Holiday’s End

We drove home from San Diego, a whirlwind trip

(a little TOO whirlwind when I ended up getting a speeding ticket; everyone in the car agrees that there were MANY cars going faster than I was, but we had the tell-tale luggage on the hood of our car.  Plus, I was speeding.)

Odd how something like a speeding ticket can plunge one into a dark, dark place.

Or maybe it was being away from home for 2 weeks? Or the sea-sickness? (which continued to haunt me in the car; for the first time in my life I actually got car-sick on the way home…) Or maybe it was the general post-holiday blues?

For whatever reason, I had a hell of a hard few days. The kind of days where everything stupid you’ve every done in your life gets all dressed up and comes over to visit. Rough. It’s moving on, which is a wonderful thing, but I’m still feeling shaky on my feet. It’s not unlike the after-sea-sickness feeling when I wasn’t ill any more, but felt very unsteady.

I’m sure there’s a name for it, ‘post-depression-nausea’ or something like that. And, for what it’s worth, as I grow older it seems periods of sadness like this are fewer and farther between, and don’t last as long.  But they’re just as deep, which is always scary.

Depression is absolutely terrifying at times.

In the middle of my sadness I tweeted:

Screen Shot 2013-01-07 at 10.18.37 AMand the lovely response I got was incredibly helpful.

I felt guilty for going public like that, essentially asking, “Tell me I’m okay!  Tell me I’m loved!” but I was gratified by the kindness that came back to me.  Thank you, everyone.

I know that we all need some kindness every now and then, I’m very grateful to my friends for sending me cyber thumbs up.

Depression affects so many of us, and it makes some of us ashamed (which I know is silly) but it’s true. I hope that by writing honestly when I have my own down periods, I can help someone else feel less alone, less ashamed, less isolated than they might.


I hadn’t blogged about our last few days in SD, mostly because I was crazed with finishing some crocheted swatches and sketches for submission, packing, getting the house fit for the return of the owners, etc.

We had a magnificent time on the West Coast, and we couldn’t help but daydream about living in such beautiful surroundings.  This, obviously, is not going to happen (ch-CHING!) but visiting beautiful La Jolla and seeing so much of our HUGE country on the way there and back is something I don’t think any of us will forget.  It was my first time in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah (except for airports) and driving through the states is something that everyone should have a chance to do.

Just be sure to take your Dramamine.

Below are photographs we took in our last few days, around the house, out at Coronado Island, and at the Point Loma Lighthouse.  The weather was off-and-on rainy, but that just made for more dramatic pictures!

It’s been hard

Follow the blue capsule road

I’ve started and stopped this blog post several times.

I need to write it.  Maybe someone like me needs to read it.  Maybe I need to read it.

I’ve blogged before about my depression, about how my discovery of fluoxitine (I was introduced to it as ‘serafem’ during my hysto adventure, but most folks know it as prozac) was almost a miraculous event.

Prozac allowed me to prioritize my life, to do the things that were immediately necessary and carry other things over to work on when the time was right.  It allowed me to be a better artist and a better business person.

Disclaimer: I know prozac – any drug – is not a panacea for everyone.  But it may be the bridge that allows someone to move from the non-functioning rocky terrain – across the valley of dark, dark thoughts – to a more stable landscape where life can be richer.

This August I stopped taking my prozac.  Why?

I ran out.

When I lost my health insurance in June, I had enough medication for a few months.  We’ve been trying various routes for insurance, the two main barriers being 1) my non-insurable status (asthma/COPD & fibro), and 2) the cost of any type of insurance for which I might – just might – be eligible.

Gerry’s taken it on as his project to wade through the various programs that I might try.  He spends hours on this – tracking down health insurance for me and the kids (he’s covered with Medicare) and it’s a hard struggle.  I am very, very lucky to have him.

The timing of the whole running-out-of-pills came right before Scotland, in the midsts of my travel marathon.  My doctor had stopped practicing for her own health reasons, and I couldn’t get an appointment to see anyone in her practice to write me a script for more drugs.

