This time last year my food blog Surrey Kitchen was going from strength to strength. I’d managed to double my instagram following in under two weeks, and was receiving praise from food writers and chefs such as Jo Pratt, Rachel Khoo, Tess Ward and top culinary school Leiths.
My life was busier than it had ever been before collaborating with brands such as Bachelors, Franco Manca, Mercure Hotels, Peach Pubs, Las Iguanas, Pracey Public relations, CAU, Leiths school of food and wine, Harvey Nichols Fifth Floor Bar and many more. This was all on top of being a mother to my three year old daughter Alice and my newborn daughter Jessica, who arrived in February 2018.
So what happened you ask? Why did everything suddenly stop?
I’ve always been predisposed to anxiety and depression, but what was most scary about the episode that occurred last summer was that I initially had no idea how ill I really was. I was here but not here, drowning while everyone else around me was breathing.
It was my yoga teacher and dear friend Isabelle who first brought to my families attention just how ill I really was.
Here are some of my favourite quotes about post natal depression that I’d like to share.
“I really didn’t want to live anymore…I just wanted to leap out of my life…” Brooke Shields.
“I hadn’t realised the depths to which you can ache; limbs, back, torso, head, everything hurts and it went on for fifteen months.” Alannis Morisette.
“What I needed was space and time to adapt to all the different roles that had come my way…I needed people to be patient and give me the space and time to do it.” Diana Princess of Wales.
The hardest part of recovering from Post natal depression for me was that the people I’d expected to be there for me were often the ones to make me feel the most worthless and broken.
“Being a friend to someone who is depressed is the kindest, noblest and best thing you will ever do.” Stephen Fry.
Post natal depression is a bit like feeling tired and scared all at the same time, of wanting to be alone but not lonely, feeling everything all at once so your emotions are in a constant state of chaos. You live to sleep, like a reverse nightmare and every day you wake into that nightmare.
However PND has taught me an important lesson. That real discovery comes from chaos.
I’ve learnt who my real friends are, the invaluable skill of awareness and non dualist theory taught by my yoga practise and the importance of engaging in meaningful occupations that will help me stay well. For me these include cooking, blogging, swimming, yoga, gardening, writing, sewing, knitting, reading, music, listening to audiobooks and spending quality time with my family and friends.
“love is the reason we grieve darling…and love is what will bring you back.” Lindsay Gibbon, Just Be.
So here is a recipe to celebrate my recovery journey.
Giant couscous with cherry tomatoes and muscles.
Time: 45 minutes
Extra-virgin olive oil 2 tbsp
Giant couscous 200g
White wine 200 ml
Mussels 500g, cleaned and debearded
Garlic 2 cloves
Fish or vegetable stock 500ml
Harissa 2 tbsp
1 tin tomatoes
3-4 rashers streaky bacon chopped
Fennel 2 bulbs, thinly sliced.
1/2 tsp dried tarragon.
- Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat, then tip in the giant couscous. Cook for 1-2 minutes until couscous is golden brown in colour and smells toasty. Fill the pan with just boiled water and cook for 6-8 minutes or until the couscous is tender but still has bite.
- Heat the white wine in a casserole/creuset dish until simmering then tip in the mussels and put on the lid. Cook for 3-4 minutes, shaking the pan until the mussels just start to open. Discard any closed mussels and drain over a bowl to catch the wine.
- Wipe the pan clean, heat the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil until hot, then cook garlic fennel and streaky bacon for 1 minute before tipping in the stock and harrissa. Bring to a simmer, then add the tin of tomatoes and tarragon.
- Add the couscous, mussels and 3/4 of the drained wine and warm through for 5 minutes. Spoon into bowls and serve with fried cabbage.