You don’t normally open a conversation with, “hello, my name is Heather and I have a mental illness.” But that is how I have decided to start my first blog post. Its a part of who I am and my “fabric therapy” started as a result.

I grew up thinking I was crazy. Not just depressed and anxious, but downright looney. I mean who watches a show with a disturbing scene then not only can’t shake the images, but is so afraid that they might lose control and commit similar unmentionable deeds that they consider suicide on a regular basis? Me, from the time I was a young teenager.

Okay, at this point you may be thinking, yah, you are crazy. But to those like me out there: YOU ARE NOT! Just experiencing classic symptoms of purely obsessional obsessive compulsive disorder. These intrusive thoughts are no reflection of your true self, and are in fact completely opposed to your actual disposition, which is why they are so distressing.

However, it took me twenty-three years to realize this. I didn’t realize I wasn’t insane until I became so anxious about these thoughts that I feared I really would take my own life in order to “save others from myself”. I ended up taking a leave from my stressful and time-consuming job as a pediatric nurse in order to seek medical help and counseling. Medications and therapy were incredible helpful, even life-saving, but I also found surprising calm in an unlikely activity, refinishing an old chest of drawers. Unlikely, because I’m the kind of girl who got her wood shop teacher to do most of her projects for her, and therapeutic due to the simplistic and methodical action of sanding…and then sanding again when I got the stain wrong. Sanding was a time to calm my mind and become absorbed in less turbulent thoughts. I didn’t know anything about decorating at the time and I had rarely done DIY projects, but this experience taught me that I could find a calm place in my mind within the realm of DIY, and later in decorating. After all, it’s more productive to obsess over sanding and finishing than over intrusive thoughts. As I explore the world of decor and design  I continue to find a “happy place” in my mind.

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