I’ve been trying to work out a way to start this post for a couple weeks now. I have a lot to say and my need to get it out supersedes my need for an elegant introduction, so I’m winging it.
Who am I? My name is Charity. I’m a mother, a wife, and a writer. I’m an introvert, an awkward over-explainer, a clown, an artist, an avid cook and a mama bear. I’ve spent most of my life coping with PTSD, anxiety, remissive depression and copious amounts of “I’m never gonna be good enough.” More on that later.
Why did I write this post? When this blog was born, it wasn’t just recipes. My oldest followers know what it used to be. It was Soul Chow. A mash-up of food for thought and food for your tummy. For me, it was about putting my kind of love out into the world.
I grew up in a family that didn’t deal in physical affection and I spent a lot of time alone. My lessons were learned the hard way without parental guidance or sympathy. I never learned to be the lovey-dovey, hugs and kisses type, but I’ll listen and encourage you ’til the wheels fall off and I’ll cook you some food. To the best of my ability, I wanted to give some of that non-traditional love to my readers.
Soul Chow was me. It was a mix of perspective and food, served with a sprinkling of humor. It was a pile of all the things I learned through time and tears, lessons and recipes alike, packaged nice and neat and placed as an offering on the altar of the interwebs for the at-will consumption by anyone that came across it. It was well received while it lasted and I feel I owe an explanation to those that were here for it.
When I first started out, Soul Chow lit a fire in me. At first I was driven to the point of wondering if I wasn’t having my first manic episode. I wasn’t. I was just on a mission. I was unstoppable. I had an intense need to show anyone drawn to my message that they’re not alone and there is hope for those of us fighting mental demons. I am living proof that you can come out on the other side of Hell. I needed anyone that thought otherwise to know that. Hope is such a precious thing.
I started it all with a simple goal. If I could give just one person some hope, comfort, encouragement, someone to identify with, maybe a chuckle or two when they needed it, mindless distraction even, I could feel like I had made a meaningful contribution to the world. If I could have even a minute positive impact on someone that needed it, that was and is my definition of success. I came out with a hailstorm of attempts at that goal. I wrote with a passion I hadn’t felt before.
My thoughts are always fast and scattered. They don’t lend themselves very well to writing. It’s a hard process bending the mess in my head into something relatively structured and coherent, but scattered or not, I wanted to inspire. I found meaning in writing Soul Chow. Then I ground myself to a nub and hit a wall.
I didn’t follow my own advice. When it came to things like mindfulness, physical exercise, hobbies and all the self care and stress management I need to feel relatively well, I dropped the ball. I got lazy and felt the effects. When writing posts on coping, self soothing and stress management, I started to feel this weird, self-doubt fueled sense of hypocrisy. Who am I to tell you how to be happy when, even with my years of therapy, practice and successes, I still have bad days? That “not good enough” feeling ate at me and despite the initial success of Soul Chow, I fell into a fairly nasty bout of depression and anxiety. Then I had a REALLY bad day. At the apex of that bout, my PTSD got triggered. As a result of it, after a couple days of overthinking, self-directed negativity and hyper-criticism, I wiped Soul Chow off the internet. I deleted all mental health related posts and sat on my couch, feeling an invisible hand over my mouth. I felt this tremendous sense of injustice because I had just allowed my voice to be taken away by my oldest demon. I erased something from existence that I know for a fact gave at least one person a sense of comfort. That made two people victimized by my past. A lot of tears were dropped that day, but even then I knew, somehow, some way I had to bring Soul Chow back. If not in name, at least in spirit.
Guilt over my self negligence and its consequences led me to work harder at therapy than ever before. I like to think I learn from my mistakes. Since then I’ve changed my lazy, as-needed dosing of stress management and coping into a habit. I’m definitely feeling the benefits and have zero plans of making the same mistake twice. If you were here for Soul Chow, I am so sorry I took it away from you.
Moving forward there are a few things I feel need saying. I won’t be bringing the original raw thought style of Soul Chow back. I likely won’t even be bringing the name “Soul Chow” back. You’ll definitely see fewer posts related to mental health but they’ll be a tad less rant, a little more research. Quality over quantity. Another reason for fewer posts: stress management. Going too hard and fast last time around led to Soul Chow’s destruction. As I mentioned before, I’m not one to repeat mistakes.
In the mental health related posts you will often see links to further reading. I offer ideas only and I encourage you to explore what catches your interest. My goal is to inspire thought, never to dictate. Do your own research. Consult your doctor or therapist. You may come to conclusions that work better for you than anything I have to offer. Always always always feel free to share your thoughts and findings with me in the comments or hit that contact button and email me directly.
Lastly, you may see the odd disclaimer. Here’s one now: Do not take anything I say on this blog as even resembling diagnosis or medical advice. I’ll be sharing my personal experiences only. What works for me may not work for you. I am not a professional. I have no training. I’m just a human, trying to make it in this ugly-beautiful world, win the day to day battles and enjoy my remaining trips around the sun. I don’t have the answers. Just ideas and experiences… and recipes for some tasty food. Take what you need, but keep in mind that when it comes to mental health, there is no substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.
Your support is wholeheartedly appreciated!