These two precious crochet mandalas come to us from Kari Green of Jester Creations. Kari is a Scottish 40-something single mother of two teenage boys. She loves knitting, crocheting, drawing and reading and says she, “can’t not have a creation in the making in my hands when I’m not working. And I know all too well how mental health issues can impact on every aspect of life.” Kari writes,
“The larger mandala I have chosen for the #MandalasForMarinke project was meant to be Marinke’s Summer Hearts pattern, as that one immediately jumped out at me, but I was unable to purchase it (or any others) due to the server for the links being unavailable, and I’d seen so many of the (free) spoke mandala that I wanted to choose something different. I decided on the “Little Spring Mandala” by Barbara Smith as I felt it not only looked (sort of) similar, but was also a seasonally-titled pattern :) The smaller mandala I decided to do as the project was asking for smaller ones to be sent in. I used Coats Cotton Pearl 8, and “Daisy Center” pattern by Zelna Olivier. I realize my work is nowhere near Marinke’s standard, but then this reflects real life – everyone is in a different place, on a different journey.
I have to admit I heard of the sad news of Marinke’s passing by chance through a Facebook group, although I had already come across her designs through the Scheepjes CAL 2014. I had already bookmarked all the pages for this project but had yet to start it. I now feel the time couldn’t be more poignant to do my own “project” in honor of Wink’s wonderful creativity.
I felt compelled to create and send these mandalas in Marinke’s memory because, like many others, I, too, have experience with depression. Personally, I have suffered with it for many years, although I do feel “lucky” that I never contemplated taking my own life. However, last year I watched my then-15-year-old son suffer tremendous mental health problems to the point he was self-harming and at one stage had arranged a suicide date. Despite sharing the experience of having debilitating, negative and isolating throughs, I was completely unprepared as I saw my child suffer so painfully at the hands of this all-encompassing disease. I was struck by how much of a struggle it was to deal with it from “the other side”, and realized that despite my own struggles over the last few decades, this was a completely different and unfamiliar perspective. I felt guilty at not having picked up on anything sooner, thinking his moody behavior was just “typical” teenage angst.
I have read that depression can have a genetic link; that those with parents (or siblings) who suffer from it can be three times more likely to do so themselves, and I found I was laying more guilt on myself, wondering if this whole situation could have been avoided if it weren’t for me having depression. Obviously I knew that this wasn’t about me, but my ability to deal with his depression was definitely hampered by my own. I know it reality it wasn’t my fault – I didn’t ask to have depression, and neither did he. Nobody does. I feel so relieved that my son has come through the other side, although on the rare occasions I see his arms I am painfully reminded of his anguish, which makes doing this for Marinke more difficult, yet that much more important.
A note for Wink’s family:
“I know Marinke found the colour therapy a great help – I have no doubt she surrounded herself with colorful crochet in an attempt to keep the dark, gloomy and destructive thoughts at bay. It is such a shame that those thoughts were too overpowering for her.
The world has lost some creative beauty in Marinke, and although things will never be the same again for you, I wish you lots of healing love to see you through the most difficult times. In love and light.”
Kari has shared a lot of important thoughts here, and I just want to elaborate on a couple of them. First of all, yes there can be a genetic component to depression and I agree that this can make parents with depression feel responsible when their kids experience it as well; but it’s like any illness that you didn’t intend to pass down to your kids and it’s best for all involved if you get your own help to deal with those feelings rather than worsening your own depression by dwelling on that feeling of guilt.
Second, I wanted to note that what she says about thinking what her son was going through was just “being a typical teenager” is really common for parents of children with depression. It’s really hard to tell the difference especially since teenagers generally want to hide what’s happening from their parents. Depression in teens can manifest as moodiness, anger, irritability, changes in behavior, etc. And that may be drugs instead of depression or it may be just hormones and “typical” changes of growing up. It’s hard to know. So, don’t hesitate to ask. Make sure to get other adults – family friends, teachers, community members – involved in your child’s life so that they have others they can turn to instead of you. Some of what Sue Klebold writes in her memoir is about all of this as well.
Thank you so much Kari for sharing your story!!