It was a completely beautiful and blissful Sunday morning, just like any other. I’d woken up to Alex bringing me coffee like he always does because he is amazing, the light of my life, has a totally kissable face and eyes that melt your heart. We sat in bed, watched Brooklyn Nine-Nine and ate breakfast together. It was so lovely, but I could feel my anxiety slowly starting to rear its disgusting butt-faced head.
Little did I know; I was about to have a catastrophic-level panic attack. It was one of the ones that sneak up on you and slap you right across the face as if you’d just pooped in it’s kettle… You know the ones!
I knew we were going to see our friends that Alex met through work, who, even though I’ve only met a few times, I’m head over heels in love with… But, because of my social anxiety, was also nervous to see as well. So I decided to bake them cookies. Everybody loves cookies, right?!
I measured, mixed, stirred and scooped to my heart’s content. I melted chocolate, creamed together butter and sugar and added dry ingredients to make dough. It was complete bliss for me. It was just me and my kitchen apparatus, and, just for a moment, all of my tension and worries melted away.
That was, until I’d finished baking the cookies… Then everything came toppling down. I tried to practice some meditation with theheadspace app, but there was way too much noise around me (can’t you mow your lawn during the week, neighbours?! Ugh!)
There I was, sitting there, desperately trying to observe my feelings and thoughts instead of judging them, when I just burst into tears. I walked into my room, found Alex and told him how anxious I was about seeing our pals, even though I was more excited about seeing them… I sobbed and asked him why he loved me, and in-between wails, told him I wished I was different.
He said, “I don’t. I wouldn’t change a thing about you. I love you so much, no matter what.”
The way he held me was all that mattered in that moment. Even though I felt like a failure of a human being, like I often do during these anxiety attacks, he still loved me. That act of love proved to me that I was worth love; his and my own.
I needed some fresh air after using Alpal’s shirt as a hanky, so I sat in the backyard where Mum came and sat with me and held me like she’s always done, which brought me the same amount of warmth that it always does. I told her the same thing I told Alex, that I wished I could be normal. She said, “Name me one person you know that’s actually normal!” And just like she is about everything, she was right.
This isn’t a story about how I showed anxiety who was boss. I didn’t. I didn’t leave the house and see our friends like I wanted to. My anxiety got the better of me today. And you know what, pals? That’s okay. Because you don’t always have to be brave and push down how you feel. Sometimes, you have to let yourself feel it and sort through it. (And isn’t that what being brave is really about?)
Staying home allowed me to really think about what I’m grateful for.
Firstly, that I’ve found my soulmate; my best friend in the whole world and he loves me for everything I am. Not just the good, happy, goofy parts. But the ugly, snot-and-tears-spilling-out-of-my-face-holes parts. I’m in love with the most wonderful man in the whole wide world and he’s in love with me too.
Secondly, I have the best mum in the whole world. Every time she’s there for me during an anxiety attack, it takes me back to the times when I would cry at night because I didn’t want to go to school the next day, so she would sit with me and watch Degrassi until I felt better. The times she’d put notes in my lunchbox to tell me how much she loves me. The times she’s told me how proud of me she is, even though sometimes, I feel as though my anxiety makes me a huge letdown to myself and everybody else.
Thirdly, I’m thankful for cookies. Not for how completely delicious they are (and boy, are they!) But for the peace the process of making them brings me. The way in which I can find solace in creaming together butter and sugar… How shaping the dough into balls can take me out of myself, just for a moment, and bring me peace.
Does it completely fix my anxiety? Absolutely not! My panic attack erupted after I made the cookies, and nothing I could’ve done would have stopped it from happening. Alex and Mum can’t rid me from my anxiety either. It will always be a part of me, trying to tear me apart from the inside and plague me with worry and self-doubt. But I know that they’ll always be there for me to nurse me through it. That their warmth, kindness and love will make me feel less alone and more at peace. And I know that my kitchen, my cookbooks, my mixing bowl and oven will always be there for me when I need them the most.
I hope these cookies bring you the same kind of solace, my friends. And more than anything, I hope you have your own Alpal and Mausie, because my world, my heart and my soul is infinitely better because of them.
Chocolate Coconut Cookies
Recipe only ever so slightly adapted from Nigella’s Recipe for Totally Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
– 125g Lindt Coconut Intense Dark Chocolate
– 1 cup plain flour
– 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
– 1 teaspoon baking/bi-carb soda
– 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
– 125g unsalted butter, at room temp
– 1/2 cup brown sugar
– 1/4 cup white sugar
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1 large egg (cold from the fridge)
– 2 cups dark chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees celcius and line two baking trays with baking paper. Melt the coconut chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave, until lovely and smooth.
2. Put the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and mix.
3. In a seperate bowl, cream the sugars and butter together using an electric mixer (or a free standing mixer if you have one!). Then, stir in the melted chocolate until well incorporated.
4. Beat in the vanilla extract and cold egg with the electric mixer, then stir in the dry ingredients. Finally, add the chocolate chips.
5. Using an ice-cream scoop or a tablespoon measure, divide the dough into equal sized balls and place onto the prepared trays about 6cm apart. (Nigella says she gets 12 cookies out of this recipe, I tend to get closer to 15.)
6. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until slightly hardened but still gooey to the touch. (The cookies will harden upon cooling and it’s much better to have moist chewy cookies than hard, crumbly ones!)
7. Cool slightly on baking trays for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.