Today’s crochet mandala for the Mandalas for Marinke project is a beautiful blue crochet spoke mandala with a double button center detail. It includes more than half a dozen shades of blue yarn that pop beautifully against one another.
This crochet mandala comes from Cayty Dean, who shares:
“I am a stay at home mom who crochets to stay sane. My family has a history of anxiety and depression, and I’ve found hobbies like exercise and crochet extremely helpful as a part of the process.”
I noticed that Cayty mentioned both anxiety and depression and the help of both exercise and crochet. This reminded me of learning about hyperarousal vs. hypoarousal in a trauma class I took, so that’s what I’ll share today for the depression awareness portion of this post.
Essentially what I learned was that when we are faced with great amounts of stress, we move outside of our comfort zone (or “window of tolerance”) and into a state of either hyperarousal or hyposarousal. Hyperarousal has symptoms that include panic, agitation, irritation, anger and lack of concentration. Hypoarousal has symptoms that include fatigue, lack of affect, numbness, self-esteem attacks. As you may notice, hyperarousal looks a lot like anxiety and hypoarousal looks a lot like depression. Any individual could react to stress with either hyper or hypo arousal … but what I learned in the work I did with my cohort of classmates what I saw was that most people tend greatly towards one or the other. So I’m someone who might occasionally react with hyperarousal and feelings related to anxiety but I’m much more prone to depression and also to hypoarousal.
Cayty didn’t say specifically that she uses exercise for anxiety symptoms and crochet for depression symptoms but that’s what came to mind when I read what she wrote, because I know that in the midst of depression exercise might be good for me but it feels essentially impossible since I can already barely move, whereas crochet seems do-able. With anxiety there is a lot of excess energy and exercise helps channel it.
The most important thing that I learned about this topic was that we have a window of tolerance and when we get out of it we need to find a way to get back into it. The window may be small or large; for people with PTSD it’s often tiny, but it can be expanded over time with practice and self-care and skill building. Regardless of its size, it can be helpful to learn to recognize when you are out of it and what techniques might help you get back into it. I typically go into hypoarousal under stress and I need naps, self-kindness, clearing my schedule, conversations with siblings, puppy snuggles and crochet.