By Libby Humphris
Hi, I’m Libby. In August 2016 I had what I now know is an adrenal crisis and diagnosed with secondary adrenal insufficiency. Since a teenager I had been living with chronic asthma and then in my early twenties diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis. Both of these conditions are sometimes treated with short steroid courses. Sadly, due to the frequency of short courses and an extended course in 2010 when I developed a rare form of pneumonia (Bronchiolitis Obliterians Organizing Pneumonia) my adrenal glands got very lazy and slowly atrophied. This means I no longer have any cortisol production and will be taking replacement steroids for the rest of my life. When you have an autoimmune condition it seems to be that you pick up other autoimmune conditions so over the last 15 years my long list keeps getting longer.
In July 2017 I turned 30, in the preceding 11 months I’d had to give up work as my health had deteriorated quite rapidly. I started to notice the effects of all my physical health conditions impacting on my mental health, I was struggling with grief for the old me and coming to terms with being so chronically ill at 30. As well as starting anti-depressants, I decided I needed a new hobby. For my birthday I was given a crochet workshop voucher.
I had no idea then what a huge role crochet would play for me in my future...
Over the next few months I got to grips with my new hobby, it gave me a purpose. Some days I’d struggle to get out of bed as I had nothing to get up for. But, now I had a crochet blanket to work on! I had found my “thing”! When crocheting I am in my happy place, wherever I am. The great thing about crochet is it’s very portable. I always take whatever I am working on to all my clinic appointments, tests, scans etc as we all know that clinics run behind sometimes.
Eat, sleep, crochet, repeat...
The advantages of crochet are many, for me finding the online crochet and fibre community on Instagram was another huge positive. Everyone is so welcoming, helpful, and supportive. It’s amazing to have a huge group of lovely friends living in your phone, which is invaluable when you are too poorly to see friends or are lonely in hospital.
Starting @Eat_Sleep_Crochet_Repeat was another step forward in my quest to live alongside my chronic illnesses. It gave me such a boost being able to connect with other crocheters, and more recently other patients with similar health issues. The very familiar life stories I see, the battle to get diagnosed, treatment etc., has empowered me to become a patient advocate, using my voice and social media to raise awareness of living with multiple chronic health issues.
Once you get to grips with crochet the rhythmic, repetitive nature of it is very mindful. You can count stitches, focus on your breathing, the distraction crochet provides takes my mind away from my worries and brings a feeling of calm. It even helps distract from my chronic pain. The planning stage of a project is also a great distraction, choosing colours can be very soothing. Creating blankets, scarves, hats, bags etc has enabled me to begin gifting my makes to friends and family, that sense of accomplishment is a great motivator.
That happy feeling when you gift someone something you’ve made never gets old.