A recent story on Slate describes the harrowing journey of a family supporting their daughter through bipolar disorder. Unlike cancer, which is a disease more easily addressed in public and in private spaces, mental illness still remains a difficult conversation. "Friends talk about cancer and other physical maladies more easily than about psychological afflictions." As his daughter sought treatment, the family felt isolated and alone in their struggle to recovery. Friends and relatives tiptoed around the issue, unsure of how to broach the subject or offer their support.
Aware of this stigma, and in an effort to raise awareness on issues of mental health, the India Depressed Cake shop was organised. Lavonne, a baking academy and pastry store in Bangalore, put together the Indian episode of the Depressed Cake shop, a pop-up cake shop tied thematically to mental illness. Home-bakers and professionals from all over the city brought an assortment of baked desserts, characterized by humour and creativity: stitched-up-heart cookies, chewy cookie-pills and rainbow cupcakes. Disguised in grey icing, bleak cupcakes revealed bright colours when bitten into, symbolising hope and recovery after illness.
Niveditha of the Dessert Island says she was more than happy to bake for the Depressed Cake shop, “I’ve seen my loved ones battle depression, and I understand the daily struggle. I thought the Depressed Cake shop was a great idea because everyone loves cupcakes and cookies, and talking about mental illness in a cake shop is a great way to create a relaxed environment, without the usual awkwardness that accompanies the topic.”
Over 25 bakers volunteered for the event, contributing their creations for free. The venue, located in the leafy property of St. Marks Cathedral, was also given au gratis, and all proceeds from the sale were donated to the Medico Pastoral Association that works closely with depression and other mental health concerns.
The event received enthusiastic response from the city; most stalls were sold out well before closing but the crowd hung back to listen to the performing bands and chat with the bakers.