Saturday, February 20, 2016

ptsd and the art of fermentation

I was diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) last fall. The story behind why is for another time. The process of healing has been tedious and frustrating. However, I am a good student of life, so I saw all the doctors and professionals to help me in this journey. I did my best to regulated all the lies that my brain was sending down. In spite of all the negative data from the brain—“you are worthless,” in its  simplest from— I got up most days to eat, drive, work, buy groceries, cook, do laundry, scoop kitty litter, be a mother, be a wife, be a daughter, try to sleep, wake up at four am, and start the day all over again.

At the core of the healing process was to balance the mind, body and spirit. I am good at honoring the mind. Or at least the brain. I am good enough at honoring my spirit. I am not good at honoring the body. Actually, I have complained about the limits of this body for most of my life. My brain is the abusive landlord that sends nasty messages from high above to the slum of a body.

So what happens to a women who mostly relies on her brain to get the job done, when that brain of hers starts to go haywire? Because my brain started sending out massive amounts of wrong, negative, fear based data. I was lost at sea. 

There is some good news. I needed a distraction. Something that would sooth me. Netflix thought I would enjoy this show called The Great British Baking Show. 
What the fuck does Netflix know about me anyway. I am not a baker. I am not interested in anything remotely connected to baking. Fuck you, Netflix. 
I had watched and re-watched Sherlock in its entirety for over twenty times. I needed a new show. Abandoning most of the shows within the first ten minutes, I finally succumbed to Netflix with the huff and gruff of an angst ridden teenager. “Fine. I’ll try it. But I know I’ll hate it.”

And, of course, I am in love. Not only with the show, but with baking. Or more specifically, fermentation. The analogy of rising from mere dusty flakes into nourishment. That all the elements of life, in the form of yeast, is living in the air. It has been all this time. We breath it in everyday. It is invisible. But it has been there, all along. Like your puppy waiting for you to come home. Or a mother that loves you without any judgment. They are just there for us. This stirs me. To my core. And gives me hope. 

I am now a baker. I baked my first loaf of bread last week. I could not stop making bread. There were too many. So I brought a loaf to my students. They loved it. It was oh so very cool. And filled my heart. With joy. And love.

My brain still lies to me. Everyday. Throughout the day. It is worst in the mornings. In the evenings I am too tired to function properly. My body hurts. My neck, shoulders, lower back, and hips. My migraine have been worse this year. But I am healing. I am coping. And now I am baking. Baking with joy. Baking with hope.

My first bread loaf:
I am in the mist of making a sourdough starter, another example of the magic of fermentation. I am also in the mist of making my first batch of kombucha scoby, otherwise known as THE MOTHER:

Ironically, I’ve been writing about the scoby as THE MOTHER in all caps. I wondered if I was referring to myself, or to my mother. 

My brother asked me what kombucha was. I started to give him my definition, but then chickened out, because I decided my definition wasn’t good enough. I researched the internet for the definition of kombucha and its scoby and found out that the internet is torn between its ideas around the benefits of kombucha. And furthermore that brewing your own kombucha CAN LEAD TO DEATH. I panicked and almost threw out my first attempt. I will continue to breed/feed this first batch of scoby (aka THE MOTHER), who has the potential to kill me. (OMG.) And decide later what I want to do with her. It’s a science experiment for now.