In 2015 I began a month-long trip to Cambodia and Thailand where I was teaching cosmetology to young girls who had been affected or were at risk of human trafficking. Upon arrival, my team and I visited torture camps and killing fields where thousands of people had been killed during the Khmer Rouge genocide. The genocide was so recent and so devastating that the country is still cleaning up the aftermath. Wherever you go, you can see cases full of human skulls, and bones. I was devastated by what I saw. A heaviness and deep depression overtook my heart.
As I continued my month working in Asia I was confronted with the ugliest parts of humanity. During that trip, I witnessed slavery within the coffee industry, the child begging system and was apart of the rescue of a three year old Thai girl who was being sold for sexual acts by her mother. I came home with crippling anxiety about war.
Anxiety had never been apart of my life or experience before so I had no idea how to cope with the obsessive and fearful thoughts that possessed my thinking. I had always been a can-do, independent person and suddenly tasks would terrify me to the point of breakdown. Some days I was unable to get out of bed.
During my first therapy session, my therapist asked me what I’d like to talk about. I’ll never forget his face when I promptly answered his question: genocide. I was encouraged by many to take anti-depressant medication and though that is helpful for some, I knew that this was not apart of my usual make-up so I sought to overcome homeopathically.
I found solace in crochet. It had always been a very peaceful and calming activity for me and the meditative aspect of it was quickly becoming crucial to my mental health. I started to learn new stitches and designs because counting and focusing on patterns pulled my mind away from the destructive loop it was trapped in. Most days I spent 2-8 hours meditating with my crochet, lost in the beauty of the stitches instead of dwelling on fearful thoughts.
I truly believe that without the therapy I had received from crochet, I'd be in a much different mental state. During that time of intense depression, crochet became the thing that got me out of bed in the morning. I went from feeling like I had nothing to live for to wanting to get to the end of a project. In the stitches I found consistency that the rest of my life was missing.
As I share Namaste and Crochet, more than people seeing the products, I hope that they see the power of meditation and art therapy. Amidst the daily hustles of life along with constant stimulus and distraction, It’s easy to forget to take a moment to center the mind and spirit. It’s no wonder that depression and anxiety run so rampant in our society.
Sometimes we are diverted from pursuing the art and passions that are in our heart to create for fear that no one will understand, that it will be poorly received or that it isn’t important enough to make. It’s easy to belittle our gifts and place them low on the priority list. I hope to encourage others to let go and let themselves be healed by their creative expression.
Though I have com a long way, I still have moments of anxiety and can turn to crochet. It allows me to tap into my divine creative energy and reminds me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Now crochet is a symbol to me of how we are all connected to each other and apart of the divine tapestry of the universe. It has taught me so much about peace, patience and being in the moment.