This love crochet contribution to Mandalas for Marinke is an openwork crochet mandala made with cotton yarn. It makes great use of chain stitches in the design. And I love the color choices here, which remind me a little bit of the desert or the beach in a storm – the whites and browns of the sand and the whites, greys and blues of the sky.
Today’s beautiful crochet mandala comes from Treble Stitch in Melbourne, Australia who shares:
“I found Marinke’s blog while bedridden with ME/ CFS. Crochet (the little I can do, making gifts for family and friends) gave me a focus, a purpose, a creative pullet. Crochet has been a lifeline during this time … it has saved me from sinking into depression.
From the minute I found Wink’s blog, I loved it! Wink’s creativity shone brightly and was an inspiration. I’ve loved her mandalas especially. Her loss is feels by many, but none more so than her loved ones. My deepest sympathy is with those who loved Marinke.”
Connect with Treble Stitch on Facebook. Since she mentioned ME/ CFS, I thought I’d share a little bit more about it today as it relates to depression as well as crochet.
ME/ CFS refers to Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The core symptom of the condition is post-exertion malaise, which is basically extreme exhaustion following any mental or physical exertion, a tiredness that can last for more than twenty four hours. Other symptoms include unrefreshing sleep, pain including muscle, joint and headache pain, concentration issues and “brain fog”, extreme allergies, and irritability. This isn’t just being tired. It’s a chronic condition that can be seriously debilitating.
And like depression, it’s an “invisible disease” with stigma attached. Friends, coworkers, family and others might accuse the person of being lazy or having nothing “really” wrong with them because they don’t understand the condition. They say, “but we all get tired” just like people who don’t understand depression say, “but we all get sad”.
And there can be a co-existing condition of depression with a diagnosis of CFS. Constantly being tired and in pain, not being able to get any kind of rest from sleep, and having your self-esteem take a hit because you want to be more productive than your body will let you be are all things that can lead to depression. The depression makes these things worse – depression itself can cause pain, sleep issue and self-esteem problems, so it can be a vicious cycle. The CDC says that about half of patients diagnosed with CFS will experience depression that needs to be treated. One research article says that at least one million Americans have CFS but “CFS is underdiagnosed in more than 80% of the people who have it; at the same time, it is often misdiagnosed as depression.”
Treating the depression does not cure the CFS; CFS has no known cure at this time. However, relieving the symptoms of depression can go a long way towards making it easier to live with CFS. Notably, in some cases, a diagnosis of depression is made when the actual condition is the physical condition of ME/ CFS. Doctor Myhill explains some differences including that exercise, alcohol and anti-depressants all tend to make CFS patients worse while they typically help people in depression feel at least slightly or temporarily better. (I’m not sure how I personally feel about that alcohol comment; more research required). Additionally, insomnia in depression tends towards early morning wakefulness whereas late nights and sleeping in would be more common in CFS.
There are currently four stories here on Crochet Concupiscence from women who live with CFS and share how crochet has helped them:
- Susan says, “Whilst you are crocheting you can switch off, relax and you are stimulating both your brain and your nerves.”
- Debbie who shares, “Thankfully, my crocheting gives me something to focus on and when I feel the need to sleep, I grab my hook and wool and off I go. I push myself to do another half hour, another hour … until a day has passed that I haven’t slept away.”
- Jodie of Lupey Loops who says that crochet saved her sanity and is definitely a form of therapy. Jodie also contributed to Mandalas for Marinke.
- Ineke who says, “Crochet helps me because it keeps me occupied. I have a result to look at, so it seems like I have acomplished something. I feel less useless, and it’s just fun to do.”
Some of the benefits of crochet for coping with CFS include distraction from pain, calming the brain, providing focus for relaxation, meditative benefits that can assist with concentration and brain fog, and boosting self-esteem because it offers a way to be productive despite chronic fatigue.