Mental Health: A Birthday Wish

Last night I went to my first Nar-Anon meeting in hopes of finding a community and healing among other people who have loved ones suffering from addiction. It was not fun. It was not peaceful. But, I acknowledge that in the long run it may be helpful. Just walking through the door for the first time was a huge step for me. There were a lot of heartbroken parents, spouses, siblings, and adult children in that room. Like mental illness, knowing someone else suffers is the worst, but it also helps bolster a feeling of normalcy.

It’s been a blue day, a blue month, a blue season. But, my birthday’s tomorrow, so I’ve forced myself to the keyboard.

Meet Achilles.

I’ve been open about having mental illness, and I cannot begin to explain the significance of having the comfort and joy of our family’s golden retrievers to get through hard times. We have two, and one of them, Achilles, is a precious senior at 14 years old. He is at once gentle, ornery, funny, and whip-smart. Most of all, though, he’s provided critical companionship to both me and Rick (and every other Aldrich) during hard times in our lives.

my and Rick’s wedding party + Achilles because, of course

Golden retrievers live to love, and not all seniors are doted upon, snuggled, and cherished like our sweet boy Achilles. Often times senior goldens are dumped because their care has become too much time-wise or financially or, worst of all, because they’re no longer a “cute puppy / young golden” anymore. When I think about the state of our world and the great comfort our goldens have brought me in the throes of it all, I’m crushed to think of senior goldens not receiving the amount of TLC they so selflessly give during their younger years. They care for us and, when they’re no longer able to, we should care for them.

So, for my birthday this year, I’m asking for donations to Golden Retriever Senior Rescue Sanctuary and Educational Center and I hope you’ll consider contributing as a way to celebrate with me. $1, $2, any amount helps these precious seniors who have spent their lives loving. All donations are tax-deductible.

I love the description on their site:

All GRSRS&EC Sponsored Senior Goldens receive life-long housing and care at the Sanctuaries we support nationwide. We all know how expensive geriatric care can be, especially when multiple life-enhancing therapies are provided on an on-going basis. So, you can understand why we need and deeply appreciate your financial support. Together, we can provide nation-wide life-long, caring support for senior rescued Goldens in their most vulnerable time of life.

DONATE HERE!

Christmas ‘Chilles

On the support page you can choose from a few options, including donating specifically to the food supply or the safe transport of the goldens as needed. They also have an annual silent auction to support “sugar-face senior goldens” (I’m not crying you’re crying).

DONATE HERE!

big, big wags

Of course I spent an inordinate amount of time looking at photos of Achilles because of this post, but it made me feel better. Happy birthday to me!

one more for the road

Related on Bummed Out Baker:
Mental Health: Guilt and Golden Retrievers and Headaches


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: The Stockpile of Gratitude

If living with mental illness is a struggle for you today, I have a piece of positivity to offer.

On my good days I find a stockpile of gratitude waiting for me because I know how dark things can get. I was just there, after all. While I wouldn’t wish having those dark thoughts on anyone, the payback of them is rich. When I come out of a dark headspace, it’s like the black and white to technicolor transition in the Wizard of Oz. When things are bad, and then they’re suddenly not, I find myself with a hyper-awareness of good.

While constantly considering my mortality is exhausting, it also manifests in all kinds of ways. I’m grateful for my physical mobility. I find myself with a wealth of mercy for people acting in any undesirable way, because life is short I have no idea what they’re going through. I feel fortunate to have such comforting, sweet-tempered golden retrievers, because dogs are an expensive luxury. I admire all the people who’ve shown me grace, supported me, taught me things, and have loved me when I wasn’t very lovable. I think about how grateful I am for a comfy bed and a safe, quiet place for me to sleep in peace.

When I’m mentally gridlocked, thinking of these things is like pushing on a button that doesn’t work. I’m numb. If that sounds like you, just know that when you emerge from the other side, and you will, you’ll have the stockpile.

It may not seem like much, but us mentally ill folk have got to stick together and take what we can get! And we get the stockpile.


Whenever I get a song stuck in my head I start to list the things I’m grateful for instead and it always does the trick to get the song out. With that being said…

Fun fact! Did you know that “Bug A Boo” by Destiny’s Child, a song in regards to an overbearing romantic interest, can also be applied to mental illness?

