Me Made May Challenge- And Getting “Sharey”

I’m so excited that Me Made May is starting soon!  When I read the post about it on Zoe’s blog, I felt a finger pointing in my face:

“This is YOUR challenge, write the script any way you want, just remember: IT IS A CHALLENGE. It is really annoying when these challenges receive the odd comment saying ‘Oh, I already do this so I may as well sign up’, which is clearly missing the point of challenging yourself. Also, THIS IS NOT A COMPETITION. It is a personal attempt to achieve a better relationship with your handmade creations, which you may or may not choose to share with the creative online community.”

A pointing finger,  shaking a little bit, perhaps attended with a strident tone.  And rightly so.  I am sure I said that at least once when signing up for a Me Made Challenge, and Zoe’s completely right.  If it’s not a challenge, then stay out of it.  I can see now that was a completely twitty thing to say.

I thought about what she wrote-  I thought about my relationship to my work and I thought about my own attitude, how I should challenge myself and where I want to go with my sewing. I made a pledge:

‘I, StephC of 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’12. I will endeavor to wear head-to-toe self stitched clothing made in the past 6 months each day for the duration of May 2012’

Here’s where it gets sharey- the space inside my head can be a little scary, so if you’d rather not know much about it please don’t read any further.  I don’t blame you, I’d rather opt out, too.  Come back tomorrow or this weekend- I promise promise I’ll have that post on neckline alterations ready to go!

Depressed, vacant. My face for most of last year.

I was depressed most of last year.  Super depressed.  Dark, bleak, scary depression that wraps around itself and blocks out everything good.  That’s why I quit blogging and more or less fell off the internets map.  Of course, nothing chases away the blues like a depressant so I spent my evenings drinking rather than sewing or writing.  I didn’t drink enough to have my head in the toilet or get in the way of my job or being a mommy, but I drank enough to gain 15 pounds (which mostly went away when I quit drinking).  I didn’t fit into my clothes anymore and I was *NOT* about to make bigger ones.  (Also, my photos for blogging and Me Made September look all kinds of Angry Face.  I look back and shake my head.) I made almost nothing in that time.  I didn’t like my body, I didn’t have any idea of where I wanted to be 6 months, a year, or five years in the future, and I was completely uninspired.

Then I quit my job.  For a lot of reasons, but at least in part because I wanted to turn my attention to sharing what I do “in person” with a wider audience through the wonder of the internets and my boss was not happy about that.  Not in the slightest.   I quit.

outtakes, but I have photos like this for every garment I've made in the past 6 months or so... And none for the rest of the time I've been blogging.

After I quit my job and stopped drinking, my creativity came back.  I had ideas on top of ideas on top of ideas, and I spent most of my free time sketching pattern pieces and outlining ideas to use later.  I’m really lucky- my husband, his family, my family and my friends (and you all!) stood behind my decision or I’d be working in a retail clothing shop right now.  More than the thrill of a creative rush, I felt myself changing as a person.  I still don’t know how to describe it, but I felt a shift in my thinking.

Colors looked brighter (remember my summer flowers Christmas headers? I was suddenly enchanted by the world around me), I saw inspiration everywhere, I started listening to music again and most importantly I realized that blogging is a collaborative experience.  It’s not about me making up some weird sh*t and convincing other people to go along, it’s about listening to the needs and wants of others and showing how those things are possible.  It’s about trusting my instincts, keeping my eye on my goals and working hard.  It’s not about being some twitty show-off who boasts about her sewing during a challenge.  I’m sorry, internets.  I’ll try to be better.

That’s why I’m doing Me Made May with only items I’ve made in the past 6 months.  It’s symbolic for me.  I never wrote much about the shift I went through as a person during that time, but it was big for me.  And it’s scary to share!

Once I started working from home, I saw I had a deficit of “regular/casual” clothes.  Sure, I had plenty of prim vintage blouses made from flocked cheesecloth and matronly woven skirts, but nothing I wanted to wear on a daily basis while I hunched over a laptop learning to digitize patterns.  I found myself inside someone else’s wardrobe and I had to change it.  I think I can clothe myself in the month of May with nothing but my newer stuff, even though most of it comes in eye-blinding shades of aqua, red, and pink.  When you see those colors, you’ll know the person inside them.  Those are the clothes I changed into, and I think I’m ready to wear them.


