Since I was about twelve, I’ve known what it’s like to ride out lows that feel like they’re going to bury me alive. That’s a decade and a half filled with periods of wanting to close myself off to the world, week-long – month-long, periods of time where unburying my head from under my pillows feels like the most grandiose chore. Major and minor times of depression, where it feels like the rest of the world couldn’t possibly have any idea why I’m not at all hungry, why it feels like work to move from one room to the next, where my mind recesses itself when all I’m trying to do is sleep, why I don’t want to talk about it.
When you’re in it, it’s big and overwhelming. I’ve been medicated for it, but not since I was a teenager, because once I turned eighteen, I had some say in deciding that it felt better to actually feel things (even if it got to be a lot sometimes), rather than numbing my feelings away to move through my days. The truth is, I still have periods like this in my life. Times where I don’t want to socialize, I don’t want to talk about how things feel. Times where it takes a lot of effort to motivate myself to get up and be productive. Even if “productive” means spending some time in fresh air, or doing a few loads of laundry, or writing things I’ll never attempt to place on this blog or submit to some poetry journal out there in the world.
This time of year, where sunshine is limited and the cold clings under my skin, I find that the chances of low-feeling days are increased drastically. While I like to allow myself to feel those things, at some point I have to decide how much it’ll overtake my life. So I try going to the gym even though I don’t want to. I make the effort to laugh or find humor anywhere I get the chance. I cook things that are filling and have some nutrient value to them, even if my body says it isn’t hungry. I’ve found that things like the following oatmeal are easily filling and help keep the motivation going. But even if you’re not depressed, or sad, or tired and unmotivated, these oats are lovely. And really, most of the work happens overnight while you’re sleeping, so as far as motivating yourself goes – it just takes the tiniest push.
Blueberry-Nut Overnight Slow Cooked Steel Oats
1¼ cups steel cut oats
1½ cups blueberries (frozen or fresh)
2-4 tbsp. unrefined cane sugar
½ cup shredded coconut flakes
¼ cup sliced almonds (roasted or raw)
¼ cup chopped walnuts
1 vanilla bean, scraped (or ½ tsp. vanilla extract)
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. sea salt
¼ tsp. ground ginger
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
3 cups milk (keep this vegan by using nut or rice milk)
2 cups water
2-3 tbsp. unsweetened dried cranberries (optional)
If you’re using frozen berries, rinse them under cold water until the water runs clearly rather than purple. Allow the blueberries to drip-dry for a minute or two.
In your crock pot, stir together the oats, berries, sugar, coconut flakes, almonds, walnuts, vanilla bean, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cranberries if you’re using them, until all the ingredients are well mixed.
Stir in the applesauce, milk, and water until just combined. Set the crock pot to low heat, then cover and cook overnight (or 6-8 hours).
When ready to serve, fluff the oatmeal gently with a fork or spoon. Add enough milk to your individual serving in order to get the consistency you prefer.