Wasn’t There Supposed to Be Cake?

Hey Hey Guys!!

Cake is a curious thing.

It’s something that is expected in certain situations, can have strong connotations and memories associated with it, the taste, the texture, the scent, the colour. Where you had a certain piece and how it made you feel.

Then there is cake in a general sense. It appears in certain situations; birthdays, weddings, anniversaries… funerals.

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Have you ever noticed (well, you will have, even if you don’t immediately realise it) that cake is often present to sweeten the pill in horrible situations?

mood cookies

Fancy Shmancy little Battenberg...

Fancy Shmancy little Battenberg…

Now, I’m going togeneralise here and cast the same net over certain biscuits as well as cakes. In fancy waiting rooms, there is often a sweet “treat”. You might be offered a slice of battenburgh with a beverage, or a very British, Victoria Sponge, if you are particularly fortunate (and so help you god if you mention the fact that you recognise that cheap, dry sponge and overly sweet, grainy filling as the £1 round you get from the co-op when you are absolutely desperate for a favour to take to the neighbours’ BBQ).

homemade cupcakes

homemade cupcakes

**As a wee aside, I actually hate Battenberg cake and am always bitterly disappointed to see it in a selection. Marzipan is the devil. It is always a bad omen.**

I absolutely HATE Battenberg...

I absolutely HATE Battenberg…

The thing is, there are some situations where cake is a terrible omen. Whether you are presented with a stale selection of sponges that might be the same ones you declined from your elderly neighbour, or strike gold with one of those pick ‘n mix boxes of biscuits, the result is always the same and always two-fold; the custard creams, jammy ones, cookies and anything containing chocolate are snapped up as soon as the seal is broken and the Garibaldis’ and those weird little wrinkly edged ones that taste like cardboard and aren’t quite a tea biscuit, nor a shortbread, are always left neglected. And you are in for some serious news. Generally, bad.

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See, these are the sweets and semi-sweets that are broken in places like hospitals, doctors surgeries, lawyers offices. Places where there is a 50/50 chance you were to nervous to have lunch before you went there so just swigged from the open wine bottle in the fridge, put on you best “I’m totally in control” mask and walk in there like you’re heading to the gallows. Those who run these establishments know this and it means all sort of paper work for them if they have a client pass out on them, so they try to gently pump you full of sugar.

But when I got my bad news today, it was over the phone. I was on my way back to my (soon to be vacated) flat. I was outside. So I ask you;

Wasn’t there supposed to be cake?

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SSDD

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Blame It On The Weather. No, Seriously, Blame It On The Weather #depression

Hey Hey Guys!!

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Depression is something that can change like the weather. Think I’m joking?

SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder, is a genuine illness. Not gonna lie, I’m not an expert, so I’m not sure if you would class it as a mental illness or a mood disorder, but it is classified as a varied form of depression.

So what actually is it. Well, the NHS UK website says this:

Sunlight can affect some of the brain’s chemicals and hormones. However, it’s not clear what this effect is. One theory is that light stimulates a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which controls mood, appetite and sleep. These things can affect how you feel.

In people with SAD, a lack of sunlight and a problem with certain brain chemicals stops the hypothalamus working properly. The lack of light is thought to affect the:

  • production of the hormone melatonin

  • production of the hormone serotonin

  • body’s circadian rhythm (its internal clock, which regulates several biological processes during a 24-hour period)

It affects an estimated 2 million people in the UK, commonly affecting people between the ages of 18-30 and, like other forms of depression, is more common in women than in men. There is a lot of skepticism surrounding the condition, mainly because it can be difficult to understand how someone can feel depressed simply because of the weather. It’s one thing to say that you change your mind like the wind, another to say that you can’t face getting out of bed because it’s raining.

Symptoms include lethargy, insomnia, poor concentration, negative thoughts and mood, unwillingness to socialise, decreased libido and weight gain.

seasonal-affective-disorder-bed-flirting-ecards-someecards

This is what 12 million people across Europe are facing. Again, I’m not an expert, but as a sufferer, there are a few words I can impart on the subject.

There are days when the thought of having to choose one pair of socks over another seems like an insurmountable problem. Can you imagine the implications of going outside when it is anything less than radiant out there? As if were not bad enough that the world already seems like one of the blackest corners of hell; what if it’s raining as well!? The fact that the weather reflects damp, cold in your soul, preventing you from feeling the glow of all the good things in around you is just confirmation to the depressed side of your brain that there is nothing good out there to admire. That everything really is as horrible and out to get you as you suspect.

But if the sun is out…

Seasonal-Affective-Disorder-Infographic

I’m a total fire baby. I was predisposed, being a Leo (m’on the August-born troops!!) and if it is anything short of swelteringly roasty toasty, then I am inconsolably miserable. I’m talking, in tears, shaking, terrified of even the slightest baby’s breath of a draft. Lemme put this into context for you; I was in Ibiza during a heatwave and wore a cardigan. Yeah. So the fact that I live in BLOODY SCOTLAND, one of the coldest places South of the Arctic, is a hellish situation to be in. I don’t think people realise quite how many layers I wear on a daily basis. Maybe it’s a useful thing that I’m so skinny; all those layers don’t look so thick on a skelatal frame.

The past few days we have been experiencing a random heat wave and I know several people with varying forms of depression and anxiety who have (seemingly inexplicably) seen a lift in their mood. I swear, Blame It On the Weather! Being in the sun can literally feel like bands are being removed from your chest and you can breathe and in hail the sweet scent of real oxygen. Not just tolerate the stale air you’ve tasted recently.

