I’ve been on the downward spiral of my mental illness (depression and anxiety). It’s quite possibly one of the worst episodes I’ve endured since I was first diagnosed at the end of 2010. I’ll get through it, but for now it’s probably going to tinge my writing with a touch of grey, instead of the vibrant, positive writing I try to push to this blog.
It’s hard to explain how it effects me. Everything feels overwhelming – my work, my study, diet, exercise, maintaining friendships, housekeeping. I don’t know where to begin – I’ve had writer’s block. I’ve struggled to keep laundry up to date. I have lapses of memory if I don’t write things down. It’s difficult to escape the physical manifestations of anxiety and the ongoing chatter of my mind telling me constantly that I’m a failure and a screw-up.
It feels like knitting is my main lifeline.
I knit for many reasons. It makes me feel like I’m not wasting time when I’m watching TV or on the long commute between home and work. I love the feel of luxury yarns and the quest to find the perfect pattern for a special skein. I appreciate the social connectedness of knitting groups, both online and face-to-face, and knowing that there is always another knitter not that far away. After a particularly stressful day, knitting calms me. Big projects, where there are hundreds of stitches on the needles almost put me in a meditative state as the yarn becomes a series of interlocking loops, which in turn become a shawl or a cardigan.
There’s also a sense of accomplishment that I can cling to in the dark times – those quick projects where after a few short hours a stretch of chunky yarn is turned into a pair of gloves or a funky hat. When I’m feeling like I can’t do anything right, it’s solid evidence that my depression is lying and I have something I can cling to. It’s proof I can learn new skills – five yeas ago I had no idea how to knit more than a basic scarf – increases and decreases were beyond me. Now, I have plans to knit a large complex lace shawl for my future wedding – whenever we decide to actually do it.
It gives me something to look forward to when I feel like there’s nothing else.
Do you find knitting therapeutic? How does it help you?