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Showing posts with label depression. Show all posts
Showing posts with label depression. Show all posts

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Crafting through anxiety and depression

One of the most common pieces of blogging advice for fashion or lifestyle bloggers is always “keep it positive”, and “don’t use your blog as a platform to vent about your sadness”. The idea is that people read your blog for escapism and they don’t need you to deliver your negativity to them, which makes perfect sense. On the other hand, people read fashion and lifestyle blogs because they feel a connection with the blogger, and I think it is easier to form meaningful connections through honest blogging than being 100% chirpy, all the time. Plus, blogging about issues such as depression or anxiety doesn’t necessarily have to be negative.
crafting through depression
I’ve been an anxious person for as long as I can remember. I spent my childhood convinced that I was going to die from some kind of botched operation and I would wake up sweating from nightmares about dying on an operating table. I cried often, and I obsessed over every perceived failure or inadequacy in my schoolwork, in my social life, with regards to my appearance… the list goes on! (This is where I feel like it’s necessary to let you know that this article isn’t going to have some kind of magical turnaround moment, where I go, “BUT NOW I’M FINE!” because that would be a lie).
crochet girl in park
Being a perfectionist doesn’t mean that you are perfect! Somewhere along the line, saying that you’re a perfectionist has become an arrogant statement – I find this unbelievably ironic because it’s my perfectionism that holds me back more than anything else. Sometimes I feel like if I can’t do something perfectly then it isn’t worth doing… or like I want to see results immediately. This is where craft comes in. Or really, any art form for that matter (and I truly believe that craft IS art). Pick up a crochet hook, chain a few stitches, and HEY LOOK – THERE’S YOUR RESULT! You did it! And you did it all by yourself. It’s the same with painting, with knitting, embroidery, and even cooking. The beautiful thing about creating of any kind is that you have something to show for your effort. Even if it’s the smallest thing, there is a measurable achievement there. And as someone who has a very real problem with leaving this planet having made no mark on it, seeing evidence of achievement, however small, is very important.
retro granny square designs
I’m not saying that crochet cured my anxiety – far from it. But I’ve found something about which I don’t have to feel anxious or depressed. I’ve not made any commitments to anyone to make anything. I’m doing it for myself. And if it’s crap, nobody has to know about it – I can unravel it and start again when I’m feeling better about it. As well as having something to show for my efforts, and having an outlet, creative activities such as cooking, crochet and embroidery give me something to occupy my mind in such a way that it gives me space to sort things out in my head a little bit. It takes the ‘edge’ off in such a way that I can see situations a little bit more objectively than I could otherwise. This has allowed me to prevent panic attacks from time to time, although there is no way that knitting or any other craft would be able to stop a panic attack in its tracks altogether.
easy tart and kale salad recipe
The final verse in this love song to crafts and creation is the aspect of ‘self care’ that they can provide. Making a meal gives me an excuse to feed myself, and to think about all of the nutrition I’m getting from my lovingly prepared food. Making a blanket means that ultimately, I’ll have something to snuggle up in when I’m cold. Embroidering and adorning things makes my environment more beautiful. Sometimes, when I’m feeling at my worst, it’s difficult to look after myself in a direct way, which is why framing it in craft or cooking can be really beneficial.
crochet in nature

So here are my tips for crafting through the pain:

  •         Start very small. Don’t try to sew a king-sized quilt if you’ve never quilted before. Just make a coaster or something.
  •         Don’t tell anyone you’re going to do it. Just try it out. Maybe knitting will turn you into a stress cadet. Perhaps it will give you a sense of satisfaction that you’ve never experienced before!
  •         Don’t feel like you have to craft anything for anyone else.
  •         Only craft things that make you happy. Don’t make a dress if you don’t wear dresses. Don’t cook an omelette if you hate eggs!
  •         There is no such thing as failure in craft. Your worst-case scenario is that you end up with a pan full of burnt eggs or a tiny little holey square of knitting. It’s still something you made!  And nobody needs to know, remember?!
geek in embroidered labcoat science embroidery

I’ve not really touched upon the feminist relationship with craft movements in this article, because I think that it merits a whole article of its own. Still, there’s plenty of discourse on the internet already that makes very compelling arguments about these traditionally ‘feminine’ pursuits. Have you made anything recently? Has craft helped you to form a personal weapon against your anxiety or depression? Let me know!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Feeling Blue in Wintery London

