This post is about depression after diagnosis of chronic illness, using crochet therapy and how it saved MY sanity. Please read the following disclaimer –
Disclaimer: I am NOT A DOCTOR. I am not a medical professional of any kind. Nothing here or anywhere on this site can be taken as medical or health advice, so check with your physician before following any advice or information you find at chronicchimera.com or anywhere else online. This content is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical or mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Chronic Illness and pain can cause even the strongest people to become anxious and depressed
Depression after medical diagnosis of an autoimmune disease, other chronic illness or chronic pain is life-altering. Realizing you will have your invisible illness for the rest of your life can make the future look grim. I have heard that the number one killer of those with Fibromyalgia is suicide. That’s scary!
It’s hard to think about the days when you were running a household and a business or working 60 hour weeks but now you can barely make it to the shower. Reconciling the past with the heartbreaking future confined to a bed or a wheelchair, if it’s a good day, brings tears to my eyes as I’m sure it does yours.
How do we go on when we feel so useless? How can we live with this much pain and when will sleep stop the unbearable fatigue? There are times I still ask myself these questions.
“Depression in its various forms is one of the most common symptoms of multiple sclerosis. In fact, studies have suggested that clinical depression—the most severe form—is more frequent among people with MS than it is in the general population or in many other chronic illnesses. Depression is equally common in other immune-mediated, neuroinflammatory diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease) suggesting that inflammation is a contributing factor to depression in these conditions.”
Depression after diagnosis of illness, any illness, can happen to anyone
I was almost bedridden before, finally, being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s. Although I was happy to have a diagnosis, it devastated me to realize I couldn’t take some medicine and get back to my life. I could barely walk, slept most hours of the day and was in so much pain I would cry. It took a long time to increase my dose of thyroid medication to the “right” level and I have never been the active, tireless woman taking the world by the horns.
Being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease was the worst thing that happened to me since I had been diagnosed with Cancer over 30 years ago (I’ve been in remission for almost 30 years). Depression and anxiety after diagnosis were nothing new to me but it still felt like a sucker punch. Being bedridden and having severe depression after diagnosis can feel like there is no point to anything. I was losing my sanity with every minute of laying down in pain, sleeping and watching hours of tv during insomnia.
Crochet therapy can make you happier and reduce anxiety
According to The American Counseling Association’s PDF “Depression relief is by far the most reported and studied benefit of crochet and knitting. The repetition of the crafts has been shown to release serotonin, a natural anti-depressant.”
I can vouch for these statements. After buying a crochet kit I started teaching myself to crochet. Of course, I was on medication for my depression and anxiety too. Over the months that followed crochet as therapy was doing more for me than medication alone and it was keeping me busy. I was making things for my grandkids and charities. Not only was I learning something that kept my mind from dwelling on my ill health but I was able to contribute to something I felt good about.
Today I am working on some blankets for animals in shelters waiting to be adopted. I can’t tell you how much joy this gives me. I feel like I was on the brink of losing my sanity to chronic illness before I started crocheting. Every time I start going back to that dark place crochet is like a sanity check showing me the way back to the light.
When Your Mind Focuses On A Task It Can’t Think Negatively
Have you ever tried to do something you love and stay negative at the same time? It is extremely hard to do. My mind is so busy thinking about crochet that I don’t focus on losing my “life”. I look forward to each day now, even if it is only to create a small swatch with good tension and gauge. Try doing something you love every day…even if it’s just for five minutes. I promise it will help.
Whether You Use Crochet Therapy Or Have Another Hobby, You Can Make A Difference For Your Mental Health
I chose crochet because it was something I had a little experience with but I could have easily chosen something else. Honestly, I don’t think it matters what you decide to do to take your mind off being chronically ill as long as you enjoy it.
Try something for at least five minutes each day. See if it doesn’t make you feel a little better about waking up. It may even save your sanity too. Here are a few ideas to help you think about what type of hobby you might like:
- Making birdhouses
- Creating fairy gardens
- Writing, either in a private journal or to share publicly
- DIY Jewelry
- Using polymer clay to create beads, fairy garden accessories or unique crochet hooks
You may like my post: Depression Journal Tips & How To Keep It Private
You may be confined to bed but you don’t have to let it keep you from doing something to lift your spirits. I can tell you that I was a sad, depressed lump before starting to crochet. I was losing my sanity minute by minute until I used crochet therapy. Even getting angry or frustrated that I wasn’t creating something correctly got me out of that dark abyss.
If you are depressed please talk to someone or call 911 immediately. A hobby may not work for you and that is okay. Depression is a disease and requires a doctor to diagnose and treat you.
What about you? Do you suffer from anxiety or depression after being diagnosed with a chronic or invisible illness? Do you have any hobbies or tips you would like to share?
I love hearing all about how you tackle your struggles with chronic illness!
Do you have other tips you can share with us? Most spoonies have found workarounds for all types of things and I’d love to share your advice. Write a comment below or send me an email.
Kim is a freelance blogger, writer and VA. She loves sharing resources for other “spoonies” to help them create lives they love. Hoarding crochet patterns on Pinterest is her second favorite thing.