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The Significance of Socks

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.

Sawk3

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.

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19 thoughts on “The Significance of Socks

  1. I know exactly what you mean about knitting being a lifeline. I really got into it during a time that was horrible for me. So refreshing to hear that someone else feels kind of the same way!

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  2. Oh yes, knitting is a lifeline. I’m so glad you had it to latch onto during your dark time, and I hope it continues to keep you going. Thank you for sharing your story, as hard as it must have been.

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  3. Thank you for posting your thoughts. You are very brave and have brought comfort to many who are dealing with this health issue. I have used knitting in the past to clear and calm my mind through tyring times as you have. The first time I did this, I thought, “I’ll have to give this away, because it will be too much of a reminder of a sad time.” After finishing it, I changed my mind and attitude about it and decided to keep it as a reminder that I could get through and have something beautiful and useful at the finish. ❤

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    1. So sorry for the late reply – it was in the queue for confirmation and I forgot to look in there! Thank you so much for this kind message. It’s a lovely thing to know knitting has helped so many people. ❤

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  4. I know that it’s not the same but knitting has given me something to pour myself into while grieving the loss of my Sister. Her death turned everything in my life upside down. It’s not a cure all but it gives you something positive to do with all of the nervous energy that builds up in you. Wishing you happy stress free days a head.

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    1. I’m so sorry for your loss and I’m glad you were able to find somethign to help with such a hard time. You’re right, it doesn’t cure everything but I really think it takes a little of the edge off.

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    2. My knitting has, for many years, been a huge help in dealing with stress and loss of loved ones. I particularly like knitiing Prayer, or Angel Wilng Shawls. The projects, big or small, give us something tangible and beautiful as a result. ❤

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  5. I was diagnosed bipolar just over ten years ago and spent a lot of time struggling to work out how to fit in with the “normal” world. Having some knitting or crochet to hand is what finally helped me connect to people and stop getting lost inside my own head. Apart from when I lost my sock wip in sainsburys at the weekend, (went back and found it!) having some knitting to hand helps keep me calm. There is definitely something to be said for turning your anxieties into socks! ☺

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    1. Thank you so much for this comment. It’s so good (in a manner of speaking) to hear how other people have found comfort in craft. It’s definitely helped me feel more connected to the world, that’s such a good way of putting it!

      And I’m glad you didn’t lose that sock! I would have been distraught if that happened to me.

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  6. I’m glad others feel the same way about knitting. Knitting saved my life last year, without yarn and a WIP to work through I would have lost myself completely and I’m glad you still love your socks. There’s certainly something meditative about being able to zone out and just knit.

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