Why crocheting has help me manage my chronic illness
Hello! My name is Emily, I’m 23 years old and I live in the North of England. At 20 years old, I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, it’s hard to spell and say, which is probably why it’s more commonly known just as Lupus. It’s an auto-immune disease, my immune system attacks my healthy organs and tissue. It causes joint pain, muscle pain and aches, chronic fatigue, rashes and many more unpleasant symptoms.
Chronic illness is isolating and some days I end up feeling lonely. I spend the majority of my time alone. Due to my debilitating symptoms and living in a rural area, it’s hard to get out and go to places. I do most of my socialising online on websites such as Twitter, I have found a great chronic illness community and it’s nice to talk to people who understand how I feel both physically and mentally.
I realised that my anxiety was becoming more heightened because I had too much alone time to sit, overthink and analyse things. I needed to find something that occupied my mind and hands, something that had a calming effect on me. I decided to learn how to crochet, it was a big task to set myself as I’m not naturally crafty. But, I am naturally stubborn and when I set my mind to something, I always try to complete it. And so, for 3 days, I sat with a hook and a small ball of yarn and watched the same YouTube video over and over until I learnt the rhythm of crochet. Once I had learnt the basics, I spent a few weeks getting to know the right tension and learning how to make the edges neat.
I set myself a project to make a throw blanket for my bed. I researched the measurements for a double blanket, bought some self-patterning yarn that matched my room and I made a start. It’s still a project I’m working on…I didn’t quite realise how long it would take, especially for a beginner. I don’t mind that it’s taking longer than expected because crochet has helped to calm my mind, on the days I feel anxious, the constant repetition of the stitches soothes me. When I’m crocheting, my mind is solely concentrating on getting the stitches right so there isn’t enough room in my mind to overthink certain situations.
Not only has it helped my anxiety but it’s helped combat the isolation and loneliness I often feel due to being chronically sick. I often find it a comfort when I’m in pain, I get as comfortable as I can on the sofa with a warm drink and start to crochet. It’s unfortunately not a hobby I can do daily because my elbows, wrists and hands are often affected by joint pain. But, for the days I can do it, I love it. It’s such a simple task but it has been more than therapeutic to me. I can’t wait to learn new patterns and work on other projects (probably more blankets, I love them!).
Do you have a hobby that has been therapeutic for a mental or physical health issue?
If you’d like to know more about my journey with Lupus, I run a blog which you can find here: www.memyselfandlupus.wordpress.com
Thanks for reading!