On October 9, 2007, my world ground to a halt. That was the day a neurologist told me I had ALS. I was no longer a human being; I was a disease. I would spend hours on the internet fruitlessly researching my disease and popping donuts into my mouth. After all, I was going to die anyway. Soon I wouldn’t be able to chew – and who cares about diabetes and health? I have one disease, bring ’em all on.
I’d still look at Craftster everyday, though. And if you look at my profile, you’ll see that I participated in several craft swaps almost directly after my diagnosis: The Christmas Stocking Swap, The Silly Santa Swap, The PostSecret Swap, to name a few. I couldn’t even tell my sister and brother what I had, but I could focus my energy on a doll or a stocking. Eventually, during the PostSecret Swap, I finally articulated things that bothered me, about the diagnosis, about the army, all these things. I believe craft enabled me to have hope for the future where there was none before, to let me quit my dead end job as a clerk and try for more.
I’m better now, kids (mentally if not physically). Don’t feel sorry for me – that’s not the point. The point, described by Emma Harris in her article, “The meanings of craft to an occupational therapist”, is that “as human beings, we have an innate need to make and create. Thompson and Blair (1998, p. 54) discuss how humans are ‘continually trying to heal the divide between their inner world and their external reality’ and that ‘this tension impels humans to engage in imaginative and creative processes … that can for brief moments, give us a sense of balance and our deepest consolations and greatest glories’. This phenomenon was described by Joseph several times during the conversation, and he highlighted that craft-making can be a means of providing a sense of hope and efficacy.”
I lacked balance, I needed consolation, and I needed hope, and I found them through crafty therapy. I know many others use crafting as a means of therapy – many people answered that crafting keeps them sane on the first question of the day.