PB+J with a side of cray.

Top view of my stack!

On any given evening lately, if you’re looking for me you can count on me being sprawled on the lounge trawling through recipes on my iPhone. I’ve been in search of some clean eats – namely sugar free baking…

I’ve found all sorts of variations of “protein pancakes”. I don’t know about you, but I’m not really a fan of the whole processed form of protein – I’m a bit of a sceptic really. To me this isn’t “clean eating” and I think you can get more nutritional benefits from sticking with whole foods as much as possible. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the role supplements can play particularly in a diet that’s lacking. I have no doubt that some people swear by them, but for me it’s a personal choice to avoid them.

Through my endless scrolling, I stumbled upon this beautiful blog – the most amazing part is that this talented little girl, at the tender age of 13, is not only creating beautifully put together recipes, she introduces each recipe with an insight into her day to day struggle with her recovery from an eating disorder.

Now you would assume it would be the 24 year old encouraging and providing inspiration to the 13 year old but damn, this girl’s awesome… and she’s got me thinking…

I’m all for sharing experiences – those of you who know me well can vouch for this… self-affirmation time anyone?! (Nomes, Han and Lise – looking at you!!) I’m pretty vocal – I’ll happily tell you what’s been going on in my world, what’s been grinding my gears or if I’m super excited about something!

But one thing has kind of flown under the radar, this one is particularly important – Mental Illness.

We should talk about it people!

The more I talk about my personal experience with mental illness, the more I’ve become aware of just how many others have experienced mental illness at some stage or another.

SO – let’s delve into the brain of Brickie for a moment…

I’ll try not to go into TOO much detail – just a bit of a background story… I’m sharing this in hope that it will encourage others to talk about their experiences and help in “normalising” the topic of mental illness.

It shouldn’t be a taboo topic.

I think that is part of the problem. I found once I had identified what was going on and accepted it for what it was, it became less scary – the battle was half done.

Whatever it is you fear, own it.

I’ve had a troubled relationship with body image and food since my early teens. Although, I do recall thinking I was fat in about year 5 (what the?!).

This “troubled” relationship developed into a full blown eating disorder when I was about 16.

After my boyfriend of the time broke up with me, food became a way of controlling situations that I felt were beyond my control. I was running on adrenalin – food was the enemy. Now, this poor boy is definitely not to blame for this! It was a culmination of stuff going on in my life (stress of high school, family relationships etc.) – that event was merely the catalyst that assisted in it spiralling out of control.

My appetite had decreased – along with my waist.

I created rules about foods and learnt the horrible skill of counting kilojoules and calories.

My mum soon picked up on my sudden weight loss and was on my case (lovingly) to eat more. So I would allow myself to “eat” dinner to appease her. I would avoid the potatoes, wait until my parents had finished and quickly scrape the remainder in the bin. I barely ate anything throughout the day in anticipation of being forced to have dinner. I also joined the gym and would “make up for eating” by working out. A lot.

Yep, mental!

Surprise, surprise this was not something I could maintain and after a while I got tired of feeling guilty about food. I wanted to be happy, I decided that I didn’t want this to be my life. So I stopped.

I did, however, still have rules about foods and would happily skip breakfast – or other meals and think this was a bonus! Being thin was still on the radar.

Then I met a boy.

This boy, I owe a lot to. He taught me that food was something to be loved, experienced and shared. Along with this, he taught me a lot about self-love and facing my fears.

I owe a lot of my life experience and cooking skills to this boy!

So for the next 3 years or so, I cruised along happily. While I was by no means “cured” (PS>; I don’t think people are ever “cured”), I had found a balance that I could maintain.

Cue anxiety…

Ugh!

“How dare I let myself be happy?!” demanded my mind. I would not wish this experience on anybody. It was torture.

I was afraid of everything. I was afraid of falling asleep, I was afraid of waking up when it would all begin again. Afraid I was going crazy, afraid of being touched. It was a struggle to leave the house and an even bigger struggle to put myself in social situations.

Through it all – this lovely boy held my hand, listened to my fears and wiped my tears. He tried to help me as much as he could.

But I needed more than that.

I can’t even articulate what it is I needed because truth is – I had no idea!

So I moved out and broke this boys heart…

I then “tarzanned” from this relationship to another and was shocked when I didn’t really feel any better. For the next year or so, I continued this search for something or someone to make me feel better.

ED – the sequel…

I fell sick and couldn’t eat properly for about a week or so. So naturally, I lost some weight. People began commenting on “how good I looked” and asked, “had I been working out?”. Now, again – this is not someone else’s fault for me slipping into old habits. But be mindful people, your words may have a sharper and more profound effect than you can ever fathom.

I started skipping dinners in order to maintain and further this weight loss. I quickly fell into my old habits of food rules – good/bad foods, restrictions etc. and I began eating less and less. If I did have a “bad” day where I would eat more than I wanted to I would make up for it by surviving on next to nothing for the next few days.

My happiness hinged on how skinny and in control of my eating (or lack thereof) I felt.

And then I met another boy…

Yep, not the best time – as I had correlated in my mind a direct relationship between his interest in me and my weight…

…You can imagine how well that went.

Cut to January 2012 and so continued my path of self-destruction. I was a mess. I hated myself and my behaviour was reinforcing this self-loathing. I was not treating myself very kindly and this was proof, in my mind, that my unhappiness was deserved.

I pissed a few people off along the way and this reinforced my view that I was a crappy person, who deserved to be punished and the cycle went on and on and on and on and on…

…until it could no longer spin out of control.

