Knitting your way out of the agony: World Mental Health Day

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Knitting and crochet are well known therapies for the agony caused by mental health problems.  We shared a story from one of our LoveKnitting team members in our Facebook group, and you answered in your hundreds: here, we share some wise words and top tips to help you knit for wellness.

Hands knitting on the LoveKnitting blog

We can’t say that knitting cures all, but we DO know that it can help you feel a whole lot better.  Earlier this year, we talked about the benefits of talking, and how knitting and crochet help to deal with anxiety and depression, from joining knitting groups to focusing on colour – this year’s World Mental Health Day sought to raise awareness of the “Fundamental Facts” of mental health, in the hope that people with mental health problems can live with dignity and not stigma.

Read our LoveKnitting story:

“My experience of university was very different to most. Although it wasn’t until my final year that my depression and eating disorder were diagnosed, the problems had been there for many years before. My boyfriend (now husband) and my best friend were amazing and tried their hardest to offer support but, for me, human interaction was almost impossible. I felt too tired to talk but I also desperately wanted to protect them. As my insomnia and other symptoms got worse though, I found a new love for knitting. 

I had taught myself to knit a year or so before arriving at uni – I wanted a new hobby and had been intrigued by knitting for a while. But, this time it was more than just a hobby. It was almost a kind of therapy for me. In the repetitive motion, the softness of the yarn and the act of creating, there was some solace from my otherwise fairly unpredictable and destructive life. A lot of what I made was nothing special and has since been frogged or even binned. Some of the projects were made with our wedding in mind though and were great for keeping me focused on the future. In reality, who are what the items were for was almost unimportant.

Nowadays, I’m a bit more fussy about what I make! Thankfully, my mental health is also much improved. But I still knit or crochet at least a little each day. After all, it’s beneficial to my health! And that is the best reason of all for me to keep expanding my yarn stash!”

Knitting heals from within…

“Knitting helps me cope from feeling isolated. From being alone all the time. From depression. From anxiety. From dark thoughts.”

Knitting provides a way to divert the mind and keep positive when dark thoughts threaten to pull you down.  Stitchlinks is the home of “therapeutic knitting” and operates in three different ways: collecting stories and information to share amongst crafters in need of help, actively researching the health benefits of knitting and thirdly, providing information for groups, teachers and clinicians who are providing a service to offer therapeutic benefits of knitting.

“In the span of four months, I lost my mother in law and sister. Knitting helped me pour my grief into something tangible, something lovely.”

The Stitchlinks site is packed with helpful information – I particularly loved the 25 ways that knitting and stitching can help depression.   Amongst the 25 ways listed, I was delighted to see “Teach forgotten skills” followed by “Teach forgotten emotions such as excitement and anticipation” and these are both immensely important.  Sharing our knitting skills brings so much happiness, sharing the magical process of knitting – but to teach forgotten emotions? It actually made me stop in my tracks.  As knitters, we are all excited by yarn – by colour, by texture, by pattern, by the huge pride we feel at the end of a project – and there is nothing quite like the excitement we feel at the thought of new yarn – to introduce that excitement to somebody is a gift indeed.

Another meaningful point I loved, is that working on a project brings a future – a need to get up tomorrow to knit some more.   It might be the soothing repetitive stitches, the feel of the yarn, or the great feeling of achievement to have knitted a couple of rows, but it’s something to focus on, and control.  These gentle achievements may seem small to someone who is not suffering from mental health problems, but to someone in pain they are a lifeline.

Read some of our inspirational Facebook comments…

“Having fibromyalgia, doing something repetitive but meditative forces me to sit down and help my body relax. It focuses my mind and also stops my hands from hurting!”

“When chemotherapy caused sleepless nights, I found knitting, with its repetitiveness, easy concentration on pattern stitches, the orderliness, the quiet and almost monotony, tremendously calming, even pain-forgetting. I am positive that knitting made tolerating the necessary body rigors of chemo required to get successfully through this lengthy period in my life.”

“A couple of years ago I mentioned that I knit to my lovely neighbour and she invited me along to her craft club. I only went with her for a semester, but I did keep on knitting and came to realise that it was helping me to manage my disabling anxiety and depression.”

“Thanku for sharing! I work in mental health and we have a knitting group whereby at least 10 ladies (and a man) attend our Knitterbugs group weekly! We knit little squares that are sewn together and then donated to the hospital for babies or to an animal charity! The clients who attend, do so to catch up socially with their friends and it is so good for their mental health to be able to do this!”

“I have MS and have suffered from severe mental illness over the past few years. After being hospitalized for several months I took up knitting again and it has been my savior. Keeps my brain active, allows me to take time out to rest without feeling guilty and gives me a sense of achievement when I finish a project. Add to that the joys of learning and giving a gift of love… “

If you would like to share your story with us, we’d love to hear more in the comments section below –  your inspirational words will help fellow knitters!

For more inspirational posts, don’t forget to …

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