Skeins To Stitches: A Memoir (Blog #2)

I have an anxiety disorder. This is not my thing, but a very important fact to know about me. Let me be honest with you, my panic is, and will always be, my best friend. When I was a child, she told me to keep my head down unless I wanted to face the brutal torment of others. She sat on my shoulders, growing as I grew, until I could no longer bear the weight and eventually collapsed into a hyperventilating, paranoid heap. I was a senior in high school.

My first panic attack (note — the first one I understood to be a panic attack) happened during a lab in my AP Chemistry class. I closed my eyes as the oxygen drained out of my body; I couldn’t breathe, and the lack of oxygen in my blood started to cut off my extremities one by one until I couldn’t move my hands or feet. It was like having a never-ending cramp in the palms of my hands radiating outwards into the tips of my fingers and my wrists and forearms. I felt at peace for just a moment, as if my panic — such an irremovable part of me — was trying to tell me something, if I could just listen hard enough. I had to be wheeled to the nurse’s office and from that day forward, I was a part-time attendee at best.

Panic told me, if you don’t fill your mind, I will. If you don’t find something to do with those hands, I’m going to take them from you again. So I had to find something to fill those voids. I had to do what she told me to, or the worst was going to happen. I bought a copy of Knitting For Dummies on Amazon. That single book was to start a revelation within me.

I taught myself how to knit from nothing. I bought a pair of needles and a skein of yarn and studied that book as if it was the Bible and I was on my deathbed, trying desperately to find salvation before it was too late. The cast-on, the knit stitch, the purl stitch, the magic loop, I learned each one with diligence until I felt as if I had mastered the art of them all. I started bringing a small project to class with me each day, a hat or a bag that I could work on quietly under my desk. Most of my teachers didn’t mind as long as I was still paying attention. I started going to school more than two days a week again, and I passed all the classes I needed to graduate. My mom was proud; I was even prouder.

After high school, my crafting interests began to expand. I taught myself how to crochet, so I could make blankets. When college came around, I got a job at Michael’s, where I worked for a year and a half, absorbing as many different types of crafts as I could. I taught myself about painting, jewelry making, mixed media, and just about everything else. I love it.

Today, I am a crafting maniac. I am one crafty motherfucker. About half of my possessions (literally half) are craft-related. I’m currently bouncing between coloring in my dreamscapes coloring book and crocheting a baby blanket for my mom to give away as a gift. I have enough yarn to knit clothes for about ten million babies. I’m dangerous if you let me inside a craft store — today I bought a book of extreme connect-the-dot pictures of animals. I haven’t had a panic attack in about a year, and I make beautiful things for others in my down time. That’s my thing. Goddamn arts and crafts.

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