As someone who used to have to be in control, the idea of not knowing what was round the corner terrified me. Surely if I didn’t know what was coming, it meant I was ill prepared, or unaware of my surroundings.
Even if something great happened unexpectedly, I would worry that it was impeding any arranged plans. Or worse, I would worry that I couldn’t get the most from it as I hadn’t read up on it, or geared myself up to appreciate its greatness.
Hardly surprising that I drove myself crazy and had a total melt down really.
Suddenly I had no choice about what I did. I couldn’t go out, I couldn’t speak to anyone. All I could do was decorate cakes. That had never, ever been part of the programme.
I couldn’t plan – there was no way I could arrange to meet someone, or even plan to nip to the supermarket. I literally couldn’t do a thing!
By not being able to go to work, I couldn’t stay in my job. By not being able to speak to friends, I couldn’t arrange to meet up. By not being able to plan even as far as the next hour in time, I was forced to just live in the moment. Admittedly those moments weren’t always full of ‘life’, but being in them did force me to take a direction I hadn’t even considered could exist.
Each time that I chose to bake I ended the day panic attack free, and I had a photo of a cake to share, which helped my interaction (albeit virtual) with others.
Gradually, even on the days when I couldn’t drag myself into the kitchen, I used the time when I was hiding away to write. I hoped that someone out there might understand what was happening to me. I guess for the first time ever I was admitting that I didn’t have control, and I was hoping someone else would take the reins.
As time has passed, I have still found myself having days when I hide away, or I can’t quite do the things I want to. I have learned not to fight these, and I am starting to accept that sometimes bypassing the expectations I have of myself is it’s own form of healthy control.
Sometimes, inaction is an action in itself.
While terrifying, I have been able to see the benefits of standing back and allowing things to happen. This path I have found myself on has brought about doors for me to glimpse though that otherwise would have remained firmly shut.
I have been able to write about anxiety, and was so honored to have my blog post shared by Stephen Fry. I had the opportunity to bake for An Extra Slice, and even have Michel Roux Jr taste my food (and like it!)
Those building blocks have come in the shape of the amazing baking community I interact with each day, who are a continued source of support and encouragement. (A big thank you to all of my lovely Twitter followers, to the #bakebehaviour, the #sundaybakingclub and #bakershour families!).
I have met local businesswomen who have taught me that there is a force in a passionate woman that simply cannot be matched. I have been able to spend time with my friends and their babies, who help me to put so much into perspective (and always give honest feedback on my cakes!).
I know that some of these building blocks give me a source of strength that will have an impact on the future me.
Suddenly I am in a position where I can chat about my newfound love of baking, and I can share with more people how it has not only changed but also saved my life. If a slight increase of exposure can help just one person to explore a new way of working with their mental health obstacles, or can assist in killing the unnecessary mental health stigma, then I will be delighted.
The opportunity does bring some challenges itself, for example I will need to negotiate my way into London, work my way around the stalls, speak to exhibitors, go to classes, maybe even interview the odd celebrity here and there. I will then have to put my thoughts and ponderings out there for more people to see!
These are some serious challenges that my anxiety is going to relish in, and it will no doubt try to prevent me from overcoming them. While I never know exactly how it may manifest itself, and I can’t stop it -
(at this point can I just go off on a slight tangent and say I really wish I could stop my anxiety, but believe me, telling me “just don’t worry” just doesn’t work – it’s amazing how many people suggest that!)
- I do know that I will give absolutely everything I have to be there and to relish in the experience.
Instead, I am now scrolling through the sponsors… From Neff (the guys who make the amazing sliding oven doors on British Bake Off) to The Cake Decorating Company, and Dr Oetker to Cake Masters - there are some amazing brands involved.
I am looking up exhibitors, and there are over 160 of them - I think I will have my work cut out feeding back to you on them!
I am browsing through the people who are taking master classes. John Waite will be there, and so will Greg Wallace, there is even a LIVE British Bake Off arena, where past stars will be recreating their famous bakes and answering questions.
There is a whole bunch of question marks, and unfilled spaces in my knowledge regarding some of the celebrities and exhibitors, and I can't wait to set out on my own little treasure hunt, looking to fill them.
Also, I’d like to say that if you have some worries about whether things are going as intended, or are concerned that you aren’t quite on the right path, have a look and appreciate what is around you.
I’m off to have a nose at the best way to get to the Cake and Bake show, but when it comes to planning my path around the exhibition, I think I’ll leave my highlighters alone and just see where I end up. After all, so far this unplanned path has brought me here – and to be honest, I am rather enjoying the view.
Hope to see you there!
BuBakes is committed to reducing the stigma attached to Mental Health, and personally donates 25p for every order received to MIND. This is kindly matched by three generous supporters, meaning a £1 donation is made per order. If you would like to find out more about MIND, or make a donation you can do so here.