I have always been upfront about my struggles and my diagnosis of bipolar 2 with severe anxiety and depression.
Since I talked to you last, my life has been in a shambles. I was sent back to Illinois where I was sharing a house with my daughter and her family. They moved and I lost the house we were living in and pretty much everything I owned, including my kitty. I managed to save enough clothes and yarn to get by.
The month of June, I was homeless. I ended up in the hospital because of the series of losses triggered my PTSD. I am not a veteran. My Complex PTSD is caused by repeated severe trauma; molestation, rape, domestic violence, homelessness (you get the idea). I was blessed by a young man who had been friends with my daughter who allowed me to stay at his apartment while I was looking for a place to live. The difficulty was finding an apartment that I could afford, with security deposit, on my disability check.
Then, I was blessed, again by a woman who needed someone to take over the lease on her apartment. The security deposit was paid, for now. I was the first person to respond to her ad, about 5 minutes after she posted it! They landlord accepted me and I moved in June 30.
Crocheting is one way I kept from giving up. Here are some of the items I completed:
I had found a place but it didn’t feel like home. That is, until I adopted 2 twelve week old kitten sisters! They have grown a lot since I brought them to live with me.
I named them Hope (the top photo) and Faith (obviously the bottom pic).
They keep me smiling and getting out of bed every day.
They don’t let me crochet very much because they think the yarn is theirs!
Even though I am not homeless anymore, I am still struggling. They remind me that I need to have hope and keep the faith. I try to remember to cast my cares and anxiety on Jesus. That He will not abandon me. He provided an escape from being homeless and the food pantry is keeping me fed.
I made this lamb for my bff, Brie! She is moving July 1. Brie and I have been best friends since 2013. We shared an apartment from October 2014 to July 1 2016. (If you want to know about that scroll back and you can read about that whole story in painful real time!) I now live just below her in an awesome 112 year old 7 unit apartment building ( with a quirky but kind landlord but that is an entirely different story!)
Brie and I both have mental health diagnosis. When we moved into this building together into unit 5 in the fall of 2014 we were moving out of housing provided by Thresholds of Mchenry county. Thresholds is a psycho-social rehabilitation agency for people who have a mental health diagnosis. I am not going to give you our diagnosis because it doesn’t matter. Those are only labels for a cluster of brain functioning disorders. That mainstream big money; big pharma; DSM-5, DSM-4, DSM-3; mental health industry and don’t get me started on the insurance situation! Anyway, it is a big deal that Brie is moving. She tells me that I am her “safe space”. (Not in those words, but for lack of a better term.) I am not a naturally confrontational person. I am an outgoing (manipulative) people pleaser. I had to learn how to be assertive and set/ keep boundaries. To express my feelings after I have analyzed them thoroughly. Crochet and knitting increased my self-esteem enough that I could protect myself! (That I thought I was worth defending!) Brie and I dug into the Word. I kept crocheting and listening to Bible scholars and sharing it with her. So, Brie met a man. At church. Who is “a male Tanya”. Tee hee hee 😜 She is moving to share an apartment with him. (Don’t judge. 2 bedrooms)
Any big disruption in routine or big changes are a dangerous time for those of us who have a brain function disruption.
I highly recommend Aspen Morrow’s book Med Free Bipolar.
I started, last year sometime, telling you “my story”. So, I gave you a few installments but I couldn’t express how crochet and knitting saved my life. I told you about my childhood (briefly) and what I thought was important for you to know then. Things have changed so much for me, since then, I am able to look back and see what the Lord was doing. I don’t know how this is going to come out so please bear with me!