So I figured I’d wing it without the proazc.  Or, to be more specific, I’d RIDE it out.  I’d been biking a lot – doing SO well with all the life stuff that I thought I’d be able to coast into a holding pattern.

But that hasn’t been the case.  It’s been rough – very rough – painfully, lonely, I-can’t-tell-anyone-how-hard-it-is rough.

Having visited the happy, stable, easy to walk terrain of mental health, it’s been very hard to travel back to the rocky ground of depression.  It’s been such a slow trip – so incremental – that most days it was hard to see how far back across that bridge I’d retreated.

There are some places the bike can’t take me.

There are good days – sunny days when the Vitamin D seems to work well, when I can get out and ride my bike, and when nothing goes terribly wrong to pull me down. I relished those days.

But there have been so many dark days.  Like a gremlin waiting in the hedge with a stick to poke into my spokes, stupid things pop up and knock me sideways.  Knock the wind out of me.

It’s probably no accident that the figurative and the literal ‘dark days’ are corresponding.  It’s been rainy for a few days now and I’m feeling it.  Feeling the pain, feeling the anguish.

Is Knitting my Prozac or Vice Versa?

I’ve been told by several doctors that part the Fibromyalgia puzzle is the connection between the part of the brain that controls depression & the sensation of physical pain.  If I hadn’t already been on an antidepressant, putting me on one would have been part of my therapy.

Now that I’ve been off for two months the mental and the physical pain hold my being so tightly that some nights I can hardly breathe, let alone sleep.

And I cry.  I cry like a little girl.  Except I’m NOT a little girl, I’m a middle aged woman with very dry skin who should NOT be crying so much.  There seem to be few thing so damaging to the sensitive under-eye skin than salt water.

And, as one would expect, work is just harder when my brain is fuzzed.  The amount of ripping out I’ve been doing this month is monumental.  In design, decision making and prioritizing are not the sexiest of tools, but they’re VITAL to creating a coherent product.

So what’s my point?  Why am I writing this? I’m thinking someone else may be as cloudy headed as I’ve been in the past few weeks, and maybe I can help shed some light in their corner.

You see, I believe that when one is in a transition – in my case standing midway between relative mental health and mental exhaustion – one is in a unique position to help bridge the gap for others.

I’m afraid I’d been so – what is the word?  Confused? I’ve been so – something – that I haven’t been able to figure out how to get my meds again.  The idea of trying to obtain prescriptions from a new doctor (my old doctor has recently retired to fight her own battle with cancer) was so overwhelming that I just let things go.

It’s been easier to take my bike out for a 6 mile ride than pick up the phone and talk to someone – anyone – about how to go about getting help.

I didn’t know who to call.  And, worse, since I felt terribly guilty for feeling so bad it was difficult to reach out.  Guilt really prevents one from asking for help.  The internal projected dialogue in my head has been worthy of a Tony Award – I won’t go into details, but every bad Lifetime movie has been playing in my brain non-stop for several weeks.  Stop the madness.

Finally yesterday Gerry became my hero and made some phone calls.  Long story short, I now have drug samples to tide me over for a month, and we have a new lease on how to go about getting my drugs at a reduced fee, but it’s a pretty crappy way to try to string together our health care.

Every day as I’m out riding my bike to make myself healthier (mentally and physically) I worry about what would happen if I were to fall, or get hit by a car.  No insurance, baby, it’s a bad place to be.

Having said that, though, tonight I feel a bit more in control – a bit more hopeful – with a month of prozac on the shelf.

Pondering In My Heart

I’m trying to work through some stuff, directions, etc.

I thought I’d find a shining sign at TNNA: GO FORTH AND DO THIS! But I didn’t.  I did get a lot of support, though, which is excellent.

Shrug En Route & "B" Twist

I’m finishing up my Lace Bootcamp and Twisted Float Shrug Online Classes, which start on July 1.  I always feel doubtful about a class the first time I run it, and this time is no exception.  Time to just keep plugging away and try to make it as comprehensible as possible.

