It has been the hardest year of my life

Publication Date24 Jul 2021
"I'm just watching one of the staf f walking in and two girls are dancing," Candice says, welling up with pride and relief as she surveys the happy scene in the Bedfordshire pub, a few weeks after lockdown restrictions eased.

"At one point last year, we didn't have enough money to pay the staf. f. We had £416 in the bank, but we kept going and we've done it."

" Trying to keep the siblings' business float was just one of the challenges the Great British Bake Of f winner, 36, faced.

"The first and second lockdowns, I was here in Eversholt on my own, which had a big impact on me. It's a very small village and when it goes dark, it is pitch black and silent. I decided I needed some noise, something, otherwise

I was going to lose my mind."

" After separating from Liam Macauley, her husband of two years, Candice moved in with friend Lauren Mahon, founder of the GIRLvsCANCER community, and now splits her time between their sharedflat in Hackney and her lodgings above the pub.

Having previously spoken about her depression and PTSD after a massive asthma attack hospitalised her, last year the former PE teacher was diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; a condition that often goes undetected in women).

I cook when sad, or "It presents itself so differently in women and in girls," says Candice, nicknamed Bumble because of her tendency to buzz about and flit between projects.

"It can be lack of attention, a hundred things happening in your brain, talking and losing your train of thought."

Nearly a year-and-a-half into the pandemic Candice admits: "I'm mentally in quite a bad place, but learning to deal with it in dif- ferent ways. I'm seeing a therapist, which is helping, but obviously I think he sometimes needs to go backwards to move forward."

She's keen to point out that people with 'invisible' illnesses "can still achieve and succeed. It's OK to go away and cry and go, 'Oh my God, I am literally at breaking point', but on the surface look OK."

At the same time, Candice says she sometimes struggles with self-compassion, while having enormous empathy for others.

and I bake I'm happy, stressed angry "When other people are talking, I would never say, 'You should be ashamed of your mental health, of asking for help'. It's ironic, because sometimes I still feel huge amounts of shame, which is probably why I'm so terrified about the book coming out."

t." hat book is Happy Cooking, in which Candice writes candidly about her struggles and how she...

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