Mental Health: Saying No in the Spirit of Self-Care

I have a hard time saying no to people.

I don’t know if my trouble saying no stems from a fear of being disliked or seen as cold (often socialized in women, like our nauseating habit of over-apologizing*), or from PTSD of other people not being there for me or showing me mercy when I needed it most. I am still learning that I cannot be everything to everyone, or even something to everyone. Sometimes, for the sake of my mental health, I have to simply say no. It’s hard!

Rick started telling me that I emotionally give myself to everyone else and then, when I get home, I have nothing left for him, which breaks my heart. My allocation of energy is wrong if my MVP, my husband, feels shorted. It’s unfair that a friend or even acquaintance gets top shelf Bailey, and Rick is served up the dregs. Rick doesn’t deserve Everclear-in-a-plastic-bottle-Bailey, he deserves Belvedere-Bailey.

As a person who battles severe depression and anxiety, my energy is truly finite. I liken it to a gas tank, especially in regards to social situations: I only have so much to give before I need to go home, be alone, and refill my tank. There are very few people in the world I can be on empty around, which, for me, means I can be blue without questions or expectations to be acting otherwise. These people are mostly just Rick, my parents, and my brothers and sisters. And, that’s okay! One time my brother-in-law found me crying the bed in the dark while clinging to (and probably scaring) Apollo, the family golden retriever. He offered to make me a cocktail and then proceeded to sit in silence with me and watch Shrek. Just sitting there was all I needed. What a guy.

My psychiatrist and I joke that if me and Rick have a kid I can just be like “GOTTA-GO-CHASE-MY-KID BYEEEEE!” to anyone hogging my energy resources. (Don’t worry – no babies will be harmed in the making of my sanity.)

Overextending and overcommitting myself has become a nasty habit of mine. After feeling the muscle rocks that have formed under my skin on my shoulders and back last week, my horrified GP told me that I had three responsibilities: Rick, school, and yoga. Everything and everyone else must take a backseat. She then offered me muscle relaxers, to which I despondently replied, “all the world needs is another white woman on a bunch of pills”. My doctor, a WOC, laughed and didn’t deny my claim, but she didn’t not deny my claim. She gave me a topical ointment instead. Lol. She then reached out to me one week later with my blood lab results which indicated that I’d just had mono. MONO! I hold the world record for the oldest person to have ever had mono.

My call to action is to say no when you need to, and to be unapologetic when it comes to prioritizing your well being (or “well bean” as I like to say) over someone else’s perhaps insatiable desire to take, take, take with minimal or no return. It also doesn’t have to be that dramatic. Sometimes you’ve got to say no to going to that party, committing to that dinner, or doing unpaid work for a friend. If someone is a true friend, they’ll understand. Take stock of the people in your life, and then cultivate and invest in true blue relationships. Simply, protect yourself before you wreck yourself.

*The other day I apologized to a backpack. A BACKPACK!


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Recipe: Spicy Lentil Tacos (Vegan + Gluten-Free)

Ingredients

2 t chili powder
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t coriander
1/2 t dried oregano
1/2 t sea salt
1/4 t celery salt
2 T olive oil
1/2 large white or yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
~2 c cooked brown lentils
3 T tomato paste*
~2 T water
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced
1-2 t adobo sauce from can
8 corn tortillas
~1 c romaine heart, chopped
~1 c tomatoes, diced
1/4 c fresh cilantro, chopped
1 c guacamole**
1 lime, cut into wedges

*Like Antoni from Queer Eye recommends, buy tomato paste in a tube vs. in a jar. Rarely does a recipe call for an entire jar of tomato paste, and the tube keeps longer!
**If you’d like to make fresh guac at home, mash together one avocado, lime juice from 1/2 lime, 1/2 t sea sat, 1 garlic clove, minced, and ~1/8 red onion, minced. Of course there are different variations that include chopped tomatoes and / or cilantro, but the five ingredient recipe above is simple and easy to remember on the fly.

