Francesca Barker set up The Barker Bakery after turning her life around through bread-making and now hopes to give others a second chance. Francesca Barker fell in love with baking on a probation course after narrowly avoiding being jailed for fraud two years ago. Since then, she has been earning an honest crust selling her loaves at markets all over Greater Manchester and has this week opened her first shop in Littleborough. The Barker Baker, on the corner of Winton Street and Church Street, welcomed its first customers on Wednesday and has sold out of bread every day so far.

In the infamous words of Ross Gellar – “I’m fine,” seems to have been my go-to phrase this week.

But am I fine?
Easy answer – no.

Medication, medication, medication.
That sounded a little Tony Blair didn’t it? As we approach a potential no-deal Brexit, that’s a statement loaded with political satire.

And so the slow drum in the back of my mind begins to beat, a reminder, an alarm, a prompt – feed me, feed me, I need it, I need it.

Like a fat girl with cake on the brain (again me) – I have a one track mind – literally.
Citalopram is it’s name.
My cure and my curse.
Oh to be so life dependent on something I deem renders me so weak. Weak minded, weak bodied, just weak. Am I not better than this? Stronger than this? Is it not mind over matter? When my brain fires up, and is put to good use; there are no limits to what I can achieve.
It is what makes me great – at times, and what brings me to my knees just as well.
The multi-award winning business woman, who crippled her own empire through lack of self-care, support and proper medication. Genius. Is there an award for that?
“World’s most arrogant twat?” perhaps?
The last time I did this – and by this, I mean conquered my demons, my mental instability, my drastic depression and soul destroying anxiety – yeah, all of that. I did so, for a few weeks. Unstoppable, unmedicated, unchallenged, unchanged and powering through life like a nice “normal” person.
This culminated in anger, frustration, uncontrollable emotion of all varieties and the final port of call – sat before a very unimpressed doctor who gave me the : “If you were a diabetic would you not take your insulin because you were ‘having a good day’ “
That’s not how I see my mental health, I see it as something that’s managed, on a part time basis, because I like to think I’m not such a fruit cake that I can’t function without chemicals.
Key word – chemicals.
That’s exactly what is missing from my brain – and duly, what has caused this colossal pause in my momentum of late; Serotonin Syndrome
Because I have more or less been taking Citalopram consistently for the past 6 years, my brain has become used to it, no, dependent upon it.
When I don’t take it, I wake up, my brain wakes up, and as my stomach cries for my breakfast, my brain cries for its happiness invoker.
The little pill that provokes the serotonin to start flowing and take me to a more positive place, or at least a more rational and balanced one.
Problem is, if you stop taking your meds, your brain stays hungry, not hungry, desperate.
The main symptom aside from being an emotionally unstable fruit loop?
It genuinely means the brain doesn’t produce serotonin as it should, because its waiting for the trigger, the happy push in the right direction and when it doesn’t get it, it goes the other way.
Welcome to sad Fran land.
Where all is doom and gloom and greyscale. Or in more dramatic times of thought, stark and black and white with no forgiveness, no consideration, no appreciation and just a selfish, wallowing, woe is me black whole that consumes me and those around me.
What a joy to be around.
Suffice to say – FEED THE BEAST.
We moved, I didn’t change over doctors surgeries, I ran out of my own medication at some point in November and duly have been snaffling tablets of my other half here and there, perhaps one or two a week; bearing in mind I’m a 40mg per day kind of girl, I don’t think the sweet treats a la tic-tac of 20mg per pop have really been helping the situation and certainly not helping the other half.
Problem 1 – changing doctors requires immense human interaction, first by phone, then by form. I don’t like phone calls. I don’t like forms that ask my life history. I don’t like the first meeting of a new doctor where you explain your life’s history, its a depressing carrousel of crazy.
Problem 2 – I hate taking my medication. I hate it. I really do feel like I should be better than this, that I’ve grown so much as a person over the past few years, that I should be better? I should be kinder, more mindful, more appreciative, more honest, more focused, more… me?
The irony is, I am all of those things – on a good day.
I still lack to the basic understanding of what true emotion is, or what it is to other people. I don’t have a filter, I tend to speak before I think, I’m insensitive and what’s worse, I lack the ability to recognise when I’m the one in the wrong, because I’m blindly stubborn and as you remember “Award for World’s Most Arrogant Twat,”
And yet strangely, I’m evolving. Like some sort of serial killer you see on Netflix, I watch these shows and think HOLY FUCKING SHIT, am I that disconnected? Do I lack empathy?
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve not looked at the cat and thought “you’re next fluffy,” and I don’t fantasise about killing my boss – no more than the next person (although I really don’t because I LOVE my job)
But I am little empty at times and it scares me.
HOWEVER, before you all run for the hills and cancel your plans to see me for coffee, let me share with you.
I am better.
I am kinder.
I am doing more things right than and I doing wrong.
That’s progress. For me anyway.
Someone I loved very much died recently, and normally, death doesn’t impact me to such an extent, but for some reason, this one crippled me.
Not because of the sheer sadness of death, but because of the pain of others.
I couldn’t bear the thought of the sadness that must have taken over their lives, the empty space, the loss of a love, and I cried.
Like I’ve never cried before. I didn’t know if I would stop.
And it was liberating.
To know I was human, I did feel what other people feel.
Absolute total and utter love, and moreover love for those who I know needed me, to listen, to care, to share, to support.
(all without medication might I add)
However, I sit and I work, and I love what I do and it occurs to me that this week has not been my best week, and a colleague said to me when I made clear I was put out at my lack of 110% attitude this week
“You can’t be perfect ALL the time Fran,”
Well one – thank you 🙂 a total compliment and testament to my mad passion for my job.
And two, I think that is why I suffer so so badly when I don’t take my meds.
Because everything feels like the end.
Like I failed.
Like it’s all my fault.
When in reality, every single day is a small step in right direction.
They would be bigger steps with my medication.
What is the moral of this Thursday story?
Don’t suffer in silence.
Don’t let the silence take you.
Don’t let people make you feel less than you are.
Be proud.
Be brave.
Be you.
Own your mental health, don’t let it own you.
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