In sickness and in health; five words which seem obvious until they’re put to the test. This isn’t what either of us signed up for, except it kind of is. Who knew what would face us? That bipolar disorder was waiting in the wings, desperately trying to turn my mind into a battlefield neither of us is equipped to deal with.
My appetite deserting me is the first sign this funk might be more than a funk. The first sign for me anyway. Paul already knows this is serious. My insistence that chocolate and crisps are enough to live on only confirms things.
I’m craving sugar and nothing else. I’m in a funk, so I indulge my body which simply means it wants more. Not my smartest move.
We make a deal, Paul and me, for every day I’m depressed he will cook risotto for my dinner. It’s my favourite meal; it’s the culinary equivalent of a comforting hug.
We fall into a routine. He cooks, while I worry about how spaced out my new antidepressant makes me. He cooks, while I stare at the TV not really taking anything in but unable to turn it off. He cooks, while I just exist. When we said in sickness and in health, this wasn’t how I pictured it.
While he removes the smoked rashers from the oven and cuts the feta cheese, I’m tasked with stirring the risotto. I must keep stirring. We must not let it burn. I’ve mastered this figure of eight stirring motion. Well I say mastered, it’s hardly rocket science. It is, however, strangely hypnotic and incredibly soothing. I must keep stirring. We must not let it burn.
There are days when those five or so minutes are the most productive I’ll be. These are the days I feel worth something because these are the days I contribute. A thing needs doing and I help get that thing done. These are the days that make the rest of the time frustrating yet slightly easier to navigate.
Knowing, on some level, things won’t always be this difficult and really feeling it are often worlds apart. So I stir risotto for a moment because we must not let it burn.
As my mind and body adjust to an ever expanding array of medication, it helps to know there is someone in my corner. That someone cares for me, when I can’t care for myself, especially when I’m incapable of looking after myself. Maybe love can shine through and that’s worth remembering.
When all else fails, keep stirring and you won’t let it burn.