I have always expressed myself best in art. Written word, not so much. Spoken word, ad nauseum. Drawing and coloring what I have drawn; both realistic and abstract. The hospital I was in back in the late 1980’s had a wonderful art therapy department. Ceramics, silver smithing, general art, enamel powder on metal. The ceramics were actual clay, fire in a kiln, glaze, refire. Over the years it took a back seat to intellectual pursuits. School, self study, work, more school, work, more work. When my identity was challenged, (because due to mental health challenges, I could no longer work as a nurse), and my daughter moved to Kentucky and I didn’t know where she was. Not a mom and not a nurse. I started exploring myself (without that stuff) through art. Then coping through knitting and finally coping through crochet. The positive feedback I received catapulted me straight up into functionality, where I can be a nurse and a grandma, much healthier because I know who Tanya Joy really is.
Warm weather and lots of sunshine is for me, the best antidepressant I could fathom! During the winter months where is is one gray day after another and when there is sunshine it is so cold you get a layer of ice on your eyeballs! The professionals say it’s SAD… I say, yup. Seasonal Affective Disorder used to be called cabin fever. Thank goodness I found crochet! (And knitting!) It was knitting that got me to a place where I could learn to crochet! I only could knit the “knit” stitch because I had learned to knit when I was 9 years old for a Girl Scout badge. So when I needed something to busy my hands I started knitting. An art therapist through a mental health recovery organization, taught me to “cast on” and “cast off”. At that time I could not purl. I kept making mistakes and dropping stitches to where I couldn’t fix them after I cast off because that is when I noticed them! I would watch YouTube videos on knitting and I was so lost. I watched some on crochet and tried some simple projects. A crochet addict was born!
I am telling you all of this because I now have succeeded in teaching myself to purl. With help from a few videos and a book on needlecrafts I can now purl. I have been practicing and I feel comfortable with it! I have an easy pattern I am going to try soon.
After I had mastered can cozies, flowered headbands, hats and Afghans, I discovered amigurumi! And then crochet jewelry in rapid succession. Here are the first 3 dolls I made:
Actually there was one before these 3 but I made it for my daughter. You can see that I made some “eye beads” out of polymer clay for all 3. The two on the left were purchased from a “mental health and art” exhibition in Chicago last spring (2016). The one on the right always had one eye looking strange because the thread cut a channel into the eyeball. So, I removed the polyclay eye beads and attempted to embroider them on:
Not very good but they look better than before!
This is the last face I did:
A lot better! Thanks to @flausch_einhorn on Instagram and Beth of “By Hook, By Hand” blog! They both published a blog post picture tutorial on embroidered faces. Beth’s the lips and @flausch_einhorn the eyes!
I have donated 2 of my creations for an auction online to benefit the Nunn family who lost their Dad/ husband. Organized by a fellow RN, I jumped on board. All proceeds go to the family. No one will be skimming off of the top. When you are a nurse, your co-workers, especially the nurses, are pretty special. PTSD from crazy shifts, crazy patients, crazy doctors to crazy spouses and crazy children, your fellow nurse hears all of your woes, you hear all of theirs. Stepping up for a fellow nurses family is natural.
Here is the doll:
Here is the jewelry set:
If you would like to participate check out @auctionfornunnfamily on Instagram.
I am also going as much all natural as I can. More on that later.
May you have a delightful June here in the Northern Hemisphere, summer!!
I am proud to announce my new online store is up and running at http://cabincrochet.shophandmade.com ! Not all of my creations are up for purchase yet but they will be soon! This is very much like Etsy used to be. Etsy has changed to not all handmade or vintage items. They also charge for each item you list and each picture you post. That is not all, they also claim a percentage of what you sell. These are all small charges but added together it is more than I can afford at this point. Please, if you see an item here, on my blog, that you would like to buy, check on http:// cabincrochet.shophandmade.com and if it is not there, send me an e-mail at Tanya@cabincrochetcreations.com and I will add it or I will make you your very own, custom with the colors you prefer.
