on a steady diet of soda pop and ritalin

Before I get into this, let me tell you a small story. 

On Wednesday morning I got out of bed and thought- I should make my bed now, so it’ll be ready for me when I get back in later.

I’ve never had this thought in my life. I do not make my bed. I barely ever made my bed as a child. In fact the only beds I make are the kind you have to metaphorically lie in because you’ve done something more or less irrevocable. So I made my bed. And I was like, “wow this Ritalin is GOOD”. 

I told you it was a small story.

So to back up a bit, let me tell you my friends: ya girl has been given the joyous gift of an official ADHD diagnosis. Just like that! And all it took was six months, an unspeakably hellish prolonged period of depression and anxiety, several fruitless GP appointments that led me nowhere, literally five thousand phone calls and emails, a small quantity of self-gaslighting about how I was imagining all of this and I was just a stupid idiot for life, constantly being picked up and dusted off by my friends, a butt-tonne of crying, stacks on stacks on stacks of paperwork, one highly revealing and personal article on Medium, an astonishing amount of crowdfunding from kind friends and strangers, several sessions with a truly nice trainee psychologist, and dropping $1000 on roughly two and a half hours of time from a psychiatrist to get there!  

As I said during a conversation with a four year old yesterday, “it sounds like I’m exaggerating for comic effect! If only I were!” (I was at a wedding.) (There were lots of kids there.) 

  carbs for president

carbs for president

So now I’m a few days in on Ritalin and I can’t impress upon you enough how much it’s helping already. Without going into the minutiae of my life, it helps me get on with the minutiae of my life. That’s all. It’s made my internal monologue all able to put tasks in order and fix small things that would otherwise cause me mental paralysis. Like deciding what socks to wear. Again: being super literal here. You very don’t want to know how many sock-related meltdowns I’ve had.

Am I fixed? No! However, AS I HYPOTHESISED ALL ALONG, the ability to scoot around and get stuff done in a calm manner has already given me a lot more brainspace to deal with my anxiety and depression and is starting to alleviate some of the symptoms that were making everything more difficult than it already was. It’s like my mental health was all overheated and while the room it’s in is still really warm I’ve at least been able to kick the blankets off it and sit it next to an oscillating fan. IDK about that metaphor, I’m just kind of overheated right now so it’s the first thing that sprang to mind. 

Anyway, oh my god, let’s talk about food. I am trying to get back into that whole thing, since I apparently love it so much and all. 

One extremely shiny, silvery bright spot during the difficult start to this year was that my friend Hannah came over to visit New Zealand from Australia. We’ve known each other online since about 2010 where we became mutual admirers of each others food blogs, our travels coincided for one beautiful day in 2012 in New York where we got to meet each other, and we’ve been extremely in touch ever since throughout each other’s various Life Stuff. Her brain and my brain are like twins over so many things and her writing was always an entrancing mermaid in a sea of dull, copycat, forgettable food blogs. So yeah, you could say I kinda like this gal. We talked and talked and talked over Chow takeout on the floor, we went to see Swan Lake and got super emotional over it, I made her fancy chartreuse-based cocktails when she came to visit me at work, we had fancy brunch. And then we were like, man it seems kind of illegal for two food bloggers to come together and for there to not be cooking involved.

  i'll clink to that

i’ll clink to that

So I made her dinner. Now: I will self-deprecate until I’m nothing but a pile of dust that says “lol don’t fight over me all at once, handsome suitors” to no-one in particular. But I am really, really good at making dinner out of pasta and whatever the heck is in my pantry. Admittedly: I had some good stuff on me this time around. Half a bag of frozen prawns. Half a bag of frozen peas. Some small jars of preserved lemons which were party favours from a wedding in November. But still! I’m a pasta whisperer. And this was the result of such whisperings: 

one-pot prawn, pea and preserved lemon spaghetti

  • 200g spaghetti or dried pasta of your choice
  • 150g or so of frozen raw prawns
  • 100g or so frozen peas
  • two pieces of preserved lemon, rinsed with the flesh sliced off
  • 25g butter
  • lots of olive oil
  • lots of dried chilli flakes
  • lots of nice salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • a handful of fresh thyme leaves

Get a large pan of salted water on to boil, and then once it’s like, boiling, drop in the spaghetti. Once it’s almost tender – about ten minutes in – add the prawns and peas, letting it return to the boil. Continue to cook until the grey frozen prawns have turned all pink. Drain the lot, and return to the pan (off the heat) and stir through the butter till it’s melted. 

