Thursday 9 March 2023

Self Harm

It's been a while since I posted anything about mental health. First of all, I'm exercising regularly, thank the Lord, though I don't really see any improvement in my sleep, energy levels or mood. Nevertheless, I do know that it's doing me good physically. But yesterday, I just never got around to it. For the most part, I just forgot. My memory is actually getting worse, which I know can be impacted by my mental health. And lack of sleep, which is also impacted by my mental health. And lately, I've found brain games, like Wordle, much more challenging and stressful. My shortness of breath and abdominal discomfort have gotten worse again as well. And the eczema on my right hand never seems to go away permanently, in spite of using sterioid ointment. Of course, I don't always remember to put it on. Nor do I apply moisturiizing cream to my hands every 20 minutes as my doctor recommended. It's fine if I'm just sitting there watching TV, but if I'm washing dishes or working with fabric or yarn, it's not very practical. Tuesday morning, I woke up around 2:00 in the morning and didn't get back to sleep. And really didn't have the energy to do anything during the day. But that's not entirely true. 
We had a period of warmer weather 2 or 3 weeks ago and the snow on the garage roof got soft and mushy and slid off the roof, landing on the sidewalk between the deck and the garage. I managed to shovel up the first bunch, but then more fell off the roof later in the day and I didn't get the chance to shovel it up before it froze in what was a small, icy mountain range on the sidewalk. Frozen solid, it couldn't be shovelled up and the ice melting salt barely touched it. My turf edger, which I might have used to try to break it up, was in the shed. And the shed was still inaccessible because of the snow. So, I figured I was stuck with it until the spring. And I had to gingerly clamber over it any time I left the house. But yesterday, I knew my new roll of quilt batting was going to be delivered. Plus I had my friend, Barb who makes soap, delivering some soap to me Wednesday. So, I needed to do something about accessibility to my home. Before breakfast, I went out with a hammer and hammered that ice until I managed to clear enough to be able to safely get to the stairs on the deck. Hurray! That's why I said that it wasn't entirely true that I didn't have the energy to do anything, but I basically just lazed around for the rest of the day. Although, I did exercise Tuesday. I just didn't get around to it on Wednesday. It remains to be seen whether or not I exercise today.
Wednesday was not a good day. My psychologist suggested to my disability benefit company that I should be assessed by an OT for activities of daily living, exercise capabilities, etc. I think she's hoping the benefit company will pay for a pass for me to go to the aquatic centre here in town. I don't really care, but just want to cooperate with my care plan as much as possible. Neither I nor my psychologist thought that they would want me to go to Edmonton to be assessed. We both assumed that I would be assessed at home. So I was rather surprised and dismayed when I found out that they wanted to go into Edmonton, over an hour's drive away and I would have to be there from 8:30 in the morning until 4:30 in the afternoon on the first day and 8:30 to 12:00 on the second day. That means someone with Generalized Anxiety Disorder would be driving in Edmonton during rush hour. And the appointment is later this month. March in Alberta can be very unpredictable and I never count on winter weather ending until some time in April. Most of us don't have our winter tires removed until mid-April. Or later. And so, someone with winter driving phobia is supposed to drive to and in Edmonton during rush hour when there's no guarantee of what the roads would be like. I panic if there's a little bit of ice on the roads. But the news was worse. The rehab clinic where I am supposed to go is in one of the busiest areas of the city. I don't necessarily like to drive there on a Sunday morning, let alone rush hour! So, I called them back and said that I couldn't do it. They came up with the idea that maybe my disability benefit provider would pay for a taxi. Then they suggested that I stay in a motel. No, I can't stay in a motel either as I don't want to leave my senior cat alone for a couple of nights. Yesterday, my case manager for the benefit provider called and said that they had approved funding for my transportation. Well, if they thought I'd be happy, they had another thing coming. 
Did I mention that one of the things that increase my anxiety are appointments? Yes, that's right: appointments. I don't know what it is: fear of being late, fear of disappointing people, fear of disapproval, fear of not being taken seriously. I'm really not sure, but no one said that mental health challenges have to make sense. They really don't. I also have a hard time getting going in the morning, sometimes not showering until later in the day, if at all. Sometimes I stay in my nightgown or sweats all day. Sometimes, I'm eating breakfast at nearly noon. So, here I am with two back-to-back appointments in the city that involve taking a vehicle (even though I'm not driving) on unpredictable roads, during rush hour in one of the busiest parts of the city, and being ready to head out the door by 7:00 in the morning. Not to mention packing a lunch. I might have to pack my breakfast, too, since I will have to leave so early.
So, I just felt really overwhelmed. I was hoping and praying that I wouldn't have to go. And I cried. And I'm sure it's not just these OT appointments. Those are just the tipping point, or the straw that broke the camel's back. 
Did you know that self harm doesn't always mean suicide? That there are people that scratch, bite, pinch and cut themselves to get some relief. And it's not that they actually want to hurt themselves. The emotional pain is so bad that they just want to find some way to get rid of it, some way to let it out, somehow to get some relief. And I'm beginning to understand what that means. You know how when you have a headache and you stub your toe, you suddenly don't notice the headache, at least not as much. I think it's something like that. Hoping that the physical pain will alleviate - or at least distract from - the emotional pain. 
Don't get me wrong - I haven't self-harmed, and I don't intend to. I'm just saying that I'm in a place where I can understand the rationale behind it. I am so frustrated with feeling like crying every day, of having my life limited by anxiety and depression. Of feeling nauseated and headachy and dizzy. Of not being able to lose weight because I "self-medicate" with food and then feel guilty afterwards. I'm also frustrated with feeling like other people - my benefit provider, my psychologist, my doctor - are in control of my life and not me. And I'm just tired, so very tired, all of the time. And a lot of the time lately, I don't really even enjoy quilt-making. It feels like a chore. 
But I keep plodding on. And by the grace of God, I will get through this. 

