In this post, written a month ago, I described the onset of a depressive episode. Now, I'm writing about recovering from it.
I'm not completely better, but I'm getting there. As an athlete might put it, I'm at maybe 85%. That's more than good enough to function.
I gotta tell you, friends, this was an ugly one, probably my worst in two years. For about a week, I lost quite a bit of function. I had the feelings of worthlessness, anxiety, anger, loss of creativity, loss of decision-making ability, memory and intellectual impairment, and sleep disruption (which doesn't help anything). In short, I lost about everything but the ability to put one foot in front of the other and pretend (not always successfully) that nothing was wrong.
But, as I knew they would, things started to improve about a week and a half ago. I'm having some laughter, some fun, and some ideas. I have some energy and a little bit of confidence. I'm still crankier than usual (if you can imagine such a thing), and I'm still responding to life's little setbacks more poorly than is warranted. But I'm getting there.
I thank my friends for their support. I'm also grateful for those around me, those who are unlikely to ever read this, for putting up with me. Online, I can disappear when I'm not fit to be around. My real life associates are less fortunate.
Someday, I really need to write up some coping strategies. I fully intended to do that tonight. But that's not where my head (or heart) is at.
I'm just so grateful to be better.
While I've allowed myself to be diverted by cakes and such, my main goal in taking up baking has been bread. I want to make my daily bread, and I also want to make special breads. I want to make basic breads, and I want to make breads with grains many people have never heard of.
I'm pretty comfortable, also, with the notion that learning to bake bread is going to have stumbles. There are a lot of variables, a lot of judgment that has to be developed, and a lot of things that can go wrong.
Still, it was with optimism in my heart that I proceeded with the "Deli Rye Bread" from "America's Test Kitchen Baking Book". This was the first bread I've made that called for a "sponge", AKA "starter", that needs to be made 8-24 hours in advance. The sponge is sort of the recipe in miniature, and the purpose is to allow the yeast to develop flavor.
The trouble appears to have started with the first rise. The recipe called for the dough to rise until doubled in volume, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. I usually let dough rise in my oven, where just the gas pilot light creates a temperature that yeast and yogurt both seem to really like. But when I checked it after an hour, the dough had tripled, maybe even quadrupled. Perhaps there was some residual heat from baking my cake, perhaps something else was happening. Though I knew I was probably in trouble, I formed the loaf and put it back in for the second rise.
The result was a bread that smells good, tastes goo, and has a crust that would make a turtle proud. When I first cut it last night, the crust was hard but edible. Tonight, I could barely saw through it.
The little bit of investigating I've done suggests that the over-rising is likely to blame for the over-crustiness. (No comments about the baker being overly crusty, please.) The suggestion I read was to knead it some more and let it rest for a while. Mostly, though, I think I need to be more vigilant and not take naps during rising times.
It's a good thing I have a rye sense of humor!