too.

tastes even better than it looks

Ingredients

3/4 c coconut milk
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 t vanilla extract, divided
1 c flour
1 scant cup almond flour
2 T cornstarch
3 T sugar, plus a few pinches more for topping
1/2 t sea salt
2 t baking powder
3 T coconut oil, plus a bit more for brushing onto shortbread
1 lb strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 14 oz can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
3/4 c powdered sugar

scant cup of almond flour

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and lightly grease a baking sheet. Set aside.
  2. In a measuring cup, stir together coconut milk, apple cider vinegar, and 1/2 t vanilla. Let it sit for a few minutes, allowing it to curdle.
  3. Add flour, almond flour, cornstarch, sugar, sea salt, and baking powder to a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Add the coconut oil and use a spatula to mash and break it up into the flour mixture.
  4. Add about 3/4 c coconut milk mixture to the dry mixture and stir to combine into a semi-sticky dough. Note that you may not use all of the coconut milk mixture (I used all but 1 T). If mixture looks too dry, add more coconut milk 1 T at a time. If it looks too wet, add more flour 1 T at a time. Err on the side of too wet.
  5. Transfer dough to a well-floured surface and dust the top with a bit flour. Handling dough as little as possible, form it into about a 1″ thick pancake with your hands. Using a well-floured biscuit cutter, cookie cutter, or narrow drinking glass (what I used), cut out circles and transfer them carefully to the baking sheet. Arrange shortcakes so they touch (see photo).
  6. Reform leftover dough as needed until all is used, making about seven shortcakes.
  7. Butter tops of shortcakes with melted coconut oil and sprinkle each with cane sugar.
  8. Bake 15 minutes, until beginning to brown slightly. Increase heat to 450°F and bake for another three minutes. Be careful not to burn.
  9. When done, remove shortcakes from oven and let cool five minutes. Then, separate shortcakes and move to a plate so they can better cool. It’s okay if they’re a bit warm when serving.
  10. While shortcakes are cooling, put a large mixing bowl into the fridge for ten minutes in preparation for the whipped cream.
  11. Being careful not to tip or shake, remove can of coconut milk from the fridge. Scrape out the thickened cream that has risen to the top into the chilled mixing bowl and save the liquid for another recipe.
  12. Beat solidified coconut milk until creamy, about 30 seconds. Add remaining 1/2 t vanilla and powdered sugar and whip until creamy and smooth, about one minute.
  13. To serve, slice shortcakes in half and top with coconut whipped cream and a generous serving of sliced strawberries.

The biscuits (let’s be honest, that’s what they really look like) and refrigerated strawberries will last in airtight containers for a few days, but that whipped cream is a like a fine wine and stays good for a couple weeks.

Serves six normies or three wild dessert eaters.

Bummed Out Bailey Rating: 10/10
Rick-the-Meat-Eater Rating: ?/10 (he’s in NYC, I’m in Texas)

Adapted from Vegan Gluten-Free Strawberry Shortcake and Coconut Whipped Cream.

Related on Bummed Out Baker: 
Strawberries Romaoff (Gluten-Free + Raw + Vegan)
Strawberry Cake
Velvet Cake


Subscribe at the bottom of Bummed Out Baker to get my mental health musings and recipes emailed to you directly – Follow on Facebook for mental health articles and discussion – Follow on Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild.

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