Crochet Through Depression

| 10/28/2019 9:43:00 AM

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A couple of years ago, following a long period of extreme financial stress, coupled with the constant fear that accompanied living in an unsafe area, I succumbed to a violent combination of depression and anxiety that required professional help and, eventually, medication. 

I used to be very ashamed of this, as if not "having it all together" was somehow my fault, but experienced a painful shift in perspective after a dear friend lost her life to depression-induced suicide. Since then, I resolved to be more open about my own struggles, figuring that it will all be worth it if I can reach even one person with the following message: There is help out there and you deserve to get it! Your life has value! Please don't do something irrevocable. 

Although medication and group therapy helped, I was extremely discouraged by the prospect of having to go through life using pills as a crutch. Besides, I was feeling kind of numb. I couldn't cry when I needed to. I couldn't laugh at things that had previously seemed hilarious. Food didn't taste as good as it used to. I had tried to wean myself off of medication, but the results were disastrous — I was in floods of tears daily and just couldn't function.

Later, when the circumstances of my life objectively changed for the better, I decided it was time to try again. I also began to read extensively about depression and anxiety, and the biochemical cycle leading to these conditions. In particular, I was interested in natural ways to boost serotonin, the vital neurotransmitter linked to feeling stable and emotionally healthy. There are different ways to aid these beneficial pathways of brain chemistry, such as a wholesome, healthy diet, sufficient sleep and exercise, hugging your loved ones often and, yes, crafts. 

There have been numerous research programs focusing on how traditional crafts such as knitting and crochet help combat anxiety and depression. The soothing, repetitive movements, the sensory pleasure of different textures and colors of yarn, the benign interest of reading a pattern, the sense of accomplishment in creating something with one's own hands, all contribute to increased well-being. Even a person who is too depressed to get out of bed (or someone who is depressed because they physically can't get out of bed!) can pick up a crochet hook or a pair of knitting needles and some yarn and work on creating something useful and beautiful. I also highly recommend the book Crochet Saved My Life by Kathryn Vercillo where this idea is extensively discussed. 

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