Crafting for sanity

Things have been tough this week. This year has so far brought experiences that have taken me into the depths of panic and despair. I’ve spent a lot of energy just trying not to be crushed by that. Fighting the panic is exhausting. Trying to fix the things that were causing the panic has been brutal and ineffective. You only have to look at my face to see what a mess I am in. I am going to make a point of showing my face when I’m not ok because I want to challenge the idea that mental illness is invisible illness.

There is patchwork on my lap in this photo. I made six jumpers through the winter. Crafting has always been a coping mechanism for me. The rhythm of it soothes me. If I can take ruined, useless things – as with these dead jeans – and turn them back into something useable, that helps me. I feel better about myself when I make things. If I can use my craft skills to put something attractive into the world, that also helps with the mental health issues. I like upcycling for my friends, too. This jacket will be for Susie and with this jacket made all four of the Ominous Folk will have denim patchwork items.

One of the main reasons I never sell craft work is that this is stuff I do for my mental health. I need to be free to do it on my own terms. Who I make things for is an important part of the process. I can cheer myself up by making things for me. Often what I make is an expression of relationship, and how I feel about the person I’m making something for is part of what makes it a restorative process. A garment like this takes a lot of hours – I don’t count the hours. It is better for my emotional wellbeing to give these pieces away out of love than to find people don’t want to pay a pound an hour for my efforts.

I’ve started on the embroidery part of the process now. It’s a way of making that is inspired by Japanese boro, and it’s something I get a lot of comfort and delight from.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

9 responses to “Crafting for sanity

  • Helen Bell

    I totally agree – making things is very important to me too for similar reasons. When I don’t do it I feel much worse. Best wishes for your health – mental and otherwise

  • jswhite

    It’s rough and disheartening when you feel terrible and no one seems to see that, but Im glad that crafting helps.

    I hope you continue to feel better, but I want you to know that when you don’t feel well, others still think well of you and love you.

    You aren’t forgotten and you are cared for.


  • tinderness

    I do wish you all the best to cure soon.

  • Corinne Wheeler

    Your thoughts about craft really resonated with me as I do the same for the same reasons.Ive made quilts,embroidered, crocheted, made jewellery, made green men out of felt and much more; a lot of it isn’t any good but it’s got me through the depression. I am concentrating on writing and my garden at the moment,can’t afford counselling so like you I’m doing my best.
    Slightly off topic;I do not recommend adult colouring.It’ll draw you in and become an obsession and before long you’re spending 12 hours a day on it and neglecting everything else. Not wise.

    • Nimue Brown

      Ah, I’m unlikely to colour for fun – I’m the colourist o a graphic novel project, so I spend an hour or two on most of my working days, pencils in hand… it isn’t soothing!

  • Laura Morrigan

    Sewing is definitely something that helps me get out of a bit of a slump if I manage to motivate myself just enough. Mental illness is never easy and I am pretty sick of it not being treated as a serious medical issue!

  • resourceful12

    Crafting is very much like art therapy. I struggle with depression and anxiety. I enjoy working on projects to keep my mind from drifting off and worrying about things I cannot control. Just seeing a finished project brings temporary joy until I’m a little frazzled again. Stay calm, because it will be alright.

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