Let’s get real

image I have not been wanting to write this post.

In fact, I have not been wanting to write down any of my thoughts regarding Marinke’s suicide. Which is why my #mandalaformarinke (pictured above) is still sitting on the sideboard in my entrance hall instead of being on it’s way to Kathryn in the U.S.

I don’t talk about my feelings a lot. In fact I’m rather very good at hiding how I feel when I talk to most people. By most people I mean the general public as well as friends and family. There is only a small number of people who know what I am really thinking and feeling.

I don’t necessarily think there’s anything wrong with that, I don’t want to be the type of person that exclaims loudly how they feel every second of every day but today I want to to a little exclaiming.

Since Marinke’s death I have been thinking about depression an awful lot. And one conclusion I’ve come to is that it is something that creative people battle with. I know for a fact that if creative people do not practice their creativity they are in danger of becoming depressed. The creative process changes brain chemistry and being creative is proven to help stabilize depression.

So, how does a creative person end up battling with depression? Surely the creative process immunizes us from feeling depressed? Apparently not, countless creatives suffer from the burden of being creative.

I don’t know about you but I often feel that burden too and although I have never come close to thinking about ending my life I have felt despair. And lots of it.

Sometimes it just hits me. Bam! From one day to the next, like yesterday. Do you know what I mean? You’re having a perfectly good day when something happens that slightly, and I mean slightly, upsets the balance and instead of being able to shake it off it unhinged everything. Every. Thing.

And then it just keeps on spiraling downward into this sickly sweet sticky pudding of a nightmare that you don’t really know how to get out of and if you don’t have a really great support system you may end up drowning in that nightmare because you don’t see a way out.

What is absolutely heartbreaking to me is that within the last six months I have heard of four people who succumbed to depression. Two I knew personally. Three were students at the school I taught at in Johannesburg. One was a current student in senior primary school.

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Depression is serious. It can hold on to you for years and years, sometimes with a very slight feathery touch that you hardly notice. Suddenly with a grip so tight you want to rip off a limb. I think creative people are affected more because we are more sensitive to our surroundings. We notice things that others may not. Whether it’s the slight nuances between seemingly identical colours or minute differences in temperature or sound. We see and experience the world differently and that often makes us feel alone. How do you explain the almost imperceptible difference between two shades of red, for example? This might sound like a trite example but those type of situations happen in every aspect of a creative’s daily life. and that lack of being able to explain the almost imperceptible becomes a huge burden to bear.

It’s really, really hard living in a world that most people see in shades of grey. Where people hardly see each other because they are so terribly self-involved. Where saying ‘Fine, and how are you?’ Is the only socially acceptable response to ‘How are you?’

If someone had asked me how I was doing today that’s the answer I would have given. However, I am not fine today.

In fact I am a bit of a mess at the moment and quite frankly I am not ashamed to say so anymore! For goodness sakes! I’ve just moved continents, never mind to a different city. Did you know that relocating is one of the most stressful things you can do? And within the last two years I’ve moved twice. Once from the coast back to Johannesburg and more recently to Germany.

Apart from moving to Germany I’ve also had to deal with most of the admin stuff because my husband’s German isn’t all that good. He’s improving every day and I’m incredibly proud of him but it’s tough when you need to do ALL the admin by yourself and even more so if you yourself sometimes don’t even understand the business lingo used.

I am a creative person and I rarely have a day that I don’t pick up a hook or needles to play with yarn. I find it therapeutic and it calms me down. The only thing I think it would be similar to is using a rosary maybe? Although I’ve never used one, so I can’t say for sure.

What I can say though is that crochet and knitting, in fact any creative outlet does help me maintain my sanity. I can focus more after I’ve worked a few rows or rounds. I feel calmer and more centered.

BUT I do think that there needs to be a balance. I can see it in myself. To just sit and be creative. To be involved with your own thoughts and feelings all the time without socializing is very dangerous. It is one thing to centre yourself with your creativity. To work out the thoughts that fly through your head and come to grips with how you feel. However, do not wallow, and there is a very fine line between contemplation and wallowing. Believe me, I know. I am fortunate to have my husband who will snap me out of my funk. Sometimes I really dislike him while he’s doing the snapping but it is always necessary.

