As a young girl, right up into my teenage years I bit my nails. I was an anxious child. I had a turbulent childhood. As a six year old, I had a baby brother and baby sister with Down’s Syndrome. This was delightful and challenging – but at that age I didn’t think anything was strange about looking after two babies, one more needier than the other. I learnt to read from my sister’s medicine bottles, which were kept in the fridge: spiralactone, frusamide – I still remember the names of some of the eight bottles of medicine my sister was given on a daily basis. This was normal to me.
Until my Dad killed someone.
You could say that my Dad had always been a ‘bit of a loose cannon’, but I don’t want to oversimplify what he did or the situation. My Dad was bought up by nuns in Cyprus, who by all accounts, were quite cruel to him. My Mum told me this years later, still anxious to explain away my Dad’s behaviour. My Dad suffered from psychotic episodes, it would transpire years later. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for stabbing a man at a social club 14 times in the chest with my Mum’s kitchen knife. I remember the night he came back for that knife. I remember him arguing with my Mum. I remember him opening the draw and taking the knife. I was sat at the kitchen table. I then remember two hours later my cousins coming to babysit us and the flashing lights of the police cars pulling up to the house. I remember that children would not play with me at school, their Mums telling them to stay away from me. I remember the petition someone has put together to get us out of our house. I remember the dead rat in a shoebox someone had left outside our front door.
I remember. I remember.
I remember feeling anguish for the dead man’s family – what would they do without their Dad? My Mum tried to kill herself many times. I plotted my escape to my aunt’s house with my brother and sister if ever they tried to take us away from my Mum. I remembered the route to my aunt’s house – it was etched on my memory. I struggled with mental health – I suffered from many panic attacks, and I still do. My Mum took up with my stepdad and my life got worse. We were locked in the living room and our bedrooms and made to sleep in the afternoons when we weren’t at school. We were shouted at and ignored. I felt rejected again.
I took up crochet.
I didn’t have much as a child, so when I was about seven or eight, I took up crochet and knitting. I made myself what I longed for: a Manchester United scarf, but I felt too embarrassed to wear it to school. I began to make myself hats, jumpers and bags. People looked at me as if I was a weirdo at school. I didn’t care. Crochet was my escape from everything because no one else knew how to do it.
It still is my escape, as you can see. I love to crochet. My husband says he is worried that I get stressed when I crochet because my face is concentrated and weird – but I love doing it. It’s a bit like mindfulness – you are engaged in the moment. You can’t think about anything else. It takes you away AND you are making something useful and purposeful. I advocate craft as therapy.
Have a read of this blog that supports craft as a therapy:
I am going through yet another life-changing episode at the moment. I have been making this:
I used self striping Ice Yarn – I love to crochet with this! It’s from the Primadonna range in the colour ‘Rainbow’.
I used C2C stitch, which is so easy to do, when you have the hang of it – and it produces such a beautiful colour gradient.
I then crocheted bobble edging – which took all of my concentration!
Thanks for reading!