If you’d care to sign up for either of my new classes, please use the code “july” for a 25% discount. I feel better discounting the first run of a class, I figure I learn as much from you as you do from me, and this allows me to give a break to folks who are willing to be guinea pigs!

Wavy Lace Wrong SideAside from working on the classes, there’s not a lot going on.  I’m mentally and physically preparing for UK Knit Camp in Stirling (I’ll be teaching a few classes) and on the horizon is that magnificent Italian adventure in September (I’ll be teaching, it should be – how you say – amazing!)

But mostly I’m just – mentally – trying to find my place right now.

Calm Mississippi Dog Run

I need to find a peaceful, calm place to roost, a place where I can do what I love, pay the mortgage, and not feel encumbered by this fibro crap / pain that crops up at the most inconsistent times.

Mentally, the fibro is wearing me down, I have to say it.  When I was first diagnosed I was not aware of how much this would affect me.  This renewed awareness is almost more of a boulder in my path than the fibro itself.

I’m sorry I’m not more – me? – today.  Funny?  Joyful?  Deep down I’m all those things, really!

But right now the part of me that’s rising to the top is the scared and hurt part.  Obviously I need to knit more.  Or maybe I need to stir things up?  Or maybe I need some dispersant? However you spin it, this fibro-depression is lurking just under my surface like a 300 foot plume.


Why am I really so low today?  I had a bad doctor’s appointment.  Not a bad appointment, a bad DOCTOR who just went off on healthcare, political stuff, etc. with no encouragement from me.  Honest.  None at all.  And I know from encouraging folks to go off, it’s a real skill of mine.  This time, it wasn’t me.  He was going off on folks before we even arrived (we heard him explaining some of his views as we passed another exam room.)

This picture has nothing to do with the text. I just wanted to show that we'd been to see the Dead Sea Scrolls for Father's Day.

It was bizarre.  If Gerry hadn’t been with me (and if I hadn’t seen the look on the Physician’s Assistants face, who was in the room with us and was trying to keep it together) I would have thought I was nuts.

Well, maybe I am – but this guy was NUTSIER.

He tried, belatedly, to apologize for going off on  – me? the world? – I don’t really know who his anger/frustration was directed toward.  But he was angry.

He said so at one point – “I’m angry.” Very odd.

So that was my last visit, not so much because he’s a freakazoid (and I know from freakazoid docs, this was the fellow who delivered Hannah in Oct 1996, the same month as the carving incident) It was our last visit because our insurance runs out in 10 days.

See, a silver lining already!

The kids will have to be uninsured for 4 months before they’re eligible for MN care, Gerry will be on SSDI Medicare.  But I’ll be floating along like a dandelion seed, wafting away on a breath blown by an asthmatic kid.

Twisted Float Detail

And me? I will knit. I’m putting the resume together, looking into temp type work, but I just don’t think I have the physical stamina to work a full 8 hours in a day without resting, or coming home in severe pain.

Obviously the work a bit, rest a bit schedule is great – but since January I can’t seem to produce enough to keep it going.

How can I be terribly upset, though, when I have such amazing yarn to work with?  This is a swatch using Lorna’s Laces Shepherd’s Worsted (Zombie BBQ) and a tiny piece of Pico Accuardi merino as waste yarn.  The Pico was used above in the lace swatch.

This is excellent therapy.

Monday, June 21, 2010 By Rick Levine

Yesterday | Today | Tomorrow

(Aug 23 – Sep 22)

You may long for a resting place in your ongoing struggle to hold on to recent gains while still embracing the future. Inevitable change seems to be knocking at your front door, but just as you think it’s okay to let it in, something happens that makes you question your assumptions. Don’t be attached to your expectations. Instead, be ready to flow with the shifting tides until they settle back down.

A Place of Love; Moving Beyond Logic

On March 21, my Twitterscope By Rick Levine said:

You have had your share of responsibilities over the past couple of years, and today could be an instant replay of the hardest moments. But it will probably be much easier to reminisce than to have to go through all the tests again. The key to standing up to those who might give you a hard time is keeping an open mind and knowing that you are coming from a place of love.

