An Honest New Year

Merry Christmas & Happy New year!

One of my goals for 2019 is to be more transparent & open about what my life as a designer is actually like. Every once in a while I'll be sharing a longer post like this one that details some of my personal reflections & experiences as I grow & change as a designer. The purpose isn't to create a false sense of character for the sake of brand-building, but rather to intimately share with you the highs and lows that come with creating an original concept & sharing it with the world.

Today I'd like to take a bit of a detour from our normal crafty discussion to let you into my world for a little while. Let me preface this post by saying that this isn't a cry for help or anything overly dramatic. A few months ago I wrote about how I've been struggling with anxiety for years. Lately I've felt like I just have to share more details about what I've been going through the past month & a half in case anyone else is also feeling the same way. (Strength in numbers, right?)

The non-clinical term for what I deal (& have dealt) with is High-Functioning Anxiety & Depression. Clinically, it's varying degrees of General Anxiety Disorder & Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia) ranging from mild to major. What makes mine "High-Functioning" is that I'm great at making it seem like I'm fine from the outside even while on the inside it feels like my world is falling apart all around me. Generally, when either my Anxiety or Depression gets triggered I can't sleep, I can't relax, I get no enjoyment from anything that I do (even knitting), I can't stop worrying about stupid things like missing an Instagram post/eating the wrong thing/forgetting to respond to an email/etc., I get jittery, light-headed, nauseous, twitchy & I can't focus on anything no matter how hard I try.

Now that I've explained that, you're just going to have to trust me when I say that for the most part I really am a lot less anxious/depressed than I used to be. When I look back at where I was even just 3 years ago, I am so incredibly proud of how much progress I've made. However, we all have our triggers & I found another one of mine back in November.

I wanted so badly to really be on top of my social media/blogging/"I'm-a-legit-designer-with-a-real-website-and-everything" game for the Holidays this year. I had plans, really big, really awesome plans. Plans that would have easily been the equivalent of a full-time job with minions helping me along the way to get it all done the way I envisioned it.

Just a few problems...

- I don't have a team of minions, just me.

- I already work a full-time desk job that has nothing to do with knitting.

- My husband and I are homeschooling my 5-year-old & I do almost all our cooking.

- I'm still trying to finish up the Club Yumi Kits from the last trio because I had major issues with a pattern in one of them. (Like, complete & total re-write sized problems.)

Anyone else looking at this would have realized what a bad plan it was going in. Not me. I decided that I could manage just fine. Honestly, I still don't think that it would have been as much of a stress-trigger as it was if other things hadn't happened to really push me over the edge during the month. I knew that I was really stretching myself thin & had the mindset that things didn't need to be perfect. If I missed a post here or there, no big deal I could just keep moving forward.

Until we had a problem that involved family mid-month. It completely shook me & it was all I could do to force myself to continue some of the events/projects that I had already started (& had ready to post). I feel like you guys probably have a better birds-eye view of when I've overloaded my plate than I do generally because one of the very first things I stop doing when I'm overly stressed is opening Instagram followed closely by writing blog posts & emails. It's kind of like my survival/low-battery mode. When I'm already so stressed out about everything else, the extra thought & care that is needed to craft even a simple post is often beyond what I feel like I can spare.

Family things have been resolved & the holidays were wonderful, but then all my plans came back to bite me and that grace that I was allowing myself completely disappeared. I've had a horrible time trying to shake all the feelings of failure for not doing all the posts that I wanted & for missing a deadline on the kits. Honestly, knitters really are the best because nobody has called me out on any of it. All I've heard is how much fun everyone had with the Advent KaL & I've actually gotten a lot of messages thanking me for the fun pattern. I can't tell you how wonderful these have been & how much it's meant to me to see everyone's projects.

I share this with you because...

I think the important take-away here is that to my eye, I failed this holiday season. But everyone else has seemed to really enjoy their projects & had a wonderful Holiday season. So did I actually fail? I wasn't as focused as I could have been, that's for sure. And next time I really should put up a note that I'm taking a social break while I work through some stuff. But I'm the only one who knew how I had envisioned the Holidays at, so everything is actually fine. From the outside, the way things went were the way I had intended them to go and I was prompted to share this post with you.

Writing this post has actually been very therapeutic for me and has helped to release a lot of the tension/stress that I've been feeling about kind of ghosting you guys durning the holidays. Thank you for indulging me & I hope that this post helps you, too.

(Or at least is a source of entertainment for a few minutes.)

Happy knitting!

Shaina ^_^

Just a note:

I've by no means been able to fix myself, nor do I feel like I'm in need of fixing. I'm not broken & neither are you if you're struggling with anxiety or depression. By saying that we're broken, we give power to a victim mentality that can take away our own strength to change the situation. Mental health is a scenario that we can control by making shifts in other areas of our lives. Sometimes that shift is as simple as getting more movement into your day or improving your sleep habits & sometimes that shift is to take a medication or start visiting a therapist. It's different for everyone & hinges on knowing yourself (even a little bit) & being open to change. If you ever need to chat about anything, I'd love to hear from you.

As I frequently tell Cairo: sometimes you can't do everything by yourself. Sometimes you need to get help from someone else & that's ok. It doesn't mean that you're not good at it, it just means that it would be easier with a friend to help you out.


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