SuburbZen has grown out of my struggles following my motor vehicle accident last year. If you’ve read my previous posts you know I spent months avoiding the work that needed to be done for me to recover. At first it was just too overwhelming, then it was a run around with insurance assessments and approvals for treatment.
I got the most out of my bi-weekly meetings with the Occupational Therapist which we had been fighting to get approved since January, unfortunately only weeks into my time off the approved treatment funds were exhausted. So another plan was submitted since she felt the outings to overcome my social anxiety were particularly helpful. She was teaching me not to book a million responsibilities into my day. Not to feel bad for not doing the laundry or dishes or for simply spending the day on the couch. She was teaching me self-care without the guilt and the “I should’s”.
It doesn’t really matter if I’m facing my anxiety one on one or in a crowded venue. The amount of emotional effort it takes is something that leaves me exhausted for days turning to isolation to recharge. Off work for the past three months I spent two in hiding pretty much and the other pushing myself to get back out there (some of my care team say I push too much and too hard). I’ve been writing a blog about my journey this past year, but I haven’t had the courage to share it with the masses. It is time for everyone to see the healing I’ve been up to on my own no therapist, no little pill, just the raw truth.
I’ve taken the initiative to begin my own well researched form of therapy to help cope with the anxiety in an attempt to regain the ability to function at a somewhat normal level so I can begin to consider my return to work plan. Although my therapist doesn’t think I’m ready I want to at least make steps towards my fear of judgement and interaction when I leave the house so that when I return I am able to cope.
I miss it…I miss my team…I miss my job…I miss being able to concentrate on things beyond the dialogue my broken brain plays. Don’t get me wrong I’m terrified of all the questions since I used to be so much more extroverted and now I simply do not want to interact with people much at all. So I figure instead of having the million questions about my mental health I can send people to my blog www.About.me/SuburbZen
Most of the summer I’ve immersed myself in books to stop the one dialogue my mind tells me. Then I started a Netflix series 4 seasons, 21 episodes each 43 minutes long. Well that’s over so without the guidance of the Occupational Therapist I decided I needed to get out a bit more. I could only do this with people who knew my struggle but wouldn’t let me bail on them.
So I invited my friend (for full disclosure she is also my Boss) to a mala making workshop at a local winery. The morning would begin with a yoga practice, a beautiful lunch would then be served outdoors by the vineyard and the afternoon would end with a workshop in making a mala for meditation. She invited her sister as well which would be a test for me and URSULA (my anxiety) since I had never met her before.
The event was beautiful I had met the woman running the workshop previously at another event and it was good to be with so many soulful individuals. When I came home that evening I meditated upon how I had been feeling while beading my CREATIONS. With each bead strung another worry faded away, as I thought about my completed CREATION it warmed my heart that I had chosen just the right gemstones for how I was feeling that day. I already knew what a gift silence was to me why not share that with others.
A few weeks later I was stressed out and began to bead with supplies I had at home minutes, turned into hours and before I knew it my neck and shoulder were stiff and I had 15 bracelets surrounding my work space. All I could think of is what the heck am I going to do with all this so I spent some time ruminating as I do over how to hide it all before my husband saw. You see I’ve started a few crafting obsessions in our 19-year marriage. There was the seed bead craze, the repurposed denim purse phase, the online website for adult advice, the cake business and now malas. Yep he’ll be pissed!
So the Etsy site launched and I created, and created, and created. At one point I thought maybe this was yet another one of my AVOIDANCE tactics so I asked my therapist. He said that beading has been used for centuries for therapeutic treatments of all kinds of mental health issues. That this practice is so similar to meditation that he wasn’t surprised I took to it. Then I started to research it online and realized that both the English and Greek’s use “Worry Beads” to keep their stress down.
The Greek’s call them “Komboloi” in ancient times they were used as prayer beads but in modern times to release tension, how they are used is similar to a mala when indoors and more like a fidget spinner when in public. The English simply call them “Worry Beads” and took up the practice following the Greeks. Many of the articles I located claimed that these beads reduced stress, assisted with anxiety, depression and anger. The list of benefits seemed endless so I quickly realized I wasn’t using it as AVOIDANCE I was using it to cope with not having traditional therapy available.
Since I have to wait for an assessment to continue Anxiety treatment I needed to try to make some progress on my own. So I took up beading full time literally and after a few weeks of it I feel great. Now I’m not talking stringing seed beads although they are pretty. I’m creating for therapy!
Let me explain how it works:
- I meditate daily for INSPIRATION asking the Universe what it is I need to heal.
- Then I sit with my beads and my attestation figures which include animal totems, Zen symbols, colour psychology and bucket loads of meaning and healing qualities in these items.
- I then allow the beads to choose me and start to pile them up.
- I create a bracelet, 108 bead mala, rearview dangler to protect travelers in their car (because my journey started with that motor vehicle accident).
- Each of my CREATIONS are inspired by nature, a past, present or future, a fear I must overcome, my mood and which colour is linked with that mood.
- The act of creating the item allows me to focus on what I am letting go of or holding on to. It allows me to escape the rumination that often occurs over small events in my day.
- Once the item is complete I research a name, details about the materials used to create it and finally the message from the Universe is crystal clear in my CREATION.
- I then write an affirmation, intention or mantra for the new owner to recite.
So then you end up with a table full of beautiful CREATIONS that make your soul soar. But what the heck will you do with all of that healing? Share it of course.
I’ve decided to share my therapy with others because common humanity is something we all need to be exposed to more. I learned that in my mindfulness workshops (I’ve taken two 12 week programs) and this stuff is hella good to have in your tool box. You need to meet people in the present the past only serves as a lesson and the future is not ours to predict.
We all suffer in our own ways, some cope better than others and some break.
Some heal and many remain broken by a system that fails to give them the help they need in a timely manner. I’m done with resentment though I let that shit go many bracelets ago. If the system won’t help me I will help myself and others who may not be as strong, or have as many resources available to them.
If you’re interested in sharing in my healing journey and helping me face my anxiety next weekend I will be joining 15-20 other vendors in a really cool organic space selling the SuburbZen CREATIONS at a Pop Up event in the lower city. If you are unable to attend please retweet, share and forward the details I’ll be posting this week onto others who you think may benefit.
Evergreen Hamilton Community Storefront
294 James Street North
(Barton & James)
To those who have supported my therapeutic CREATIONS I thank you for being a part of my recovery process each item created is bringing me one step closer to a happier, healthier mind and I am grateful that you’ve decided to trust my healing will also heal you.