I haven't spun since late last year, not for lack of desire but rather time and spindle. Mine finally cracked along the shaft that was already held together with particularly fetching holographic gift tape. This occurred just as I spun up my last roving; and at a particularly difficult period of my life and so that was that. Since then, I have missed the spinning, but a new spindle was the last thing on my mind. A series of stressful, anxiety inducing events against a backdrop of pregnancy, work stress and the arrival of a daughter, from the spring of last year to Christmas finally brought me crashing headlong into a wall. I finally found myself in a therapist's office shining a light on the darkest, mustiest corners of my mind.
This difficult period, I realize now was simply the endgame of a trajectory I have been on since I was 15, one that has manifested as anxiety, panic attacks and depression since then. That the spindle cracked finally from an injury sustained long ago, just as I finally did, makes me all the more attached to that particular craft and I wish I had kept my first, imperfect spindle. I am that spindle.
It is a shame, that when I first presented to my doctor at the age of fifteen, feeling a bit low after a prolonged viral illness, that he didn't dig a bit deeper instead of throwing a diazepam (an anti-anxiety drug that I recently found out will worsen depression) prescription at me. If he had dug a little deeper, he would have referred me to a mental health team - although I realise that this was not commonplace in the early noughties. That mental health team would have probed a bit deeper and my diagnoses would not have been that I needed to pull myself together. That generalized anxiety, bad dreams, flashbacks and the feeling - no, make that certain knowledge - that I somehow don't belong or deserve to be in this world is actually PTSD - post traumatic stress disorder. I would never have suspected this, thinking that you had to actually be the victim of a particularly traumatic events to acquire it, but it turns out witnessing a traumatic event, even hearing about it third hand can trigger it. If you have, like me, witnessed several; you have good odds of developing it.
Well, the therapy helped. Just unpacking it all helped, painful and triggering as it all was. I have a lot of work to do and in all honesty I will probably never be fully cured - there are chemical pathways that were laid down when I witnessed those events that will continue to trigger that fight or flight response for many years to come. Now I have the tools to deal with it. I feel the most consistent level of peace I have in years.
I really recommend if you have been feeling low or anxious or paranoid or any other mental malady, that you don't try to just pull yourself together. I realise now that this process of unpacking actually begun a few years ago, with the birth of Gus, with my becoming a parent. This was the time we really began to simplify our lives. Even if I didn't believe that I could ever have a good life filled with good experiences, I could set my family up to have that. The appeal of this quiet pace of life I have wanted for myself, for all of us, I realise, was just my trying to find a little peace when tornadoes were tearing up my mental and emotional landscape. The focus, the mindfulness of a deliberate life, the wanting to contribute something beautiful and lasting to the world. In a way, our son was my saving grace, although that grace took several years to fully infiltrate my mind.
This month I finally bought a new spindle. I never realized just what spinning gave me that all my other crafts did not. Spinning beautifully dyed roving into yarn absorbs my attention like no other craft can. Everything else fades away as I try to perfect my technique (long way to go on that front by BTW) and control the weight and consistency of my yarn. This is what we humans have always done, provided for our own and our families' and our communities' most basic of needs with our own hands and creativity. I have hope that I will eventually get to the point where I can take a sheep, shear it, clean and scour the wool, dye it, card it and spin it and then give that hank of yarn or a finished knitted object to another. That process will link me to the deep time of my human ancestry and the awareness that all situations are temporary. That awareness will bring relief in times of grief and bittersweet grief should it arise in happier moments. Either way, it is a reminder to make best use of the time we have now, right now, because the next moment may never come. I have finally begun to make my peace with that.
This is my cure.