Fibromyalgia, Crochet, & Anxiety

Sometimes I wish I could go back in time to when I had to deal with “normal” anxiety. Not that there is anything fun about that. It was always brought on by the monthly change in hormones but it was much easier to find ways to deal with the nervous energy that went with it. At the time I wasn’t crocheting every day so it usually meant killing something (or a lot of somethings) in video games. If only I had known that crochet would have worked to calm me.

Ever seen the movie Demolition Man with Sylvester Stallone? No? You should. His character was deemed “too violent” and put in cryofreeze. While he was in there he was “programmed” to knit to re-channel his violent tendencies. He is released 30 years later to help recapture a violent crime lord who had been cryofrozen at the same time as Sly’s character. (“We’re cops! We’re not trained to deal with this kind of violence!”). More than once you find Sly’s character knitting to calm himself.

I wish I had put two and two together. Then again, I may have discovered a way to injure people with a crochet hook if they bothered me. Anyway, a lot has been written about crochet helping with anxiety and mental health issues.

All you have to do is a google search and you can find a plethora of information and scientific studies. The same goes for crochet and chronic health issues, especially those that cause pain.

I have found, like many people, that crochet does wonders to take my mind off my fibro pain and give me something to focus on. It also helps the arthritis pain in my hands. It is, after all, hand exercise.

To back up a moment, I remember after I had my hysterectomy (my ovaries went too) I was so excited to come off the Prozac I had been on for years to deal with PMDD. After dealing with PMDD I seriously have no sympathy for those out there who are seriously over-dramatic about their cycles and PMS. I would have given anything just to deal with cramping and bloating and maybe a headache. Nope. I got the bonus package with endometriosis as the icing on the cake.

When I told my doctor that I had quit taking the Prozac because I didn’t need it anymore since a hysterectomy meant no more PMDD, he looked at me and said, “You know, there is an anxiety component to fibro.”

My only thought was “Well, shit!”

Dealing with PMDD I never noticed any anxiety from fibro. I just assumed it was all my cycles making me crazy. There was probably a deal of fibro anxiety in there that was just amped up from the hormonal changes.

The thing with fibro anxiety is it doesn’t play by the rules. I end up having anxiety surrounding projects I am working on and crochet becomes less calming and more of an albatross.

Normally working on a bunch of projects at once is not an issue for me. Depending on the day I might want to work with a specific colour or stitch and having more than one thing going works for that. It keeps things enjoyable for me. When the fibro kicks in with it’s anxiety suddenly all those WIPs are suddenly a plague. I need them all finished…NOW! I tend to crochet faster because “stuff must get done”, and if I have to frog I feel as if I have to make up that lost time redoing everything by working even faster. It’s a vicious cycle because faster usually means sloppy and/or wonky stitches that are going to need frogged later. Working with self striping yarn is even worse because it becomes a race to get to the next colour. Then there is all the “Is this the right colour/yarn for this project?” which makes me hate the project I am working on. If I put it down and pick up something else I suddenly feel guilty for not finishing that project before moving on and I end up having to pick it up again.

I would much rather count stitches to calm me but I don’t have that luxury. More than one I have stayed up way later than I should have because my fibro induced crochet anxiety would not let me put down something. During these times I wish someone would come up behind me with a giant mallet, a la Bugs Bunny, that says Acme on the side and knock me out. I have tried to put my crochet down and walk away from it, but that makes it even worse. Especially if it’s something I want to put in my store, because it needed to be there yesterday.

I had one of these days yesterday. I spent hours working on a scarf, and adjusting the pattern to put on the site, only to decide today that I hated it. I hated how the stitch pattern looked as a scarf and I hated in the yarn that I was using even more. I ended up frogging the entire thing and started over today with a different yarn after deciding that it would work much better as a headband. This is probably one of the biggest reasons I will never be a serious designer. The fibro won’t let me. I know better than to put that kind of pressure on myself. It will all end in tears and frustration.

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