mandalas for marinke

Here is the next of the beautiful, inspiring, special contributions coming in to the #MandalasForMarinke remembrance project. I am grateful for each and every amazing contribution. You are invited to join; learn more here.

Beautiful Crochet Mandala

Crafter Katy shares:

Here is my Mandala for Marinke. I chose her Lazy Shade of Winter crochet mandala pattern because:

  1. I love it.
  2. Winter is depression and suicide is highest then so it seemed most fitting.

The colors I chose are happy ones from my Scheepjes 2014 Blanket CAL, which is where I was first introduced to and became amazed by the talent, kindness, and person of Wink.

I love my blanket, I love the mandala (my first ever), and in my own way, I love Wink”.

Meet the Maker

Katy's Crochet Contribution to Mandalas for Marinke

In addition to the above info on the mandala, crafter Katy Cowbelter shares:

My brother, my only sibling, committed suicide six years ago; the wound does not heal. So when I learned that Wink had died, I mourned of course for her, but I also know to a small extent what her immediately family will be going through for the rest of their lies without her: the eternal grief, the anger (this still surprises me, I should be over this, I think, but I’m most definitely not), the random overpowering sadness because he isn’t here when he should be here to share something wonderful with me or help me remember something from our childhood. And she was so very young. A whole lifetime not lived …

And she shared a message to me that I want to share publicly because it resonates so much. Wink’s death really impacted me personally and it has caused a ripple effect of depressive feelings in me and in others I know through the craft community. Katy wrote to me:

“Depression sucks. Suicide is the worst solution for everyone. I know from your blog and your book that you, too, suffer from depression. Please take care. You, like Wink, have touched so many people that you don’t even know, that you can’t imagine. We care for you, for your welfare, your present, your future. I wish I had known to say these things to Marinke. I do say them to you with respect, care and love. Please accept my mandala as a sign of respect for not only Wink, but for you. May you find peace and joy in the here and now.”

I share that last part because even though people regularly tell me that they are positively impacted by my work, I have trouble believing that when I’m in the grips of depression. All of these things that I would tell to someone else, that I did tell to Wink, in fact, about her impact on us, are things I can’t see in myself even though I know better. I say that publicly to acknowledge how incredibly difficult it is to believe those words and how valuable they are and how much it means that people say them – not just to me but to others.

Thank you Katy.

Words by Wink

Katy's Crochet Contribution to Mandalas for Marinke

I love the story about the first thing Wink crocheted, which was intended to be a fish but turned out as a pig. It says in part:

“When I learned to crochet a few years ago I was in the hospital, and as such had limited access to invaluable resources like computers, and more specifically YouTube, to teach me how to do the stitches. All I had was a little book about amigurumi’s, and some wacky diagrams in it that said how to crochet.

His eyes dangle precariously off some super thin thread I used to sew them on, and no one is allowed to touch them because they might come off! Despite his obvious flaws, I do love my little piggie though. He kept me safe during those months in the hospital and he will always be an irreplaceable piece of history for me.”

About Depression

One purpose of this project is to raise awareness about depression so each post will end with some facts, thoughts or quotes about depression, suicide and/or mental health. Today I wanted to break the silence around ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) for depression (commonly known as shock therapy). This is something that we really don’t talk about because it’s been so stigmatized over the years. It hasn’t come up once in the two years that I’ve been in a graduate program for counseling. And yet, it is definitely still being used and many, many people are benefitting from it.

I’m not saying I have an opinion either way. (My opinion is always that individuals should work with themselves, their support systems and their professionals to find whatever solution is best for them at any given time and that no one else should judge that choice or decision ever.) But I think it’s really important to break the stigma around the topic so that people are aware that it is an option and feel like it’s one that they can choose if it is the right one for them.

 

Katy's Crochet Contribution to Mandalas for Marinke

ECT certainly has a difficult history. And it’s one that’s been frequently seen in the movies (think One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest for starters). I recently read an interesting book called Asylum from a doctor who worked in a mental hospital in the 1940s and 1950s. It’s a great informative book and one that I feel has a very balanced perspective on the pros and cons of the way things were done back then and the way things have changed in mental health since that time. And while he certainly says that many things done back then shouldn’t be done today, he comments that ECT remains the best treatment he’s ever seen for persistent, treatment-resistant depression.

Therese J. Borchard of PsychCentral explains briefly (in an article about when you should be hospitalized for depression:

“Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a form of neurostimulation therapy that has a high success rate for treating persons with severe and chronic cases of depression, especially those who have failed to respond to medication and psychotherapy. ECT involves applying electrical pulses to the scalp to induce seizures throughout the brain while a person is under general anesthesia. The procedure is usually performed inpatient because you can recover from the anesthesia in a safe environment and your doctor can closely monitor your progress.”