Then today it’s this:

Your key planet Mercury is pushing you into places you might rather avoid today. You may not be able to turn off the barrage of words that are coming at you from others or from within your own head, but you can lighten your load by moving beyond logic. Analysis can be a trap now; you must shift from language into imaginative symbols to find the solution to your current dilemma.

True dat.

When I teach, I try to get both concepts across to my students: 1) Passion / Love will teach you more about knitting than anything else, and 2) Sometimes our hands (intuition) is smarter than our brains (logic)

Let me break this down.

When you fall in love with someone – REALLY fall in love – you commit yourself (formally or informally) to making it work.  That is what love is, making some kind of commitment that you will invest something of yourself, see the object of your love in the best possible light whenever possible, but also not shy away from the “warts.”

In fact, sometimes the warts – the baldness, the extra weight, the annoying habits – can, with love, become quite dear to us.  Sometimes.

Sometimes love just allows you to put them in perspective and weigh them realistically against all that is good in your object of love.

I translate this into knitting in the sense that we are often drawn to a project.  We see a certain shawl, sweater, bag or hat and we know that we MUST make it.  Even if it seems beyond our current skill set, and although we can see where there may be pitfalls ahead, our passion compels us to engage in the project.  Usually the passion pulls us through, but sometimes it, alone, isn’t enough.

Does this mean when you fail at a knitting project you didn’t love it?  No, not necessarily.  It means – to my mind – that grace is always possible with enough love.  If you have a project that you’ve set aside as impossible, but you still love it, it may be good to enlist the help of your local yarn shop.

They can act as a sort of couples therapist, help you see where you may have fallen short, and where the pattern may have let you down.  (If they’re REALLY good, they’ll be able to help you bridge these gaps so you can walk away with the project happily progressing on your needles!)

We are a society of people with strong minds.  We strive to find jobs that engage our intelligence, and if we’re fortunate enough to do well financially, we tend to hire folks to do the manual labor in our lives.  As our mental intelligence grows, our physical intelligence can weaken.

Our lives are so much easier, physically, than at any time in the past.  We have hot and cold running water (no pumping, no boiling water for a bath.) We have vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, clothes washers, refrigerators, stoves & ovens, cars and mass transit systems.  Even our bicycles are relatively modern in terms of the history of humankind, only being a common mode of transportation for a little over 100 years.

What do we miss by this?  We miss a chance to fully develop the intelligence of our bodies.  We also miss years of back-breaking labor, so I think it’s probably a good trade off.

Our brains make all the decisions, they tell our bodies what to do, and we slowly lose the ability to hear the physical brilliance we each posses.

For instance, there’s a theory that a daily walk is a good way to keep depression at bay, that perhaps a good deal of our societal sadness is a lack of rhythmic exercise.  I agree with this (although I also feel some folks also have chemical imbalances) and whenever possible I try to walk or bike a bit each day.

This desire for a rhythmic, physical activity is why I feel many folks develop a love of knitting and crochet so quickly – it allows us a chance to regain our personal rhythm, and allows us to begin listening to our hands.

Each of us can sometimes allow our brains to over-think things, we put the cart before the horse, we borrow trouble, we count our chickens – all of those pithy aphorisms we grew up with.

I see this happening in in my knitting classes.  A person will mentally work through a technique before they’ll allow their hands to investigate it – and in the process convince themselves that the technique is not possible because they can’t envision it.  In a case like this, sometimes folks become SO invested in what their brains KNOW must be right that they actively fight against what their hands try to teach them.

I try to get across to my students that nothing takes the place of practice (a neat phrase I got from Jennie The Potter.) You can think and think all day long, but until you put needle to yarn, it probably won’t entirely click.

I’ll often just sit with my knitting and fiddle around, playing, not working toward any finished product.  Non knitting folks will ask, “What are you making?” and when I answer, “Just a swatch, I’m just playing…” they look at me like I’m a little nuts.

Why on earth would anyone knit unless they’re making something?

“I am making something,” I tell them, “I’m making myself happy.”