Month: May 2013

The Care and Feeding of Your Depression

The ‘d’ word is one of those nasty topics that we refuse to look at head on. For whatever reason, one of the medical hurdles that Americans need to face as a culture is the mentality that mental health problems are somehow a weakness. Somehow it is the fault of the person struggling that they are in fact struggling, somehow if they just tried harder they would be happy-it’s like we think that since we’re not going through it, that our hard times aren’t as bad, that the other person must just not want to be happy enough.

This is something that needs to change. Hi, my name is Katie and I’m an American dealing with depression and PMDD. Maybe this post is going to loose me readers. Maybe it won’t; maybe I’ll actually give someone that wonderful feeling of connection. Taboos are taboos in part because we don’t make noise about it. This is me doing my part to break that silence.

*This post is inspired in part by a tumblr post that I have long since lost, which was a similar list-which was in turn inspired by a ‘just try harder!’ approach type list to depression. That post unfortunately received a fair bit of negative attention from what I understand. I allow for discussion-even heated-but I will not tolerate personal attacks.

**As with all things on this blog, this is personal opinion unless stated otherwise. These are factors that I or other people have noticed. Please talk to your medical team before making any health care decisions, especially in relation to your maintenance regime.

1. You are depressed, you are not a bad person.

This is something that took me years and years to come to terms with. Whatever your diagnosis is, you are not it. I don’t feel ashamed of myself for having asthma, why should I feel bad for my mental health diagnosis? The upside of accepting your current mental state is that it helps you come to a logical, as opposed to emotional, approach to treatment and maintenance- in my case, I discovered that my body doesn’t mix well with antidepressants but I do well with behavioral based treatments.

2. Other people may mean well. Don’t listen to everything they say.

I’ve heard it a lot from people I know and from people online-there’s always that one person that thinks that they’re being helpful, that thinks that what they’re saying is supportive, and who in actuality may actually be making the situation worse, at least in the short term. Nothing like hitting the low end of your cycle and being told to just stop obsessing on whatever’s going on.

In other words, a lot of people aren’t going to understand what’s going on in your head, and they may be trying to help you and just not going about it a way that’s actually, well, helpful. You have one of two options-smile and thank them for their positive vibes, or keep them at arm’s length until you can deal with them again.

3. Feed the Beast

Make sure that you’re eating. And make sure that you’re eating the right things. If you know you have a trigger food, cut down on it. Depression is a chemical issue, and food can alter that balance.  I was diagnosed with PMDD in 2005. The conversation went something like this: you have premenstrual dysmorphic disorder. Don’t eat anything white. Guess what? White sugar and white flour can trigger like you wouldn’t believe.

Also, even if you have to eat half a sandwich five times a day just make sure you’re eating.

4. “Perfect people are lying to you.”

That’s a paraphrase of what a comedienne was saying on NPR on Saturday. This is a huge stumbling block for me, especially as a blogger. It looks like everyone else is so much…better. They do everything…better. People even like them more.

They aren’t, you know. Better, I mean. They’re giving you a carefully created version of their reality, a very deliberate look at what’s going on. You have no idea what’s actually going on. And you know what? It doesn’t even matter-you don’t have to be them. So you can’t craft sheep toys out of pipe cleaners and take professional photos of your flock of upcycled ewes? Has anyone ever asked you to? Whatever it is that you do, it isn’t less than what they do just because they happen to take better photos of it and it drives traffic to their blog. It’s true that people are magpies and like pretty photos but it doesn’t mean that you’re less valuable as a person.

5. You’d be surprised what people are actually saying about you.

I was attempting to talk to people this winter about who and what I am to people and honestly it was getting tiring to hear ‘but you’re such a great knitter!’ all the time. Then one day it was ‘knit, knit, knitknitknitknit…I wish I could be more like you, you’re essentially fearless…sock knitting, knit, knit, knit.’

Come again? I’m not fearless. Hell, I’m afraid of the telephone.

