I went and sat in the corner of my living room by the window this week, surrounded by plants, pulling out skein after skein of yarn, and began to learn something new.
In this case, it was punch-needle embroidery. The familiar hand movements soon had me settled into a nice routine. Up, down, up, down, check loops, adjust tension, clip the end of the yarn to start a new colour and repeat.
It was after my hands had started to work on their own that my mind started to wander. There is always a shift this time of year, as the weather warms to bearable temperatures and the first signs of spring come forth. It makes me feel unsettled.
It’s a time to begin anew, start fresh and make changes to the ways things have been done. Creating something has always been, to me, a form of therapy and a way to deal with stress and anxiety.
I recently attended the Canada Reads event hosted by Kamloops Society for the Written Arts and CBC regarding Lindsay Wong’s book The Woo Woo: How I Survived Ice Hockey, Drug Raids, Demons and My Crazy Chinese Family, which depicts her life growing up in a superstitious Chinese immigrant family where mental health was addressed by blaming the “woo woos” — or ghosts that lived inside of people.
I address some of my “woo woos” through art and fully support the use of art therapy as a tool for mental health.
The Canadian Art Therapy Association says on their website that, “art therapy combines the creative process and psychotherapy, facilitating self-exploration and understanding. Using imagery, colour and shape as part of this creative therapeutic process, thoughts and feelings can be expressed that would otherwise be difficult to articulate.”
There are many qualified art therapy practitioners in Kamloops for anyone who is interested in exploring that method as a tool for their own struggles.
As for me, I will continue to process my own feelings as I work and will consider each finished piece as an extension of myself. A handmade item really does reflect the person who made it.
If you are struggling with mental health, please reach out. Together, as a community, we can break the stigmas surrounding mental health.
Brianne Sheppard is co-owner of Makeshift Kamloops and Far and Wide. For more, go online to farandwidekamloops.com.