Tortillas Have Helped Stave Off My Depression

I have been angry.

It’s hard to put into words how good – how liberating – it feels to be able to write those four words and admit them not only to myself, but to the world at large. I have spent the last 18 months or better mired in anger, resentment, disappointment and directionless-ness… the ingredients necessary perfect cocktail for a tall glass of Depression. Or at least for the brand of depression I suffer from.

On the outset, I present as a fairly “happy” gal. I find humor in the most unlikely of places and before the ascension of Tang Hitler to the throne, my social media pages were places that friends would visit for frivolity and fun. One friend admitted that the only reason she keeps her Facebook page active was so that she could see what peculiar brand of craziness I was going to post about during the day.

It’s all been a front. Underneath the veneer, I am an incredibly depressed person and it doesn’t take “much” for that depression to manifest. I am a person who functions best – or at all – when there is a obvious and tangible need for my energy and physical body to operate in a specific space. For many years, I didn’t have that in Atlanta. My life took on some form of significance just before our move and at long last I began to enjoy life in the city. Hitherto, people have tried to console me with platitudes like, “You’re a mother! Your life has great meaning to your kids.”’ , and the like. But in my heart of hearts, I know that I was not put on this Earth to give birth to children and watch over them until they grow. That was never in my life plan.

I think Mark Twain described my dilemma best with his quote: The two most important days in a person’s life are the day they were born and the day they discover why.

I don’t know if I was born to do ministry in South Africa, but I do know that I was certain in my heart that moving here was step in discovering my why. I moved here seduced by the idea that each of my mornings – or the vast majority of them at least – would be filled with meaningful work that would positively impact the lives of others in a godly and guided way. Instead, what I was confronted with was the same mindless idleness and mundane rituals that were the hallmarks of my early days in Atlanta. The ministry for which we were meant to serve is in hibernation, if not in its sarcophagus. For more than a year, I have had nothing to do and the quality of my children’s education has been placed in peril. In short, as far as I have been concerned, we had gone through the trauma of uprooting our family, severing bonds and shouldering the expense of leaving an established life for a phantom of a Christian ideal.

On the other hand, my husband is happier than a polar bear in ten feet of snow so it hasn’t been a total disaster. There’s always that outlier.

I have already confessed to you that I have been angry, and now it is time to admit that I was on the verge of madness. And I don’t mean that cute kind of crazy where a woman shaves off her hair and runs to the nearest bar in a mini skirt in a desperate bid to unleash the wild alter ego she’s kept a tight lid on. I mean the cold, immobile, unfeeling insanity where there are no voices in your head – not even your own – where you have vision but see no color, where laughter sounds hollow and forced and you then you realize that that strange sound is your own voice, where you stare at a wall for hours content to watch dry paint go drier.

By the time I got to THAT point, I realized I needed to do something. But what?

I started baking.

And then I tried to sell my stuff to local restaurants.

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And when that didn’t work I applied for a stall at a local market.

And when white folk at that market told me that my chocolate ganache was delicious but they don’t eat flour or sugar, I made gluten free chocolate chip cookies with besan instead of wheat.

And when they told me that the gluten free stuff was great but what they * really * wanted was something savory, I took 3 weeks off to contemplate where the intersection of my budget and skills was and I came up with fajitas.

And now I sell fajitas and taco bowls on the Garden Route to people who line up and clamor for them and am at the most calm and centered I’ve felt in almost 2 years.

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Did God send me to South Africa to make fajitas? I truly doubt that. But right now, tortillas are a staff in my hand. They are dry bones in my army. They are the only things that are keeping me going (and thank you Holy Spirit for the inspiration). I don’t know how long this sense of grounding will last, but I am grateful and humbled by it.

There’s a lot to be said about missions abroad and self-care and accountability, but it’s not something I’m ready to talk about at this point. This is me just checking in and more importantly, being honest. Never let seduction – even if you believe it to be ‘Spirit-led’ – be your guide.

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