A couple weekends back, I found myself crying in a farmers market.
This isn’t typical farmers market behavior. Usually it’s a sunhat wearing, hip checking a vegan to get the best bunches of kale, haggling over baskets of warm strawberries type of situation. But, I haven’t been having a typical week, or month, or year. I used to go to our local farmers market regularly on Sundays. We’d meet up with friends. We’d eat gluten-free crepes, and sweat profusely in the sunshine as we listened to some dude play a sitar. But, in recent months I haven’t been going. My body has been tired, and my mind even more so. My health will ebb and flow along with my Lyme treatment. Unfortunately, it often gets worse before it gets better. I get trapped in days or weeks or months of feeling like I’m walking through a thick sludge. Exhaustion will creep in and feel debilitating. My normal vivacious self just sits at a hum under a heavy blanket of fatigue. It’s disorienting and frustrating and a breeding ground for anxiety. I stopped doing things that I love to do. Driving became difficult if not impossible. Flowing through a yoga class made me feel like I was suffocating. I’d stare at the door the whole class as if it was the only thing between me and freedom. Walking around the neighborhood I’d feel my heart pounding — my mind racing, telling me that I was too tired, that I wasn’t safe. So, those rows of vendors at our farmers market, selling produce and honey and fancy pickles didn’t feel the same as they did a couple summers ago. Everything was difficult now. Simple every day things become big things. Huge things. Mountains.
This time, when I went to the farmers market it was like going to war. I know, that sounds extreme, but that’s what anxiety and chronic illness does to your brain. It really was a war. It was me, fighting to get something back that I enjoyed. Yelling back into the face of my anxiety. Telling it to go and rhymes with truck itself. Uncomfortable, palms sweating, head spinning, I walked through the market. I clutched onto my husband. I grabbed his hand. I could feel my heart beating in my teeth. I could hear my pulse in my ears, like a death march. I pulled him quickly through the entire market several times, too afraid to stop. Overwhelmed by the crowd. Overwhelmed by everything. I felt dizzy. He pulled me to the outskirts of the market. I cried. In public. I buried my face into his shirt and left large salty circles of tears on his chest. He suggested that we go home. I couldn’t. I was frozen, and uncomfortable and crying in a public venue, but I couldn’t leave. I needed to get back in there. I needed to face the crowd and buy something. I needed to feel like I had something to show for my quest. I wanted to pull the sword from the metaphorical stone, slay the proverbial dragon and rescue the princess out of the castle. Except, in this case, drawing the sword would be pulling my wallet from my purse. Slaying the dragon looked more like standing in line to pay for vegetables. And, rescuing the princess would be smuggling some good looking collard greens back to the car.
We marched back into the market. I settled for an organic vendor that didn’t have a terribly long line. I payed for some greens. I talked to a woman about tomato plants. I took a deep breath and gave myself a mental high five. I walked over to a juice and smoothie booth and ordered a version of this chocolate sunshake. I waited in line, feeling the buzzing of crowds around me. Feeling overloaded and dizzy, I tried to find stillness. I closed my eyes. Yes, I closed my eyes and swayed gently back and forth in a crowd full of people. Yes, I was previously seen weeping in the very same market. I’m not exactly doing a great job of keeping a lid on my crazy, but you do what you got to do in order to get the things that you want. In my case, this smoothie was an extra mark of success. If we were playing video games, this would have been my boss level. It was another blow to the anxious voice in my head telling me to run. So, I waited. I swayed. I closed my eyes. I opened my eyes. I panicked. I put on sunglasses. And, in the middle of me trying to keep myself still and busy my mind with other things, my smoothie was ready. Boss level complete. I sipped my chocolate sunshake in the sunshine. I felt a little sense of freedom. I made my husband stop at an antique fair on the way home. I was calm this time. We walked through the rows of vendors, looking at overpriced bar carts and tattered old dolls. It wasn’t our scene, but it didn’t matter. The sunshine felt good. The sunshake tasted good. And, most of all, in that moment, I was free.