118 comments

  1. thanks for sharing, and well done for it as well. Most of us who are depressed do not share, just sink further and further into that personal oblivion. Looking forward to seeing your Me made may – and I think I should challenge myself to making something for myself in may, too. sending hugs and smiles your way :-)

    • That’s just the word.. Personal oblivion. I know you saw me heaps then, I really didn’t want anyone to know how unhappy I was, I just wanted to make everyone else happy.

      Thanks! I’m cool now. Mostly. :) I started seeing a therapist then, too. (too sharey? oh dear me, I’m messy…)

  2. Steph you are very brave and honest to write this post and I totally salute you. Your wording of the Me-Made challenge is absolutely right. There’s no point wearing stuff that reminds you of a bad time, just focus on the last six months when you’ve been happy again. I LOVE your jumping in the air photos, long may they continue and good on you girl! xx

  3. This is both such a thoughtful post, as well as a thought-provoking one… In the crappy times in my life, I just don’t sew, I sit blankly on the couch. Utter blankness is bad.

  4. Thank you for being so brave and honest and sharing a little about the battle you faced last year. I often feel that it is only when people speak up about depression that others can learn to:
    – Accept that depression is a real illness, even if we can’t see it like a rash or hear it in their voice

    – Help others around us (be that physically or through cyberspace) who are stuck in the pit and / or at a very low point in their life, by showing them that there is light, even if it is only very grey or dappled, but there really is light

    – Help others to consider the need to be far, far more accepting of those who suffer with mental illness in our community and genuinely work with them and alongside of them

    The colour palette of your clothes in the past several months has certainly told a story, not to mention your face. It has been beautiful to sit and observe your healing and growth over this time. I look forward to the little message in my inbox each night letting me know you have written a new post. It brings an extra bright shimmer of light to my day, and I am sure to the day of many others.

    I look forward to seeing you wear your gorgeous designs for ‘Me Made – May’ and I hope you enjoy the challenge! You have certainly inspired me to go and investigate it and see what I could perhaps challenge myself to do to.

    Thank you so much for being so brave and so open and sharing this – the blogosphere is certainly a richer place for your presence!

    • Oh… Thank you, Dianne. I think you’re right, it is important to talk about the difficult times… But I also don’t want to dwell on bad stuff, either… I suppose it’s a balance. But thank you for that.

  5. What a beautiful and honest post. Depression isn’t easy to discuss, I know. I’ve been there. It’s amazing how much clearer and brighter the world looks when the fog rolls out.

    I can’t wait to see your colorful May outfits.

  6. Thanks for being brave and sharey. The truth is, I think we all get to that place you described, we just mostly pretend it isn’t happening or try to hide it from everyone else, which tends to only make it worse. We think we are the only one, we don’t want to burden anyone else. Hogwash. I’m so glad you got back to a happy, creative place. It’s a really fun place to live. I named my blog Living in Red for that reason… it’s not fun to live in black, or grey, or even pale pink. We need to find what makes us burn red hot and then go do that! Best of luck, and I look forward to seeing your projects.

  7. Steph my love, I don’t know what it was about 2011 but it sucked for lots of people, me included, apart from fab trip to UK. Earthquake didn’t help, but it was more than that. Some kind of international zeitgeist? Anyway 2012 is looking better for us all, for all kinds of reasons – in both our cases it seems to be finally being able to be ourselves and be the authors of our own creativity. Thank you for sharing your experience; it is great for us all to be able to relate to one another’s experiences :)

    • Mrs C many of my friends and I would totally agree with you. I remember sitting with some of them who are generally very positive people in the second half of last year saying, this year has to have been one of the worst ever, 2012 can only get better. Last night I had dinner with many of these people and we toasted the fact that 2012 has been so much better to all of us so far.

