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08 September, 2015

How Sewing Saved my Summer

This summer started with a blur. Another bout of depression and anxiety hit my like a fright train.  The hardest part of the illness is that people who have never experienced it think you can "snap out of it" or "just stop worrying" - but it's more powerful than a bad day or being nervous. It's all consuming and debilitating and there is NOTHING that will make it better.

Now that I have been through this three times, I know that there is a trifecta of things that trigger it for me:

  1. significant hormone change like post partum or post weaning 
  2. significant life changes like in my career or family
  3. Eric being gone and/or emotionally unavailable due to travel or work
This summer I stopped nursing Maggie, Eric was stuck working looooong hours at work, the overwhelmingness of summer was upon me, and I was finally grieving the loss of my job (yes, even though *I* quit it an entire year before).  Eric and I had also made the decision not to open a small business, the planning of which had consumed a lot of my brain space for several months. 

It all hit at once.  Now that I wasn't nursing Maggie, nor planning a store opening, I had a lot of extra time on my hands.  I spiraled into a deep depression only made worse by the lack of distractions.  

I saw the midwife to see what kind of hormonal insight she had, but she said being over a year postpartum I was out of their jurisdiction. She sent me to a therapist.  I saw my spiritual director.  The therapist and spiritual director sent me to a psychiatrist. I was feeling passed around. I was tired of telling my story. I was tired of crying. I was tired of being tired. 

Finally, the psychiatrist agreed to tweaking my current antidepressant prescription.  She told me it was going to be 2-8 weeks before I started feeling better and that I needed to see the therapist regularly in the mean time. 

I began therapy.  Some of it was/is a little silly, but I have learned a lot of good things. One of the coping things she taught me was to find a new hobby or a current hobby where I could marvel in a finished product.  We came up with a few ideas and then made a list of ways to grow my skills in that hobby.

My inclination was towards furthering my photography skills, but then as God would have it, my grandmother called and said she was getting rid of her sewing machine in their move. She asked if I wanted it.

Yes, please.

The sewing machine sat in my foyer for a few weeks as I worked up the courage to even turn it on.  I didn't know where to begin.  Then one day I was at JoAnn's buying something.  The scrap fabric squares were calling my name, "make me into some bunting!" I picked up the squares and came home. 

Thank God for the machine's manual, the Internet and YouTube. I read, clicked, and watched until I could thread the bobbin and could choose the appropriate stitches for my project. 

I made some bunting for my kitchen.

 And half a dozen pillows.
Evie has been a very organized helper.
Maggie has not.
And then on to some pajama pants. (PS if anyone finds this fabric at JoAnns BUY IT ALL and send it to me!)
A first day of school flamingo skirt.

 A dance bag.
 And my first quilt - a table runner.
And I'm on to a couch blanket/quilt.

I am so excited that this hobby has come into my life. It's the perfect distraction. It allows my attention to detail fixate on something productive instead of harping on unnecessary things.  I wouldn't say sewing is cheaper than therapy (because like paper, I have expensive taste in fabric), but at least I have something tangible to show for it and to share with my family.  I love that I have been able to include my family in this hobby too.  Eric has helped me measure, do math, and come up with lay out ideas.  Evie has helped me pick fabrics and choose patterns. Maggie, well, she keeps me on my toes and cleans the floor.  And my mom has been on speed dial for advice and for being my quilting quality control (measure twice, cut once!)

We are finally back into the routine of school and activities. I feel like these projects are a sign that "WE MADE IT - WE SURVIVED SUMMER" and I treasure them even more because of what they symbolize for me.  I made it through another 3 months of depression. I am back on the other side.

All I can say is thank God for Zoloft, coffee and my sewing machine!

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