The internet and social media particularly is awash with special days and weeks with hashtags promoting them. Not a week goes by that there isn’t some kind of ‘week’ popping into my, and everyone else’s, newsstream. There are so many of these awareness days that they even have their own website to collate them all. Usually their existence washes over me, but this week is different. This week is both Real Bread Week and Mental Health Awareness Week. I don’t know who schedules these things, but for me it’s no coincidence the two awareness weeks that Stoneham Bakehouse is most aligned with are the same week.
It is through my own struggles with depression and anxiety that I found real bread, and it’s baking real bread that helps me to manage my mental health. From the dark moments when, quite frankly, I was not sure how I could carry on, to today when the black dog of depression is sighted less frequently, working with dough is therapy for me. Not to say it’s the only thing; I’d still be a wreck without the amazing support of my family and friends. The thing is, baking has led to meeting amazing people who really care. Really care about me, but also really care about the community, and about giving people the chance to enjoy real honest bread. Yes, the act of baking is a mindful one. You can be in the moment and take notice of the way the dough changes as you knead, take time as it rises and becomes a silken pillow ready for shaping. But here’s the difference with Stoneham Bakehouse, whilst that happens we are connecting with others, forming bonds, making something to collectively be proud of. It really does make a difference. It makes me happy.
Domino, one of our bakers, puts it like this:
Everything about Stoneham Bakehouse makes me feel better. The actual breadmaking – creating something delicious from a few ingredients, the process of mixing and kneading, the waiting. But also the companionship of other volunteers, meeting the public when we sell bread, doing something with the community. And I love feeding my kids something I have baked – both of them pounce on a Stoneham Bakehouse loaf the minute they see it.
So, coincidence or not, I want to celebrate the fact that these two weeks are raising awareness of two such fundamental things in my, and others’, lives.