You have to remember that when you’re depressed what you’re seeing of yourself is being viewed through a very skewed lens. You may literally be unable to see what they’re seeing right, but what they’re seeing is probably much more positive than what you think. People are bad at paying compliments, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.

6. Move

I don’t mean exercise, but if that helps, great. I was reading a book about a hoodoo doctor of all things that had a passage that described how whenever her mood suddenly bottomed out, she literally walked into another room. The change in perspective generally forced her out of the cycle.

I can. As in, if things are suddenly bleak and I can do it, I can things. Or I change where I’m sitting at work. Or I tear out a knitting project. Just something to break the connections.

7. Getting help can seem staggeringly slow.

But do it. Even if it’s a short term thing. Find someone you can talk to that you trust, but the thing to remember is that it’s going to take time. You’re retraining your brain. You can walk in thinking everything’s going to change overnight, and it’s not. But eventually it does get better.

It does.

Edit to add a conversation from the comments:

8. Don’t be afraid of your pill bottle.

Eventually, as much as behavioral and talk therapy were helping me I felt that I needed to have something else in my regime to help. So I tried antidepressants-and unfortunately, got the whole stable of negative side effects to boot, including weight gain. They’re not really a viable option for me, at least the current generation.

HOWEVER- and I want to stress this, my case is not going to be the same for everyone. If your medical team suggests that it’s time to look at medication, try it. This ties back into point 1-I have no problem with my inhaler, and I shouldn’t have a problem with a medical intervention for my depression. Taking a medication isn’t a sign of weakness, or a sign of ‘giving up’. It means that for your body, it’s probably a solid therapy choice. Make sure you’re following your doctors’ directions, and make sure you aren’t making medical decisions without supervision.

Again, I want to stress that this is a list based off of more than a decade’s experience. Not everyone is going to have the same needs. Please make sure you’re talking to a medical professional and seeking out ways to best treat your needs.

Linked To-

craftionary     little house in the suburbs     nifty thrifty things

flamingo toes     I should be mopping the floor     create with joy

call me pmc     lines across     clairejustine     homemaker on a dime

lady behind the curtain     Adorned From Above

young and crafty     kitchen fun with my 3 sons

Please, stop by and link up at this week’s Inspired Weekends!

Inspired Weekends #21


Hello! As promised, this week has two featured posts:
notepadMake It Easy Craft’s Recycled Notepad

chesssquaresI Dig Pinterest’s Chess Squares

Inspired Weekends #21

This is a free for all style link up-there are no rules! The only guideline is that each entry should be your own content-but feel free to link up round ups, link parties, giveaways, diy, recipes, tutorials, favorite entries from your archives, anything that you would like to share!

Click on the button that looks like a blue frog at the bottom of the page to view the collection.

Please link to entries, and not your blog main page.

Click around the list and leave a few comments or pin a few projects! Please try to at least stop by the last entry on the list.

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A Weekend’s Work

jarsLate afternoon, early dusk. The light was starting to go fuzzy.

Apple pectin     Firestarter     Applesauce

Linked to-

riverton housewives     the wilderness wife     cultured palate

young and crafty     craftionary     kitchen fun with my 3 sons

little house in the suburbs    sunny simple life     a peek into my paradise

nifty thrifty things     I should be mopping the floor     create with joy

call me pmc     lines across     My Fashion Forward Blog

the chicken chick

Please, stop by and link up to this week’s Inspired Weekends!



I don’t think that there’s such a thing as a ‘bad yarn’ when you’re handspinning. Especially if we’re talking about spindle spinning. Occassionally you’ll get ‘surprise’ yarns where it doesn’t come out the way that you thought it would. Sometimes you end up with ‘art’ yarn-which, to be fair, people seem strangely willing to spend an excessive amount of money on. And sometimes you end up with ‘learning experiences’. Normally even the ‘learning experiences’ are good for something. Even if sometimes that something is tying up other skeins of yarn…

I am back to spinning. Mainly because I want to work on my Inferno project. I’m determined to have this thing finished by Samhain this year. It looks like we’re not going to do festival this year (I’m not sure if my crowd-hating self can do it three years in a row, I need a break from that overwhelming energy) and I want to still have my big, monstrous project out of the way. I have two yarns in various degrees of progress on spindles that need to be finished, but they shouldn’t take too long. And I told Holly I would spin her a braid (and send her some peach-habanero jam).


