The biscotti recipe called for a quarter cup of molasses. Pouring it, thick and black, into the mixing bowl, I marveled that I had enough energy and motivation to make those cookies. My nutritionist friend Glenda was right, I guessed. Her advice had helped.
I’d been healthy and happy all my life, with no logical reason to feel depressed. But around my half-century mark, like many women, I frequently puddled about in the glum. The problem was physical, but it stepped on my emotions, and I hated it. “I feel as though I’m wading neck deep through blackstrap molasses some days,” I complained to Glenda.
The Preacher tried to help, but on my worst days the poor man found me even more trying. On the night we watched the movie, Ice Age, I sat beside him, tense as a bow string. When the saber-toothed tigers surrounded the wooly mammoth I covered my eyes. “What’s the matter?” he asked.
“It’s scary.” I said.
He shrugged, befuddled. “But it’s a kid’s movie!”
One day an acquaintance spoke to me kindly and said I looked tired. It was not a good day to look at me kindly and say I looked tired. I burst into tears. The truth is, I was tired—and menopausal.
“Blackstrap molasses,” Glenda said. “Try a tablespoonful a day. You won’t feel as tired all the time.”
She’s right, I discovered, doing a little research on my own. Blackstrap molasses is chock full of iron. But my search also revealed this fascinating historical tidbit:
In Boston, Massachusetts on January 15, 1919 a gigantic tank of molasses, full to the brim, burst open. Over two million gallons spewed out, forming a brown tidal wave thirty feet high. It swept through the streets, reaching speeds of thirty-five miles an hour. The stuff toppled bridges, tossed horses and wagons, crushed buildings and mummified schoolchildren on their way home. Twenty-one people died, and a hundred and fifty more were injured. The catastrophe became known as the Great Molasses Flood.
People who suffer severe depression frequently refer to it as ‘the black fog’. It rolls in like the Great Molasses Flood. Immobilizing. Paralyzing. De-motivating. Like the flood, it kills some. I lost a friend to the black fog. She couldn’t find her way out.
Seasons of depression affected many of the great people of faith in scripture. Even David the giant killer frequently moaned in the Psalms, “What’s the matter with me? Why am I so glum? (Gibson paraphrase!) Then, reminding himself of his available resources, he prescribes his own medicine: “Hope in God. He’ll lift me up. He’ll make me smile again.”
If you’re in the midst of the fog or puddling about its gloomy edges, be encouraged. David knew what doctors frequently remind us. Depression is treatable. Prayer, classical music, deep breathing, fresh air, exercise, rest, good nutrition, medication…yes, even molasses—God can use these things to bring back a smile.
Remember this too: Spring is just around the corner!
Here’s a fascinating first person account of that Great Molasses Flood: