Depression is a complicated thing. I know because I personally spent more than a decade living with it before I even knew that I had it! It manifests in many different ways. It often presents with changing symptoms over time, in different ways for different people and with complications from other conditions. Because of this, it’s tough to say what causes depression. It can be a chemical imbalance, a reaction to a specific situation (like a loss), a trauma or any combination thereof. One person with the exact same circumstances as another may experience depression while the other does not. I say this because although I titled this post “causes” of depression what I’m really going to talk about are people who had their depression triggered by something (whatever the underlying depression cause was) and who found that crocheted helped them in healing from their depression.
So, with that said, here are some of the things that can trigger depression:
1. A relationship breakup
My own depression has been a life long problem and since it’s helped by meds I have to assume that it’s at least partially chemical. But the worst period of it that I went through was triggered in part by a very difficult breakup. This is something other crocheters with depression have shared as well. For example, Jen from Pursuit of Sassiness explains how an unexpected heartwrenching breakup in 2009 sent her into a period of depression and she spent that entire winter crocheting to get herself through this difficult time.
2. Pregnancy complications
Several of the women who shared their stories in Crochet Saved My Life talked about how crochet got them through various pregnancy complications and this includes women whose complications were related to depression. Miscarriages, for example, are a form of loss and that can easily cause depression; that’s something that Rachel shared in Crochet Saved My Life. And then there is post-partum depression, which is a serious depression condition. I have met women who dealt with both of these situations and got through it in part by crocheting. Sara of Mom With a Hook is someone who has crocheted through both of these difficult situations.
3. A death/ major loss
In addition to miscarriages, any major loss or death can cause depression. Laurinda of The Remembering Rowan Project lost her young daughter and crochet was one thing that helped her get through that loss (a story also shared in Crochet Saved My Life); a woman named Rita has also shared how crochet helped her through the loss of a daughter. Tangle with Tami describes the death of someone close to her as the straw the broke the camel’s back in her depression. People dealing with grief often can not articulate their grief and can’t do much of anything productive for a long time as they cope with a loss. Crochet is one thing that can be done during this time.
4. Abuse including bullying
Being in an abusive relationship destroys self-esteem and leads to depression, something that Aimee shares in Crochet Saved My Life when she talks about her mentally abusive marriage. Bullying does the same thing. In a very touching post on surviving depression Ms. Becca of Sunny Sanguinity shares how a horrible high school bullying situation led to her first serious battle with depression. She says that one of the things that got her through was art and in that category she does include crochet. She also includes sidewalk chalk drawings, knitting, crocheting, singing, gardening and baking as art forms that soothe the soul and ease depression.
5. Business failure
I came across this video recently from Mikey of The Crochet Crowd that was recorded back in 2008, in which he talks about how he has noticed that he is often depressed when crocheting. He has since updated this post with a comment that crocheting is no longer equated with depression for him and is actually something that gives him real joy. Based on this I suspect that he wasn’t experiencing depression because of crochet, as the video seems to suggest, but that he was naturally drawn to crochet during times of depression. He cites three times specifically in this video: isolation during highschool when he was an outcast, the failure of a marriage and a business that didn’t work out. We’ve already talked about bullying and relationship breakups but I wanted to add that feeling like a failure in your job can also trigger depression. I’ve also talked to many people (like Em, who was interviewed for Crochet Saved My Life) who felt like failures because of unemployment and who found that crochet helped them feel productive and useful again in spite of this difficulty.
6. Chronic illness
Diagnosis of a chronic illness can cause depression. So can figuring out how to live with a chronic illness. Sometimes the illness itself actually causes depression as a side effect. Sometimes the medication or treatment for the condition can cause depression. Often depression is caused by feelings of uselessness, hopelessness and frustration associated with living the difficult life of chronic illness. As aforementioned, crochet can help by offering feelings of productivity in spite of the fact that the illness may stop you from doing things that you once could do. Additionally, crochet can help reduce anxiety which often exacerbates depression. Some of the women who shared in Crochet Saved My Life how crochet helped them with depression associated with a chronic illness were Carol (from fibroymalgia), Elisabeth Andree (Menier’s disease), Liza (MS), Margaret (cancer) and Tammy (Chronic Lyme). I should add that a long-lasting injury can trigger depression for the same reasons as a chronic illness; Katherine shared such an experience with an ankle/ back injury that caused depression and Vicki and Sherri each experienced chronic pain following spinal surgery.
Trauma of any kind can trigger depression. People who live through natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes can experience depression as a result. So can people who live through individual tragedies; like Fran who shared in Crochet Saved My Life about how crafting has helped her in the aftermath of a violent assault.
Can you think of other things that frequently trigger depressive periods?