True stories of using crafting to heal from a variety of mental and physical health problems.
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Crochet Saved My Life
Crochet saves lives. It saved mine.
In the worst throes of depression I found myself sobbing on the bathroom floor, the tip of a kitchen knife pointed into my wrist. I was aching to break the flesh and bring the pain to an end. Through sheer force of will, I pried my own desperate hands open and replaced the knife with a crochet hook. Then I crocheted to save my life.
In this book, you will get to know me through my story of depression and healing. And you will get to know other women as well. You will meet Aurore who crochets to stay in touch with reality as she deals with ongoing psychiatric hallucinations. You will meet Laurie who made a new life with crochet after years of a life filled with abuse. You will meet Tammy whose crochet helps her with the ups and downs of living with Chronic Lyme Disease. You will meet Liza who crochets through the anxiety of having temporary bouts of blindness caused by an undiagnosed health condition.
Here are some of the things you will hear them say:
"When I crochet I don't think about how my body is now broken; I think about how I can create something beautiful and useful with my hook and either yarn or thread." -Vicki
"When I'm anxious, I feel like a hollow hull. Crocheting helps fill up the void." - Aurore
"I couldn't pay for therapy, but a few balls of crochet thread cost less than $20 and provided me with many hours of crochet." - M.K.
"The feeling of the yarn and the rhythmic motions produced by crocheting are very quieting and help me regroup, recharge and become reconnected to my inner self amidst turmoil and confusion." - Aimee
"Crochet helps me put my pain on the back burner for a while. It takes my focus away from how I'm feeling and puts it in a more productive place". - Shelli
The two dozen women whose stories are shared in this book are the women who hook to heal. We are not alone. Studies shows that crocheters are numerous; research and anecdotal evidence show that people of all ages, from all walks of life, with all types of health conditions may find healing through their hooks and yarn. Join us on our journey.
Excerpt from the Introduction of
Crochet Saved My Life
By Kathryn Vercillo
Crochet saved my life.
I realize that this sounds completely absurd … or at the very least like a great exaggeration. I assure you, however, that it is the truest way I can possibly describe the role that crochet played in assisting me in moving through the deepest period of depression I had ever experienced. Without it, I may not have lived.
Prior to this terrible period, I had suffered with undiagnosed, sometimes debilitating, always untreated depression for nearly fifteen years. I didn’t know that depression was the problem and I certainly didn’t know how to deal with it. The delay in diagnosis was due in large part to stubbornness. I was very anti-medication, mostly anti-psychologists and believed that whatever was wrong was something I could solve on my own. The delay also had to do with my youth (I was a young teen when the problem started), a lack of self-awareness and an abundance of intelligence and creativity that made me generally keep going in some form despite many tough battles with deep sadness. In later years, I did try to reach out for help but the professionals I worked with didn’t properly diagnose me or help me in any way.
All of this is to say that by the time that I reached the desperate stage of readiness where I would accept any help of any kind (despite feeling certain that nothing could ever help) the problem was nearly out of control. I was barely functioning. I cried most of the day every day. I could hardly move. I could hardly breathe. The idea of trying to make doctors’ appointments or hold down “real” jobs was so far-fetched it may as well have filtered into my mind in another language. I couldn’t do almost anything and yet the one thing that I could do was to move a crochet hook back and forth through yarn, repeatedly pulling one loop through the next to create fabric out of air so thin I could barely breathe in it. Since it was one of the only things that I could do, it became imperative to my mental health that I go ahead and do it. When I first started to crochet, that feeling of temporary relief from the muted chaos of depression was the only reason I was crocheting.
Of course, crochet alone could never have taken me out of that desperate place. It is a craft, not a cure-all for serious illness. And yet I am also fairly certain that I could never have loosened myself from the grip of that depression without crochet. I was stuck in between that proverbial rock and a hard place and my crochet hook served as a crowbar to begin prying me out of that difficult space. I hardly knew that it was happening and yet that hook dug deep down into the core of my being and lifted me into a space where I could once again begin to breathe. In the most basic and obvious way possible I was creating a life for myself simply through the act of creating.
A year later, breathing and healing, I was not only crocheting but also beginning to live my life again. I was beginning to meet other people who also enjoyed literally crafting a life for themselves. I had been a professional blogger/ freelance writer for approximately ten years and found the medium comfortable so I decided to start a crochet blog where I found an expansive community of like-minded crafty people. As I began to share my thoughts and feelings with this community, I began to see that I was not the only one who felt that crochet had been critical to saving one’s mental health. In fact, it became obvious to me that it is more often than not the case that crocheters feel that they experience some personal health benefits from the craft although that may not be their main motivation for crocheting.
Crochet heals. Crochet saves lives.