When my hands are busy, my mind is still January 13 2018, 2 Comments

cw: depression

I've been toying with the idea of blogging for a LONG time. Recently I sat down and did a 2018 Goal Planning workshop via the WE VIP Network and it came to light that yes....I can combine my love of making jewellery with my personal story to create an awesome blog for all to read :) 

Revelations like that are always nice aren't they!

When I think about it too much (a great skill of mine is over-thinking) I get scared and stop in my tracks and find myself thinking.....my story isn't that great, no one really cares, there are people out there with way better stories than mine, why would anyone listen to me? Which is neither conducive to getting things done or enjoyable, so I'm trying to listen to what I say to myself when I DON'T overthink it.......which is..... I'm proud of my story, I'm proud of what I've achieved and where I am now, if what I have to say helps only ONE person then it's worth it, so just do it, just start, and let's see where this goes! 

So here I am...seeing where this is going to go!

My story starts off something pretty standard and lucky like this:

1. White middle class privilege - check! 

2. Parent's who cared for and loved me - check! 

3. Friends and family who supported me and encouraged me to follow my dreams - check! 

4. A childhood and adolescence full of fun, adventure, friends, great music, study,  a splash of international-level competitive sport for some balance - check! 

So how do I have 'a story'?

Well, at the age of 22, after being blessed with all these things above, I hit rock bottom. I was working in a job that drained my soul of any substance, I had debt that I was struggling to get a handle of, I had no direction, I had no concrete goals, yet I couldn't see any of that. I had completely lost my zest for life and I had NO IDEA why I felt this way, why life suddenly SUCKED and why I was so insanely tired every single day. I'd been so lucky to have the life I had so how come I felt so miserable? Life had been so good. I had been so lucky. Other people had been dealt MUCH worse hands than I had, yet here I was, crying rivers alone at night under the covers of my bed. 

After a lot of tears (I mean a lot....and I'm NOT typically one to cry over much), and some doctors visits, I was diagnosed with depression and placed on medication. I try to talk about this candidly, and matter-of-fact, as I think that open dialogue around mental health is so so important. Yet it was one of the worst times, and I think the reason why I talk about it in as simple terms as possible, is because there really are no words that accurately convey how that time felt. There are just feelings, or memories of feelings now, and they still hurt. I'm still tender from it all. 

That's the beginning of my story. What followed next was years of trying to balance myself and my life. Trying to adjust to the 'new' me and figuring out how to operate in the world without collapsing in to that big black pit again and again. 

How this links to my jewellery has always been on my mind, and I could have started sharing this years ago but I've always been too scared. Perhaps 2018 is the year of transparency. I've always been a creative soul. I can remember making mini illustrated books for my grandmothers out of those square stacks of coloured note paper; I can remember spending HOURS on the borders and headings of my school work books; I can remember 'studying' with multi-coloured pens and remembering things by colouring around them and doodling little pictures.

During this dark time jewellery-making became an escape for me. I could sit and work away with a material and lose track of time. Hours would pass and my focus would be so intent on what I was doing and I eventually cottoned on to that fact that I could do this without feeling miserable. What a relief. I'm most definitely an extroverted person, but pop me in my studio with my tools and some good music and I'll be happy there for hours.

I try to instill a piece of that calm in to everything I make. I try to imagine someone wearing a piece of my jewellery and feeling peaceful and content, like I do while I'm making it. I love the thought of someone randomly playing with a piece of my jewelery in their hands while wearing it and pausing for a moment to breathe and relax. When my hands are busy, my mind is still, and I'm certain there are others out there who are the same. 

So here we are, at the beginning of a new year. 2018 for me is a year where I look to add value to every aspect of my life and the lives of those I touch. This blog is the beginning of something awesome. I am going to use this platform to share parts of my journey and ways in which I have learnt to manage my mental health on a daily basis; with the hope that I can inspire someone some where to make lasting changes to their life, or in the very least offer someone a shred of light in their own dark place and let them know that they are not alone. This will be mixed with all sorts of jewellery tips and life hacks as well, as I can't stray completely away from that! 

I finally feel confident and comfortable enough to join these two passions of mine together and share them with the world. I invite you to join me as I build this blog. I welcome your comments and your own stories and insights as well. Dialogue and conversation around mental health is the only way we're going to smash the stigma and make it a conversation we have BEFORE people find themselves lost in a dark hole, rather than a conversation to only have in hindsight. 

Keep your eyes on my Facebook feed for new blog post updates, and feel free to get in touch with me via hello@gracie.nz if there's a topic you think I should touch on :)

See you all again soon

me in my happy place

that's me a few years ago working away in my studio :)