Saturday, 8 May 2010

Knitting Socks As A Coping Strategy

I finally managed to get a sensible amount of sleep last night after nearly a fortnight where the best that I have been able to manage is a couple of hours a night. I'm never sure whether the depression causes the inability to sleep, or the lack of sleep causes the depression. Whichever it is, there can be no doubt that for me the inability to sleep is always the indicator of a period of severe mental unwellness.

I have always had a number of things that I use as coping strategies when I am feeling depressed. For me it is important to try to ensure that I keep my mind occupied so that I don't have time to think about how bad I am feeling. Sometimes I am successful, but often it feels like I am fighting a losing battle and the bad thoughts invade my mind and are difficult to control.

I haven't been able to read more than a few sentences for some weeks so reading a book, one of my favourite pastimes has not been on the agenda. I have managed to while away the odd hour or two playing games on my Nintendo DSi. I don't have many games for it, but the ones that I have do keep me occupied and help me to focus on things other than the depression.

But it is knitting that I turn to most often, and at the moment I am knitting socks as a coping strategy. One of the joys of knitting socks is that as a garment they are fairly quick to knit. A sock generally takes me a couple of evenings to complete, so a pair can easily be knitted inside a week. And there are literally thousands of sock patterns on the Internet to chose from, many of them absolutely free, so it is possible to make every pair completely different to anything that you have knitted before.

But I am a bit predictable because I tend to use a few patterns that I have used before and which I know will give me the results that I want. I like to use hand-dyed yarns because of their unpredictability of colour and the colour mixtures that the dyers select. There are almost as many different sock yarns to chose from as their are patterns for socks. This means that even if you use the same pattern for each pair of socks, by using a different yarn for each pair you can have an extensive selection of socks each of which will appear different from the others.

So I am in the process of knitting another pair of socks. I'm using the same pattern as I used for the last pair of socks that I knitted. They are less colourful than some that I have made being made in a yarn that is shades of one colour rather than being made up of several colours. I should be able to get to the stage of turning the heel this evening as it is an easy pattern to follow. That means that I should have the pair finished by either Thursday or Friday. And there are only a couple of ends to sew in which means that there is little finishing off, a job that I hate.


JaneB said...

Finishing off is definitely the least fun bit of knitting. My niece (aged 4) talked me into attempting a knitted toy dog, and the knitting is actually fun but the finishing off takes nearly as long as the knitting... I don't think I'll do too many more of those.

Glad to hear you are at least managing to get you brain to let you knit - I too find it soothing when I'm depressed, something about the steady movememts and the production of something at the end of the time (I often knit blanket squares or scarves because getting the pattern wrong can be devastating... stupid brain!).

Achelois said...

Knitting is being used in pain management strategies - something to do with the way the brain works and the repetitive motion of knitting. It has a similar effect I think with depression, a distraction for the mind.

I haven't knitted for ages and sleeping is all over the show for pain reasons. I think I knit more in Winter. I wish you lived nearer some days, I could pop over and would love to have you teach me to be a better knitter! I have no doubt if you were to offer personal tutoring in knitting you would make money!

JaneB - I totally get the getting the pattern wrong thing - it is completely devastating!

I am listening to the dawn chorus - a good thing but not because I have woken early so a mixed blessing. Sleep eluded me and today I will be very tired. You have inspired me to unzip the cath kidson knitting bag, a present from Xmas and click those needles again. So thank you - thank you.

Wendy Love said...

For me walking is the rhythmic activity which helps me especially when I am depressed. I know just what you mean about the sleep; does the depression cause the lack of sleep or does the lack of sleep cause depression? I am not sure either. There seems to be some new thinking out there about depression being caused BY our thoughts rather than the depression being the cause OF our thoughts. I think that it probably doesn't really matter, we still have to deal with the depression. I love hearing about how your knitting helps you. Keep up the great work!

Freda said...

My Granny used to crochet berets in all sorts of beautiful colours, including some fair-isle. When she died there was a huge pile of more than 30 - lots to give away. Thinking back, I wonder if she did it to "pass the time" when things got tough. She died many years ago but is with me still. Her stoicism keeps me going on many a bad day. Every blessing and may you feel more positive soon.