Baking your way to good mental health – By Kerry Maines
“Everyone’s different, but any hobby that makes you feel good about yourself is great,” says Kerry Maines, cake-maker extraordinaire!
Like many other Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people I have mental health conditions including Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ... writes Kerry Maine
They affect my everyday life and I struggle with unstable emotions. It often feels like I’m on a rollercoaster that won’t stop.
I started making cakes after I Googled ‘how to make a cake’ one day about five years ago. I’d never made a cake that didn’t come from a box before that! I first made a bright pink zebra cake with little balls round the side and I hand made two flowers.
I soon found out that making cakes was a fantastic way for me to self-regulate my emotions when they are out of control for no apparent reason. It makes me concentrate only on what I’m doing. It is also very sensory, it’s my form of mindfulness which keeps me in the present moment.
It is a very therapeutic hobby that I have used as a tool and a coping strategy and I it gives me a huge sense of achievement from making cakes. I get lost in my own world of ideas, my thoughts are positive while I am decorating the cakes. Decorating the cakes is the best bit for me, I find the cooking a bit boring.
I’ve made about 200 in the five years I’ve been doing it. I make them for family and friends mostly, and also for Raffle prizes, for kids school fairs, for charity’s, teachers thank you gifts, I’ve made a few wedding cakes including my own which was five tiers with lights and feathers!
I was asked by Hobby Craft in Eastbourne’s staff to make them a cake to go on display. It made me feel proud that it was on display centre of the shop for six weeks!
I would advise anyone with mental health conditions to give it a go! I learnt everything from YouTube videos. I am completely self-taught so if I can do it you can too!!
It’s a cheap hobby to start, icing cost very little from supermarkets and colours and basic tools can be found online cheaply too.
Words, pictures (and cakes!) by Kerry Maines for the Travellers’ Times
(The lead picture of a Gingerbread House is a cake that was baked for Embrace - an Eastbourne children’s Special Education Needs charity - and they raffled it, says Kerry. The little girl who won it and who rarely speaks told her Mum: “I won the magical cake”)