Craft

How things are now

I’ve found that I have levels of functioning.

At level one, I can eat three meals a day, get myself to work, and walk the dog.

At level two, I can do the above with the added bonus of healthy meals, decent effort and focus at work, and long dog walks. I can also knit, paint, create in general, and I can write small things that no one will see. I can read, though not too much.

At level three (my ideal), I can do the above with confidence, and I can read book after book on any topic. I can get my online courses done without freaking out. I can write and share that writing. I can engage with my own education and development, and I can put in lots of energy to help other people that I love do the same where it’s needed.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who works like this, but let’s just say I’m not super self-aware about my own behaviour and I’m not very compassionate about it either. I can forgive anyone else for almost anything, but I cannot forgive myself when I decide I’ve dropped the ball. Setting out my emotional/physical state into the above categories really helps because I can accept it without being mean to myself about it.

You may have guessed from this post that I’ve been at level one for a while. Basic functioning. I’ve managed to mostly stay on top of the news, though I took a few breaks. I’d say this week I’ve hiked back up to level two, and now I’m crocheting/knitting a bit here and there and reading again. I’ve been to a protest this weekend and I’ve started volunteering both for PFLAG (a local LGBTQ+ organisation) and as a reading buddy for a kid at the local library. I went to the vigil for the Quebec Mosque shooting in my town too, though that involved friendly coercion from a friend.

Knitting is one of the main ways I figure out how I’m doing. If I haven’t picked up my knitting for a while or if I recoil at the thought of it, it’s one of the first signs I should do some serious self-care before things turn bad. Knitting is one of the main ways I unwind, and if I stop doing it the chances are I’m on a bad route.

I’m curious to know if anyone else feels this way or if their slow-knitting/crocheting periods are arbitrary. I know it’s kind of personal, but when I think about deleting the post I remember that I’ve found strength in hearing people talk about their own struggles with mental health, so why shouldn’t I share in turn?

An addendum: I’m not holding myself to posting as often as I used to for now, for many of the reasons above. I’m going to post at least once a week. Anything else is a bonus. I also want to send out love to the knitting community that’s one of the best things on the internet, as proven by science. I love you all.

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17 thoughts on “How things are now

  1. I admire your honesty, I pretty much have the same levels of functioning as yourself, if reading or crafting falls by the wayside I know I’m beginning to slide, I’m pleased to hear you are on level 2, I hope you keep moving forward

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    1. Thank you so much for this comment. It’s taken me a while to come back to this post to read the comments (you know how it is) but I really appreciate it. ❤

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  2. I don’t have ‘levels’ such as you do, but I am becming more aware of how much fuctionality I have (after spending a week being manic once before I realised and managed to tone it down). I haven’t been paying attention to my crafting levels to help with that (usually it’s just how much sleep I’m getting, which seems a good indicator), but I think I’ll start trying. Well done for managing to step back and not worry about how many blog posts you get done, it can be difficult to be your own friend

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    1. Thank you, I have been avoiding this post and the comments because talking about this stuff is intimidating, but I should have realised that with lovely people like you around I shouldn’t have worried.

      Sleep is a huge indicator of health and happiness for sure, but I think there’s a big correlation in craft and happiness for those of us who are addicts. It’s interesting 🙂

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  3. Yes, Laura; this Laura also functions at pretty much those levels. I’ve had to become aware of the same things since developing CRPS/RSD. Sixteen years down that road I, too, have noticed that if I don’t have the energy, or interest, to pick up something creative–be it as innocuous as a coloring page, for Pete’s sake–then I’m letting myself slip into a bad way… or I’m physically ill and need to go into full rest and recuperate mode (and yes, with my particular brand of nervous system dysfunction, it is very possible to not realise I’m coming down with something until it’s full-on in-my-face).
    As with you, knitting is going to be my first indicator.
    You are not, by any means, alone!

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    1. Thank you for this comment. ❤ It's difficult to talk about this stuff sometimes, but this community is very supportive so we're lucky.

      It's interesting to hear how other people experience this. And that other people experience it! Of course in a world this full of people there's no chance of being alone, not really, but it sure can feel that way.

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  4. Glad to hear you are hanging in there. (another book recommendation: The Noonday Demon…it’s a wonderful book about depression) According to a shrink I used to see, I’ve been depressed since about 4th grade (or earlier) having grown up in an alcoholic, military family during the Viet Nam years. In college back in the 70’s I was aware that there was a problem when I didn’t sleep for 7 days and then had no recollection of what happened for the next two or three days. The college clinic told me I had the blues, adjustment reaction to freshman year away from home, etc. That was some 40 years ago. They were wrong.

    Now I battle daily with it all. It is so much worse now that Trump is in office. I see or read about him and relive things that are best left behind. But, I find a reason every day to get out of bed, mostly. Usually the reason involves taking care of someone else. When I told my partner he is the only reason I’m still here these days, he bought me a puppy so if something happens to him, as might, I would have another reason to get up. Now I’m not only depressed, but exhausted! And have at least a 12 year lease on life, if I take proper care of Tinsel which of course I must.

    For me, reading and creative activities like my stitching and knitting are therapy. They are ways to remind myself that there is still beauty in the world and I can add to it in my own way. I can still learn a new stitch and advance my knitting skills. When I learned to snow ski when I was in the sixth grade I got tired of falling and having to fill in my sitz marks. I spent more time filling in holes than I did skiing that first year! My dad told me that when I stopped falling I should hang up my skis because I will have stopped growing as a skier. The joy is in the challenge. Truer words were never spoken and fit so many instances. I’m still learning so guess it’s not time to hang up the skiis (or needles) yet.

    But that dog is getting in the way of my therapy! She wants to eat all my string!

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    1. I’m sorry to hear you’ve been through so much, and I really appreciate you sharing it. It’s taken me a while to get back to this post because of the content, but I read and appreciated your comment back when you posted it, and I just want to say that I think you’re super strong and awesome.

      Trump is a huge trigger for me too but I’m trying to fight it because I know others find it even more difficult than I do. I am trying to keep up my strength outside of it all so I can keep going. It’s interesting and exhausting.

      I really love that your husband brought Tinsel into your life, and I love the name Tinsel for the record. It’s nice to have something to care for, and I’m really pleased it helps you, even if it makes you exhausted. Which puppies of course do. 🙂

      “They are ways to remind myself that there is still beauty in the world and I can add to it in my own way.”

      This is a beautiful thing to say and so true! I struggle with finding meaning in life sometimes because it does seem there’s so much darkness, but then you say something like this and it is SO TRUE. We can each do little things to shift the balance to happiness and beauty instead of darkness.

      “My dad told me that when I stopped falling I should hang up my skis because I will have stopped growing as a skier. The joy is in the challenge.”

      Your dad had wise words indeed. That’s awesome.

      Big love to you. ❤

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