I will, eventually, add more to “My Story”. I have been attending to some family matters. It is almost 100% certain that I will be moving to Kentucky July 1. That is less than a month away and I have a lot to do! Although I want to try and explain why crochet is so important to me. I have struggled with depression for a very long time. A long time is, most of my life. I was misdiagnosed in the 1980’s during a time when the professionals felt it was in my best interest to be in-patient in a psychiatric ward for 2 1/2 years. (more here: https://cabincrochetcreations.com/2016/04/09/my-story and here: https://cabincrochetcreations.com/2016/04/11/my-story-part-2/) I was only diagnosed correctly in 2007. With this terrible illness, and it IS an illness not a moral failing, addiction to substances is common, as is suicidal tendencies or ideation. Most of the people who I thought, for most of my life, loved me, turned their backs on me and hurt me deeply. All because of symptoms of bipolar.
When I taught myself to crochet it was just to pass the time. Right from the start I loved it. I was so excited when people gave me donations of yarn. I didn’t have a computer so I had to copy all of the patterns that I was interested in down on paper. People started complementing me on my work. I thought, “No big deal anyone can do this”. When folks started asking to buy the things I made, it slowly dawned on me that no, not everyone can crochet. Fewer people still, have time to crochet a hankie let alone a doll. This helped how I thought about myself. People were calling and placing orders. A friend from high school called and wanted me to crochet something I never had done before. I did it and it turned out beautifully. That was the “Pony Inspired by Twilight Sparkle”. She was extremely pleased with it. Through all of this 3 of my family members have re-entered my life. I have grown much closer to God. The feedback I get from craft fairs, about my work is uplifting.
So you see, crochet has literally saved my life. I consider it my healing art. I have come to understand that I may have been diagnosed bipolar, but I, as an identity, am NOT bipolar. I am not addiction.
On that note, I would like to share with you my newest dolls!
4) Native American doll is my embellishment of “Yun Shu by Crochetwawa”
5) Black doll is my embellishment of “Yun Shu by Crochetwawa”
6) The whole gang picture has 2 dolls not mentioned above. That is “Samantha” from the pattern from http://www.AmigurumiBB.com under “Free Patterns” under “Waldorf Inspired Doll” (not the baby) and the blond haired girl in the blue dress is from the pattern “Fairy Doll” on www. AmigurumiBB.com although I did not make her a “Fairy”.
I can also make you a doll that looks like a picture of a daughter, niece, sister or granddaughter. ( I am not very good at making the boy dolls yet!) If you find a pattern of a doll you would like made I will do my best, like the “Twilight Sparkle inspired Pony”. Call me at 815-345-7852 or email me at Tanya@cabincrochetcreations.com! May you all be blessed!
I am deeply grateful for those of you who are standing by and watching me unfold my life before you. Today is my birthday and I felt it important to chronicle the events that led me to seek healing.
…A short while later, I had to go back into the hospital. This was because I had to come off of the psychiatric medication I was on. It was unknown in 1991 if that medication would hurt my baby or not. The daddy and I found an apartment of our own in the same building as his brothers. This was on the “wrong side of the tracks” from where I was raised. WIC, bus tokens and a low income health clinic were the hallmarks of my life at this time. Nine months plus 7 days later, I was delivered of a bouncing baby boy. When he was born, he had to stay in the hospital under the lights because his bilirubin wouldn’t go down. After we went home I was contacted by his doctor who said tests showed he had a problem with his thyroid. Had to take Baby to the Big City to University Hospital when he was barely 6 weeks old. After pumping him full of radioactive iodine it was revealed that he did not have a functioning thyroid gland. What this meant was that he would have to take medicine for the rest of his life. The function of the thyroid gland is to take iodine, found in many foods, and convert it into thyroid hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). T3 and T4 are then released into the blood stream and are transported throughout the body where they control metabolism (conversion of oxygen and calories to energy). And in babies, growth and brain development. (Reference: www.endocrineweb.com/…/how-your-thyroid-works ; bold addition by me)
Now the real fun started! How in the world do you get a tiny baby to swallow a pill because, of course, it doesn’t come in a liquid? Literally, this is life and death! I was nursing so I couldn’t just put it in his bottle. So, creative problem solver that I am, I crushed the pill in between two spoons. Next, I expressed a small amount of breast milk into the spoon and mixed. I drew it up in an eyedropper and practically squirted it directly down his throat! As he grew and after he was weaned I had to get even more creative! Baby-Daddy and I were married in a small family only ceremony in the church Mom went to on holidays. Our “honeymoon” was a night in a hotel away from Baby.
