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How the Food Network Helped Me Cope and Show Love

Dani is a survivor of an overdose, Borderline Personality Disorder, Bipolar 2, and Idiopathic Hypersomnia.


How the Food Network Saved Me

I've found a coping mechanism for handling stress, boredom, and depression through the Food Network, which is an activity that's stimulating to the brain.

I've been watching the Food Network since I was three years old, starting with Emeril Live, which debuted when I was born (1997). BAM! He was my idol. In fact, I once got grounded when I was 4 for yelling BAM! when my dad was pinching salt into a pasta dish, but he thought I had cursed by saying, "Damn," which I hadn't. I was unjustly punished and was not allowed to talk back. I went to my room and turned the tv on, and there was my guy, Emeril, on tv.

I guess you could say that Emeril, Rachel Ray (30 Minute Meals, is what I was watching at the time), Unwrapped, and Good Eats hosted by Alton Brown, were my coping mechanisms for my shitty childhood. They were the people I looked up to for values, cooking, and happiness. They consoled me when I was sad; they were my friends.

I spent a lot of time being alone, when I wasn't being harassed by my abusive twin brother, who constantly was unjustly causing me to get in trouble and grounded for things I didn't do, other than the fact I was "annoying my parents with our bickering," when really, I was standing up for myself against his abusive behavior.

When it came time to be an adult at age 18 and move out, for my own good, I had to learn how to cook. I wanted to cook for my partner. I started with fruit pizzas, seasoning ramen, and making naan bread pizzas. I didn't believe in myself; I didn't believe I could cook because I'd been told my whole life that I couldn't do anything. Until I saw the Disney-Pixar movie, Ratatouille, starring a cooking street rat who was refined and controlled a human in a kitchen to cook. Gusteau, a character, similar to Emeril, said that "Anyone can cook." That phrase, to a beaten down, self-conscious, low self-esteemed girl meant everything to me. It gave me the confidence to learn to start cooking for the woman I loved.

My partner believed in me, too. So, that's what inspired me to become the home chef I am today, and might I say, I'm a damn good cook.

My Inspiration

Anyone can cook, but only the fearless can be great.

— Gusteau, Ratatouille

Cooking Is a Means of Life

Cooking is a way of life; a lifestyle. Cooking is far beyond a skill, but a relaxing hobby that others can enjoy with you. You can teach others the joys of cooking from the bottom of your heart and into the knife. Cooking is not just a way to eat, but a passion.

The best food comes from food that has love put into it. You can taste the love in food that's been passionately and whole-heartedly made. I've been asked on numerous occasions, "what did you put in here?" and I always respond with, "a few ingredients and love." My Christmas cookies are far beyond the ingredients that are put into them. What makes greatness is passion from your heart and soul.

Cooking is spiritual. You're providing nutrients for those you care about. Cooking makes me feel productive, even on the days I'm at my lowest. Having Bipolar 2 disorder, I go through extreme highs and lows, but the lows last the longest. I find myself crying in bed, not able to move, doing absolutely nothing and hating myself for it, and then I turn on The Food Network, and it feels like everything is okay. I find myself laughing, bonding and getting to know the contestants or chefs. It feels personable, which is how it's supposed to feel.

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Cooking drives me. It's a fire that meets my ice.

Sophia Loren

The most indespensible ingredient of all good home cooking: love for those you are cooking for.

— Sophia Loren

A Sprinkle of Love Goes a Long Way

The most valuable and priceless ingredient is love. You can't buy love and you can't create love; love comes from your beating, alive, heart. Love goes for miles. I still have people asking me for my once a year cookies that I do happen to make for my mother-in-law's birthday, besides Christmas time. I give people my recipes, I show them what I do. Why? I want to spread love around the world. To those of you reading this, you might be thinking, "Love, that's so simple." It really is, though.

A sprinkle of love goes a long way and a dash of passion. We're human beings. We're meant to reside and live in community and flourish in love. Spread your blessings and big hearts around you. Perhaps, to a stranger on the street, a neighbor, a friend. Whoever!

Cooking showed me a way to express love in a completely different way than saying, "I love and appreciate you."


Cooking with Care

Cooking done with care is an act of love.

— Craig Claiborne

Struggling With Mental Illness

I struggle with mental illness, and being someone who has Bipolar 2/Borderline Personality Disorder, my life is lived in ups and downs frequently. It's difficult to be a consistent way or have consistent schedules because some days, all I can find myself doing is sleeping. I've got housework to do, and some days it's even hard for me to vacuum my tiny apartment.

It's very difficult living with this because I have to fight against my strong impulses to do something out of the ordinary (for me) and that ends up only hurting me in the end. Somedays, I find it hard to even turn on the tv and just have the focus to watch something passively.

The Food Network helps me cope with life and even when I can't do anything, I can still learn a recipe or two from a show. It helps get my spirits up and helps me be able to be a functional, living, breathing, person in the world. It motivates me to do something, like write this post for example. I'm currently in a low and am finding it hard to even write this, right now. So, I turned on The Food Network, with my cat in my lap, and started learned and taking in the show, absorbing it. I see the people on there being productive people and that motivates me to be a productive person too.

That's the significance of the Food Network to me.

© 2019 Dani Moore

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