Recently I have noticed a big difference in myself. Whilst on placement I didn’t work in the care home as I was feeling too overwhelmed to do both. I wanted to put all my energy into placement and unfortunately that meant not being able to work and earn money. However, now that placement is done and university is quiet I have picked up some shifts. I will always have a soft spot from dementia care, it isn’t what I will always do, but I love my job (again).
One of my favourite “flavour memories” would have to be my mums microwaved chocolate sponge with Baileys whipped cream! Simple but delicious. These two flavours are very indulgent so perfect for a Christmas recipe.
200g 70% Dark Chocolate
150g Salted Butter
30mls Irish Cream
3 Medium Eggs
70g Plain Flour
Heat a fan oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a spring cake tin, the one I used was 22″. Fill half a pot with boiling water, place a glass or metal bowl on top making sure the water is not touching the base. Add in the chocolate and butter. Mix occasionally until smooth and shiny.
Take off the heat and stir until cooling slightly. Add in the Irish cream. In a separate bowl weigh out the sugar. Add the chocolate mixture into the sugar and beat well. The eggs then need to be added one at a time.
Add in the flour and then fold in then blackberries. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 30 minutes. Once cooled for 5-10 minutes transfer to a cooling rack to cool fully.
Irish Cream Icing
250g Unsalted Butter
500g Icing Sugar
125mls Irish Cream
Fresh Blackberries to Decorate
Beat the butter until creamy and soft. Sift in half the icing sugar and mix well, this stops the icing becoming lumpy. I then added a splash of the Irish cream, alternating between icing sugar and Irish cream until everything is incorporated. The key to good buttercream is temperature. Whilst making mine the mixture actually split and became grainy. To save this I put about a third of the mixture for 30 seconds and mixed back into the rest of the mixture and it will be back to normal!
To decorate I spread a thin layer of icing on the cake so it is even. There can sometimes be dips on the surface of the cake where there is fruit. Piping and decorating is something I need to improve on but I really like the outcome of this cake!
I have been seeing a lot about medication regarding depression recently so I thought I would share a few things I have learnt form my own experiences.
Having known people who have used/use antidepressants I know those it works for and those who have struggles. I was always sceptical about using medication for depression. To me, medication was the last option to try, when nothing else worked.
The first antidepressant I tried out was Fluoxetine (Prozac). This was awful. I lost my appetite, had terrible reflux, my dreams became so realistic I sometimes couldn’t tell if they were real or not and I got terrible headaches. The side effects just meant more medication, Omeprazole for the acid reflux and pain killers for the headaches. This didn’t feel right for me. I was probably a nightmare to live with. For the first few weeks I did notice a change in my mood though. The tablets made me able to do things like, go swimming. Things that are good for mental health. I learnt that sometimes being able to do things like this, medication is needed. To drive you forward. So maybe medication isn’t a last resort?
I decided to come off Fluoxetine. The side effects out weighed the benefits for me. I don’t know why it seems to be the first antidepressant doctors tend to go for…
Sometimes depression can leave you in a rut and so I went to a different doctor to see what they would suggest. I was prescribed 50mg of Sertraline. An incredibly small dose but starting off small means the body has a better chance to get used to it. It’s like adding sugar into egg whites (I had to use a baking metaphor!) if you add too much too quickly, it doesn’t work. But if you take your time the result is a lovely fluffy white meringue.
About four weeks after I didn’t notice much of a difference but I wasn’t experiencing any horrible side effects! The dose has been increased to 100mg and so far so good.
Medication definitely isn’t a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength and endurance. There are so many types of antidepressants it could take months or years to find the right one. But that shows strength. It shows that working hard at something provides desirable outcomes and being able to say you’ve gone through those horrible side effects, dark times and countless doctors appointments to where you are now. I have never felt embarrassed or ashamed to say I take medication. I think that is partly due to being surrounded by amazing, honest and open people. I hope anyone reading this, whoever you are, never feels ashamed about the medications they take to survive.