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I come from a very creative family. We have a little bit of everything. Music, sewing, jewelry making, painting, drawing, graphic design…the list goes on. It is this instilled ability given to me by my parents and other influences that gave me the power to cope. I’m sure that you’ve heard people say, “Oh, well, it’s therapy!” when discussing talents, obsessions, or something they have created and you have complimented. Some people really are just aiming for a chuckle, but for others, like myself, that statement couldn’t be more true.

Singing competition in high school

Singing competition in high school

When I was in high school, I was in an almost perpetual state of depression. I would barely get up for the bus, skim by in my classes, and then I would come home and nap. That was my escape during those years – sleeping. I loved to snooze during the day and then when night would roll around, I hated to climb into bed because the faster I fell asleep at that point, the quicker the morning would come and I’d have to start the whole soul-numbing process over again. It was a vicious and extremely unhealthy cycle but it was my way of coping when I was at some of my lowest points.

In my personal experience, I have seen many forms of coping, most of which were not the healthiest, such as my constant napping. I have relations on both sides of my family that suffer from addictions that I believe stemmed from an undiagnosed mood disorder (it’s all in the genes you know!). Given this, you can see where I get my charm from!

However, watching these family members struggle with addiction, impulsivity, and self-destructive tendencies, it did help me become more self-aware of my own potential fate if I tried to hide away and not deal with my disorder head-on. These experiences led me down the path to my own “at-home therapy” so-to-speak, and each session always started at one place – A.C. Moore!

A drawing activity I learned in HS and found very relaxing.

A drawing activity I learned in high school

Throughout the years I have tried it all. Scrapbooking, polymer clay figurines and beads, jewelry making, cake decorating (a very brief stint), origami, paper quilling, drawing, painting, crocheting, knitting…I could be here all day recalling every activity. Some I found I had talent in while others I laid to rest rather quickly (origami is not as easy as they make it seem!). I found a couple that I could sit and do for hours – jewelry making and scrapbooking mainly – and I had my perfect escape. My ideal therapy whenever I was struggling. Case-in-point: even when I moved to Slippery Rock, it was a stipulation that my beading supplies had to fit in the car. It was non-negotiable.

Recent bracelet creations

Recent bracelet creations

Finding these outlets, I think, contributed to literally saving my life. I still did some pretty stupid things when the low lows set in and I wouldn’t take care of myself properly, but I was so lucky to have that escape. Between that and being practically born a bookworm, I have made it this far.

The moral of the story is that whether you have a mood disorder or not, there will always be situations that you are faced with and decisions you have to make where one path will domino-effect into a crashing spiral while the other will keep you steady. Just because something feels good for the moment, doesn’t mean it’s going to feel good in the morning or even further down the road. Find a healthy release, a productive escape, your own means of “therapy” to get you through daily struggles. However, this approach is in no way an alternative to professional help. This is simply a tool to add to your arsenal of ways to cope, along with all the other work that you may be doing with a regular therapist or doctor.