woman frosting a batch of cupcakes

How Baking Helps Me Cope With Lupus


I frequently step into my kitchen to bake. Before I gather my ingredients, I think my way through the creation process and put together the finished product in my mind. The excitement, the anticipation!

As I begin my recipes I always have the recipe written down in front of my work space. No matter how many times I have repeated the procedure I always have the words at my fingertips. Nothing can be missed or forgotten – that is one way I have control over the end result.

I have baked nonstop since I began my journey with lupus and Crohn’s disease almost 11 years ago. Baking has been my outlet for coping with the unknowns and uncontrollable side effects and damage that lupus causes.  Even if I cannot eat what I am making (Crohn’s limits my fat intake) I still end up presenting a special someone with a baked gift.

 

The beautiful thing about baking is that only those who are the most patient, delicate and dedicated will end up with a perfect result. There is a process and reason behind every fold, stir and scoop. Some desserts cannot simply be combined in any which way – one must be gently folded into the other. This prevents air from escaping and texture from disappearing.

As I mix my dry ingredients together in one bowl and my wet ingredients into another,  I always feel an overwhelming sense of satisfaction and inspiration as the batter slowly comes together. It smells as it should, the consistency is smooth, the color is ideal and I know right then that I put the effort in and got the batter perfect. The feeling of losing control over my life and feeling slightly off kilter almost all the time while I have battled through the struggles of autoimmune diseases made a devastating impact on my overall mental health.

Wrapping your head around the idea that you do not have full control over this disease and can only do so much to react to its flares tends to leave me baffled. Thankfully outlets such as baking have helped to create a channel to feel more in control and not allow the “what ifs” to enter my mind.

I have always loved receiving a quality cake pan, cookie sheet or pie dish. You need to have good tools in order to give the batter ingredients the support they need to do their job. I choose to educate myself on every medication my doctor suggests in order to know each mechanism of action and further understand how the disease will be affected. Yes, it may seem over-zealous to some; however, you are your best advocate. I know with the right tools in my hand I can find the right doctor for me and be able to utilize his tools to find that stable place…for now.

The pan goes in, and I always say “time to bake!” before I set the timer. Pulling out the lightly golden brown pie or the fluffy and evenly baked cake is utterly satisfying. I have the cooling process down to a science, which helps me unveil a magazine-worthy dessert. Spoiler alert! My creations are not always perfect! I sit there and go through the process in my head to determine what could have gone wrong.  Ironically enough, it usually ends up being something I cannot control – thank you humidity!

But at that point I am able to accept that sometimes it happens and side effects are out of my control. Whether it is the weather or a prescription side effect that causes this hiccup, I know I have to work through it and know I can and will come out the other side.

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Thinkstock photo via morrowlight.

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