The weather in the UK has been unendingly miserable for the last few months, and London is no exception. My morning commute is dominated by a sea of unhappy faces, dead eyes focused grimly on the gum-flecked pavement ahead. Dan and I have both been working full time, and even though it's been getting slightly lighter in the mornings and evenings, it still feels like we spend all our daylight hours indoors. I guess that's the world of work, but I'm hoping that one day, I'll have a job where my hours are a bit more flexible and I can feel less like a cog in an unending... box? of cogs... Not sure where that simile was going, but you get the idea.
Still, there is beauty to be found in this gloomy, grey landscape. I've been snapping some photos on my iPhone on my way to and from work in the last few weeks and I think they give you a fairly good idea of the general mood in London at the moment!
Grim South London south london trees
 photo mistylondon_zps7548d702.jpg
I can't wait until it stops snowing and raining, and I can find daylight hours to take photos for this blog again. I spend a great deal of time fantasizing about the carefree summers of university, making particular usage of my keen ability to look back on things through the hazy glasses of nostalgia! It's going to be amazing when the sun comes back!! Until then, I have to make time and make an extra special effort. It's not all been doom and gloom anyway. I've met some lovely new people at work, and our wedding planning is coming along very well. Stay tuned for some wedding-related bloggage!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

A Thousand (nearly) Things.

Oh Lor'.

I have a trillion billion things rushing around my head but none of them seem to make enough sense for me to commit them to paper, whether in my essay, or on other random scraps which I might happen to write.

It is quarter to three, and I ought to be about half way through an essay by now, but I am so not. It is really quite upsetting actually. The essay is meant to be about Plato's Phaedrus, and his attitude towards Sophistry and Dialectic in this dialogue. But at the moment, I can't even get my syntax right in this blog, let alone in an essay.

The thing is, the essay is due in on Thursday. Thursday!? You might be saying. But that would give you the whole of today and tomorrow night to do it. But no. Tomorrow I have to go back to Brighton. Don't get me wrong, I am excited to see Eleanor, but this does mean I am losing out on a LOT of vital time which I need to write my essay. And Eleanor SO won't understand my need to get this essay in on time.

All I am hoping for is that Dan manages to get another ticket to the Caius Super Formal Hall on Thursday evening, because that would actually give me something to look forward to. I suppose I do have the T.O.D.S. meeting to look forward to on Thursday after my supervision. T.O.D.S. is a society a few of my friends and I formed. It is the Tea Or Death Society and our main aim is to consume every type of tea which we can get our hands on in the local tea emporium. We have other aims, but this is by far the principal aim.

Pleasepleasepleaseplease let Dan get another ticket to the Formal. This is basically what is getting me through my week. On Friday, I have to go back to Brighton AGAIN, for our school Prizegiving ceremony. I got the music prize which I am hoping beyond hope is moneys, but I have a sneaking suspicion it is book tokens. Which wouldn't go amiss, but aren't as good as CASH! haha!

It will be really nice to see some of my friends again, but I am not really looking forward to certain members of staff going "I always knew you could do it" and expecting me to tactically forget that they told me not to even bother applying to Cambridge at all... Such is the hypocrisy of the world. I bought a University scarf today, even though this week is going to be bloody expensive.

This has been a somewhat depressing post, but there is this thing at Cambridge (I think that those at the Other Place have it too) called "5th Week Blues" which I and all of my friends seem to be experiencing at the moment. To combat our misery, we murdered a piece of toast, and drowned it in washing up liquid, before leaving it on the kitchen floor like vandals. Because that was a really good use of our time. As is this...

Don't get me wrong. I am having a fantastic time here.

This week just passed has been one of the best weeks ever. The election of Barack Obama was amazing. We all partied all night long at the Union, and when Obama's election was announced, the place just ERUPTED in this Bacchic, ecstatic, euphoria, people kissing, embracing, cheering, laughing, waking the sleeping few to tell them the news... I will remember that night forever. And I have met Dan...

I have never felt so at home before. I have met some amazing, wonderful, beautiful, intelligent, hilarious, likeminded people. I truly believe that I am at home here. But right now, I feel like death.

I think that the only thing is to go to bed. And post a much more optimistic post at the weekend, when this hellish week is over. Because inevitably, whatever happens this week, there will (hopefully) be another week after it.