This season’s canning has started. I put up just over a quart of applesauce on Saturday. The apple guy (I can never remember the farm’s name, so it’ll always be the apple guy to me) at Bidwell had uglies for 8/$1. I think he’s always vaguely annoyed that I want nothing but uglies, but if I can get them cheaper and I’m canning them, I don’t care what they look like. To be honest, I’m not sure I care what they look like even if I’m not canning them. They’re fruit, not blog props…

Mid bought me jars this weekend. He bought me a flat of jelly jars, which homed the applesauce and the first batch of firestarter for the year. I have a freakish amount of habs in the freezer right now. We also have a habit of going to Wegman’s at midnight…and he came out of the store with some of the anniversary blue jars. I do love them. I just wish they had found something to do with the lids. I think the lids ruin the look…

Sunday Legends-It’s Alive!

After fighting with your lawyer for three hours about the rumors and history surrounding your house-and the three hours of cleaning up after the resident Casper-you decide that what you need for your home is some houseplants.

Houseplants can’t possibly go wrong, right? You grab your wallet and head down to the local nursery.


The story goes something like this:

A friend/neighbor/work associate/cousin moves to a new city (or experiences a death in the family, a birth, a new job, or other experience that lends itself to receiving a gift). One of their friends decides to gift them with a low maintence plant. Sometimes they are gifting themselves with the cactus; regardless, the woman in question ends up with a small potted cactus.

All goes well for the first few days-as it should be, no one expects problems with a plant. However, the woman starts to notice something odd. When she comes home she feels that the plant is several inches to the left of where she left it. If she watches it closely she feels that she can see it throbbing. Thinking that she’s just stressed, she ignores this oddity.

One day, however, she accidentally nudges it with the watering can which tips the pot over. To her horror, the plant splits open and thousands of spiders spill out (sometimes they’re a deadly species, other times the audience is just left with the horror of that many spiders entering into a home).

In some versions of the story, the woman reports the throbbing to wherever she purchased the plant, who respond with insisting that she either take the plant back to them, where it explodes, or that she has the house fumigated, which creates the arachnid explosion. The implication in all three stories is that the cactus was full of eggs.

It appears that this story, as it is told in modern times, dates back to 1970s Europe. It may be a modern variation of another spider-centric story, the idea of the spiders in the up-do. It should be noted however that if this is the case, the original morality may have been stripped out of the tale. The base myth, the infested hair, was a Middle Ages warning against vanity and too much concern for appearance. It would seem instead that this story is playing on the fears of the violation of the home.

Exploding Cactus

Your First (Haunted) House

Stambovsky V. Ackley     Dead Faeries     Brownies

House Cleansing    Haint Blue


Dyeing Yarn With a Blank

Dyeing yarn with a blank is a way of getting interesting-and potentially self-striping-yarn with little work.

This project created a marled, semi-solid yarn for the Inferno project. This is yarn #9 (which, luckily, means I just need to finish spinning for Phoenix).

Dyeing yarn with a blank

1. Pick out your yarn. When dyeing for socks or other lightweight projects, a lot of people will buy or knit a machine-knit blank. For this project I did a deliberately rough spin of some off white pencil roving. There’s not a lot of it but I don’t need a lot of it either.

2. Knit (or purchase) a blank. This is a fairly small blank, much wider than long. The length and width of your blank will determine your patterning but I’m going for semisolid so I’m okay with whatever happens.


Try to knit fairly loose, at least several needle sizes larger than what you think your yarn needs-you’ll see why in the finished photos.

