It’s Fab Friday (Saturday, oops), and this week I’ve rounded up my favorite kitchen gadgets that help make cooking easier for me as a Spoonie! Hopefully some of these suggestions might be helpful for others of you out there in the chronic illness/mental health community. Here are 13 Essential Chronic Illness Kitchen Gadgets!
(I wrote this up on Friday, but I’m only just getting around to posting. Sorry about that! Hopefully next week’s Fab Friday will be on time.) Happy Fab Friday, friends! I’m writing this from the front seat of my car outside my in-laws’ house. Why? Because I just had a panic attack.
I haven’t had a panic attack in over a year, and this one came completely out of the blue. I was sitting at the family dinner table, passing the veggie platter and dishing up food for my son when all of a sudden the lights got too bright, and everyone’s voices got too loud and too sharp, and my heart started to race. I calmly turned to my husband and said, “I think I’m having a panic attack, so I’m going to go to the other room.”
I cried, put in some earplugs, and practiced square breathing, but everything was still too loud and too bright, so I went to the car. It’s nice and quiet and dark out here. My heartbeat is nice and slow, but my arms and legs don’t feel like they belong to me yet. My husband came out and brought me a lemon La Croix (bless him), and the rest of the family is leaving me gloriously alone. Thank God for a family who understands mental illness!
So while I’m stuck here in depersonalization-land, I’m putting together a moodboard of all the little things that help me recover from panic attacks. (Your mileage may vary on the specifics, but most people find the general categories helpful.) For those who have never experienced a panic attack, the attack itself is terrible, but the after-effects can also leave you feeling like you have a really terrible hangover. It’s the hangover part I want to try to help with today. So here’s your Anxiety and Panic Attack Recovery Care Starter Kit:
Have you ever literally broken down in tears just thinking about the task of making dinner?
Spoonie friends, I’m willing to bet you have. For those of us with chronic illness and/or mental illness, there are some days where the thought of having to come up with something to eat—even if it’s just for yourself—is enough to break you. Severe fatigue, pain, and mental fog are a daily reality, and they can prevent you from taking proper care of yourself. As spoonies, we’re all probably aware that it’s better to eat fresh, healthy foods and home-cooked meals, but there are times when that ideal seems laughable. Heck, I’ve had days where I knew I had a frozen burrito waiting for me in the freezer and that all I had to do was get up and stick it in the microwave, but you know what? Even that seemed too hard. Reader, I cried.
I cried because a frozen burrito didn’t seem worth the effort. I didn’t really want to eat it.
I cried because it seemed like the only option.
I cried because we were out of eggs and tortillas and cheese and I was too tired to go to the store.
What I’ve learned since then is that when you live with chronic illness, you need to plan ahead knowing that your best intentions may fail you. If you know yourself and can plan for your needs, you’ll find you’re much better equipped to take care of yourself on the days where everything is difficult.
On the “Day of the Burrito” my planning failed me because my plan hadn’t taken me into account. I had stocked my freezer with burritos because they were cheap and easy, not because I actually wanted to eat them and definitely not because they were good for me. Pro tip: when your body already feels crummy, don’t feed it $0.50 burritos. Your body needs and deserves more from you.
The other thing I’ve found that makes dinner so difficult some days is the process of deciding what to eat. When you’re over-tired and clouded by mental fog, no amount of staring at your pantry or fridge will make your decision about what to eat easier. So I find that having a list of go-to options combined with keeping a well-stocked pantry and fridge is a huge help in avoiding dinner-prep tears. With that in mind, today I’m sharing my top five fast, easy, low-spoon dinners.