Another way to keep yourself from getting into a funk is to get active. I know this is true for me. Riding my bike has a similar effect to crocheting. It’s something that I can do on my own, where I can think and clear my head but it is also different in that it forces me to get outside and moving. I think it’s the moving that’s most important in this equation. So if you don’t like bikes start walking. Join a yoga or Pilates class. Find something to get you out of your home.

This has turned into a bit of an essay already, so I will end it off with a bit of crochet. I haven’t shown my completed 2014 Scheepjes CAL blanket on the blog yet and I am still planning s tutorial for the join I used but until then you can have a look at the blanket courtesy of a few of my Instagram photos.

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In case you hadn’t noticed. The first Mandala in this post was made using leftover yarn from the CAL. I thought it would make a fitting tribute, especially since Marinke’s loved the yarn (Vinnis Colours Serina). I gifted her a ball of it when we met in Bremen in 2012.


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This is a closeup of the border I used. I decided not to use the official CAL border because my squares were all so different and I din’t want the join and borer to detract from them.

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And here’s the finished blanket. I didn’t block the join or border as I didn’t think it needed it.

16. September 2015 by Stephanie Davies
Categories: From The Heart | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 comments

Comments (12)

  1. Mr first post here so obviously you nor your followers know me. Your blog posting touched me so I wanted you to know that I care about you (& all) going thru depression. I can’t say I fully understand the impact on people dealing with it but I do know reaching out to others is a very good thing. You remain in my thoughts & prayers.

  2. I just joined your blog today and I too was terribly affected by Wink’s suicide. I am 65 and have been bi-polar tilting more towards the depressive rather than hyper side and have had 4 suicide attempts in my life. Fortunately good medication came along in time and I have been okay for several years, but I DO understand. I am soon retiring and moving back to Sweden from the UK which will probably trigger some problems for awhile. If you ever DO feel so down you feel like you are really drowning, I hope you would feel free to write to me. Been there, done that, got lots of tee shirts and have survived!

    Carolyn

    • Thank you so much for your comment and I am glad you are still here today!
      I will remember your offer and feel free to do the same with me <3

  3. For some reason I thought I commented on this already but maybe I never finished my comment. In any case, I just want you to know that my heart is with you and your post has touched me. Huge hugs.

  4. I too suffer from depression, I am bipolar which was diagnosed after my last suicide attempt. I have suffered from this condition as long as I can remember, literally since I was a child. Creativity has been my outlet since i was a teenager. Crochet is my therapy. I am chair bound and exercising is not something I can do. Sense of self worth is a struggle but I find when creating something I tend to cope better. I become suicidal when an illness strikes and the cause is unknown. I seem to suffer from rare diseases that must become severe before the root cause is found. These conditions are very debilitating and come with the inability to cope and depression, throw bipolar into the mix and thete you have it. I learned that I must focus on something else. My latest creative outlet is crochet, I’m learning new stitches and patterns and truly this “passion” is helping. God bless your journey and keep communicating.

    • Thank you so much for your comment Debbie!
      I wish you everything good for the future as well as a long period of excellent health.
      Hugs to you <3

  5. Hi, Sarah here from Hampshire in the UK.

    I think that you are right about being creative and having depression. I am blessed to be able to tackle most creative things and be successful at them. However, this also brings with it huge pressure from others as they always expect what you do to be fantastic and they don’t hesitate to say so. You then need to develop a resilience to the comments and get past them to appreciate the praise that comes your way.

    I too need to have a needle/needles/hook in my hands at some point each day to maintain my balance and my mental health. A recent stretch of several days without being able to craft (whilst entertaining relatives) has seen a huge downturn in my wellbeing and I know I will take quite some time to get back to a good place.

    We must all remember that we have to look after ourselves and that we are not being selfish if we need some creative time with needles or hooks each day.

    Thanks so much for writing your piece as you’ve helped me clarify things in my mind hence my response here.

    Please take care of YOU and I send you huge supportive hugs, Sarah xox

  6. Keep up the good work. Keep your chin up as you have a lot of people praying for you and using your crochet designs. Take care.

  7. Pingback: Stephanie Davies Crochet Mandala + Balancing Activity and Contemplation |

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