June 10th 2021
I cannot believe that its been over a year since we all* had to batten down the hatches and do our upmost not to physically integrate, something unprecedented in our lifetimes. From my perspective, I worked my role in the NHS to the best of my ability until I was told by my manager that she didn’t like having people with a disability working in her department, so I retreated to my home where I my presence was needed and wanted (more or less)
My wife works on a Maternity Ward, she looks after New Mums and New-Born Babies. Due to the presence of Covid, she worked overtime attempting to cover absences, where due to sickness and a system that is designed to be streamlined rather than robust without her efforts and those of her “Green Angel” Colleagues would see a service neglect its demographic. As a combination of this and my disabilities I stayed home and effectively became a “House Husband”, my self-imposed tagline “A mans work is never done” was vetoed instantly, but hey, some people in this house just can’t get their head around irony.
To be fair, I am comfortable with the role. During lockdown, I got to help my daughters with their home-schooling, both are intelligent enough to make it so my intervention was minimal (to be honest, their knowledge of most subjects superseded mine) and to occupy our time productively Katie and I started cooking.
We’ve never been a wealthy family, luckier that most but that little spark of capitalism in me still acknowledges that we cannot afford things that a lot of people take for granted. Having to follow tight budget limits to ensure we had sufficient money to pay bills, buy groceries and put fuel in the car rarely leaves us with money for holidays, takeaways and other things ending in “ays” (I dunno, there just feels like there’s a lot of these).
As such, Katie and I came up with the concept of creating a way of letting the public know you can eat good food, prepared at home with a relatively small budget (its often healthy, but I hold the belief that life’s too short to worry about calories). Thus, Cooking At The Crowleys was born. This provided our families with meals, kept Katie and her ASD occupied during those long days in all but house arrest and became a work in progress for a future project.
However, returning to my lockdown role, it was convenient, I could maintain our home, cook meals, make sure that the girls had help when needed, I could work around the needs my disability demanded, but the isolation and cabin fever that came with it was overwhelming. My self worth had taken a knockout blow when I was told by my employer that my disability was a hinderance to function of the department and all my years of knowledge, skills learned and shared just boiled down to “You have a disability, your worthless to us, off you go”. My mental wellbeing wasn’t just floored, it was burrowing, heading to the hellish depths of hell below me. I tried to keep occupied, I meditated, I read and interacted with friends and family via digital communication, yet it wasn’t enough. My anxiety became crushing, that feeling of impending doom was ever present, the associated depression worsened and regular sleep was a thing of the past as anxiety and PTSD from my subconscious permeated my dreams, making me awake with cortisol and epinephrine surging through my body, leaving me hyper awake with my heart pumping, chest thumping, my body drenched in sweat from a dream I could sometimes remember but would soon withdraw like a predator into the shadows to stalk me another night.
The days following these episodes left me exhausted and my brain working with a skeleton crew, my conscious mind was a fog, and a breakdown was imminent. Luckily, my wife seen this coming and arranged an appointment with my GP who arranged a change in my medication which has, over the months, slowly worked.
Now, I’m working on this project. I get to experiment with recipes and tweak existing ones to make them more accessible for those having to count the pennies. I hope you enjoy the food I present and more so, try cooking the dishes for yourselves. I still carry my woes with me, but not being shackled to a thankless and poverty paid job does alleviate some of my issues.
Catch ya later!!!