Depression is a Full Time Job.

I decided to take a break from this blog because over the last few months I haven’t been feeling great. Between going home for Christmas, leaving again, the stress of starting a new term and the New York winter things all started to get quite dark. But for the last three weeks I’ve been feeling better. And there are a few ways I know this. I smile more, I watch less TV and I don’t cry every time I see a picture of my cat. But the main reason I know I’ve been feeling better is I suddenly have a lot of free time. I have all this free time because I’ve had the last two weeks off, on holiday, finally taking a break from my unrelenting, full time, 24/7 job of being a person with depression.

Before coming to NYU I spent about a year and a half off school pretty much doing nothing except trying to get better and trying to watch as much Grey’s Anatomy as possible. Around this time a lot of my friends started to take gap years and every time I talked to them about how bored they were suddenly having all this free time off of school I would feel incredibly guilty and full of shame. I had been out of school for years, barely ever leaving my bedroom, and yet I never felt ‘bored’. I felt like I’d spent the last year of my life working harder and doing more than I had ever done and yet my actual, tangible achievements added up to baking a few cakes and a lot of therapy. I couldn’t figure out why I never had any time, why I was always ‘busy’, and yet why I never actually ended up doing anything. I would spend days just wishing I could ‘take a week off’  and have some time to focus and yet taking a week off was pretty much all I had been doing for 52 consecutive weeks.

I was the laziest person I knew, the least achieving one of all my siblings, there were sloth’s who had busier schedules than I did – and yet for an entire year I felt like I barely had a minute to catch my breath.

And I think it’s only now, now that I am feeling a lot better, now that I do have things to do, a (farely) busy life to lead, a schedule, plans, friends and classes, that I’ve finally been able to look back and realise that living with depression, fighting with anxiety, spending every day battling any kind of mental illness is a hellish, agonising, debilitating, full time, around the clock job.

When I was depressed I never got bored because I never had time to be bored. I never had time to do anything. I often talk about how un-motivated I am when I’m in a bad place but I think the reality of my lack of motivation was that I just didn’t have the time. My schedule was full; between panicking and self hating, trying to figure out a new recovery plan and trying to figure out how to avoid my therapists calls, painting my nails (because that was obviously the answer to all my problems) and ignoring my emails, I barely even had time to watch all the TV I needed to get through the day.

At the beginning of this term (I still refuse to call it a semester) I began to fall behind on my work. I would spend my days lying in bed or lying on the floor or just pretty much lying anywhere and then get to class and realise I just hadn’t had time to do my homework. But the last few weeks have been better, a lot better, better than the ‘better’ bits have ever been before. I think when you’ve been struggling with something for a long time you begin to get so tired and angry at the up and down cycle of it all that you just want to give up. But the truth is (and I never believe it until it’s actually happened) that every time I have another dark patch, the bit after it is brighter than any bit before it ever was.

I don’t really know what I’m trying to say. Except that I’m back. To blogging and writing and baking. And that if you are going through something like this, anything like this, or if you know anyone who is – remember that it’s not just a struggle – it’s work, really hard, gruelling work, but work that you need to focus on, and excuse yourself for. Depression and anxiety take time to heal and they take time to go through and they take up more of your time than you would ever wish something this horrible could. I never believed anyone when they told me things would get better. So I don’t know why anyone would believe me. But I think things will, and do, get better, for all of us. And if not, let’s all just be particularly grateful that Grey’s Anatomy hasn’t been cancelled and that Friends is on Netflix.

Speak soon.

Love Scarlett. x

Cinnamon Chai Brown Sugar Cookies Recipe

Cookies 1

Let me introduce you to a concept I like to call ‘Baking Friends’ (TM). For those unfamiliar with ‘baking friends’ it’s a pretty simple concept. You bake things. And you give them to people. And you try to make them be your friend. Let me clarify, it’s not a bribe. You don’t mention the motive behind the baked goods. It’s more like pavlov’s dog. You meet someone new. You’re chatting, and then suddenly, out of your bag, comes cookies.

“Who is this girl?! She’s so cool! She just like carries homemade cookies around in her bag. Like the best primary school teacher in the world. Or how everyone imagines Zooey Deschanel will be in real life.”