Meanwhile! Finely slice the lemon peel and mix in a small bowl with about three tablespoons of olive oil, as many dried chilli flakes as you fancy, some salt and pepper and most of the thyme leaves. Stir this through the buttery cooked pasta, prawns, and peas, and upend the lot into a serving dish (or just serve straight from the pan.) Top with more thyme, olive oil, salt and pepper as you wish. 

Serves 2. 

  food prawn

food prawn

What’s great about this recipe is right there in the title – it’s all done in one pot, so you barely have to think or clean – two of my least favourite activities – and the ingredients are simple but bring plenty to the table. Prawns and peas are both mild and sweet, but then the fiercely salty lemon and hot chilli flakes do their thing and pull it all together. You can leave out the butter and just pour over more olive oil if you’re not feeling dairy, but it gives juuust a little richness and of course, the delicious flavour of butter. 

During a week when everything was so very hard, making food for a darling person and then sitting on the floor and hooning into it with them while talking about everything in our lives up until this very minute was honestly the nicest, nicest thing. 

  apropos of nothing but I like how triumphant I look here, and as I always say, look the part be the part

apropos of nothing but I like how triumphant I look here, and as I always say, look the part be the part

I know it has been a long time since I last wrote here, but near the top of the list of things I don’t want to give up on is this blog, and now that I have the friendly horse that is Ritalin to gallop about on (note to self: def give up on metaphors tho) I hope it will be easier to both cook and write and care about them again too. 

And seriously: I am so, so happy about this diagnosis. “Sarah”, I said, when the psychiatrist told me, “Sarah, I really feel like I should crack out some champagne with you right now.”  Once again, said with utmost sincerity. 

title from: speaking of sincerity, the super chill track Jesus of Suburbia by Green Day whom I will love unreservedly forever and ever.

music lately:

Your Best American Girl by Mitski, I am a sucker for emotion and walls of sound and HECK this song is like WHAT how my ears what’s happening

Life Upon The Wicked Stage, from the 1927 musical Showboat, as sung in a concert in 1998 by a 12 year old Anna Kendrick and, for some reason, the Kit Kat Girls from Cabaret, made oddly compelling by deadpan delivery (seriously, she is the deadest pan) and the alternating of the arrangement between sweet and jauntily bawdy. And yeah, I get that this is weird but I can’t stop listening to it.

next time: unsure, but next time will come around much, much sooner, promise. 

4 thoughts on “on a steady diet of soda pop and ritalin

  1. Hannah says:

    I was getting tearier and tearier reading these words because I am just so proud of you for fighting/slogging/marching/pushing through and so happy, so intensely happy, that you’ve been heard and that you’ve got the diagnosis and the magic Ritalin to help turn the maze of untold options into a clearer path (to socks! to bed! to food! to triumphant poses!)… and then I got to the paragraph about me and CRYING. I can’t even. Thank you. What a gift, what a gift our precious days were and what a gift these word are. I adore you utterly and you shine always, in my heart, you are there xoxoxo


  2. Zo says:

    So glad to hear you’re getting what you needed all along. Christ I can’t believe how much it cost though!
    All the Ps on this post are excellent. Prescriptions peas pasta prawns. 🤣


  3. Nicole Etc says:

    …yyyyyyyeah, we definitely need to get a one-to-one coffee soon and speak about the unspeakable pain of feeling like you can’t human because your brain is kaleidoscope scattered 24/7. The first time I took ADD meds was like wearing glasses for the first time – suddenly, everything was put into focus! – and the process to get them was also painful, but not nearly as hellish as yours. Glad to hear you’re doing better. Yes, you, me, talk soon.


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