Craft and depression, depression and craft

I do a lot of reading around mental illnesses, be it conditions, trending news and the rest.  A common suggestion for coping with mental illness is to participate in hobbies as it allows the person to concentrate on something productive, keeps them active (physically and mentally, depending on the hobby) and provides a result.  It’s definitely a far kinder therapy than medication and talking treatments.

But a symptom of depression is a lack of interest in previously pleasurable activities.  And if that activity is important to your life, depression essentially robs you of that.

I started knitting and crocheting because of mental illness.  It helped to give me some substance in my life.  I could use a ball of yarn and some sticks to create something beautiful.  The biggest pleasure is making something, from scratch, for somebody else who truly appreciates my time, talent and love devoted to it.

During depressive episodes, it’s difficult to craft.  It’s an effort to drag the bag over, pick up my work and figure out where I left off.  Then there’s reading a pattern, which was simple before.  And when I begin, I make constant mistakes, big and small.  Then the last scrap of interest is gone.

It’s often swings and roundabouts.  If the depression is too much then crafting is out of the question, when hobbies are meant to be a suggested way to treat depression.  And if the depression is manageable but I’m struggling to think and concentrate, that can trigger the depression to worsen.  It’s no surprise that, sometimes, I’d rather not pick it up when in the pit.

Crafting for other people is often the incentive to carry on.  If there’s a deadline and expectation, it gives me the much-needed kick up the arse to get it done.  And whilst making them might frustrate me, the appreciation I receive is definitely worth it!

This blog might sound like I don’t enjoy knitting or crocheting.  Don’t get me wrong, I do!  It’s the depression which interferes with my life that makes me frustrated.


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