NAMI adds:

“When it was first used in the 1940s, it was very primitive. The reality today is different. People are asleep during the procedure and wake up 5-10 minutes after it has finished. They are able to resume normal activity in about an hour. Most people have four to six treatments before major improvement is seen. This is followed by additional treatments and in some cases “maintenance ECT” on a less frequent basis, such as once a month or once a year.”

NAMI also discusses TMS (which I’m familiar with and understand to basically be a magnetic form of ECT), and two other forms of brain stimulation (VNS and DBS) that aren’t as commonly used.

Johns Hopkins, one place that provides ECT, says:

“ECT is a safe and effective treatment that involves passing a carefully controlled electrical current through a person’s brain to trigger a seizure — a rapid discharge of nerve impulses throughout the brain. In recent years, the National Institute of Mental Health, the American Psychiatric Association, and the U.S. Surgeon General all endorse ECT as a valuable tool in the treatment of certain psychiatric disorders, and major depression in particular. Each year hundreds of patients are treated with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.”

Certainly ECT isn’t the right depression treatment for everyone. But it might be right for some people so let’s not stigmatize it. If it’s something that interests you, get more information about it, learning more about its history, how its changed over time, what the side effects and potential benefits are, etc.

All contributions to Mandalas for Marinke are welcome and will help raise awareness about depression while honoring her work in the same way that this great contribution has done today. Details to join here.

Author

San Francisco based and crochet-obsessed writer, dreamer and creative spirit!

7 Comments

  1. Cris Crawford Reply

    Thank-you for this project from me too! One thing that has helped me greatly as the mother of a depressed young woman was to find the right counselor for myself. I have only done that this last year, and the first thing she helped me to do was to be fearless about communicating to my daughter exactly how afraid I was that she would take her life. She had tried once before.

    I found out about the MandalasForMarinke project while browsing the internet looking for a pattern. I remember that on that day, I thought for a long time about the impact that Wink’s suicide had on the community that I had just found on the internet. That afternoon I told myself I could walk away from the news of a stranger’s suicide, which would have been possible and justifiable. But I made a different choice and made a mandala (actually two now), and also have made a few flowers for the project on crochetpower.net. By tagging along with this project I feel as if I’ve tapped into a source of support for myself that I can also make stronger in a small way.

    There is no doubt that Wink’s suicide was a tragedy of the highest degree, but the reality of the human condition is that good triumphs over evil by finding ways to transform tragedy into hope. Your project has meant a lot to me. I would wish for you the strength to resist the despair that you must certainly feel, but that doesn’t seem right. What I wish for you and for all depressed people is to be aware of the reality of a world where there is support to be had, because support is strength too. Hope that makes sense!

    • Kathryn Reply

      Thanks for this message Cris. I’m so glad that you chose to participate in this project (and in Sabina’s project at crochetpower.net as well!) and that doing so helps you to feel connected to this generous, creative, supportive community. I believe that when we come together in these ways, we strengthen the net to catch any one of us that may fall. Happy to be a part of your community. HUGS.

  2. Katy Cowbelter Reply

    Kathryn, the work you are doing is changing lives, mine included. Making this mandala was therapeutic on so many levels. Thank you for allowing all of us to collectively remember Wink in such a beautiful way.

    • Kathryn Reply

      Thank you back for the amazing work that you shared with us. <3

  3. jodiebodie Reply

    Hi Kathryn,
    Thank you for the link to Crochet Power Network – I hadn’t come across it before.
    I wonder whether you collate all the positive messages somewhere that is easily accessible so that when your depression is trying to drown out your common sense, you can go to your place of positive messages and remind yourself. Maybe preface it with your own positive messages like:
    That many people cannot be wrong.
    In this busy world where people live hectic lives, all of these people felt strongly enough to take the time and energy to contact you.
    For every one positive message you receive there will be approximately 10 other people who feel the same way but did not let you know.
    You are important enough in people’s lives that they do take time to carefully compose messages to you and support you in your ideas and activities.
    People respect and trust you enough to send their work and share aspects of themselves with you.
    You are worthy and lovable.
    Just have a look at all of the positive messages from everyone and the huge response to your #MandalasForMarinke project.
    Believe in them.
    We believe in you. xxx

    • Kathryn Reply

      Yes, I do keep a journal of affirmations, positive sayings, etc. that I add to regularly. Do you?!

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