A note before I start this post: I’ll be talking about mental health and how knitting has helped through the years with recovery. I am happy to answer any questions you have but please, no negativity in the comments. It’s hard writing something like this but I also think it’s important.
These socks should hold bad memories for me, but they do not.
I started these socks at the end of the most difficult time of my adult life. I lived thousands of miles away from the woman I love and I had just been diagnosed with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder). It was a relief to put a name to the problems I’d been having, but I was still torn up about it. It’s hard for me to write this even now, most of a year and an entire continent away from that time.
I cast them on from some yarn I received in a swap from Jennifer. It’s good yarn. It knit up well and after frequent washing and drying over the last few months it’s only just starting to pill. They haven’t shrunk at all.
A worthy distraction
They were cast on at the start of an OCD conference that just happened to be in my city (Newcastle-upon-Tyne). Though I was nervous about facing such a huge part of myself head on I knew I had to go. At that point only one or two people knew I’d received a diagnosis. I’m still a bit dodgy about telling people now, thinking they’ll mock me or make all the wrong assumptions. I’m sure anyone with mental health issues in their past or present will understand that.
Knitting these socks helped me through the hours without freaking out too much. It was the best thing I could have done. It got me speaking to the people there when I would have been happy to hide away from them during our tea and lunch breaks. It gave me something to do so that I didn’t think about how much of a fraud I felt. After all there were people there with much worse OCD than I had, wasn’t this a conference for them? The knitting, in short, stopped me from walking out which would have been a huge mistake.
A Recovery At Last
Thanks to a better understanding of the disorder and an amazing behavioural psychologist who helped me more than any therapist has before (and I’ve been through a few), I have the OCD under control.
There are times when it’s difficult and I don’t know how to deal with my busy mind. Anxiety is a bitch. It can take up a lot of energy and time but with a hobby like knitting there’s always some form of distraction. In times when I don’t want to think or worry any more I pick up a sock or a hat or a shawl and off I go.
The quiet repetition helps me more than meditation. I’m too much of a fidget for that. Yet the steady movements of knitting and the easy concentration work in a similar way.
Knitting has been my lifeline through the bad times. These socks are a reminder of that.