I’m An Upside Down Cake

I would like to share with you this video clip from the Reluctant Dragon:

So I have a confession; I am the upside down cake. I find myself yet again at a point where I have to make decisions that will affect the rest of my life, yet I am caught frozen in headlights. The mere thought of being my own agent carries such weighty responsibility it petrifies me. How do people do this? Life? How do to people ‘do’ life?  I am still dealing with scarred memories from all past mental ‘blips’ together with my current unpredictable mental state… in comparison to my peers I really am upside down.

To give you an idea, here is an extract from my journal two months ago: ‘I just don’t know what is going on with me at the moment. I have this constant anxiety that sits at the pit of my stomach. Sometimes it overwhelms me to the point that I can’t concentrate. On anything. It’s as though I can’t see.  The only way to describe it visually is the spectrum Pink Floyd use on Dark Side of the Moon. Thinking about it, the title, too, encapsulates what it is like inside myself; there is a dark side, a side no one sees because on the face of things I project a light. It is a capable front that all is well.’

I felt like I was in a perspex box. The creation of a cake does not bode well in such a box. My head was flooded with debris from my past and worries about the future. I could see everyone else going about their daily lives, knowing what they were doing. They seemed so capable and responsible. Yet there I was, stuck in this box, suffocating under the weight of expectation for me to perform and keep up: 1. You have a degree, you should get a good job. 2. You have a degree, you should being earning xxxx in said good job 3. You need a good job so you can start your pension soon 4. So what if you have to get up at the wrong side of 6am and spend 3 hours a day commuting? Everyone does it.  6. Take up running, x y and z run 40 miles a week!  7. Have you had your 5 a day? 8. Don’t tell anyone of your mental issues, they will just think you are weird 8. You should be in a relationship at your age.

I have tried these things before and each time it leads to breakdown. I am ashamed I cannot handle this life.

But I have realised that it is ok to feel like this and I should not be ashamed. Furthermore, I realised these expectations of me were something I had created. I do not know what others are thinking; they are probably too busy to notice I’m ‘different’. Besides, on the surface people may seem to know what they are doing, when in fact they too are fretting. The trick is to not let the worries and anxiety of thinking differently get on top of you; try to remain present in the moment and not project fears into the future. Just because the majority of people do things a certain way that is seen as ‘the norm’, does not mean I have to do the same. Take pride in seeing this differently. There are always alternatives. Life does not come with a set of checkboxes. So what if doing a 3-hour commute, crammed into an airless tube doesn’t appeal to me? So what if I am not earning the same as my friends? With the unpredictability of my mind, I know I would not cope. My wellbeing is more important to me than anything else. From all I have been through I want to enjoy life and I know this ‘standard’ way of living is not for me. Too many days have been taken by the leech that is depression (among other mental ills). On those days I felt nothing. All emotion and motivation had been sucked from me. Furthermore, I never know when it will rear its ugly head again. So, during the snippets of sanity I want to create a life that is tailored to ME, and one I know I can handle.  Taking control of your own life and feeling in charge is vital.

So my message is this: celebrate who you are. Don’t hide your mental ‘blips’ and feel you have to put on a performance. With upside down cakes you never know how they will turn out; often parts of the cake are left in the tin when trying to turn them out, resulting in an ‘interesting’ decorative top. But they are idiosyncratic and more often than not, upside down cakes prove to be the most intriguing, delicious and satisfying of all.

Related issues:

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5 Responses to

I’m An Upside Down Cake

  1. This article is great, I feel this way too about my life. Never compared it to an upside down cake tho, made me laugh but the similarities are relevant. Thanks for posting this.

    Stuart 27th June 2013 at 9:55 am
  2. I know and feel your pain, and have for twenty years or so.
    There is a way out though and once you start healing, your mind becomes less and less confused and the huge list of disabling mental thoughts/feelings slowly change and it’s extremely empowering, it’s a very long and tough road but worth every second.

    I don’t believe anxiety/depression should be just accepted as who we are, it’s something inside of us that’s screaming to be heard and we’ve forgotten how to hear it.

    Jamie 27th June 2013 at 10:11 am
  3. “My wellbeing is more important to me than anything else.”

    I know exactly what you mean… and I think it gives us a unique perspective on life. Anyone who has experienced mental health problems will feel that same desire to protect themselves. Jobs, money, all that ‘should do’ and ‘ought to’ stuff pale in comparison.

    Great article- I wish you a peaceful day :-)

    Sarah 27th June 2013 at 9:19 pm
  4. It is such a relief to read your article. I relate very much to this and it is very helpful to hear someone else with a similar experience. Comparing myself to the majority of people who tick this ‘checklist’ and continually falling short is a constant source of anxiety. It is so difficult not to berrate myself for not fulfilling this criteria but I am coming to realise that all this does is make me miserable and so anxious that I end up not being able to do very much at all! It is reassuring and inspiring to hear that you accept yourself as someone who does not have to follow these ‘rules’ and that it is your life that you are living. I think this is the biggest part of my journey. I’ve got a craving for my aunties upside down cake now :)

    Trace 28th June 2013 at 6:46 pm
  5. Yes, thanks for the article . it’s helpful

    Fred 10th December 2013 at 7:07 pm

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