...saved my mind.
(This is the post I wrote which was published by the Susan, the Crochet Addict back in September)
There is no way I could have known when I picked up my crochet hooks after years of not touching them, that I would become a different person. Several years prior, I had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The pain and fatigue that I lived with had robbed me of vitality to the point that my employer "suggested" I take a leave of absence. That was a wake up call to a new life.
Soon after returning to work, on a scaled down level, I met a woman that knitted. She inspired me to crochet a few stitches. And of course, I was hooked.
She took me shopping for yarn after I found a pattern for a simple cardigan, and was I ever surprised at the glorious selection of colors and styles. And this was just at Michaels; we hadn't even been to a yarn store yet! We started attending groups together, like Stitch and Bitch, and I began honing my rudimentary skills learned at my grandmother's knee.
Then, I began to notice something. As my mind turned from the thoughts and pains of the day to the mindless counting of stitches and rhythmic motion of the hook through the yarn, I began to mellow. My physical and mental pain seemed to be coming from the depths of a cavern. Do you remember making long distance calls on an old land-line phone. We would ask, "Where are you calling from?" because there was an audible tinniness in the voice. "You sound like you're in a cavern," we'd say.
Crocheting became addictive, like a drug. And why not---it was relieving my pain, and who doesn't want to be pain-free? However, it took me a while to realize what was happening. The less my mind listened to the droning of pain signals, and the more time it spent on the exhilaration of creating something out of nothing, the clearer my thinking became. It was then I had my epiphany. Crocheting was making my life more bearable.
I eventually had to quit work altogether, so I began to crochet in earnest. My friend and I began joining in other groups of mostly knitters and the occasional crocheter. I was determined to not let the knitters get the best of me, so I started crocheting lace shawls and interesting socks. It wasn't long before I began to explore the thought of making some money with my crochet. In February of 2012 I opened an Etsy store.
But, back to the idea of crocheting being like a drug. I had been quite aware for some time that I was crocheting with the purposeful intent of calming my mind. I mentioned this at a group, and others---knitters and crocheters---expressed similar experiences. One person mentioned how meditative it is, another even admitted that if she didn't knit, she'd get bitchy. There were comments on the simple tactile sensory experience being comparable to the healing power of touch. One member, an engineer, said that designing his own complicated charts helped relieve his stress. We all agreed that getting together and laughing was an added bonus.
The concept of the healing power of creating can be found in blogs all over the internet. Just do an internet search for "Craft as Therapy." There is even a Pinterest group called Craft Therapy. I couldn't get off it, the pictures were so captivating! Lastly, a marvelous book was published this June called, Crochet Saved My Life, by Kathryn Vercillo.
In the author's press release is the folowing quote:
Crochet Saved My Life uses a combination of memoir, biography and research to explore how crochet has been used both historically and in modern times to help people heal from depression, anxiety, PTSD, schizophrenia, pregnancy complications, chronic pain conditions and even early Alzheimer’s.You can read more about the book on Kathryn's blog, Crochet Concupiscence.
It is rare these days to find me without a crochet hook in my hand, whether it is sitting with my husband while he watches TV, or I'm listening to an online sermon, and even at baseball games. I always have my little yellow striped bag with a ball or two of yarn that I can work on. Well, my neck is starting to cry out, so I better go pick up a hook.