Therapeutic Craft, Creativity and Healing

So, astute observers may have noticed a change in the description of “what I do/talk about, etc.” either over on my About page or on my Twitter profile. It’s a little tweak, a change, reflecting a more recent diagnosis for me. I’m not going to lie, those 4-effin-words-put-together-in-a-row are some scary shit. They’ve been going around my head for 3 weeks now, like a horse riding a ring, wondering what this means, if things will change, if people will think I’m totally effin’ insane.

And with that change, comes the deletion to talking about “war” and the addition of talking about IT instead, because while personally (thankfully) I have never been in a war, I have known those affected by war my entire life. My issues stem from a different root, but show up and present themselves in much the same ways. Truth be told, those definitions in the last link are being changed in the next version of the DSM, changes you can read about here. What happened to me is not something I feel like I need to share, but I do want to clearly and seriously state that what happened happened almost 30 years ago and no one from my family hurt me (again, thankfully). Not thankfully, there was something else that happened by someone else that made it all worse about 20 years ago. (YES!) And I’m writing this because I think it’s important to note how important craft and creativity was for me in my life.

Over the past 6 months, while this has all been a work in progress, I’ve learned a lot about its various causes; the criticisms of it; the arguments about who has it and who doesn’t; the stereotypes… some good, some bad. Ultimately, what it runs down to is: child + incident + brain/emotional development = weird problems (hypervigilance, freezing, panic attacks, avoidance) that no one knew what the heck to do about. Because this happened SO LONG AGO and no one knew what it was, I’ve dealt with all of the symptoms above because I had no choice. And today, I’m the same person I was 3 weeks ago, and for the past 10 years.

What made the difference in reducing many of my symptoms was craft. While I thought it just alleviated my depression and anxiety, it relieved something much more than that. It helped me re-syncopate and live, really. It helped me find a rhythm in the stitches that brought solace and understanding of myself that no one could ever bring. And it’s not just knitting, not just craft, but creativity. Giving myself permission to create was what opened up the doors to let bad things rush in and wreak havoc and do their worse. In short, the stitches, the freedom to create them, the freedom to mess them up, the freedom to see how time passed as my scarf/hat/sweater grew longer, gave me a safe space. They provided a safety that I never would have guessed if I had never picked up the needles. They provided the kindest type of safety I have ever known.

I’m not saying that this is the case for everyone, because it’s not. However, I’m writing this because I wonder what would happen if we took creativity’s power more seriously. If we let those whom are sick and unsure and scared and alone create more, give them the permission to make a mess, try something new, be imperfect. If we let them dive into the imperfection that illness can bring through creativity; allowing them to unleash in a number of mediums until one makes more sense than the others. I say this, not as a therapist, or a doctor, but as someone who never takes it for granted when I find myself walking down the street without constantly looking over my shoulder for a possible threat, as someone who can be brought to tears of joy that they can feel the wind down to their bones, and as someone who is ever grateful to have found craft as an outlet in which to help keep me here, alive, well, and most of all, happy.

Who could we make happy, too, if we took the powers of creativity more seriously?

Here are a few links related to therapeutic knitting, as it was knitting that I first found as an outlet:

Lovely cartoon (!!!) called “Therapy Knitting.”

Stitchlinks: a whole dang website about therapeutic craft.

Knitting as Healing Therapy

More on therapeutic knitting by Betsan Corkhill, the founder of Stitchlinks

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5 Responses to Therapeutic Craft, Creativity and Healing

  1. Judith B August 7, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

    Thank you for the links. :-) Knitting is theraputic for me, too. and I deal with those same four letters.

    • Betsy September 20, 2012 at 6:39 am #

      Judith, thanks so very much for this comment. I’m so sorry that you have to deal with ICK, too. No fun, but I will say that I have learned so much from it that it’s been not exactly worth it, yet entirely eye and heart opening.

  2. Perri Lewis September 17, 2012 at 6:52 am #

    Glad to hear things are on the up dude x

    • Betsy Greer September 20, 2012 at 6:46 am #

      Aw, thanks, poppet! Yeah, it’s been a pretty uncool year, but I’m glad it happened and am stronger for it. Onward! x

  3. John-Paul Flintoff September 18, 2012 at 9:33 am #

    Hey – thanks for sharing this – I can’t wait to find out what amazing things you produce as a result of it all (beyond those you already have produced). J-P x

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