Archive for March, 2012

1 pot wonder: Baked risotto

Hooking up with Mrs Savage for some easy cooking today.


This is a theme I’ve been banging on a bit about lately. When shit gets hard, cooking is one of the first things to go. I thought I should make a cook book for depressed people (that wasn’t just variations on toasted cheese sandwiches), then I realised Donna Hay had beaten me to it with this book. It’s fucking awesome, full of really easy things that are quick to cook. Honestly, it is amazing and I’m so glad I could justify this impulse purchase as a health investment to Mr Optimism.

The only downside is that many of the recipes use ingredients that you wouldn’t find languishing at the back of my pantry, like chocolate, porcini, chorizo. That sort of thing. However, I have found that you can substitute up to 75% of the ingredients in the recipes with other stuff and it still kinda works. That’s the mark of a great recipe book in my, er, book.

I feel I can sort of claim this recipe as my own as I have substituted lots of ingredients, and I considerably stuffed up improved on the method and it still worked. My way is way easier.

So I present

Ms Optimism’s only slightly ripped off one pot oven baked piss easy risotto


  • Some chicken (or other white meat)
  • Some fresh basil (or other herb) I know this sounds organised of me, but it is growing in the garden so no planning required.
  • Some tomatoes (or other vegetable)
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 1 clove (or more!!) of garlic – I used stuff from the jar
  • 50g butter, chopped up or melted
  • 1 cup grated parmesan or other cheese
  • Salt and pepper to serve
  • 3 litre capacity oven proof dish

Preheat oven to 200?C (400?F). Put everything together into the dish and stir around a bit to combine – make sure it is evenly spread. Cover tightly with aluminium and chuck into the oven for 35-40 minutes. Ensure not to injure yourself with steam burns when peeling back the foil (frack!!). Season with salt and pepper and stir around for a few minutes to thicken it up. Serve with extra parmesan. So, so so so easy but yum! Thanks Donna! ;)

If you have a friend with depression

Today I thought I would write a guide for people who have a friend (or partner) with depression. My BFF who dared to leave me and live interstate for some years (the cheek!) is now home again, to my proclamations of depression. It has struck me that he is perhaps a bit confused about what has changed about me, if anything, or how I am expecting him to be. If I was brave enough, this is a conversation I’d be having with him.

1. Being depressed is not just feeling a bit sad.

I wish it was. It’s a biological thing, that can affect you even if you have a perfect life. So it’s not always a reaction to shitty things happening. It’s also not something you can just pull yourself out of.

2. There are some very physical symptoms of depression, including:

  • Complete loss of short term memory. When we say our brain is like a sieve it we are so not joking. I count this as a physical symptom!! If we forget things it’s not because we don’t care. It just fell out of our brain
  • Inability to problem solve effectively or make decisions – so you might want to suggest somewhere for coffee, because we can’t decide *stress*
  • Lethargy/Tiredness. Not being able to get out of bed sounds like lots of fun I know, but it’s not – trust me. Especially when you can’t just stay in bed, but that’s a whole other rant.
  • Word Salad. When your brain just can’t find the right word. Please don’t make fun of us.

3. We are the same person.

OK, that sounds like I have MPD now. I don’t. You know what I mean.

Speaking for myself personally, I don’t expect my friends to treat me any differently. You don’t need to blow sunshine up my arse, or take pity on me, I am also not a project that you need to fix – I have doctors for that. Just be there for catch ups and chats and hugs.

4. Education.

You might find it helpful to read up about depression, try starting at Beyond Blue – who have good resources for friends and families.

5. Thank you.

Know how important your friendship is. Even if we can’t express gratitude right now, it’s so important to have friends around.




Noun. A very steep rock face or cliff, typically a tall one.

Some days I am standing at the bottom, looking up at the climb I face that day. Some days I am standing at the top waiting to take the leap of faith into some new unknown.

The Zoloft-induced elation (normalcy?) I experienced late last year has been shattered by another dark episode, as it became clear that I was experiencing much more than the exhaustion that one would expect after having your MIL in residence for two weeks. The kind of dark episode that increasing my dose by 1/3 hasn’t touched the sides of. Yay me!

I have been using some uncomfortable words to describe my state of mind lately. Mentally ill. Retarded. So tired. Incapacitated. Incapable. I have been living in a bizarre world where I can’t put together the logic to make dinner, but am quite capable of strategising marketing plans for clients. Coping mechanism perhaps?

So the precipice I stand at today is staring down my first appointment with a psychiatrist. He called me today to introduce himself and tell me when the appointment is, and it struck me when I hung up that the way I noted the details is a perfect visual representation of my state of mind and life right now. Chaotic, disorganised, absurd, childlike.

So what does one expect at a psychiatrist’s appointment? Will I find myself in One Flew Over the Cuckoos nest and not know how I got there? Fuck I hope not. I know I want a rest, but today not that badly.

What I do know is that I hope that when I take this leap of faith there will be healing, and recovery, and wellness. And I’ll get back some of that elation (normalcy? fuck you Universe that I have to fight to feel normal) that I experienced last year, and life won’t be so difficult for my family.

Five things about depression (potentially less helpful than this list).

  1. It can take compliments and positive statements and twist them into ugly thoughts.
  2. It can make an intelligent and independent person struggle to complete basic tasks.
  3. It can make you forget what you were talking about mid sentence.
  4. It is fucked.
  5. My GP tells me I can beat it again.