You make me wanna throw my pager out the window 
Tell MCI to cut the phone calls 
Break my lease so I can move 
Cause you a bug a boo, a bug a boo 
I wanna put your number on the call block 
Have AOL make my email stop 
Cause you a bug a boo 
You buggin’ what? You buggin’ who? You buggin’ me! 
And don’t you see it ain’t cool

“Bug A Boo” by Destiny’s Child

I would say “you’re welcome”, but the true accolades go to Kandi Burruss for her multi-faceted lyricism.

Related on Bummed Out Baker:
Mental Health: Communicating Mental Unrest
The Uncertainty of Mental Illness
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: 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.

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.

Recipe: Roasted Artichokes (Gluten-Free + Vegan)

A post about roasted artichokes is comically banal following last week’s heavy hitter regarding mental illness and homelessness as it pertains to my brother, Alex.

I’d just like to say how grateful I am for the support I received in regards to that last post. It took a full, painful week to write and, with my mental illness-informed workday, I was often hammering at the keys and staring at the screen until three or four in the morning. For me, those are the worst hours. It was arduous and awful.

I often feel lonely, mentally, and trapped in my own head. My brain feels helplessly impermeable. I’m stuck inside of it hating myself and others are stuck outside of it wondering how I could feel that way about their friend, Bailey. For me to be successful in getting something so intimate and hard to capture in words out into the world, helping people feel connected to others like them, is about all I could hope for.

So, I’ll keep doing my best to take care of myself so I can take care of others. It’s not a martyrdom, but a motivation. Making someone else feel less alone alleviates my loneliness, too.

Thanks, again.


These roasted artichokes are a simple, sightly side to add to any dinner. They look sophisticated AF on a a dining room table.

Ingredients

4 large artichokes, stems and top 1″ removed
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
1/4 c olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled
sea salt, to taste
~3 T Earth Balance butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F.
  2. Place artichokes stem-side down in a bowl and separate the leaves slightly with your hands.
  3. Drizzle artichokes with lemon juice and olive oil.
  4. Insert a knife blade into the center of each artichoke and (carefully) wiggle around* until you’ve created a space big enough to push in a garlic clove. Press one garlic clove into the center of each artichoke.
  5. Finally, generously season each artichoke with sea salt.
  6. Tightly wrap each artichoke twice with aluminum foil.
  7. Place foil-wrapped artichokes in a baking dish and bake for an hour and 20 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and allow artichokes to cool for about ten minutes before carefully removing foil. Then cool further, about another ten minutes, so you don’t burn your friends. Or enemies. Why’d you invite your enemies to dinner?
  9. About ten minutes before serving, melt butter over low in a saucepan before pouring into small bowls for individual dipping.

*”Wiggling a knife around” is a delicate technique I learned at Le Cordon Bleu Paris

lovely

Something I love about this recipe is not only that it’s low-maintenance to prepare, but you then get to pop it into the oven and essentially have an hour and a half to work on other items. I find timing out the preparation for a hosted dinner to be just short of rocket science. Everything should be as warm and fresh as possible, and this recipe makes it all a bit more manageable. After a while your loved ones are gonna be like “Why do we get artichokes every time we have dinner at [Bailey]’s house?” and that’s when you tell them, “Listen up assholes, this is actually my in-laws’ house. And…” (I don’t have the rest if the retort planned out yet). Then bring out the red velvet cake. Which they also always get served at your house.

If you get really into artichoke roasting, there are fancy accoutrements like this butter warmer or these artichoke servers or this artichoke plate, the latter of which I frankly don’t understand but… enjoy!

Serves four.

Bummed Out Bailey Rating: 8/10
Rick-the-Meat-Eater Rating: ?/10 He was in NYC and I was in Texas when I made this, but I have a feeling that, with his twelve year old palate, it’d be a solid… 1/10 for Rick.

Adapted from Simply Roasted Artichokes.

Related on Bummed Out Baker: 
Roasted Garlic Lemon Broccoli
Roasted Beets and Sweets
Parmesan Garlic Orzo (Gluten-Free + Vegetarian)


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.