Chronic Health Problems and Crafting

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)

Bipolar Disorder

Me 2013 Chronic Health

Me modelling my newly completed tote bag, not long after my wedding

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.

Meds, glorious meds Chronic Health Problems

This is about one month’s worth of meds (the medicine in the orange boxes is actually two months worth). I’m now on more. That’s a lot of interaction!


Ball and chain Chronic Health problems

Fibromyalgia can feel like some evil person has attached lead weights to your limbs. (STOCK)

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!


Random Sleeping

Sleeping Chronic Health Problems

I end up sleeping just about everywhere (STOCK)

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.

Chronic Health Problems Bead Embroidery

Picking up pretty rainbow beads for bead embroidery

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.

Chronic Health Problems Knitting

Pausing to admire the contrast between two types of knitting needles as I attach a pocket lining

That, my friends, is why crafting is so important to me.


All images marked “stock” are CC0 Public Domain images from Pixabay

About Izzy Tinsley

Izzy is a yarn addict who crafts as often as she is able. You can usually find her with yarn and needles (and a nice cuppa) in the home she shares with her husband, quietly stuffing yarn into every available corner.

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