They eat the cookie. It’s really good, because you’re really good at baking. Now they’re thinking…

“Wow! This girl is so talented. If only I had a talent that wasn’t watching Netflix and peeling oranges so the skin comes off in one piece. Maybe if I hang out with this girl a bit more I’ll become more talented like her…”

As they reach for another one of your amazing cookies they’re brain starts to feel happy. Because that’s what cookies do. And they look up, see your face, and BOOM. Friendship made. Mission complete. Baking friends accomplished.

Okay fine, so maybe it doesn’t always work like that. But I do find baking is a good ice breaker. And it makes people remember you, even if it’s only as the creepy cookie lady. And if it doesn’t work, you have an amazing supply of emergency ‘everyone hates me brownies’ in your bag. So it’s kind of a win win situation.

Brownies are normally my go to baking friends recipe. Because I’m really good at making them and they’re really easy and pretty much everyone likes brownies. But recently these cookies have become my new favourite recipe for a number of different reasons.

1. They don’t require a mixer. Which I love. In London I have a pink kitchen aid which is my favourite thing in the world to look at and my least favourite thing in the world to listen to. 9 times out of 10 I bake to calm myself down (the other 1 time I’m baking to get pumped up before a party which as you can imagine doesn’t normally work) and the sound of a mixer always makes me stressed.

2. They’re very portable. The worst thing that can happen if you’re trying to bake friends is if you take your goods out of your bag only to find a smushed, sticky cupcake that no one’s gonna want to touch. You want something that you can slip into your bag and effortlessly reveal as if you’d basically forgotten you were a cookie bearing goddess.

3. They’re not too experimental. Another big baking friends mistake is making something that your potential friend might hate or be allergic too. There’s nothing worse than putting yourself out there, telling someone you’ve baked them something, and then watching the look on someone’s face when you’ve revealed you’ve made avocado and peppermint walnut chip streusel.

4. But they’re still interesting. The chai definitely adds an element of “Oooh, who is this girl? Chai! How exciting!.’ It makes you seem a little adventurous without being annoying. And it also tastes good. So good.

So what’s been the message of this blog post? Probably that I’m crazy. And need to try and use my words when making friends and not my kick ass cooking skills. But if you take one thing away from this please let it be that these cookies are really good. And you should make them regardless of whether they are a sad attempt at forcing unsuspecting teenagers to like you.

Have a great day,

Scarlett.

Cookies 2

Cinnamon Chai Brown Sugar Cookies Recipe.

Ingredients:

– 3/4 cup (170g) butter.

– 1 and a quarter cups (250g) dark brown soft sugar.

– 1 egg.

– 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

– 2 cups (250g) flour.

– 1 teaspoon baking soda.

– 1 and a half teaspoon cornstarch (corn flour).

– 1 teaspoon cinnamon.

– a pinch of salt.

– 1 chai tea bag.

– 1/4 cup of granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon cinnamon for rolling.

Steps:

1. Melt the butter. Once it’s cooled, pour into a medium sized bowl and stir in the sugar, followed by the egg and the vanilla.

2. Once everything is mixed add the flour, baking soda, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt. Cut open the tea bag and pour the tea leaves into the mixture. Stir everything together until it forms a soft dough.

3. Leave the dough to chill in the fridge for at lest two hours. Mix the granulated sugar and the cinnamon together in a small bowl.

4. Preheat the oven to 325 F (160 C) and line a baking sheet with baking paper. Remove the dough from the fridge. Take a chunk of dough (let’s face it we all like different size cookies) and roll into a ball. Roll the ball in the cinnamon sugar and place on the baking tray.

5. If you want the crinkly top bake them for 8-9 minutes then take them out and push down gently on the top with a fork or spoon. This will ‘break’ the top and mean you get that cool crinkly effect. Once you’ve done this put them back in for 2 minutes. If you want cookies with flat tops just leave them in for 10-12 minutes.

6. Remove them from the oven and let them cool on the baking tray before moving them to a cooling rack.

D.I.Y. Positive Challenge Advent Calendar

Advent 1

It’s hard to express how much I truly love Christmas. Actually more than Christmas I love the time from now until Christmas. Those 25 days where everything suddenly feels a bit more special just because of the time of year. That’s right, I’m that person. I’m that person that’s already wearing a christmas tree necklace and christmas jumpers. The person who won’t listen to any music except Christmas music and who spends hours doing strange, not-that-fun activities just to ‘get into the Christmas spirit’. I just love Christmas. So much.

