Hi everyone! Today I’ve got a short post for you that covers how my crafting and my chronic health problems interact. First, I’ll briefly touch on what my health issues are, then I’ll look at how I manage them with craft. There’s a lot more that I could cover, but for now I wanted to keep it short and hopefully spark discussion.
My Chronic Health Problems (In Brief)
This is me, back in 2013. I’d recently married and things were looking good. I had no idea that the bottom was about to fall out of my life, big time. Over the next few months, I endured the dizzy heights of mania. Then I fell into such a deep depression that I ended up in hospital, less than a year after my wedding. Before admission, I was hallucinating, insomniac and haunted. What I’m describing is the cycle of Bipolar Disorder, in my case Type 1, which is considered the most severe. I have suffered since early childhood, but for some reason the pressure of getting married ripped me apart. Being poked, prodded and having my meds tweaked until I wanted to scream, I became dejected. I needed meds to counteract the meds. I gained a lot of weight. I still have mood cycles and I still experience psychosis.
What I didn’t know when I went into hospital, was that I would come out with a new health “gift” – Fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a condition where a person is in pain for no apparent reason. It can be triggered by stress, which I think is what happened to me. I was alone, far from home, mentally shattering and in a psychiatric hospital. Now, I need a stick to walk. I struggle to lift anything heavier than a thick hardback. I spend my days in a haze of pain and brain treacle. I am also unable to take most painkillers, due to my other meds. Medicine can only manage Fibromyalgia, there is no cure and I can only hope for remission. But, it seemed that my body wasn’t done with me yet!
Finally, my newest issue. Exhaustion. I go to sleep and wake up just as tired. I’m crashing out everywhere, even in unsafe places. I’m on sick leave because I can’t work. I need more tests – again.
How Making Things Helps Me Manage My Chronic Health Problems
So, with all the depressing stuff out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff! I started knitting back in 2012, which was my first adventure in craft since childhood. Entranced by the possibilities, I proceeded to make all the things. I sewed through mania – not that I can remember now what I was trying to make. I knitted twirly scarves during the long nights of insomniac depression. I’ve embroidered through my exhaustion. I keep on crafting because it gives me hope. A pair of hand knit socks has thousands of stitches, so even if there are a couple of mistakes, that’s still thousands of things I did right. I can scream and curse at my knitting. I can demand perfection, or just fly casually. Crafts keep my hands busy, which helps stop my mind from ripping itself apart.
I can learn new tricks, like the bead embroidery I just picked up. I can make everything magenta and lime if I want to. I design my own embroidery, which takes hours of patient focus. I hope to one day design knit and crochet items too. Craft is the rock on which my whole life is anchored. I have other hobbies – I play video games, I read, I sing off key and dance when I can. I am delighted by a fine piece of literature – maybe I’ll even study it some day. I find video games amusing and engaging. I even write about them, amongst other things. But craft is a steadying influence in my life. I know, that no matter how bad the day has been, no matter how much I hurt, I can sit with my knitting and experience a little bit of peace.
That, my friends, is why crafting is so important to me.
All images marked “stock” are CC0 Public Domain images from Pixabay