Fast forward to my daughter being five years old and I had my second episode and was in hospital for three months again. I had left her dad and moved into my own flat with my daughter. But I was getting more and more ill and I didn't recognise the signs. What the doctors call, a lack of insight. I woke up one morning and there was no milk in the fridge, and the flat was a total tip. We had no food in the house either. I rang the doctors surgery and asked if i could have my daughter adopted as i was not doing a good job of looking after her. Within half an hour i had a psychiatrist and social services in my flat. They said I had to find someone to look after my daughter and I had to go to hospital. My daughter went to her dads.
Loosing everything because of my illness has really made me reassess how i view this condition. It is described by the doctors as severe and enduring. Which basically means that it is severe and life long. It was hard to accept at first but at least i take my medication religiously now. it cant get more severe than loosing being a full time to your daughter who means everything to me.
Fast forward to now. My daughter will be fourteen next. She is an A star grade student so despite having a rough start she amazes us. i went to uni and got my degree in fine art. It had always been a life time ambition to get my degree and i wanted my daughter to be proud of me so i went for it. graduation was a really great day but there were lots of hic ups and crisis moments along the way.
Now comes the real life stuff. I want to work. But stress can make me ill and now with the awareness i have over my illness and symptoms I can see that my brain is wired kind of differently to a lot of people. Also, i can flip between suffering very depressing negative symptoms where i don't even look after myself properly (hair gets in knots and has to be combed out by boyfriend) or positive symptoms and paranoia which is disastrous for me and everyone around me.
I happened to come across this website and signed up in the hope that this could become my work that I can do from home using my creative crafting skills. Its called conscious crafties, and everything for sale on the website is made by people who have a wide range of disabilities. Some are living with chronic pain and others have mental health conditions, some both. I thought this was a really good idea as it is more ethical shopping for the smart and conscious consumer and also giving disabled people the opportunity to show off their talents and make a living from it.
A lot of disabled people have conditions like mine, that fluctuate. This is no good if you are working in a shop thats being run on minimum hours and staff but twice as much work both mental and physical. So working from home and being self employed is a really good option for people with disabilities. Plus doing the crafting and creating is like administering yourself a good daily dose of art therapy, or occupational therapy without costing the NHS a penny. Keeping busy doing manageable tasks as and when we can is good for us, for self esteem, and for mental health and can be a distraction from pain.
This is what i am slowly working on. They will be knitted cushions and will be listed on the webiste soon!!
This is the ethos of the website :
About Conscious Crafties
Conscious Crafties is a handmade craft buying and selling community for creative people living with chronic illness, disability or caring for those affected. It's built by a Spoonie for Spoonies.
How was the idea born?
Hi there, I'm Karen and after becoming sick in 2011 almost overnight, I found my way to various support networks. I noticed that many of us turn to crafts to help distract from our illnesses and to feel useful again. Seeing so much untapped talent, the idea was born to create a community for everyone to showcase their work, in one place and give people a way of creating their own business. It was also a way for me to feel useful again, by using my skills to help others. Conscious Crafties is about empowering us all to be successful through our crafts, tell our stories and meet new like minded friends who understand our struggles. I'm also hoping it plays a key part in changing the way disabled/sick people are viewed by the world. We can still contribute and are incredibly talented!! Conscious Crafties has been built in honour of Sam, my beautiful friend I met through sickness and our love of crafts. Her strong fight with Gastroparethis and POTS sadly ended in Oct 14. Heartbroken, I knew then, after years of thinking about it, the idea for us all to sell our crafts within a supportive community needed to be launched, so it could help people now and give them hope for the future.
Here is a link to the baby and children section of the website where you can find gorgeous hand knitted and hand crocheted items from blankets to booties to hats. baby and children products
There is also a facebook page where new products get listed every day. So go on, have a look and like the page and buy your hand made crafts from disabled people who are crafting through their illness!