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However you want to call it, Sunny Side Up, Everything’s Better on the Other Side, The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow, Mr Sunshine, Light of My Life, Build Me Up Buttercup, Mr Golden Sun; attribute any cheesy song lyric you like, the summary is still the same – EVERYTHING IS BETTER IN THE GODDAMN SUNSHINE!!!!!

The irritating thing, is that it has not been sunny all day. It comes and goes. The problem with this is that my mood has been going up and down as well. Literally, the sun being out one minute means I’m relatively happy, not too bad, occasionally I’ll giggle. Then it goes behind a cloud. Maybe there is a smattering of rain. And suddenly that cloud burst seems more like hell is spitting like icy shards of glass at me, determined to extinguish that ember of happiness fighting to burn hot enough to light so much as a candle. It’s exhausting.

Here is a link to treatment advice on SAD as well as some lovely handy dandy websites for mental health issues. Seriously, i have used some of them and even the info you can get online these days isn’t half bad.

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Remember though; the sun can be thought of in the same was as those middle aged women/students think of booze – if it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, it’s mid day somewhere else! The sun is always up somewhere, even if it isn’t where you are. If you are a sufferer of depression or SAD, do the daytime version of what Oscar Wilde liked to do; instead of looking at the stars, look to the sky. See the sun, love the light, feel the glow.

Mind.org

NHS treatment of SAD

Samaritans

SSDD

Happy New Year!

Hey Hey Guys!

Very briefly, some best wishes from yours truly. No long winded, sappy crap about 2014 being the best/worst year of my life and how 2015 is going to be the best year yet, for everyone!

Cheers!

Cheers!

Just this:

  • Do the thing that scares you.
  • Whatever happened in the past is part of you and denying it is naive and will stop you learning valuable lessons.
  • You are what the world has made you, but that isn’t all bad.
  • Look to the future and look to the stars.
  • Set yourself goals, not resolutions. You are more likely to achieve the things you want to. Life is forever changing anyway, try to be flexible with it.

“We are all laying in the gutter; only some of us are looking at the stars”

– Oscar Wilde

Cheers!

SSDD

Don’t Turn Over A Random Leaf; Turn Over the Right One

Picture the scene.

You are in a landscape. This landscape may be near barren. A smattering of wilting bushes peppering brazen, cracked soil. The shoots that are left are of a variety capable of life in harsh conditions. Perhaps there is a burning sun. Perhaps it is tundra like and cold. This landscape is yours alone. It is not so entirely unpleasant that it is always unbearable, much in the way that even the most unsavoury of areas can be tolerated once you get used to them, but there is something not quite right about it.

There could be many names you could give this place. Limbo, might be one of them. Or perhaps perdition, nowhere, or even confusion. You might prefer not to give that place a name at all. That’s ok. It is yours…

You stir from a most intense day-dream. So intense you might have believes it reality; were it not for that bush.

The lush and leafy, impossibly mulit-tonal green bush, that has attracted your attention. Was it always there or has it just suddenly sprung into being from the drought ridden ground?

unusual and intimidating…

As if independent from meteorological influence, a leaf detaches itself from the bush. It float purposefully toward you. You approach with caution. Lift the leaf: pretty. Unusual shape, not one you are familiar with. Interesting. But not for you.

Take a step back, but take care not to lose sight of the leaf. Something has stirred in you and you know it’s important, even if you don’t necessarily want to encounter that particular shoot again.

pretty and sweet…

Another has flown near you, with a gentle motion, as if to avoid startling you. This time the leaf is colourful. Inhail and discover that the air is sweet, the scent carried on a light breeze and wrapping coolly around you.

Carry this leaf awhile. Twirl it experimentally between your fingers. Hmmmmn, lovely; but not for you. Let the fragile pretty thing float away on the fragrant flurry. It lands close to the bush.

is this your leaf? …

Next, a darker one catches your eye. This one is scary by comparison to the others. Spikier edges. It writhes in the draft, which by this time has become warm, despite the lessening intensity from the sun; it no longer burns.

A glance at the bush shows that it sits there still, innocent and suspicious only in its alien contrast to the tired little sprouts around it.

You stand, stare quizzically at this leaf. A tall shrub sways dozily in the breeze beside you. It never did that before…

The leafy bush seems to glow as you approach the spiky leaf. This one sends shockwaves through you and your nerves alight with a fire that has never been experienced in this forlorn place before. This knowledge seems to make the bush glow brighter still.

The scary leaf continues its dance, with each of your tentative steps seeming to increase its fervor. Your heart races in time with its perilous twist – the feeling is somewhat nauseating after so long in such a place of dry suspension.

But you reach out and pince the stem between shaking fingers. Mouth dry but eyes no longer heavy, the leafs struggle ends. It is course to the touch but fresh and crisp. It feels more dependable that the others. Less likely to die quickly or suffer a tragically short existence, or worse, a promising start followed by a hollowly unfulfilling end.

Sure, those spikes might make it a little difficult to handle at times, but sometimes that is the price of reliability.

The warmth that had been blanketing you from the wind now swirls and glows somewhere else – is it inside you? Somewhere, perhaps, and quite deep. But deep in a way that a well is deep; the only place it can go is up, and this time, what goes down, will come back up.

The leaf has ceased its struggles and sits palliative in you hand. This is the one for you.

Turn it over.

 

SSDD

a lone shrub surviving…

tundra…

could you miss this tree in a desert…