What you don’t see

This week is Depression Awarenesses Week, which this year is focusing on #whatyoudontsee. As open as I am with acknowledging I have depression on social media it is not as look at me but more a listen to me not judge or mute me.
By writing about my experiences it helps give them a voice of their own that can be heard by others and thereby lose the power they try have over me. Another reason is the stigma many of us with depression (and other mental health illnesses) still suffer from and it is about time that this taboo was shattered for good. A final reason is not everyone has a voice or able to talk about depression, so I am trying to open doors in order that people feel welcomed not judge or mocked.
To anyone reading this that thinks that depression is abnormal, consider this; if I asked everyone of my friends to make a cake I would have a variety of cakes with no two being exactly the same, each one is representative of the individual that made the cake but none of them would be abnormal. In the same respect we are all shaped by our experiences, traditions and beliefs. Imagine wearing our neighbour’s underwear every day as we both live in the same neighbourhood or feeling the odd one out at family gatherings despite sharing genes. Equally, we may share the same experiences but how they impact upon us varies, and sometimes we cannot “just get over it” as the trauma is still deep even decades after the event(s) may have occurred.
When the black dog calls, it is like a dog barking constantly at me from the garden until I give in and let him in. Then he licks my face all over till it is wet, but in reality these are my tears. In the past I would sit in silence for days as not even my favourite music that got me through my teenage years would bring me comfort. However, now I get out my pen to write or put on my walking boots armed with my camera to go for a walk, sometimes take a piece of clay to make my feelings 3D, other times I go to one of the many musical instruments I play to let them become a song and also cooking or baking as help me focus on the present moment, especially making bread by hand. So for me finding coping mechanisms like these as well as loyal, loving and trusting friends is what helps so I do not give up and remembering there are stars shining and ringing even when it looks pitch black outside.
© Fi S. J. Brown
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Recipe for a hug (for National Hug Day)

A pinch of love from our hearts,

A sprinkling of our soul’s wisdom,

A dash of warmth from our eyes,

A hint of our smile as infectious,

A smidgen of our fingers’ touch,

A dollop of arms fully stretched.

 

Slowly mix the above together,

Blending gently without malice,

Carefully bake but do not burn.

When finished no need to wait,

Share at once with good friends,

And they will give back one to us.

 

© Fi S. J. Brown

Roasted aubergine, sweet potato and spinach curry

This is a recipe for a simple, light, and healthy vegan curry, which comes from Chloe Coker and Jane Montgomery’s book The Vegetarian Pantry. I cooked it for a potluck supper and was noted as everyone’s favourite dish of the night.

Ingredients

  • 2 aubergines/eggplants, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • Large handful of fresh spinach, washed and dried
  • A pinch or 2 of sugar, to taste.
  • A squeeze of fresh lime juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A handful of fresh coriander/cilantro leaves, finely chopped

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) Gas mark 4.

2. Put the aubergine/eggplant and sweet potato on a baking sheet and season with salt and pepper.

3. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with cinnamon. Roast in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes, until cooked and golden.

4. Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and cover with a lid. Cook for 2 minutes or until they pop.

5. Turn down the heat, uncover, and add the shallot, ginger, garlic, and chilli. Fry for 3 minutes until they start to soften.

6. Add to the pan the garam masala and sugar and fry for 5 minutes.

7. Finally, to the pan add the tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes.

8. Stir the roasted vegetables through the sauce and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes, and stir in the spinach until wilted.

9. Taste and adjust the seasoning by adding more sugar, lime or salt and pepper, to taste.

Spoon onto serving plates and serve hot with rice and a spoonful of plain yoghurt, if liked.