I actually wasn’t going to write anything today, not only because it’s pretty late and it’d take hours to get you up to speed on what I’ve learned these past couple weeks (which I’ll get to some other time), but right now, I’m in a mood. Not an angry-rant-type of mood (that was earlier), but in the middle of a minor depressive episode. I never used to have these until after college; I’d be sad, sure, but still functioning.
You’d think that depression is like being stuck in this super deep hole with no way out, but it’s a little more cruel than that. The way I see it, depression/anxiety is like being in that same hole, only it’s not as deep. You can see a little bit of what’s happening above ground; there’s a swarm of people hustling about, minding their own business, constantly running into each other, but never stopping to offer their hand to help you up. Because the hole is literally just that deep: you can’t get out yourself, but with someone else’s assistance, you’ll make it.
I had Intro to Production & Bakery today, which is six hours long, but at least the stuff we do there is fun. Today, we baked a simple, white cake. It was really sweet, I got 18/20 on it, which was the score I gave myself, but Chef agreed and logged it in his grade book.
It first started when one of my classmates was concerned with how my buttercream (the icing to my cake) turned out, but I knew that I just needed to chill it for five minutes, tops. Because I didn’t completely know what I was doing, I was irritated enough that I was, once again, going to be one of the last to move on with their cake from the icing stage. What definitely made it worse was my classmate was a little more worried about my icing than I was, which made me even more anxious. Adding fuel to the fire, you know? I mean, I appreciate that the person cared, truly, but the panic in their voice just wasn’t what I needed right now.
About an hour later, I was doing something in another part of the kitchen and just had to pause for a minute. That’s when I realized that I was drowning. Call it dramatic, but that’s the best way to describe my mood: drowning. I mean, chances are, I wasn’t the only one who felt that way in that kitchen, but that’s my truth right there. Call it drowning, being stuck in that semi-deep hole; that was how I felt.
To top off my bittersweet, emotional cake, since it was just the two of us, Mom said I could pick up ingredients on the way home and make dinner. It wasn’t going to be too fancy, just the copycat Noodles & Company recipe, without the chicken and done half-recipe. Mom agreed to that, but then she got worried that it’d be too much for me, so she backed out and wanted me to pick up a pizza instead. I said, okay, how about Little Caesar’s since it’s on the way from the culinary building to my car? She didn’t like it, so she wanted me to pick up Round Table pizza.
Is this a selfish act though? Listen to this: I don’t like Round Table, but since Mom didn’t like Little Caesar’s, I figured the most obvious answer was the pasta. I ended up telling her that if she wanted pizza, she should order for delivery since I just wanted to go straight home. That was the point where my mind was all jumbled up and I would’ve felt better with some culinary therapy, but Mom obviously didn’t want the pasta that night so she settled for ramen noodles. (Actually, she ended up just eating the cake. According to her text anyway.)
So now I’m here, expressing emotions that not all chefs feel, but sharing my feelings anyway. One of my best friends, who goes through these in more serious bouts, calls it anxiety. I didn’t see it before; I thought it was just a small chunk of depression (I’ve had it when it was really serious), but I think the hole is deep enough for me to finally understand why he’d consider it more anxiety-driven.
I don’t know what my lesson here is, to be honest. To tread carefully when you see that one of your classmates might be in “that” mood? To understand that while you may be the one in the bad place, stifle yourself so you don’t take it out on others?
I don’t understand these feelings, which I suppose is what mental illness does: it makes you feel horrible for no reason at all. Nothing triggers you, but you know that if something else happens, minor or not, you might do something you’ll regret. The only thing I know 100% is I have to wait. As a writer, I’m just documenting everything, which, I guess, is the biggest reason why I’m telling you all this. Time doesn’t completely heal all wounds…it just makes things better until the next time your guard is down.
But anyways, sorry for the negative energy. I’m not trying to bum you out. I just felt like some of these things needed to be said. Like you needed to know that depression and anxiety go away through time, no matter where you are.
Right after my classmate gave me their spiel of worry about my icing, my body told me to just get out of that situation. I thought I needed to get something, but I think it was really my gut telling me to walk away and get some air. I didn’t leave the room per se, but I needed air from somewhere that was not in that negative zone.
I suppose the official lesson here is, if you get to that point in any situation, walk away and take a breather. You’ll better within minutes, even if you think that whatever you’re emotionally responding to is very minor.
Well, break an egg, everyone!
Here’s a photo of the first official cake I’ve ever made (in the professional setting)!