I still remember when I was diagnosed as bi-polar, I wasn't saddened by it, quite the opposite actually. I had finally a reason for my erratic behaviour: all those hit and misses, the pain endured of not being able to achieve what I set myself to do, etc... It explained a lot and I exhaled a sigh of relief as I knew then it wasn't fault but something I had little control of.
Then it dawned on me that because I was also stuck in my 'ivory tower' due to agoraphobia I couldn't spend my days idling away watching television or being on the computer. Granted there are many things to discover on the Internet and it has been a lifeline as I keep in touch with relatives and friends who reside abroad, yet I felt I needed something to distract myself with, something I would thoroughly enjoy.
I was watching a well known shopping channel and this very talented lady was on air demonstrating how to make your own greeting cards, this is such a popular past-time in the UK that I'm sure it's the cause of many high street greeting card stores shutting down. I thought I could give it a go and never looked back since.
This hobby is so addictive, I can lose myself for hours making the right card for the person I have in mind. That's what I like about it, making cards is so personal that usually people really appreciate the effort of making something unique, unlike some others (see my other article). It can become an obsession especially when buying supplies. When one starts into this creativity spiral, one would be forgiven to think he/she must own every single kits, tools and what-have-yous. It can be an expensive habit and it can take over your life as one starts to accumulate and running out of space to store all that paper bounty.
Yet I'm happy because I noticed a change in my moods and how those creative sessions can help me to stabilise my highs and lows. I still have my issues but in a way, card making is taking off the rough edges and some utter despair I come across daily (I'm a rapid cycler - a type of bipolarism). The reason I share candidly my own personal experience about crafting and how it has helped me, is because at times the media portray people with mental illness only when something goes bad and that's because of a few very unfortunate individuals who are extremely ill committing crimes, increasing the stereotype, a lot of stigma is attached just mentioning one's mental issue.
I totally understand how people can react when they get told that you suffer from a mental illness and I even did it myself when I met some people confiding in me they were taking medications, you kinda do that 'step back' and thinking to yourself 'oh my god that person is mad'. So everyone is prejudiced and it's a shame but hopefully since 1 in 4 of us will, sadly, experience some form of mental illness in one way or another, and more steps are done by wonderful charities to change the public perception of these issues, we will hopefully end up with a more tolerant society.
Which brings us back to paper crafting and how it soothes the mind, it works for me and I'm a better person for it. I never had extreme form of hypo-mania or story to tells like some celebs who suffer from this illness excusing their outrageous behaviours but my coping mechanisms are reduced and I have to protect myself from some harsh realities that can bring me down, starting me on a depressive phase.
I started showcasing my creative output on various blogs (that's another weakness of mine) and even have broadcast some demos for card-makers. I enjoy the challenge although I have to prepare myself psychologically to face the buzz, I'm very grateful that I've met, through this hobby, wonderful people with whom I keep in touch through Facebook and Twitter. All in all, it's fun and it cheers me up and that can only be a good thing.
So if you're having diagnosed mental issues or a temporary blue phase, try to give a creative hobby a spin, you'll be surprised how it will lift your spirit, it doesn't have to be paper crafting, anything creative really such as painting, knitting, decorating, sewing, etc.. As long as you're having fun and you're feeling good then you soon realise it does heal the mind, thus making your outlook on life brighter.