Sunday, 4 January 2015

2014 / 2015

I think that sometimes, if a thing is left unsaid long enough, it starts to get in the way of anything else being said.

Maybe you know what I mean (maybe you don't).




Another way of putting it is: I haven't been posting so much recently because I've been having trouble looking my own photo in the face (and duh those photos are usually the point!)  Call me naive and maybe sentimental, but I've always liked to think of this online space as an honest one. I know no-one is here to read about the details of my life - but sometimes those details are important, and the reality of what I make, and how I do it, isn't truly told without mentioning them. I also strongly suspect that many other makers have similar things to tell - and whether or not that's true, I very firmly believe that sometimes, these things are just better talked about than not. (I bet it is true, and I bet us creatives have a lot of good stuff to say about it too).

So, I'm going to say my unsaid thing, and those are my reasons. If you'd rather just read about crafts, feel free to click away now :-)




The thing is: I have depression.

I've had it since my son was about 6 months old, and this year I discovered that that wasn't a one-off postnatal episode.

The way that I discovered this is through finally, in the autumn of 2013, v e r y  s l o w l y and carefully coming off the antidepressants I'd been taking for the past four years - and then last spring, plunging into a severe and long drawn out depressive episode that, well, let's just say it beat the pants off the first one. To the extent that I was on full-time medical absence from work from the beginning of May until the very last working week of December - which I worked half-time, to ease myself in before I start again 'properly' this week. Wish me luck: all my extremities are crossed and after the year I've had, I'm taking nothing for granted.

Now, I'm extremely lucky, and I know it. My conditions of employment (and the accompanying health insurance) are outstandingly protective of employees in such circumstances. Both my line manager and my direct colleagues have been consistently, overwhelmingly understanding and supportive, despite this being an particularly bad time for our small team to be one (wo)man down. My doctor/therapist is a wonderful match for what I've needed, and has helped me out of some very, very deep holes. Much of the early summer I spent feeling stupefied at how bad things could be; mid-way through I was largely terrified of just how little control I had of my mind (and how much control it had over me, in worse ways than I could have imagined). Autumn was spent in despair and frustration, because how can 6 months on all the drugs not make the slightest bit of difference? And then, one Sunday morning in November, just like that, I woke up feeling normal. Out of nowhere. I'm incredibly, incredibly lucky.




It doesn't matter that feeling normal felt so unfamiliar, and how many months or years had it been since normal was normal, anyway? It doesn't matter that I mind, deeply, that I had to take so much time away from my 'real life', to be absent not just from my job but in many respects also from my husband, my children, from all the people who care about me. And of course, to wake up feeling normal rests very much on what is finally the right combination of medication, and on the weeks of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, and on the rest I eventually managed to give myself.  But what I overwhelmingly feel is luck. Mental health balances on a pin, and I'm all too aware how easy it is to fall.




So, as I head into 2015, that's what's behind me (I hope). Mindfully taking life one breath at a time, or trying to (have you tried? It's not that easy). There is still making - there is always making. Now you know how I found the time to produce an entire new summer wardrobe for 2014 :-)  And I've had plenty of time to consider just how creativity plays in all this: making the mind, mindfully making... I think there will be a post about all that, at some point.

For today, I think I'll just leave it here. If you've read this far - thank you. Please don't feel the need to comment, especially as I'll very likely come over all awkward and not reply (yes, I'm already cringing in embarrassment at that as-yet unhappened possibility). Normal blog service will resume shortly: right now I'm just glad that I can 'come back', to talk again about the things I've made and the me behind the screen who made them.

The me that's stitching myself back together, as best I can.




All pictures in this post are of the weaving house at Fotovikens Museum of living Viking history, southern Sweden.


30 comments:

  1. Aw, hon. I don't feel the "need" to comment, but I do want to, so I hope you don't mind. I had no idea - but I can certainly sympathize. One of many reasons that we moved back from Japan was my husband's then-undiagnosed anxiety and depression. Holy shit. The stuff he thought was "normal" to have to push through was heart-breaking. Meds have made a world of difference for him. I was on anxiety meds myself for a while, and they helped me get through tough times. I'm glad to hear that your body chemistry has balanced out and you are feeling clearer. Big hugs and hopes for a better 2015! (No need to reply, of course! See you round the internet when you get back to blogging sewing stuff!)

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  2. Respect for telling your story & glad you're going uphill!!

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  3. I really admire you for sharing this part of you on the blog. I'm very happy you are feeling better now. Medications can be wonderful help yet sometimes so hard on your body. My hope for you is that you feel better and better until you can get rid of them. In the meantime I'm sending you a big hug!

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  4. You are right that sometimes things just need saying and your post really resonates with me. I had been treated for depression on and off since my teens. It was only after the birth of my son eleven years ago that I lost the plot completely and my Dr's realised I was actually bi-polar. I've been on varying medications ever since, the combination at the moment is working best, but I am never totally free from symptoms. It is scary to not have total control of your thoughts, particularly when the thoughts you do have are so negative, confusing and disjointed. The frustrating thing is that it seems to come and go without rhyme or reason, just like a switch has been flipped turning off all feelings and emotions. I know it is simply a chemical imbalance in the brain but it causes so much pain and disruption. You really have encapsulated this so eloquently and succinctly in your post, especially the feeling of being absent. I've found that the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone, you have a family that loves you unconditionally and you should always cling onto that love like the lifeline that it is. Thank you so much for putting this into words, I really hope you get back to being you soon. X

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  5. Please don't feel embarrassed - I know this may not help you right now but depression is so much more common than everyone thinks. My own personal experience comes from me, my husband, my mum and several others I know. I hope that you continue to feel better and that 2015 is truly a wonderful year for you x

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  6. Thanks for sharing and you are a total hero for being brave enough to post this! It can be very hard making the decision to share so much of yourself, but I'm sure people come here to hear what you have to say as well as see pretty clothes ;-) I hope this week back at work goes ok! Xxx

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  7. I also wanted to leave you a comment in support even if you don't feel you want to reply. I am thinking about you and your battle. Depression is so common and often not talked about or taken seriously enough, I think as it's so hard for people like me who haven't experienced it to understand what it is like. Take care lovely and we'll be here when you feel ready. Good luck at work. Xxx

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  8. huisje boompje boefjesJanuary 05, 2015 9:57 am

    No need for you to reply, just wanted to say welcome back, and so brave of you to name the elephant in the room!! Glad to hear you're feeling better!