Thursday 2 March 2023

Heart Quilts


As Valentine's Day approached, the Inside Out Heart quilt popped up in my YouTube feed.

Only 36" square I figured it would make the perfect wallhanging for my living room. I've had Celtic Ballad hanging there since I finished it in 2017, aside for a short time when I entered it in a local fair. So, maybe it was time for a change. And maybe what I will eventually do is have a different wallhanging for each month of the year. When I'm doing a workout by video, I've found it's much nicer to focus on the wallhanging than the trainer in the video. I can still do the exercises, but have something much prettier to focus on. 
I pulled some appropriate layer cake squares from my stash and used my pale pink solid yardage, left over from Stitch Pink, for the heart part. Then I picked up a metre and a half of fabric from the local quilt shop for the backing and binding. It was a squeeze to fit this quilt onto only one metre of backing when I loaded it onto the longarm, but I didn't really want to piece the backing when a 36" square will fit onto a fabric piece approximately 39" (one metre) by 45". 
I have several heart-themed pantographs, but then I thought that flowers are appropriate for Valentine's as well and decided this would be a good opportunity to try the Crosshatch Roses pantograph
It worked out as beautifully as I'd hoped and was not as labour intensive as I feared. 
Meanwhile, Follow My Heart, which is a free pattern download, came across my Instagram feed. 
That, I decided, would make a nice table topper for my dining room table. I ran out of the pale pink background fabric while making this quilt top, but I only needed one more border strip. Fortunately, not only did my local quilt shop have some in stock, but they were also having a 50% off sale! I bought what was left on the bolt. The new fabric is a marginally different hue than the old fabric, but not enough to make it readily apparent. The rest of the fabric came from my stash. 
I used the Valentino pantograph for this quilt. 
I think it was the ideal design. In my opinion, this is such a pretty quilt!
In my stash, I also have a couple of heart fabrics that I decided to use to make another throw quilt for my living room. 
During the sale at my LQS, I also purchased a couple of different red Michael Miller Fairy Frost prints, using one for the backing for Follow My Heart and the other (in the photo above) I intended to use as a third fabric in the throw quilt. I originally planned on making a 3-yard quilt. But then I decided to try something different. While 3-yard quilts are great for a relatively fast and easy project, sometimes they can be boring. So, I chose to make a quilt using quilt blocks made from the red fabric and the smaller heart print, with the larger heart print for a focus fabric in between blocks.
I chose Grandmother's Choice as the block I would use. This is my first block. And while I liked it, I wasn't sure if I was totally satisfied with it. 
And when I put it goether with the larger heart fabric, I knew that just wasn't right. I had been so determined to use the two heart fabrics in the same quilt top that I ignored the fact that they really don't go together. Yes, they both have hearts and the main colours are pink and red, but they are different pinks and reds. And they just don't look good together. 
So, now what? First of all, I tried replacing the red fabric in the block. 
That's much better (even though the majority of the vote went to the one on the left amongst my Facebook friends, I still liked it with the coral fabric better than the red fabric). But now I needed a different focus fabric and decide what to do with the other heart fabric. Not that I needed to use the other fabric right away, but for whatever reason, I wanted to solve this dilemma now. And I determined to make two quilts, identical in layout, but using different blocks. 
With this in mind, I took the block and a square of the larger heart fabric into the quilt shop to find fabric that would coordinate with each. I had a harder time finding a fabric that would go with the block. I did finally choose one, but haven't taken a picture of it yet. I want to wait until I see how it actually looks together. 
For the larger heart fabric, I found a couple of coordinates that I just felt so good about, and decided to try a block. 
That's much better, in my opinion. The block is Grandmother Percy's Puzzle, and it really is a puzzle to assemble it. I had to use several partial seams, but first had to figure out how. I was just using BlockBase+, which doesn't give assembly instructions for the blocks. Ironically, it has the exact same pieces as Grandmother's Choice, only in a more complex arrangement. 
I will call these quilts "Grandmother's Twins" and the individual quilts by their respective block names. Grandmother Percy's Puzzle will be for my living room and Grandmother's Choice will go in my craft studio.
I may or may not share the quilts later. If I want to sell the design to a quilting magazine, they want previously unpublished designs, which includes just sharing pictures of the quilt to social media. I checked with them when they called for submissions for holiday quilts, including Hanukkah. I thought about submitting Children of Israel, since it is my design, but I have published pictures of it here on my blog, plus on Facebook and Instagram. I think I mentioned that I sent in a couple of designs previously. The first one was rejected, but I've redesigned it and am hoping to offer it to Quilts of Valour Canada once I get it written up. I submitted the second one on January 5 and still haven't heard back. But it's pretty much too late now. I haven't even purchased the fabric for it, let alone made the quilt, and it would be due in their office in the USA by March 23, and I would want to allow at least 2 weeks for shipping. So, unless it was a really simple design (it isn't) and I could readily find the fabric I wanted locally, there is no way I could have a quilt ready to be mailed by no later than March 9, even if I heard from them today. I think that from now on, if I want to submit a design for publication, I will make the quilt first. That way if they wait overlong to let me know that they've accepted the design for publication, the quilt will already be ready when I hear back.