On my way to a meeting the other day I walked past a choir in the hospital foyer. The harmonic strains of Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher had the amazing effect of adding a bounce to my step. Something so simple raised my mood for the rest of the day. How amazing is that? It reminded me of an episode of a TV show where a woman was being sued for her daily morning rendition of Whitney Houston’s One Moment in Time – the crux of it being that by singing this each morning she was motivated to ‘be all I can be’ but her neighbours were not appreciative of her efforts. I was walking down the street thinking I really should find my self a theme song – not to sing, but to (at the very least) listen to each morning to start my day in a positive state of mind.
Coincidentally (or perhaps not), it was R U OK? day (www.ruok.org.au) – an initiative to encourage people to connect with those around them in an attempt to protect against suicide. It is certainly a worthwhile endeavour. Having seen the impact of depression first-hand, this is something resonates with me. It is important that we check in with loved ones and, more importantly, have it known that we are there to support them and not judge. I think that if it is know that you are there for them, it makes it easier to ask for help. I have been asked to ‘stay’ before – and although I believe that this is a testament to their bravery in asking for help rather than my openness to hearing it – I do like to think that by just ‘being there’ I may have helped that person get through that moment.
Why is it so difficult to ask for help? Depression is an illness, like cancer or diabetes is an illness, but yet there is still a lot of stigma around it. Interestingly, this stigma may not only be from those external to the illness, but also from within. Some judge: ‘what reason have I/you got to be depressed?’, and some trivialise (‘just cheer up’). Perhaps part of the problem is that it is hard to truly understand it without experiencing it. Or perhaps people just do not know how to respond to it. That is not to say that people aren’t supportive but this makes is harder to ask for help. So to make it a bit easier we should ask each other if we need help.
So, I put to you: R U OK? Please, please talk to someone if you are not or at the very least access available resources. If you are feeling down, check out www.beyondblue.org.au – it has links to (Australian) contacts and resources. If you are not based in Australia, I am sure there are similar organisations that may be of help in your country.
I could keep going on but, this is ultimately a food blog so, without wanting to sound like I am trivialising all I have said above, let us get back to the task at hand. I started by talking about things that help cheer me up. Without thinking too much about it, the things that come to mind include:
1. Socialising with friends and family. The people around me are very important to me. Of late, I have realised how lucky I am to have these people in my life – they get me through some of the challenges I have had to face!
2. Reading a good book – generally I love to read and it is also a great distraction (if you need it). When I was at boarding school, to battle home-sickness my mother would tell me to read – and it worked! As much as I enjoy most books, every now and then you come across a book that is thoroughly enjoyable. I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith was recommended to me by Ms TT – and I cannot remember the last time I enjoyed a book this much. It was a very engaging, easy to read, coming-of-age story. I throughly recommend it!
3. Travel. Who does’t love a holiday?
4. Anything that involves creating something. Write (e.g. this blog), sew (I went to a craft show and bought an adorable pattern for a little girl’s dress…), knit (similar story re: craft show and wool…), and of course there is cooking which I find very therapeutic. This brings me to the best chocolate brownies ever! When I first made these I had no idea how good they would be! I’ve had multiple requests for this recipe – so here it is.
The best chocolate brownies ever
1 ½ cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt (Ms TT asked for more salt, so add to taste)
2 cups sugar
¼ cup dutch unprocessed cocoa
½ cup dark chocolate chips (or any other type of chocolate)
¼ cups white chocolate chips (or any other type of chocolate)
1 cup macadamias or walnuts or any other nut
105g unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a square baking tray (about 20cm x 20 cm). In a medium bowl, combine wall ingredients. Pour into prepared pan and spread out evenly. Bake for until brownies are done – this can vary according to preference, for a more fudge brownie cook for a shorter time, for a more cake-y brownie cook for longer. Use the skewer test to get the consistency you want. I would say you would want to bake it for at least 20 minutes…