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  9. I was so glad to see you pop up in my email! I don't feel the "need" to comment, but I "want" to. Thank you for sharing your struggle. Like Gillian, my husband suffers from depression & anxiety disorder. I truly understand the deep hole (we refer to bad days as The Blue Meanies round here). It takes a lot of courage to admit to any mental health issue, while any physical health issue just "is". The more we talk about it, the easier it becomes for others to reach out for help. And the meds,,,,oh the meds. We've got 7 more days of one med here,and then back to the only drug that brought my hubby back to normal in many years,,,before some power that be decided the dosage was dangerous, and he had to stop taking it. Here we are 2 years,,,5 different med combos, and we're back to the original--which suddenly is no longer "dangerous". Thanks for sharing,,and I look forward to "seeing" you soon. (Sorry for the run on-it's an issue too close to my own heart.) Huge hugs & happy 2015.

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  10. Jo, thank you for feeling brave enough and feeling 'safe' enough to talk about this here. I was recently surprised at a dinner how many of us 'creatives' have similiar stories about our lives with depression or anxiety. For me too, I plan to turn the tide back in my favour in 2015 rather than letting me mind run the show. I am so glad that you are starting to feel in a normal place and that we will get to meet in Paris. I cannot tell you how excited i am about that. All the best for starting back at work and I am so glad to hear that you have a supportive workplace and colleagues. love xx

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  11. Thank you for your bravery in sharing what you've been going through. Do know that you are not alone in your struggles. I'm so glad to hear that you are seeing the sunshine in the world again. Sending love and hugs.

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  12. Oh Jo! I applaud you for sharing and for your honesty. Both those things can be very difficult. I don't feel the "need" to comment, I want to comment. I am so sorry that you have had to endure this pain, but I am so happy to hear that you seem to be feeling a better. I too have had my struggles with anxiety and I know just how defeating and debilitating it can be. I will keep you in my thoughts and send you lots of love and positive vibes. Here's to a better 2015!!

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  13. Welcome back!

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  14. Thanks Gillian :-) I think the undiagnosed stuff is much, much worse - at least once you're being treated, you kind of know what you're dealing with. And it's so tough for spouses/partners too - I'm sorry to hear you've both had to deal with it as well. Here's to 2015 being a good one for you guys too!

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  15. YesI know what you mean about the meds - for the moment I'm just very grateful they're working, but I do wonder about the long term. Thank you for the hug, it arrived safely :-)

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  16. Hi Helen - thank you so much for sharing your story and struggles with this too. You're exactly right about how it can come and go, it's so unnerving to actually feel like your brain chemicals are playing up. Yes to clinging on to the love of our families, it really is the lifeline. I do hope your symptoms become/stay manageable as much and as long as possible x

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  17. Thank you Sabs! And yes, it is SO common! I decided early on not to just tell people honestly what was going on, and it's amazing how many people respond with such similar stories.

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  18. Thank you Marilla :-) I don't know about brave, it just bothers me A LOT that this still seems to be a taboo for so many people! And I'm quite sure the sewing online community is one of the safest places to share ourselves - that's just what's so great about it :-)

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  19. Thanks Jo :-) Looked at the other way round, I'm very glad you don't know what it's like! It's not necessary, and support that's truly meant well always helps, whoever it comes from.

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  20. Thank you for sharing too Mary! I find it so frustrating too that it's so often not seen as a health issue like any other, especially as often that makes it so much more difficult to treat effectively. I hope you're husband's medication works out for him (and you!) and you both can get some stability with it. It's so rough on partners too x

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  21. Hi Kirsty, and thank you :-) I do wonder if creative minds are maybe more susceptible to some kinds of 'losing control'?? And it's not like the nature of modern life helps for anyone, anyway - I think the constant thinking and overthinking is often enough to send anyone over the edge! I hope you can manage to feel more in control of things this year too - and yes I am SO looking forward to seeing you in Paris too!! We can swap tips on how to be zen masters of making!

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  22. Thanks Roisin :-) I thought I remembered you having mentioned this in the past too, and I'm sorry to hear that Nic's been going through it too. It really just sucks doesn't it! And it's just everywhere. I hope he (and you!) are feeling ok now, and yes to a brighter 2015! Thank you :-)

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  23. Hi Heather - thank you, and I hope the anxiety manages to stay behind you, it is indeed a crippling thing. Positive vibes sent right back at you :-)

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  24. Thank you Dawn :-) Glad to be back!

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  25. I guess brave, because it's nerve wracking sharing unfamiliar content on your blog. Depression is an open subject in our house, so I don't see the taboo bit as such. My mum and brother suffer from bouts of depression and I certainly discuss it with my mum. If the individual is ok with sharing then it's just like disussing any illness. I'm glad you still had the energy to keep on sewing, it's good therapy! Xxxx

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  26. Please, don't feel embarrassed for sharing this. I'm on antidepressants myself to see if it helps lowering the stress about my autoimmune condition. I hope you're feeling better and you have a wonderful 2015.

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