Summertime Sadness: Baking with Anxiety


Miko Miwa

Pink, purple, and green meringue cookies

Miko Miwa

Finding ways to enjoy your summer while having depression and anxiety is hard. Everyday I wake up tired and unmotivated to do anything, on a good day I get out of my bed at 11:30 a.m. and spend the rest of my time doing nothing while I sit alone in my house. As hard as it is to believe, summer break is stressful to me because I can literally feel time slipping through my fingers and I know it’s my fault that this is happening. So, I have decided to try and find a way to make the most of my days left. It’s undeniably going to be hard, but progress isn’t made by doing nothing, so my only option is to do something.

Yesterday I baked and I chose to go with something relatively easy while also bright and engaging enough to consume my time and negative thoughts. I made meringue cookies and couldn’t resist the urge to make them pastel, so now my house if filled with pink, green, and purple disks of sugar and egg whites. I can admit that they’re kind of ugly because I improvised a lot of things and my main concern wasn’t aesthetic appeal, but they taste relatively good and are cute from a distance, so I count that as a success.

The whole process took about six hours and my mind was screaming at me the entire time about how I was wasting time on something useless. After every step I was worried I had messed up and would end up ruining the meringues while also burning down my house. Irrational thoughts like that happen almost all the time no matter what I do, and while from a distance it seems like it would be easy to push off, it’s not. More often than not I believe that my irrational fears will come true and that whatever I do wrong will result in the end of the world.

So, as I was whipping egg whites with lemon juice and salt, I thought it would end in a disgusting mess that would take forever to clean up. When I was gradually adding sugar to the egg mixture as the recipe said, I was worried it wouldn’t mix properly and I would be stuck with a soupy mix littered with organic cane sugar granules. Adding the food coloring was a battle of convincing myself that the gel coloring wasn’t liquid enough to ruin my hard work and that I wouldn’t end up with ugly brown lumps of sugar. Piping out the meringues was no easier, I was worried that I had made them too big or too small and that the variation in size would affect the baking time and temperature. It’s unnerving to be on edge all of the time, and while everything ended up fine I’ll probably have the same thoughts running through my head next time I bake.

But the experience was a step forward, and overall I enjoyed yesterday a lot more than days when I did nothing. It felt nice to have a distraction from my crippling fear and sadness, while to some my negative thoughts throughout baking are pretty bad, it was a lot nicer than what I usually think about. The added bonus of having a bunch of sweets that make me and my family happy also makes it feel like I was productive because there was concrete proof that I did something. Hopefully I can find more ways to make summer nicer and try to get around the dark cloud constantly in my view.