Husband worked a menial job because he had never graduated from high school and a GED was out of his reach. I also picked up part-time work wherever I could find it to make ends meet. Fortunately Husband’s boss helped us get a car so long bus rides were a thing of the past. Amazingly, I did not have to go back on psychiatric meds after I had Baby. I am not sure if pregnancy and nursing straightened out the chemical imbalance or if I was so busy taking care of my little person that I didn’t have the luxury of being able to fall apart! During this period both Husband and I smoked “pot”. We never smoked it around Baby and I did not smoke it while I was nursing or when I was pregnant. We smoked in the bathroom with the exhaust fan on or in the basement with a window open. This was self-medication for my bipolar depression. It must have worked too because I didn’t have to be hospitalized again for many years.
I want to interject here that Husband didn’t have any parents that were still living. He grew up with an extremely abusive father so, he never had an adequate role model. Looking back, the first time he lost control of his anger, he punched a wall because I didn’t complete the list of tasks he had indicated for that day. This is when I was pregnant and having morning sickness. Things progressed to him waking me up at 3 or 4 in the morning to scream at me for a couple of hours. He would explode into a tirade for ridiculous reasons. He would threaten me with his hands but didn’t use them on me…at least not yet. Several hours or a day later, he would apologize and say that he didn’t know what came over him. That it wouldn’t happen again. The first few times I believed him, but after that I knew it would happen again. Most days it was okay but just when I was thinking things were going to be alright, the Rage Monster would attack.
Eventually I am going to tie this all in to crochet. So, just be patient as I bring into the light all of the machinations the Enemy used to try and destroy me. Thank you for reading.
I want to apologize for the brevity of yesterday’s excerpt. I just wasn’t “feeling it”! It is really draining and emotional to go back and remember all of the things that have happened to me in my life. I am choosing to write about it though, because I need to expose evil and I hope it helps someone.
After bouncing around from place to place in the Big City and searching for meaning in life by practicing a pseudo-Buddhism, I moved back to the suburbs near where I grew up. I was working 2 waitressing jobs. One in the morning for breakfast and one for dinner. One day after my shift at the dinner job, my roommate picked me up to give me a ride home. She started driving away from our apartment. I asked her, “Where are we going?”. I don’t remember exactly but I believe she said “You’ll see.” or something like that. She drove onto an expressway and I was getting very anxious because she is driving further and further from the suburb where we were living. An hour and 45 miles later we arrived. By this time I was in a state of near panic because I suffered (and still am suffering) with panic attacks. The street was pitch dark, in an obviously rough neighborhood, in a larger suburb of the Big City. All I saw was a neon cross with the words “Rescue Mission”. She disclosed that she was leaving me there. All I had was my purse and the clothes on my back. My stinky work clothes.
It was a requirement that after the evening meal everyone attended chapel. I went to church as a kid and my Grandparents were devoted Christians. This was comforting and familiar in a place that was so incredibly foreign to me. I became attached to one, specific person there. I fancied myself in love with him. We left the Mission together to sleep on the floor of his brother’s small apartment. I can not recall how long we stayed there. I encountered an attitude and a lifestyle that I had only read about. Food stamps, roaches, drugs, gangs and slapping the s*** out of someone just for fun. My anxiety was on high and I was so self conscious. I wondered what everyone thought of me. I knew I was different. I acted differently than the other people in the house and neighborhood.