It’s no secret that I have gone through some darkness. I’ve written about them here, in guest posts, in my newsletter…. you get the idea. Suffice it to say, I’m not hiding it from anybody, least of all you.
Because I know depression (and anxiety, and general ennui – they’re all related) so intimately, I’m always nervous about offering pat solutions to it. I know that there is no such thing – that no amount of cheer leading, no magical diet change or exercise plan or thought working tool is going to let you wave a magic wand and watch all your troubles disappear in a puff of purple smoke.
The reality is, my healing journey has consisted of multiple small moments, and they have come from multiple sources: friends, therapy, coaching, nature, meditation…. it’s a long list.
But if I had to pin point the one thing that has helped me the most, while trapped in the experience of depression, anxiety, and general uncertainty, I would have to point to crafting.
During the winter of 2010-2011, I went through a particularly nasty bout of seasonal depression, combined with unemployment. Around the same time, I discovered Craftster, and got involved in craft swaps.
Joanna, what the hell is a craft swap, and why should I care?
Craft swaps (at least as practiced on Craftster), involve a whole bunch of people signing up, filling out forms describing their likes and dislikes, and then being paired up with suitable other people. Your job is to craft delightful objects, which you then send to that other person. Usually there is some sort of theme, but you otherwise are limited only by your imagination, and the preferences of your partner.
I’m pretty sure that saved my life.
Crafting gave me something to focus on other than the toxic thoughts circling through my head. It got me thinking about other people. It got me involved in a community. It gave me something to look forward to, in the form of a package arriving in the mail. All of that was more healing than I can say.
More than that, crafting let me feel productive again. During a dark time, I saw that I could do something. I could create something that hadn’t been there before. If you’ve never had that particular revelation during a low point, let me tell you, it can be earth shattering. If the actions I take can create a scarf out of nothing but yarn, then the actions I take can also create me a better life out of nothing but what I have in front of me.
What can you do to experience the healing power of crafts?
- If you don’t know any crafts, pick one to learn. I suggest crochet, because it is relatively easy to learn, mistakes are easy to fix, and yarn is yummy. But any craft that appeals to you is great.
- Join a group or take a class. Socializing is hard when you feel like death warmed over, but it’s worth it. A crafting group is a particularly easy way to ease yourself into interacting with other people. You can focus on your project any time you feel awkward, and it’s a natural ice breaker. If you need help finding crafters near you, try local shops or meetup.com
- Sign up for Spinning Your Way Out of the Dark: Ariadne’s Thread. This is the path that guarantees that you will get the most healing out of your crafting, because I’ll be with you every step of the way. I will guide you through learning to use the drop spindle to create yarn, to using it for mindfulness practice, all the way to using your new craft to gain greater insights into how best to overcome the challenges in your way (whatever they may be).
Everybody’s path to healing and happiness is different, so what worked for me might not work for you. But then again, if you’re at your wits end, it just might be exactly what you most need. Yarn is cheap; give it a try.