My family came to the rescue…

namely my mum! What a bloody trooper she is! So I packed up my car and set off home to sort my shit out.

The problem with this picture is I was still playing the same old games with myself. I “tarzanned” yet again, to another boy – but the bandaid boys kept losing their stick. Faster and faster. Before too long I had hit rock bottom. I’m talking a hole all the way to China!

BUT – I was free!

This event allowed me to become fully exposed to my family. They saw how bad it got. I talked about some things with my mum that I had built up and attempted to bury since my childhood. And low and behold, my mum didn’t fall apart when hearing them – neither did the rest of my world.

As I said earlier – my mum’s a trooper!

So here I was! What a sight! A blubbering mess in Mudgee – yet feeling somewhat lighter than I had in a long time. Ready to rebuild my self-esteem from the ground up…

This has by no means been easy, or is it complete! There were many a night when my mum would nurse me as I cried myself to sleep. But every time it got easier and I found strength in the thought that I was no longer going to be defined by things that had happened in the past.

I was not broken, nor was I a victim.

I clung tightly to the hope that was brought by knowing that I was no longer covering myself in bandaids, but rather, I was adding another brick to the foundation of myself.

Ahhhh Exercise…

– in particular running, played a massive role in my recovery. Initially, I used it as a coping mechanism. I would get home from work and know that I could run away an hour or two of time. That was an hour or two that I was not alone with my thoughts. I would stick my iPod in and just run.

Then I started noticing how good it made me feel and how much my moods were improving. Day by day running got easier. As did life.

I am now more confident and my head is clearer. I am a firm believer in strong body, strong mind.

But I think the most amazing outcome of this is that exercising has helped me change the way I look at food. Granted, this is an ongoing process and I do at times, still struggle with “all or nothing” and “black and white” thinking. But food is no longer the enemy…

Food is fuel.

If I want to run 10km or smash it out for a couple of hours in the gym. I need to fuel my body right. I no longer skip meals. Ever. I eat a lot more than I used to and I enjoy food again.

I’ve learnt that my identity and my happiness is not based on someone else or their opinion of me. I no longer need to be validated by someone else’s approval. Nor is it based on how “skinny/fat” I feel.

This is definitely a work in progress but I am proud of where I have been and how far I’ve come in 12 months! I’ve managed to avoid “tarzanning” to another bandaid boy and I’m channeling my energy into other activities, ones that are nurturing, challenging and no longer self-destructive…like baking and writing revealing blog posts!!

I’ve formed some amazing friendships and strengthened those that mattered. I am SUPER close to my family now and have fully begun to appreciate just how lucky I am to have them in my life!

So in a nutshell – that’s what’s going on in the land of Brickiepedia! A little bit crazy but totally owning it!!

Own your struggles and fears – but don’t let them define who you are… No one can make you feel anything (happy, sad, guilty, bad, worthless…) except for yourself!

…Onto the god damn pancakes already…!!!

PB+J Pancakes!

Peanut butter was definitely a “bad” food back in the day. Now I can’t get enough of the stuff, or any nut butter for that fact! I top my oats with a dollop of the liquid gold every morning and you can find me in the cupboard huddled in a corner clutching the jar and spoon after 4.30pm most afternoons!!

Get me some more good fats! The key is moderation, enjoy everything for what it is. Junk food, sugar, frustrating or hard experiences. As much as the ones that bring you joy! They all add value and bring something to this fleeting existence of ours.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

The bits and pieces – serves 1

1/4 C wholemeal self-raising flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp organic vanilla extract

1 tbsp rice malt syrup

1 free-range egg

1 tbsp greek yoghurt

2 tbsp milk (any kind plant or animal based)

1 tbsp peanut butter + 1 tbsp for serving

1/3 C raspberries (fresh or frozen)

1 tbsp water (if using fresh berries)

shredded coconut for garnish

1 tbsp oil, for frying (I love coconut oil for its sweetness)

In a mixing bowl combine dry ingredients. In a separate mixing bowl whisk egg, vanilla and milk to combine well.

Add rice malt syrup, greek yoghurt and add to dry mix. Stir in peanut butter until a smooth consistency is formed. Careful not to over mix.

Heat a large fry pan on med-high and add oil.

While this is heating up – add raspberries (and water if using fresh) to a small saucepan over med-low heat.

Divide 3 even dollops of mixture into frypan. Watch for bubbles to form (about 3 minutes) before flipping. Pancakes will need about another 2 minutes.

Keep an eye on your berries and stir occasionally. They will start to melt after a few minutes. Perfect!

Remove two pancakes and stack – pour some of the “jelly” over the first two then add the remaining pancake.

Top with raspberries, dollop of peanut butter and sprinkling of coconut.

Enjoy!

Devoured these babies!
Devoured these babies!
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13 thoughts on “PB+J with a side of cray.

  1. Wow beautiful lady!!! Thank you for sharing!! You are truly inspirational and I am so lucky to have you as my niece. Happy that you are happy!!! Now, to cook those pancakes!! xoxoxoox

    1. Thanks Emma! I just thought it was time to get it out there – I figure it’s nothing to be ashamed of and I’m no longer worried about people judging me!
      I am terrible when it comes to presentation of pancakes haha! But what better incentive to practice than make myself some more!! :)

  2. Brooke! Thank you for sharing your story! You are so brave to write so honestly. What a journey :) Glad you are feeling confident and healthy and enjoying running and food. And you write really well. Keep it up!

    1. And you will too :) I still have ups and downs but I know that that’s ok! Because every day there are more and more good ones than there are bad or hard ones! And the hard moments keep getting shorter and shorter. x

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