Crochet saved my life. It pulled me up from the depths of a depression that had lasted more than ten years and brought me back into myself for the first time since I was a child. It gave me hope, it gave me purpose and eventually it gave me a community. This story will make sense to those of you who cannot imagine a life that doesn’t involve crafting in some kind.
I struggled with undiagnosed, sometimes debilitating, always untreated depression for nearly fifteen years of my life. I didn’t know that depression was the problem and I certainly didn’t know how to deal with it. I was young when it started and nobody really noticed. I always thought that whatever was wrong was something that I should be able to deal with on my own. I didn’t seek help for a very long time. I pushed forward, stubbornly, as best as I could, trying to create a life for myself in the face of immobilizing sadness.
By the time that I reached the desperate stage of readiness where I would accept any help of any kind (despite feeling certain that nothing could ever help) the problem was nearly out of control. I was barely functioning. I cried most of the day every day. I could hardly move. I could hardly breathe. The idea of trying to make doctors’ appointments or hold down “real” jobs was so far-fetched it may as well have filtered into my mind in another language. I couldn’t do almost anything and yet the one thing that I could do was to move a crochet hook back and forth through yarn, repeatedly pulling one loop through the next to create fabric out of air so thin I could barely breathe in it. Since it was one of the only things that I could do, it became imperative to my mental health that I go ahead and do it. When I first started to crochet, that feeling of temporary relief from the muted chaos of depression was the only reason I was crocheting.
Crochet helped me for so many reasons. It was simple enough to require very little focused thought and yet was a task that could force me to focus on what was at hand. Being present in the moment of what was happening right in front of me helped to reduce my anxiety and stop the ruminating thoughts that had taken over my mind. Crochet allowed me to create for myself in small acts of self-kindness and self-care. It allowed me to create for others to strengthen the few connections I felt I had left.
Of course, crochet alone could never have taken me out of that desperate place. It is a craft, not a cure-all for serious illness. And yet I am also fairly certain that I could never have loosened myself from the grip of that depression without crochet. I was stuck in between that proverbial rock and a hard place and my crochet hook served as a crowbar to begin prying me out of that difficult space. I hardly knew that it was happening and yet that hook dug deep down into the core of my being and lifted me into a space where I could once again begin to breathe. In the most basic and obvious way possible I was creating a life for myself simply through the act of creating.
A year later, breathing and healing, I was not only crocheting but also beginning to live my life again. I was beginning to meet other people who also enjoyed literally crafting a life for themselves. I had been a professional blogger/ freelance writer for approximately ten years and found the medium comfortable so I decided to start a crochet blog where I found an expansive community of like-minded crafty people. This community improved my quality of life even more. As I began to share my thoughts and feelings with this community, I began to see that I was not the only one who felt that crochet had been critical to saving one’s mental health. There are so many stories like mine, stories of crocheters and stories of other crafts.
I have come to believe wholeheartedly that “handmade heals”.
Thank you Kathryn for your story, if anyone else would like to share the details are here.