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!