Hi, I’m Anna. I’m a 25 year old living in Bristol. I have two jobs- one as a chef, and the other as a Gardening teacher. I’m a strong willed, warm, enthusiastic, bubbly spirit who loves bouldering, climbing, good strong coffee, getting lost in books and playing the handpan.
However, I have my lows, too, as like you, I am only human! Behind the scenes, I have struggled with anxiety and depression.
Life can be difficult, but I am in a much stronger and healthier mind state than I used to be – I first experienced depression at University.
I remember feeling very detached from who I was. I reacted to situations so differently than how I normally would, I began to question myself, and dislike who I had become. I was losing friends and I completely lost all sense of self-love. I ate whatever was quickest to make, if I ate at all, and I found comfort in refined sugary treats and would stay in bed all day if I could. I felt utterly helpless, trapped, useless, slow, foggy and hollow.
I managed to pick myself out of this over time. I have been brought up by a herbalist who always taught me that the answers to most problems lie in plants and herbs. So I looked at the food I was eating: processed, refined, packaged, fatty food and made small tweaks and changes each day. I researched natural anti-depressants and based my cooking around them. A few months later, I was becoming myself again. I was eating fruit for breakfast, vegetable soups for lunch and colorful dinners full of beans, grains, vegetables and good fats. But the biggest change I noticed came from inside. I felt huge changes in my mood when I didn’t eat so well. My anxiety was more present, I was irritable, I would feel more lethargic. When I was eating well, I felt good inside – refreshed, calmer and balanced.
Things were looking well for me and my mental health. Until September 2014, when I got a call telling me my brother had died through taking his life.
Along my grief journey I have learnt that I am an activist griever. The months leading up to my brother’s passing have been completely picked apart, I have tried to find meaning behind his choice to die and I have tried to pinpoint what could have affected it. When you are grieving, everything is overwhelming. For me, walking to and from town to do my food shop would flatten me, and I would have to rest the next day to make up for it. It is like carrying an elephant around with you. Grief is heavy, it is sore, it aches, it is lazy.
Fast forward to now, 2018, I am a very very different Anna. I feel very open – grief has made me compassionate and loving and empathetic. It has given me a special connection with others whom have lost their loved ones and a deeper insight into my soul; you truly learn who you are in difficult situations. It has made me motivated – I have no patience for bull^&*% and I get straight to the point. It has made me active – Climbing has become a huge part of my life and I live for the feeling of openness and energy flowing through my body it gives me – as well as the adrenaline! Moral injustice grates on me more than ever – more often than not I’ve become the one to call out injustice when I see it which I’m learning isn’t always appropriate as it can be subjective. I love authenticity and vulnerability more than ever – and can clearly see when someone isn’t being truthful or authentic with me – or themselves – which sometimes makes me impatient, too! But above all of this I have found a special solace in my cooking. I channel my grief, loss and love into it. For me, creating good food is my way of nurturing, consoling and looking after myself. I am surrounded by an incredible support network, but I know inside that I grow stronger through myself, not anyone else.
Recently, an idea hit me. What if I put together my love for pure, nourishing, healthy, plant based food and my activist grieving? What if I use my ingrained herbalism knowledge, my nutritional therapy self-study, and my personal experience to create a safe place for people struggling – with anything – to visit and access easy recipes that will allow them to look after themselves?
So here it is: Food for Thought, a plant based recipe blog for people suffering with their emotional health, or for those simply in need of healthy inspiration. Each recipe you see on this blog contains not only a plethora of good-for-you ingredients, in all kinds of ways, but my heart and soul too.
I hope to be able to help all of you find a way to nourish yourself in one way or another through eating and drinking well.
Max, my brother, my best friend, this blog is for you and is in memory of you.