3. Soak your blank for at least 20 minutes.


4.Dye your yarn-I used a stovetop method instead of my normal crockpot dyeing. Since my parent’s area of the state is calling for snow today (cough) I didn’t get a chance to try solar dyeing like I was hoping for (I really liked the effects I got for Doyle).

I added way too much green, which is okay because Ridicule is pretty brown. Remember,  a little green will amp red. Too much green in a red bath will make…brown.

5. Let your blank dry and see what effects you’ve gotten. What’s cool with this blank is each side has different colors-one side is very red/brown, the other has patches of green/red.

back front

6. When completely dry, unravel your blank and see what effects you’ve gotten. If you want a nice, managable skein rewash, reset, and reskein…or you can be like me and just wind it onto a ply ball.


Because the blank was actually fairly tightly knit (the yarn was heavier than I thought), there are consistent white spots throughout the yarn. I would overdye it at this point, but I like the pattern so I’m going to let it be.


Solar Dyeing Wool

Solar Dyeing Results

Finished Dye Projects

Linked to-

i should be mopping the floor     create with joy    sew chatty

clairejustine    lines across     homemaker on a dime

sumo’s sweet stuff     the chicken chick     This Gal Cooks

nifty thrifty things     today’s creative   crafty confessions

tumbleweed contessa

Please, link up at this week’s Inspired Weekends!

Haunted Western New York-The Burned-Over District (Part 1)



Western New York has long been a zone with a rich history of movements, spiritual associations, and an interest in the metaphysical. The home of the Spiritualist movement the areas surrouning Buffalo, Rochester, and even Utica to an extent have been attracting seekers for close to 200 years. However, there was a period of time when this section of the state experienced a rush towards the spiritual that has had lasting effects on the paranormal, metaphysical, and religous life of the region since that point.

America during the first half of the 1800s was experiencing a certain amount of turmoil in relation to its religious views. While the dominant religion was, as it is still is, Christianity, individuals and groups began to seek out ways of interacting with their conceptualization of the Divine. Many of these groups took on overtones of thought not seen previously (and some that would not be seen again until much, much later-and again in subculture groups when these ideas did reappear).

This is at least partially understandable by looking at the structure of American society at this point in history; by this era, America had been established as a nation and fought for its independence (twice). With its right to existence soldified the factors that at least loosely unified the nation were starting to splinter and people were beginning to question what ideals should and should not influence societal thought. As one of the dominant social institutions religion is a zone ripe for both the development and broadcasting of these ideals; Durkheim would argue that this is in fact one of the major societal uses of a religious system.

American’s use of religious thought to influence wider society was hardly new even at that era. Weber argues that in part, American capitalism grew out of the dominant religious themes of the original colonies. Being a nation in flux it’s hardly surprising that new thought patterns were errupting into the popular mindset-this is the same force that would drive the flappers into a frenzy during the Interwar period when the world was attempting to re-integrate the Lost Generation.

At this point in its history the United States was in the grips of what was referred to as the Second Great Awakening. This was a revival movement in Protestant groups aimed at re-energizing people back into the faiths. For reasons that are still not firmly understood Western New York took to this movement with such an interest that it became, to use a term, flooded with new ideas, religions, revival movements, and other waves of religious thought. In fact, it was so overwhelmed with these ideas that even as early as the 1870s it would be termed ‘the Burned-Over District’-so called because there wasn’t anyone left to inflame with passion to religion.

Western New York would not only be a zone for conversion, it would be a zone for creation. Many new religous movements would come out of this area by 1840; many of them would be almost counterculture with their emphasis on social reform, freedoms of expression, and base themes. These groups would include religions that would later become internationally influential (the Church of Later Day Saints), groups that would have a direct impact on the paranormal history of the area (Spiritualism coming out of Buffalo and Rochester), and the Shakers and Oneida Society in Central New York.

(Image from Wiki)

Burned-Over District

Second Great Awakening

Oneida Society

Max Weber and Religion

Durkheim and Religion