Wednesday, June 19, 2013

craft therapy

I'm feeling a bit blue today.  After an emotionally stressful evening a couple of nights ago and the inevitable, disturbed sleep which followed, today I feel tired, deflated and quietly contemplative.  So, what does one do to bring back the 'jolly' and retrieve the happy sense of self one has become accustomed to of late?  Craft therapy, of course :)  So I'm continuing in my effort to clean up the floss box and may spend a little time rolling yarn into neat little balls...
I'm one of those people who needs things to be 'in order' and there is something so very satisfying about tidying up the stash.  
A little something about me now, so skip this bit if you want to stick to craft :)
I am afflicted with a great variety of anxiety disorders - through no fault of my own, I have been assured by my doctors, but due to my upbringing and an unfortunate predisposition to mental illness. These anxiety disorders stop me from doing some things and going some places, cause me to make excuses rather than just explain my situation (then again, have you ever tried to explain crippling anxiety to those you hardly know? or even to those you do?), make me doubt my own intuition, cause me to yell at my kids when all I really want to do is hug them and generally just make things difficult.  Craft (helped along by a hefty dose of medical assistance) has helped me to find an outlet for my nervous energy and provides a great distraction when my mind starts to wander into a spiral of surreal torment.  It was through my search for distraction that Little Red's was born, so at least some good has come from this anguish as I now have a network of friends and crafters who inspire me everyday.
Unfortunately, those who do not suffer from similar afflictions have a very hard time understanding what it is like to endure anxiety in its great and varied forms.  They say things like 'What are you worried about?' or 'Stop stressing' or 'Why are you going home already?  Stay and have a drink' and some also say very ignorant things such as 'I think you're just being over sensitive' or 'Step out of your comfort zone.'  These types of people don't understand that growing up without a comfort zone is the very reason I require one now.  It's the very reason I love being at home with my family, doing homely, domestic things.  It brings to me a great sense of comfort and safety - something which I now know I lacked in my childhood.  I don't feel hard done by, uncultured or as though I or my family are missing out on things. We still go out to restaurants, parties, play dates and we've even been on one interstate holiday (maybe if we had more time & money, we would have been on more).  It's just that a lot more thought goes into these decisions.  I want to be assured of the safety of my children before I send them off to a friend's house - everyone has different ideas of what constitutes responsible parenting and some leave a lot to be desired.  In these cases, my child will not be left in those peoples' charge.  In the event of going on a holiday/day trip, I like to know where we are going, what sort of services are around (food, medical, toilets etc), which suburbs we go through and so on.  I like to be prepared but I don't imagine the worst case scenario or obsess over all the details.  I see this as being responsible as a parent and as a person and it just helps to ease my mind a little.  I will admit there have been times when the thought of a road trip has thrown me into panic mode and I have simply refused to go.  The feelings raised by anxiety can be confusing, intense and even physical including delirium and vomiting to name just a couple.  So it should be clear why I would avoid situations where these sorts of reactions would be triggered.  Again, a lot of people don't understand any of this and are extremely insensitive about it.  I have explained it to my close friends (and now to you) but I largely choose not to bother because so much of it is beyond explanation and quite frankly, some people just don't deserve to be privy to that intimate knowledge of my mind.  
I am so very glad that the topic of anxiety has been raised in the media of late and that through the efforts of organisations such as Beyond Blue, it will hopefully start to be recognised by the general public as a synthesis of true disorders, not just seen as a selfish attempt to  get one's own way, rudeness or a sign of a weak personality.  If you too suffer from anxiety, please don't feel alone and please don't feel that nothing can be done.  I have some very good contacts in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne and will happily share them if you PM me :)

**Here endeth the background story**

Through my experience with psychological therapies I have learnt that calm, repetitive activities help encourage the mind to relax while keeping the body physically active, thus helping to reduce any nervous energy.  Or something like that.  It's surely more complex than I have explained but in my experience, it works.
So when I get stressed out which is often accompanied by an extreme physical lethargy, I like to get into some calming, repetitive, craft therapy...

Here's how the floss box is looking...

Here's a bunch of woolly balls... 

Here's some of the yarn stash which hasn't been attempted yet (lots of therapy there!)...

Here's a little tapestry I picked up at the op shop last week which I completed and now need to frame properly.  It's my first attempt at needlepoint and I found it really relaxing, not to mention enjoyable!

I'd be interested to know if you use craft as a form of therapy?
What kind of crafts do you find therapeutic?
Do you find some crafts more stressful than relaxing?!

Happy Wednesday and Happy Crafting peeps x

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