It’s no wonder that I’ve become a little bit obsessed with trying to recreate this drink at home. I love food that cultivates good memories and feelings. It’s powerful stuff. You probably have food memories that trigger emotional feelings, right? Maybe baking a certain type of cookies reminds you of your grandmother’s kitchen when you were a kid, or the french fries at a certain restaurant mark the accomplishment of getting a promotion. It could be anything. I’m full of a collection of culinary memories. And, even though this is just a smoothie— a couple things thrown into a blender, I’m going to put it on that special list. It’s funny how something so simple can remind you of some very big things: You’re stronger than you think you are. It’s okay that things are hard right now, you can still slay dragons (even if they are small dragons). Keep fighting, because on the other side of this–you might be unstoppable.
- 1 banana
- 2 Tbs. sunflower seed butter
- 2 rounded Tbs. grass fed gelatin (omit if vegetarian or vegan)
- 3 rounded Tbs. raw cacao powder
- 1 cup full fat coconut milk
- 1/2 cup coconut water
- Handful of ice cubes
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Add all of the items listed above into a high powered blender. Blend until completely smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy!
You are seriously THE strongest person I know!! I love you for being so open and sharing all of this, I love you for swaying in public while waiting in line at the farmer’s market and I love you for making this damn tasty looking milkshake!! I WANT. xoxo
Big hugs. Thanks for sharing your life and heart and… even struggles. B/c with the struggle comes the accomplishment and the boss level. Love this shake and all that it embodies. xoxox, Kelly
Yeah girl. The only thing scarier than other people coming at you is YOURSELF coming at you. To be at war with your own brain…yikes.
Dessert is always a good idea in these situations. Proud of you for refusing to run and hide when you so wanted to.
I burst into tears while reading this because I have experienced this so many times, yet I have only just started to admit to myself that my anxiety is a real problem that I need to deal with.
I remember getting suddenly, irrationally panicky at the Alhambra in Spain and weeping on my mother’s shoulder in front of hundreds of tourists in a courtyard of one of the most incredible buildings in the world, not even noticing the beauty because I was overwhelmed by anxiety 🙁
I read that as if I was there. It was a little too real. I’ve been there myself…a few too many times, even in a public place such as a farmer’s market (or perhaps Smorgasburg in Brooklyn last summer, if I can be specific. Heh…). I’ve been dealing with GAD since I was 6 (!!!), and 24 years later, I still have my ebbs and flows. I love your honesty. Thank you SO much for posting this.
Amazeballs. I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks so your words ring so true for me. I know anxiety more than I know most things BUT we are courageous and we’re moving forward xx
Aw, mama, I’m so happy that you faced this all head on – major high fives! And, yes, I’m with you – we should only recreate recipes that give us good memories!
I am currently recovering from an illness that changed my entire life, so I totally relate to this. Glad you too are on the road to recovery.
p.s. Love this shake! I am going to have to make this like now.
Thank you for your bravity and your courage to share this story Gina. It doesn’t matter where our worries and fears and anxieties are rooted from, knowing you are not alone in this battle feels fucking awesome. All of my all, all of the time, xo xo.
Wow. Thanks so much for sharing your experience! I know what that experience feels like, but I don’t think I’ve ever verbalized it before, and so appreciate reading your story. You are brave, and you’re getting it done, moving through it all into a better place. I’ve never met you, but I’m proud of you, and inspired.
Aside from the subject at hand and how it resonated with me, you’re a great writer! Candid yet evocative. 🙂
P.S. LOVE the name “sunshake”.
Yes you are so strong and incredibly courageous. I so appreciate when you share this part of yourself. People need your words in this world. So healing. So beautiful. xoxo
Thank you for sharing your experience with anxiety. I have spent a whole heap of my life wanting to runaway/escape from everyday life situations and seek safety and shelter in a sunny warm spot at home. I can understand that your sunshake can take you there (metaphorically speaking). Take care.
Inspirational. Thank you.
Your description of the anxiety was spot on! I have recently come to realize that I also have a feeling of being overwhelmed with my anxiety. Great job in fighting through it. You are also fortunate like I am to have a supportive husband. I especially appreciated what you wrote at the end about how you are stronger than you think you are. It is important to acknowledge that some days will be harder and that is OK.
[…] Chocolate Sun Shake […]
Thank you. Your story inspired me. I can totally relate.
Instead of my regular green smoothie, I got up and made a mood enhancer smoothie inspired by this.
I am vegan, so no gelatin. I added 3/4c blueberries and used coconut cream and rice milk and 1Tb flaxmeal.
Thank you x