returning to @crochetgirlgang

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After taking a break from the @crochetgirlgang instagram account, an extended break that lasted nearly a year (yikes), last month I decided to go back to the gang and start reposting awesome pictures of crochet again. I don’t mind admitting to you that the reason I stopped reposting on the account was due to the state of my mental heath and because this week is the Mind charity’s Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK, I could think of no better time to post this.

I feel it’s important to talk about my time away from the crochet world because sometimes life gets crazy tough, sometimes we can just no longer cope, and sometimes we have to step away from things for a while in order to prioritise ourselves, our mental health and getting better. I feel like it’s important to share these feelings so that we can take a tiny step closer towards normalising not always feeling so great. Do you know what I mean?

I’ve had two long breaks from the account and both have been caused by the same thing, a bone-crushing sense of overwhelm, darkness and depression.

The first break happened shortly after I experienced a serious dragging on the internet. Now Instagram had already shown me a bit of it’s dark underbelly, it was the reason I started the @crochetgirlgang in the first place, but this was something else. This was heavy, heavy shit. There is this strange momentum to an internet dragging where one person starts the ball rolling, usually projecting their insecurities/anger/jealousy onto you, and then like wolves, other similarly angry people sniff out an opportunity to dump all their stored-up pain in a guilt free fashion and quickly jump on the bandwagon.

It is awful. It feels awful in every way possible. So awful that I would rather die than leave a shitty comment or join in a dragging of another human being. It is so far removed from how we should be towards each other, how we should behave and if you are unfortunate to be on the receiving end then it sucks everything out of you, leaving you with nothing but a hollowed out heart.

I know.

I know, and at first I thought I could deal with it but the thing about being a creative, the thing about putting your work out there, is that you are making yourself vulnerable with every offering. Vulnerable to criticism and ridicule, vulnerable to misunderstanding and attack. You lay yourself bare to the world and if you are misunderstood in any way then it crushes you.

For me this manifests itself as a shutting off. I shut off from the things that I perceived were causing me pain and crochet was one of those things. I felt unable to look at crochet in real life, let alone on the internet, it caused me so much hurt and so I closed it all off, put it all in a box and got on with other things.

For a short while last summer I thought that I could go back but it was short lived, and if I’m honest, it wasn’t for the right reasons. I was fooling myself and it didn’t take me too long to realise it either, the pain was too raw and I still had much healing to do, emotions to process, priorities to figure out.

And then something wonderful happened, this new year started off a bit weird energetically, but one thing I noticed was a shift in my thinking, a bit of relief from the brain fogginess I had experienced for most of 2018. I started to crochet a bit more, I started to notice crochet a bit more and had started to look at other people’s work and really admire it again, really feel good and positive about it. It was such a relief. I honestly didn’t think I was ever going to feel that way again.

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For me, I get real joy, a really pure and lovely joy from sharing other people’s amazing work and depression stole this joy away from me. I want to share this story so that you know that it’s okay to feel like this, it’s okay to not always feel jolly and wonderful and it’s okay to not be creating as much as it looks like other people are! Depression doesn’t always feel like sadness, sometimes it can feel like you just don’t have the energy to put into certain things anymore and that could be anything in your life or all the things in your life. If you feel like this, it’s okay, there are lots of great resources out there to help you get back on track again but mostly I would say, give it time. Time allows you the space to process your feelings and sometimes this is all you need.

I love how much crochet creativity is out there, how every single person brings something different to the craft, even if we are all crocheting the same pattern (see note below on Louisa’s #loveyourselfmandala). It feels like a way for me to give something back to a community that has given me and continues to give me so much. I’ve met (and reacquainted myself with) lots of fabulous friends through the gang, from sharing work, chatting or just plain old crochet appreciation and long may it continue.

If you want to get involved in the gang just tag your crochet photos with @crochetgirlgang and/or use the hashtag #crochetgirlgang - I’ll be waiting to hear from you.

pattern by Louisa  @thefibrelounge

pattern by Louisa @thefibrelounge

If you want to donate to Mind in a crochet-fantastic way then can I suggest buying Louisa’s pattern the Love Yourself Mandala because she is donating £1 from every purchase to Mind in support of this week of highlighting how our mental health matters. What a darling.

Happy crocheting gang.