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, sea salt, and celery salt.
  2. Over medium-high heat, add olive oil, onion, and garlic to a large skillet. Cook until soft and lightly browned, about three minutes.
  3. Stir spice mix into skillet, allowing to cook 30 seconds.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and add lentils, tomato paste, water, and peppers. Cook until lentils begin holding together, 3-4 minutes. Season with adobo sauce.
  5. Optional: Warm tortillas for about a minute in a skillet over medium heat.
  6. Using about 1/3 c of lentil filling on each tortilla, top with lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro, guacamole, and a squeeze of lime.
* CHOMP *
Can’t help it, girl can’t help it

Adapted from Lentil Tacos.


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Recipe: Roasted Garlic Lemon Broccoli

I promise I will lay off the broccoli for a while after this week – I know you’re probably over there like Is this Bummed Out Baker or Bummed Out Broccoli, amirite? But if you are in fact like oh waw I love broccoli, here’s another recipe: Shredded Broccoli Salad. I just like it a bunch.

Keeping with last week’s theme of super easy, quick, and tasty, here’s a way to revitalize your roasted broccoli go-to.

Ingredients

2 heads of broccoli, chopped into florets of similar size
2 t olive oil
1 t sea salt
1 t black pepper
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 T lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Toss broccoli, oil, salt, pepper, and garlic together in a large bowl.
  3. Spread broccoli in an even layer on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your florets (longer for bigger). Remove from oven and transfer to a serving bowl.
  5. Squeeze lemon juice over broccoli before serving.
  6. Optional: top broccoli with lemon zest for extra tang.

Serves four as a side dish.

Adapted from Roasted Garlic Lemon Broccoli.


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Recipe: Spinach Fig Salad

First and foremost, your favorite bummed out baker (I hope that’s me) is PUBLISHED! I tied for third place in a flash memoir contest (750 words or less) put on by Writer Advice. I wrote about the last time I saw my brother, which was about ten months ago. I visited him under the bridge he was living under. Read my piece called “The Bridge” here.


Greetings! If you live in NYC you know spring has semi-sprung, but who knows. I’m actually still bummed out about the fact we didn’t get a terrible, north-of-the-wall-type winter including several feet of snow that requires staying indoors for unending weeks of darkness and the family golden retrievers to high step around in the snow shoes they hate, (deep breath) but I’m trying to get on board with sunny weather.

I know I’m a bit premature on the fig scene (optimum time = summer), but this salad is so simple, lovely to look at and tasty and can inspire your salad creations for months to come. It’s an easy, healthy recipe and the dressing is so good it makes me mad. I licked the spatula. :(

Enjoy!

Ingredients

1/3 c walnuts, roasted
1/2 c olive oil
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T dijon mustard
1 t maple syrup
1/2 t sea salt
1/2 t freshly ground pepper
2 big, giant handfuls fresh spinach
4 figs, halved
1/2 avocado, sliced
~1/4 red onion, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and roast walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet for five minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
  2. Combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, dijon, maple syrup, sea salt, and pepper in a blender and set aside.
  3. Assemble salads, dividing ingredients evenly between two plates: spinach, figs, avocado, onion, walnuts and, finally, drizzle it all with dressing. Serve immediately.
undressed (just like that MTV show from the early 2000s)
dressed to impress
tastebuds will be wilin’

Serves two, or perhaps one ravenous person.

There will be leftover dressing, which is something to rejoice about. Keep it in the fridge for up to a week for future salad concoctions, or drink it straight.

Adapted from Spinach Fig Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette.


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Recipe: No Chicken Noodle Soup

April fool meat eaters with this delicious no-chicken-noodle soup. No one’s actually gonna be fooled, but it tastes good enough that no one will care.

This recipe is great to throw together for someone with a cold, including yourself – prep is v easy and the soup comes together in about 20 minutes. Sluuuurp. Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 T olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 15 oz cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 T tamari
3 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 t dried thyme
4 c vegetable broth
sea salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
1 zucchini, spiralized

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté onion, garlic, chickpeas, and tamari for about four minutes, until onion starts to soften.
  2. Add carrots, celery, thyme, sea salt, black pepper, and vegetable broth.
  3. Bring soup to boil, then lower heat and cover pot with a lid. Let soup simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
  4. Add zucchini noodles and stir about 1-2 minutes, until zucchini is wilted and tender.

Store leftover soup in an airtight container in the fridge.

Adapted from Vegetarian “Chicken” Noodle Soup.


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