Last year I was signed off work with depression and anxiety. At times the anxiety was so bad I couldn't leave the house, especially when trying to find the right type of medication to ease my everyday suffering (the irony of antidepressants is they often make you feel a lot worse before you feel better). The depression meant I found it very difficult to concentrate on anything or have the motivation to concentrate on anything, which in turn only allowed me to ruminate further.
It was my Mum who suggested getting a sewing machine. I'd dabbled with sewing when I was at school but hadn't really done much since. Mum really pushed on this one, telling me it would give me something to focus on. I wasn't convinced. How would I have the motivation to make anything? I could barely even watch television.
Despite my concerns, I bought a sewing machine (no mean feat - this meant leaving the house which at this point in my life was a complete struggle) and found an online tutorial for some simple cushion covers. A few hours later and I was done. I was over the moon with my first project.
The cushion covers were simple enough that I could stay focused, but taxing enough that it engaged me in a task. Not only was this a breakthrough in my sewing skills,but little did I know what a massive breakthrough it was for my mental health.
From there I went on to make some more complex things like appliqued cushions and a doorstop owl!
Each project I worked on allowed me to forget about the anxiety and the depression; to forget everything and to just concentrate on the task at hand. I've always had an energetic mind, so whatever I'm doing or working on my brain is whirring about in the background, chattering away. However with sewing, it allowed me to give my brain a rest and just focus on what I was working on.
I also got a massive sense of achievement from completing a project, which gave me a much needed lift from the darkness my everyday life had become.
In January I went back to work and started my way on the road to recovery. It wasn't easy but I'm pleased to say I got there. I certainly don't believe sewing was the magical cure for my problems; counselling, medication, and the support of family, friends and my workplace were definitely the major contributors but sewing really did help me when things were bad.
Throughout this year my love of sewing has grown and grown, which prompted me to start this blog and start sharing my creations with like minded folk. It's lovely to see how I've improved over the months as I've chosen more taxing projects to work on.
I was hesitant about sharing my experience on here as I was worried about what people would think of me. In particular I was worried about my career. As I've previously mentioned I'm starting a new job in September, what if one of my new work colleagues saw it? What would they think? Would I get fired? But then I stopped and realised that all of these are issues that face everyone who suffers mental health problems and that this stigma around mental health has got to stop. My past isn't going to stop me being successful and motivated in my career, and it's not going to stop me doing a bloody good job come September! There is no shame in having experienced mental health problems and as a result it has made me a stronger person.
Over this last year I've become an avid crafter, putting my hand to anything that takes my fancy and I'm happy to say sewing is no longer just a means of survival and distraction, but is a passionate hobby.