We catch up with Britt Whyatt, AKA She Who Bakes, about starting her website and how baking helped her find her way through depression...
When and why did you first start baking?
It was November 2010. I was recovering from an operation and signed off work. I was also suffering badly with depression after losing my mum when I was 16. I had never baked before and a friend challenged me to bake a cake for a charity bake sale. I made a Pudsey cake using a packet mix and whilst it looked a mess and was raw in the middle. I was SO proud of myself, I simply had to carry on doing it.
What is it about baking that you find therapeutic?
It’s the thought that when I’m baking, nothing else matters. I’m so focused and intent on getting the recipe right that the other cares and anxieties fall by the wayside. It’s fully engrossing yourself in something creative and it’s brilliant.
How did it make you feel every time you turned the oven on at the beginning?
It made me feel happy. I knew I was about to create something tasty from nothing at all. It gave me a purpose when I had nothing.
When you were having a bad day, would you force yourself to turn the oven on?
No. When I was having a bad day, the oven is where I would go first. It was never a chore. I always knew it would make me smile.
What’s you advice to any going through a similar situation?
Find something creative you love to do and throw yourself into it. The first few times will be hard, but I promise you the reward is worth it.
Why did you decide to start your blog?
Self indulgence really. I love writing and wanted to document my ‘baking adventures’. I mixed it in with a combination of the personal things happening to and around me and it became my little diary. I didn’t think anyone would ever read it.
Have you met others who’ve been helped by baking in a similar way through your blog?
Yes. I get messaged nearly every day from people saying they find hope in my experiences. I am so honoured and touched at everyone who has taken the time out to write to me telling me their stories. I’ve been in touch with one girl who is now off medication and starting up her own cake business all because she read one of my recipes one day. It brought a happy tear to my eye!
If your baking went wrong, wouldn’t it make you feel more despondent?
It never did, no. It would make me determined. I’m stubborn like that.
You’re now a cake decorator - does that have similar therapeutic values?
It does. I only decorate cakes for friends and family as well as teaching it in my studio and I find that making little toppers has the same effect. You are concentrating on making something delicate and intricate and that’s where your thoughts are.
What made you decide to start public speaking around the subject of baking and mental health issues?
When I was suffering with depression, there wasn’t any inspiration out there for me. I didn’t feel like anyone was going through what I was. No one would understand my story. I personally feel, now I’m out the other side of it, I want others to know it’s ok to talk about it, it’s ok to feel the way you do. You don’t have to go through this alone.
Why do you think baking worked better for you than taking medication?
I don’t know to be honest. It made me happy, really happy. Taking medication was something I got told to do. Baking was a practical way of me taking my mood into my own hands without having to rely on a magic ingredient from the doctors. I thoroughly encourage anyone on medication to try something else, anything else. I was running the risk of being on them for the rest of my life, but after nine years, I had decided enough was enough and I wanted to take my emotions into my own hands.
What’s next for you?
Being She Who Bakes
is the most amazing thing. I’ve won awards, traveled the world, sold out classes in my own studio and kitchens up and down the country. Next for me is demoing at industry shows, filming videos and working on my first recipe book. I’m having the most amazing time doing it all. I’ve never been happier!
Britt is supporting Time To Change, England's biggest campaign to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination. To find out how you can get involved, visit the website