Christine tells us how she discovered craft after chronic illness and how it has helped her since.
I came to the crafts of needlework and crochet via the tortuous route of a chronic, neurological illness. After having lost both my ability to work and participate in my usual recreational activities (which did not involve any type of crafts as I was a sporty person who liked to travel), I became extremely isolated – becoming overwhelmed by sadness and depression at the vanishing of my independence and identity. Around Christmas of 2013, I came across a little kit to make some felted Christmas ornaments that involved some blanket stitch. I found the action of stitching strangely comforting and relaxing. It helped me focus and momentarily forget all about my woes. I also felt pride about something that I had achieved, a feeling that had but completely deserted me since loosing so much to this illness.
From there I went online in search of similar activities and discovered the exciting and rewarding world of cross stitch and embroidery – and a few years later, I added crochet to my crafting abilities. These crafts helped filled the inescapable void that slowly builds up when one becomes housebound and socially isolated. It gives some kind of structure to my life and a purpose to get up in the morning. It’s not a cure all, or magical pill as some days are tough and crafting falls by the wayside a bit, but I always go back to it as it has become a security blanket and the source of so much enjoyment!
This story wouldn’t be complete without talking about the social aspect of crafts and support in the internet age. Being too sick to leave my house has not been an impediment in sharing my love of crochet and needlework – and participating in social bonding. From groups on Facebook, to Flickr, through “Stitch-A-Long” (SAL) – I do not feel so isolated anymore. I realised that many people use these same crafts to cope with depression, anxiety and chronic illnesses, just like me! Other crafters are so supportive and foster a sense of community that is truly helpful on dark and difficult days. In conclusion, crafting has become my guiding light in a rather stormy and frustrating existence as a chronic illness sufferer. It has given me back some sense of self and importance. I cannot say where I would be without my crafts, but I do know that my soul would be in a much darker place.