My Kitchen: Cooking with others helped me block out the pain

Eric joined a Cooking on a Budget course in the Kitchen after his wife spotted an ad online. The course took his mind off his crippling migraine and now he feels ready to re-enter the world of work.

“I’d been out of work for three and a half years when my wife saw the ad. It sounded like just the thing I needed. I suffer from a severe and ongoing migraine and am in pain all the time. The doctors don’t know why it’s happening and for a long time I was in a bad place. It was easy to just stay in the flat all day, every day, and give in to the lethargy I felt. I needed to get out of the house, get my confidence back and, hopefully, earn some money.

“The course brightened my week. It was something to do outside the house. I couldn’t afford much and it was reasonably priced and provided a good meal. It was an opportunity to try new things that otherwise I wouldn’t have tried.

“I especially enjoyed trying things that other people made and being part of a group. I liked the shared purpose. I knew that we all had our issues, so it was nice to notice how we all made the effort to get along, even when it wasn’t easy.

“Physically, the course provided a welcome distraction from the pain in my head. The pain didn’t go away, but as I was busy and interacting I dwelt less on it and it was easier to block out.

“I also got many new cooking ideas. The German apple cake, has become a favourite. I’ve probably made it six or eight times.

“Since managing to leave the house for the course, I’ve joined Brighton Health Walks. I also changed my diet because my weight was going up to the point it scared me. The course gave me some great ideas for veggie side dishes which weren’t boring. I’ve lost more than 10kgs just from eating better and walking more.

“Mentally, the change in me is huge too. The course got me back on track. I gained confidence and now want to test my limits to see what else I can do. I find small jobs on our community noticeboard, all of which helps in my recovery process.

“I’ve also started volunteering for the Kitchen and it feels great. I feel wanted and appreciated and it helps put structure back into my life. It’s something to look forward to in my week.”

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