I miss my family more than ever right now. It’s exactly 2 weeks until I go home and the idea that they’re all in London right now opening their advent calendars and decorating the tree is all the more painful because I know how close I am to being back.

I made this advent calendar last night to try and cheer myself up and because they started lining the streets of New York with Christmas trees and it just all felt so Christmassy and magical. It’s a bit of a different kind of advent calendar but I’m hoping it might become a new tradition.

How to: I started by cutting out 25 bits of paper and on each one I wrote a positive challenge for myself for every day of December. Something that I’ve been too scared to do, or something that I’ve always wanted to do, or just something that might brighten up my day or the day of someone around me. They don’t have to be big challenges, it can be something as simple as ‘smile at 10 people’ or ‘have a nice bath’. Once I’d written down all my challenges I folded them up and put them in a jar. Every day of December I get to pick out a new challenge and I have to do it. That’s the only rule.

I think this is a really fun way to motivate yourself into have a really good December. And to do a few things that might normally be a bit out of your comfort zone. This morning I got ‘meditate for 15 minutes’ which felt like the perfect way to start my month. Although ‘be Taylor Swift all day’ would also have been a good one.

Let me know if you like this idea and if you decide to make one for you or a friend please tweet me pictures.

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D.I.Y. Positive Challenge Advent Calendar

Advent 1

It’s hard to express how much I truly love Christmas. Actually more than Christmas I love the time from now until Christmas. Those 25 days where everything suddenly feels a bit more special just because of the time of year. That’s right, I’m that person. I’m that person that’s already wearing a christmas tree necklace and christmas jumpers. The person who won’t listen to any music except Christmas music and who spends hours doing strange, not-that-fun activities just to ‘get into the Christmas spirit’. I just love Christmas. So much.

I miss my family more than ever right now. It’s exactly 2 weeks until I go home and the idea that they’re all in London right now opening their advent calendars and decorating the tree is all the more painful because I know how close I am to being back.

I made this advent calendar last night to try and cheer myself up and because they started lining the streets of New York with Christmas trees and it just all felt so Christmassy and magical. It’s a bit of a different kind of advent calendar but I’m hoping it might become a new tradition.

How to: I started by cutting out 25 bits of paper and on each one I wrote a positive challenge for myself for every day of December. Something that I’ve been too scared to do, or something that I’ve always wanted to do, or just something that might brighten up my day or the day of someone around me. They don’t have to be big challenges, it can be something as simple as ‘smile at 10 people’ or ‘have a nice bath’. Once I’d written down all my challenges I folded them up and put them in a jar. Every day of December I get to pick out a new challenge and I have to do it. That’s the only rule.

I think this is a really fun way to motivate yourself into have a really good December. And to do a few things that might normally be a bit out of your comfort zone. This morning I got ‘meditate for 15 minutes’ which felt like the perfect way to start my month. Although ‘be Taylor Swift all day’ would also have been a good one.

Let me know if you like this idea and if you decide to make one for you or a friend please tweet me pictures.

Advent 2Advent 3Advent 5Advent 6Advent 7Advent 8Advent 9Advent 10

Halloween In New York

Halloween-11

As it’s Thanksgiving in America I thought it was the perfect time to share some pictures from the last holiday-I-don’t-quite-understand; Halloween. Sometimes I feel so loyal to Christmas that I forget to love any other holiday. But the New York Halloween Parade on 6th Avenue was one of my favourite thing I’ve seen here so far. Something about hundreds and hundreds of people all gathered in the same place to do something solely founded in joy and excitement and celebration of life and death and madness made me so happy. I loved just being there alone, standing in the crowd and watching the costumes and the floats and drunk, slightly creepy wizards walk by.

Anyway I hope you enjoy the pictures and that you’re having a good Thanksgiving wherever you are and whether or not you understand what it’s actually all about. My favourite thing in the parade was the float with Maya Angelou’s face on it but you can barely see it in the photo. I also liked the women dressed in white who were pouring glitter on everyone in the crowd. I think once I leave college this might be my future career…

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