As most of you know, mijn boek Haak mijn leven gered not includes my story of crocheting to heal from depression but also includes the stories of a diverse array of women who hooked to heal. The research for the book may be complete now but I am still always happy to hear, and share, the stories that other women have about how crochet helped them through a difficult time. Here is one of those stories, which was recently sent to me from Laura of Het geval van de haak.
Haak mijn leven gered. After losing a baby mid-pregnancy, a relationship breakdown and the loss of friendships due to their inability to cope with my loss and my subsequent psychotic episode which lasted several months, my hook saved my life.
I found myself in the psychiatric ward of a NSW South Coast hospital after having made several attempts on my own life (the latest was the ‘best’ nog). After the first week (once the doctors knew I was “out of the woods” when the final blood test showed that I had not damaged my liver with the massive overdose of over the counter drugs), my mother arrived with my hooks and some yarn to keep me busy. The staff were apprehensive at first … shoelaces and belts were not allowed for obvious reasons, and here I was being given an implement which could possibly be shoved through an eye along with miles and miles of string.
I was not allowed to take my work to my room, being relegated to only crocheting in the common areas where they could see what I was doing at all times … Ga cijfer… there were people there much more unstable and unpredictable than me! The yarn, and the hook together was calming – counting stitches, the feel of the yarn and the movement of the hook. It was also reassuring (I CAN do something worthwhile. I AM creative. I am NOT a complete failure. My body can and WILL do what I want it to do.) And it was purposeful.
By the time the third week of my internment rolled around, I was allowed to go for short walks outside – unsupervised – AND I could take my crochet with me anywhere I wanted! By the fourth week I had made beanies for several other ‘inmates’ and even scarves for a few of the staff; they all paid for them too! I was allowed to go home at the beginning of the fifth week and have been on an upward journey since then, as if eac h item I crochet has been another stepping stone to recovery.
Crochet in Mental Hospitals
As Laura has pointed out, crochet sometimes faces limitations of use in mental hospitals, psych wards, gevangenissen and other settings where there is concern that a hook and some yarn could be used for the patient to do self-harm or harm to others. Echter, I’ve seen that in many of these settings the patient can work with staff to find a way to be allowed to crochet because it is increasingly recognized as a therapeutic tool. It is my deep hope that my book, Haak mijn leven gered, will help spread the word a little bit about the healing nature of crochet and encourage more widespread use of therapeutic crafting in settings like this.
Do you have a crochet health story that you want to share? Email it to me using the contact page on this website. Let me know that you give me permission to share the story on the blog and include any links to blogs/ social accounts that you want to include if people want to reach you. (You can also choose to remain anonymous if you tell me that’s what you want.)
Photo Credit: Julie Michelle Photography