Never in my lifetime would I have thought it possible that I could browse up and down a yarn aisle.
A nice mixture of post-traumatic stress disorder and agoraphobia has locked down my life since I could remember. I was constantly terrified of leaving the house. I felt pathetic, trapped, and useless. I couldn’t work, I could barely keep in touch with my friends from college, and I was confined to living at home with my mother and younger sister.
Needless to say, I abhorred my life. I woke up every morning without purpose, mindlessly sticking to my computer and dragging on through the motions of basic survival. I would eat, sleep, and repeat. Of course, in between all of this I had an exorbitant amount of time to fill. This was often spent on the depths of YouTube, and writing a fantasy novel that was locked in my head.
However, despite being so isolated, I found joy in watching some crocheting content on YouTube. It started with watching Bag-O-Day Crochet and Odinka Wisanindhi. It was inspiring to see what they could do with yarn. They crafted everything from baby blankets to amigurumi to full-fledged outfits. I was in awe of how something so small and mundane could be transformed into something intricate and heart-warming.
Over time I made my way to amazon and purchased a very cheap set of plastic hooks and basic worsted yarn. When it arrived, I slaved over that yarn. Every ounce of concentration I had was poured into counting, twisting, yarning over, and pulling through. And what did I get for all this effort?
A lopsided, poorly stitch-spaced, frizzing nose-warmer. I kid you not, it took me probably 3 hours to get a rectangle that was no larger than 2" by 3". At first, I was so proud of this feat. I had made something. For once it seemed my actions resulted in an outcome I could see and be proud of! I had physical evidence I wasn't just wasting space, I could be useful for something! As an added bonus, those three hours I was so consumed in creating that I had forgotten all my previous worries. I felt like I was finally in control of my life.
Of course, anyone with anxiety and depression can tell you that was a short-lived respite.
I began to see the flaws of each stitch. I had doubled up on stitches which resulted in the lines of crochet being imperfect, I had pierced some of the yarn whilst crocheting and had an abundance of frizzy and splitting yarn. Not to mention the size of the stitches varied wildly, some had large gaps while others were so tight you couldn't see through. I began pouring over every frayed, clipped, and incongruous stitch.
Eventually, I had a panic attack, broke down, and tossed the work into the trash. I was inconsolable over this glorified nose-blanket. I kept comparing the image of my ratchet and dilapidated art to the pros that seemed to endlessly populate social platforms.
It took my mother and my emergency medication to calm me down. I was distraught and felt that this simply proved my point. I was worthless. I couldn't even follow directions correctly to make a simple rectangle.
I loathed being in the same room as those hooks. So I packed them away with the rest of my yarn. They remained at the bottom of my closet for years as I tried in vain to find a "replacement hobby". I needed that respite that crocheting had provided me. I missed bathing in the bliss of creation. I tried diamond dot paintings, I tried actual painting, I even tried photography for a bit. Nothing came close to providing comfort and peace.
Against my better judgment, I pulled out the old hooks and yarn I had stowed away. This time, I was following a simple half-double crochet stitch blanket pattern. I chose my favorite color yarn (ombre purple and white) that was thankfully on sale at Michael's and began crocheting away. Little did I know this would be a saving grace.
Less than a month later I had the first of several gallbladder attacks, as well as numerous physical health issues, arise. I ended up having to drop out of university due to emergency surgery and had to finish online as an abundance of other complications seemed to arise. I couldn't catch a break.
Next was gastroenterologist visits, multiple CT scans, blood tests, colonoscopies, endoscopies, and biopsies. For a majority of this, I was bedridden, unable to even sit to write, and barely able to continue my classes. It was heartbreaking.
But then I remembered the blanket I had started just a few weeks before. I picked up the yarn and hook. Immediately I fell in love with the rhythmic calming movements of crocheting. I kept my mind away from the pain, anger, and sorrow that had been building within me. I felt my "usefulness" being fulfilled.
A few weeks after recovery later, I had a fully functioning (and decent looking) blanket! It was a not-so-surprise gift for my mom for caring for me. She was ecstatic. I felt an outpouring of joy and self-worth. Despite the holes, crooked edges, and questionable yarn-joining, she adored it. I saw that despite my mistakes, my work, myself even, was worthy of love and appreciation.
Even years late she still has it. Albeit now shared with a small Yoodle and Pomchi who adore snuggling up in it. It's great to hear the stories about how every night it's a fight to see who gets the blanket first. It brought us together in a way I couldn't have imagined.
Needless to say, after therapy and countless trips to the doctors I'm still kickin' strong. I drag anyone and everyone who has a crafty brain cell out to any fabric shops and often come back with loads of yarn I swear I'll have a use for. I made my boyfriend a blanket, my sister a scarf, my brother a little amigurumi panda, and am now working on a biblical scene blanket that I hope to gift to my grandparents. Oh! And I can't forget the cute little bee I crocheted to teach myself amigurumi. He sits in a little candle holder to keep him upright, I cherish that janky bee with all my heart.
And to think, I found worth amidst Michael's 75-percent-off yarn sale.