In this post I want to share two things with you; some thoughts on mental health and these super cookies that have been saving me a lot recently. This site is a place for ‘thoughtful living’ and I truly feel that discussing mental health is something that can aid in living consciously and bring about a better experience for anyone affected.
In the UK the statistic is that 1 in 4 people will experience mental health problems. I don’t like talking in statistics but looking at that number, it’s a lot. Chances are you or someone you know will go through a period of struggling with some form of ill mental health. Yet, it’s still something people are reluctant to talk about. I know that for years I ignored and blatantly denied the poor state of my mental health. It felt like it was something that I shouldn’t talk about, that it was attention seeking, that I was being dramatic and that nothing is actually wrong with me; just a severe case of melodrama.
But then I was hit with just how bad things were. It was a tough realisation. I broke. Everything broke. For years I had fought issues with anxiety, low mood, extreme particularities (especially with food) and phobias. The only reason I acknowledged any of this was because I couldn’t get on stage for a performance. That is the thing that tipped me over the edge. After working so, so hard for years and creating the idea of what my dream future would look like as a professional dancer for a great company it all came crashing down. How could I be a professional dancer if I can’t get on stage?
How I saw my life and myself changed. I started to realise all of the things I had been pushing aside were still very much in my life and affecting me whether I chose to acknowledge them or not. Soon after this the guilt and shame showed up in abundance. How could I have possibly let myself become this person? My parents should be disappointed in me. This is all my fault. I shouldn’t be such a burden to my partner, my sister, my friends, they don’t deserve this.
Guilt and shame are, for me, one of the biggest parts of dealing with poor mental health. The doctor doesn’t tell you about this part. Every morning you can wake up with good intentions for your day. Some days you won’t have the capacity to see them through, that’s how this works. Soon the self-loathing, guilt-ridden thoughts follow and you spiral. You had to cancel plans with your friend? You’re the flakiest, worst friend ever. Couldn’t make your shift at work? You should feel guilty about letting everyone down, you should have forced yourself to go. Didn’t get out of bed today? You are so lazy you should be ashamed of yourself.
This isn’t the truth. The truth is that you are a good friend. Just because you can’t see your sickness doesn’t make it any less legitimate. You are not lazy, you tried your best and that’s all anyone can do.
The guilt and the shame that comes with poor mental health want you to get stuck and believe that your sickness defines who you are as a person. It doesn’t. There is always hope that you will find yourself again. You might not ever be 100% free from your sickness but you 100% will live through happy periods of time and be able to manage your illness more easily.
I do my best to look forward to my future and all the dancing that it has in store for me because I’m not ready to give up on what I feel I am made for. You should look forward and be excited about your future too. You deserve to feel that way. If you don’t, please talk to someone you trust or you know will do their best to understand. Whether that’s a friend, a family member, your GP or even me.
After all of that fairly serious talk I want to share the recipe for these cookies. To be honest I could probably dedicate a whole blog to cookies, I love them.
I’ve been having a lot of tummy troubles recently and that’s resulted in my appetite almost entirely disappearing, even the thought of food was enough to make me feel ill (hence the lack of posts). I know that eating will help, especially the nutrition-dense plant-based food that I love to make. However, the inspiration was lacking due to loss of appetite, breakfast time was particularly difficult. These cookies have been very helpful. Easy to make and packed with good things whilst still being small enough to be gentle on my tummy. Yes.
I’ve called them Super Cookies because to me, they really are.
Made with a mix of almond flour and coconut they have a super wholesome taste. The sweetness of the fudgy dates and the bitterness of the cacao nibs is a heavenly combination. A big dose of almond butter makes every cookie better so there’s some of that in there too.
Makes approx. 15 small cookies
1 1/2 tbsp ground flaxseed
3 tbsp water
1 1/2 cup almond flour
1 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup coconut oil, as a liquid
1 1/2 tbsp cacao nibs
1/3 cup dates, pitted and chopped
Pre-heat your oven to 180C and line a sheet tray with baking paper.
In a small bowl, mix together the ground flaxseed and water to create a paste. Set aside for 10 minutes, it will thicken. In a medium mixing bowl mix together the almond flour, coconut, baking soda and salt. In a large mixing bowl combine the flaxseed paste with the maple syrup, vanilla and almond butter.
Transfer the bowl of dry ingredients to the large bowl in stages, stirring as you go. It should form a thick, stiff dough. Add the coconut oil, cacao nibs and dates. Mix until everything is combined. Scoop out a tbsp of dough at a time, using your hands to roll into balls. Place on the baking paper and slightly flatten. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the cookies are starting to turn golden and are dry on top. Let cool and enjoy.