I have been struggling with my mental health for a while. I finished my undergrad degree in Zoology and had no idea where to turn! My whole life I had been within the education system - just keep studying for the next exam. But at least I knew what I was doing!
After my undergrad degree I took the summer "off" before going to a volunteer placement - it was here, while looking after 32 monkeys, that I learnt to crochet. My placement finished and I decided to apply for a Masters degree in animal behaviour - it just seemed to be the next reasonable step - but I was still lost!
I went back home and poured all of the stress and anxiety and horrible thoughts about not being good enough into blankets - I made one for my Gran and one for my Nan, their Christmas presents for the year were finished by March. I finally managed to find a job - in the gift shop of a zoo no less! Turned out it was a pretty rubbish place to work, I was spending pretty much all of my earnings on fuel to get there. At least I could crochet on my days off, and in the evening... I even started taking balls of wool to crochet when I arrived early.
Come September and it was the end of the season and I was essentially told there would be no more shifts for me. Having deferred my Masters for the year to save up more, I needed to find another job so I spent another month crocheting and job hunting - I made a pretty incredible Harry Potter blanket, it's bigger than my double bed! After a stupidly long wait after an interview ("we'll call you by Tuesday" - it was the following Saturday!!) I finally got another job. It was better paid, or would be after the probation period and I was working in the Haberdashery section of the store - a crafter's heaven right? Yeah... no.
This job dragged me right down. It was only after my Boyfriend informed me that I had come home and cried about managers or the stress or horrible customers yelling at me more times that month than he had ever seen me cry, that I decided enough was enough – I quit.
I returned to the zoo for a few weeks in the summer to try and tide me over, but I have now started my Masters degree with less funds saved than I anticipated.
Now all my stress and worry is coming from lack of money and assignments. But the crochet is helping on both fronts!
When I crochet, the steady movement of hook and yarn helps to ease the tension in my mind and body - some people do yoga, I crochet. As I think carefully about the pattern; whether I am making one up, working from one online or remembering one I make all the time, I find that my mind is so filled with single crochets and slip stitches and puff stitches and increases and decreases that there is no room left in there for the panic about the amount of presentations I will have to do this year or the fact that I might not be able to afford food in a few months time! While I work and twiddle that yarn into some adorable little critters, my breathing slows and everything just turns out alright in the end!
I also sell my crochet on my Etsy shop (link to a lobster if you want to check it out ;) ) and so it has actually managed to pay for our council tax bill this month! Yeah, maybe it isn't raking in a ridiculous amount of money, but so long as it funds my self administered therapy sessions I think it's worth it!