I’ve felt the slow fog of exhausted depression steadily envelop my mind the last few days. My son’s sleeplessness, already legendary amongst family and friends, has taken a large turn for the worse the past couple of weeks and I’ve finally reached the point of barely functioning. I spent all day in bed yesterday, the impending shame of no dinner on the table being the only thing that got me groggily moving during late afternoon. I feel almost totally numb, like a heavy blanket has been gently tucked around my brain.
Depression and I fought monumental battles during my teens and early twenties. A quote on my phone at that time from the great wartime British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, read
“Never, never, never give up”
One of my great fears is to be pulled back into that half-lit existence, with an insurmountable glass wall rising up between me and the rest of the world. Where I can see people but can’t connect in any meaningful way, and the loneliness cripples my soul.
Logic tells me it’s currently exhaustion not depression but, like an alcoholic’s home in the bottle, my mind’s misguided safe place is the grey zone I can’t will or intellectualise my way out of. A deeply frustrating and scary position for a wilful semi-intellectual like me.
I’m doing what I can, based on my experience of actions that work. Calling appropriate people who can listen and advise without judgement or meaningless platitude. Going for walks and gentle swims. Allowing myself to rest, with permission not to feel guilty. Meditating. Actively not comparing myself to the rest of the world who currently seem so functional and obviously more competent than me in every way. Finding laughter wherever and whenever I can. Watching beautiful videos like this one, based on a poem by Shane Koyczan
I’m assured that all I need is enough rest and self-care and, unlike depression, it will pass rather quickly.
And in the spirit of self-care and comfort, I chose to make a roast chicken recipe that I‘ve been gradually honing for over 15 years. Roast is unbelievably easy to make, because even at the best of times I’m all about getting the most bang for my buck. It’s one of my ultimate comfort foods; juicy, delicate, crisp skinned and comforting. Here, where it’s currently warm, it’s delicious with salads and a fresh baguette. In the colder climates (hi guys!) throw some peeled root vegetables in the pan for the last hour or so of cooking. Save the chicken carcass and any root vegetable peelings in a bag in the freezer to make delicious homemade stock (recipe on the Imperfect Kitchen’s Facebook page if you need one). Nothing could be easier, tastier or, for me at this time, more comforting.
- 1 tbl sp vegetable oil
- 1.8kg chicken, the best quality you can afford
- 125g unsalted butter, softened
- 6 sprigs rosemary
- 1 lemon
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled
- a large pinch of coarsely ground pepper
- a large pinch of sea salt
Preheat oven to 190˚C
Pour the sunflower oil into a large baking dish and place it in the oven while it warms
Finely chop the leaves from 3 sprigs of rosemary
Squeeze the juice from the lemon but keep the lemon carcass
Finely chop 3 cloves of garlic
Mix the butter with the finely chopped rosemary, lemon juice, finely chopped garlic and pepper
Rinse the chicken with cold water, inside and out, and pat dry
Carefully push your fingers between the chicken skin and meat, opening a space while making sure not the break the skin
Push the butter mix into the chicken underneath the skin, trying to keep the coverage even
Rub your greasy hands all over the outside of the chicken, making sure to get into all the little crevices
Sprinkle the salt on the chicken skin and gently rub all over
Store the lemon carcass, 3 whole cloves of garlic and 3 sprigs of rosemary inside the chicken
Remove the pan from the oven and put the chicken in the pan
Return the pan to the oven and cook the chicken for 80 minutes (20 minutes per 450g). Baste every 20 to 30 minutes
Once the chicken has cooked this long, turn up the heat to 220˚C and cook for a further 15 minutes
Leave to rest, covered loosely in tin foil for 10-15 minutes before serving