busyfood.net – Depression and Anxiety Stole My Sense of Taste. Here’s How I Got It Back


Eight years ago I tried to cook my way out of another impossible situation. My dad had been diagnosed with cancer and was struggling with chemo-induced nausea. His voracious appetite, once a thing of family lore, had vanished. With naive optimism, I loaded butter and cheese into his scrambled eggs, hoping the decadence might spark interest and sustain him. As I watched him push the eggs around on his plate, I found that I could no longer enjoy eating either.

Of course, no amount of cooking could change the outcome. My dad passed away and, in the wake of his death, I struggled to regain my footing in the world. I sought comfort in therapy, swimming, anxiety meds, and holistic remedies. Six months later I graduated from college—my first milestone without my dad. The one thing that kept me from falling apart during the ceremony was a road trip Genevieve, Annie, and I had planned, driving from California to Washington State.

While hiking in a redwood forest, we discussed our hopes for what lay ahead: dream careers, families, and homes. That I’d been able to think about my future after such a devastating loss seems, in retrospect, like a miracle. But these friends had always weathered the worst with me. As 2020 wore on, and almost all in-person interactions disappeared, I dreamed of exploring the coast with my friends. And though I couldn’t recall when exactly I rediscovered the joy of eating after my dad died, I suspect it happened on that road trip.

During lockdown I needed to recover the pleasure of food on my own. I turned to my usual mental health strategies to ease my depression and anxiety. When that didn’t rekindle my joy in food, I tried to shock my taste buds into submission with wild card snack suggestions from friends (dill pickle potato chips, cheeseburgers, chocolate milk). Nothing seemed to work.

Then, on a foggy December day, before my county reissued a stay-at-home order, Annie and I met for a hike. I told her how, since that day on my deck, I’d been having trouble experiencing any pleasure from cooking and eating. As we followed a trail under the towering redwoods and fragrant eucalyptus, we discussed a working theory: the same way you can’t tickle yourself, perhaps you can’t surprise your own palate when you’re doing all the cooking.

Once we reached the parking lot, Annie retrieved a jar from her car. “I have a new taste for you,” she said, offering me a spoonful of something golden-hued and gooey.

I closed my eyes and let the sugar crystals dissolve on my tongue. I’d never tasted anything like it—luscious, sweet, and slightly spicy, like the first bolt of lightning in a summer rainstorm.

“Turmeric and black pepper honey,” Annie said with a grin.

Walking back to my car, I thought about that West Coast road trip and all the stops we made along the way, for ice cream cones, wild berries, smoked salmon, and pizza by the slice. I was still reeling from my dad’s death, yet I’d managed to restore some part of who I was before, in the company of my friends.

Grief is never linear. But with the passage of time and the communion of close friends, pleasure can and will return. As I drove home I thought about Annie and the surprising taste she’d introduced me to and the hint of joy that seemed to imply for the future. I thought of all of us reunited, the new foods we’d try, the exciting restaurants we’d visit together, out there in the world beyond my deck.



Source link

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

SUBSCRIBE
MY WEB
NEWSLETTERS