It’s a common stereotype that people who study psychology are gravitated to the field because of their own experiences with mental illness. I’m not sure whether that stereotype has any truth to it, but it certainly proved true in my case, even if I wasn’t aware of my mental illnesses when I chose my major. Coincidentally, one of the disorders that fascinated me the most is one I was diagnosed with near the end of my degree: PTSD.
With most mental illnesses, there is a combination of biological and environmental causes that sneakily work together. One biological factor (of many) that relates to whether or not an individual will develop PTSD is having overactive amygdalae. Your amygdalae are responsible for emotions, among other things. If you’ve ever felt yourself getting really worked up about something, that’s your amygdalae doing their job!
But what about when you get worked up about something in a semi-conscious state? As a kid, I was a chronic sleepwalker and sleep, talker. I don’t sleepwalk anymore (at least to my knowledge…), but nightmares have been a regular part of my sleep since as long as I can remember.
Nightmares are a strange phenomenon. During a nightmare, a part of your brain remains awake and active. That’s the reason that emotions and experiences in dreams can be so intense. But when you have hyperactive amygdalae like me, those nightmares can be even more intense. We’re talking an amalgamation of a thriller film and an amusement park funhouse (I’ll spare you the details of those ones.)
Even though I’m not working at the restaurant now, I still have the dreaded serving nightmares. If you’ve ever been a server, you know the ones I’m talking about! You forget to punch in order, and, all of a sudden, the world ENDS. Everyone you’re serving starts complaining. You get fired, start crying on the spot and…BAM! You’re awake.
Even though my nightmares emotionally startle me when I awake, I still find them fascinating. I’m not one to believe in astrology or old-age psychobabble about the meaning of dreams, as I’ve read enough research to know that our dreams are purely a manifestation of our thoughts and experiences during the day and nothing more. But I do find it interesting how nightmares can be quickly forgotten after you awake, only to pop into your consciousness in the middle of the day, seemingly out of nowhere.
You know the nightmare where you walk into school or work and you’re completely naked? That nightmare has tripped me up a number of times in real life. The morning after that particular nightmare occurs, I often second guess myself before leaving the house to make sure I’m fully dressed. It’s kind of ridiculous because I don’t know anyone who has actually left their house accidentally without any clothes on, but this nightmare rests somewhere in my subconscious and I’m reminded of it only when I turn the doorknob.
Do you ever struggle with nightmares? What kind of nightmares do you have? Let me know in the comments!
I got alot of positive feedback on the lightness of the whipped cream icing on my double coconut cupcakes, so I wanted to take that technique a step further with these caramel cream cupcakes. Since caramel is such a heavy, sweet taste, a soft pillow of whipped cream icing doesn’t draw attention away from that deep caramel flavor. I used dulce de leche in this recipe for extra creaminess, but any canned caramel you can find will do. Or even homemade! But I like to skip steps and make things easier. Soft, creamy, and sweet, these caramel cream cupcakes will be a party favorite. Enjoy
Caramel Cream Cupcakes
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Total time: 50 mins
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 6 oz (170 g) butter, melted
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- just under 1/4 cup caramel
- 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
- 2 TB powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs and sugar and beat on medium until combined and foamy (about 2 min.). Pour in the melted butter and vanilla and beat on low to combine.
- Add half the dry ingredients and the buttermilk, and mix on low to just combine. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix on medium to combine. Fold in the caramel.
- Scoop the batter into the paper liners, filling each cup 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops spring back to a light touch. Let the cupcakes cool in the tins completely before frosting.
- To make the frosting, add whipping cream to a medium-sized mixing bowl and beat on low until thickened and frothy. Add the powdered sugar and continue beating on medium until the cream has formed stiff peaks.
- Using a spatula or a piping bag, ice the tops of the cupcakes. Drizzle the caramel over the whipped cream with a spoon. Serve immediately, or store in an air-tight container in the fridge.