Keys’ revelation may come as a surprise to many of her fans, who know the talented author as ‘the queen of chick-lit’- a connoisseur of wit, romance and hilarious, memorable characters. However, some of the slightly darker themes she explores in her novels- bereavement, mental illness and drug addiction – are thought to be inspired by her own turbulent struggle with depression, anxiety and alcoholism.
The Irish author, who spent time in rehab in her 20s, explains how she felt entirely unprepared for a relapse in October of 2009. She explains: “Panic started rolling up from my gut and down from my head and pushing out from behind my eyes. I felt like I was dreaming. I felt desperate and terrified without knowing why. I put all my energy into acting normal, but I felt like I was driving a car with broken controls.”
Keys tried a number of recommended therapies in an attempt to gain control of her mental state. She tried acupuncture, meditation, behavioural therapy, mindfulness, vitamin B12 injections, ice-cold showers and reiki to no avail.
Her only saviour, she tells journalists, is the kitchen. She believes the act of cooking helps her to focus her mind. The ritualistic process of weighing and preparing ingredients is, she says, is ‘a sort of magic’.
The end result of baking – whether cake, bread or a dish for supper – fills her with a sense of satisfaction and achievement that helps to calm her anxiety and get her back onto the road to recovery.
Although she realises baking is not a ‘cure’ for mental illness, she views it as an important and enjoyable part of her recovery process.
She is set to release her new cookery book, ‘Saved By Cake’ in the hope that she can help spread the joys of baking and raise awareness about mental health issues. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the charity St Vincent De Paul.
To find out how counselling can help with various mental health problems, please have a browse of our Types of Distress pages.
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