    • You know, I think you may be on to something about 2011 being all weird and unhappy and 2012 looking better. I always hope for a good year come January 1 and remember last year it was one natural disaster after another.. People I knew were struggling…

      At any rate, there’s been fewer natural disasters this year so far…

    • 2011 was a very bad year for me and many of my nearest and dearest way up in Canada, too. Very bad. Everything from losing parents, friends, jobs, our beloved Leader of the Opposition (a national treasure considered by many to be the best Prime Minister we never had) to my very own beloved partner’s six months of deep depression, which went a lot like yours. Sorry to hijack your very personal post, Steph. I guess I’m just trying to say that when people like you share, it helps others understand they’re not alone. That means a great deal. Also, when you blog about your beautiful projects, it brightens the day and inspires ideas. Nothing could be more opposite to depression, so thanks amd kudos for all the good work you do! :)

  8. What a brave and honest post. I am so pleased for you that the last six months have been happier for you. I enjoy your blog very much and wish you all the best for a bright and happy future.

  9. Steph you do seem a million times happier now than when I first started reading your blog, although I don’t remember you ever dropping off the blogging planet. Share away. Crap, I’ve been on happy pills most of the time ever since having babies. It’s hormonal, it’s what-was-my-life-again?, it’s genetic, it’s juggling too many things to see a way though… I think it seems so common in people with a creative bent that there has to be a link in there too.
    I’m glad you have found your happy place. I love seeing you in happy clothes! Looking forward to your colourful May.

  10. I’m glad you’re feeling happier now. I don’t think anything you want to share on your blog is too sharey. It’s your blog, and we all come here because we like you and the way you write.

    I often find inspiration in your posts, and I love colourful clothes, so I look forward to your Me Made May posts. You could include some photo outtakes if it feels right, the ones you’ve posted here just exude fun. You look the way I feel when I finish sewing something I’m really happy with.

    • Thanks for the carte blanche, Daisy.. I do try to stick to sewing and lighter subjects though…

      :) Thank you. I’m glad to know there’s inspiration for others in the stuff I do.

  11. Where to start? I guess, first off, thank you for opening up that part of your life to the on-line people! That is a scary thing to do. I’ve had several bouts of depression, and luckily so far, have come out of them thanks to the creative impulse, at least in part. It’s not easy to share!

    And everything you make is always so inspiring – so thanks for sharing that stuff too! Just keep being you – whoever that is :) I’m looking forward to seeing your Me-Made-May outfits!

    • Suuuuper scary.. But y’all are so kind and lovely, I shouldn’t be scared.

      I find the act of actually creating something, working, focusing and finishing really help when I’m down… But sometimes getting started is the hardest part.

      Thank you. :)

  12. in reply to the comment you left me I hope you now see that you ARE brave enough because if you don’t scroll right back up to the top of your post and start reading.

    Depression isn’t something I’ve experienced myself but my mother cared for her mother who suffered terribly from it and I’ve seen the effects of it. I’m really glad that the fog has lifted for you and that you’re feeling so creative these days (I do know what it feels like to be so swamped that your creativity gets pushed further and further into a corner).

  13. What an honest post. Thanks for sharing. I’m so glad to read that you’ve found what makes you happy and that the last 6 months have been much better for you. Your colorful new wardrobe will make a lovely Me-Made May! Love the outtakes – those *real* smiles are contagious! :-)

  14. A great post, really honest. Thank you for the candid story. I had wondered why you didn’t write about your work place any more, but didn’t like to ask.
    Given your personality, I can see that it would be hard to work for someone else, you are an innovator. If you worked in a regular-type business, it would have to be one of your own making. I understand completely (I got fired from two jobs, and started my own internet business).
    Looking forward to your Me Made May pics, and the stories too.
    Thanks again for sharing.

    • Thanks, Julie… No, I’m probably not the world’s best employee… I actually had a lot of leeway in my last job, and then when I didn’t have it anymore I had to leave. That was that. Boy, do you have my number. ;)

  15. Nice share! I find when you share the dark parts in the right setting (Lord, don’t do it at a wedding or some happy place) you find that you were not as alone as you thought. My dark place started the year I turned 40. My youth died and 7 people I knew died. I was in a toxic job and I was in a bad emotional place. Every morning I cried all the way to work…40 minute drive. Then I cried all the way home. I hated Sundays because it meant my week was starting again the next day. I lost half of my weekend to the misery of it being over the next day. This went on for a couple of YEARS! A few things changed (the biggest being I changed jobs to one that used more of my natural gifts and that my core co-workers are people I could be real friends with). I lost a few dollars an hour and my pension plan but it has been worth it. When the basic needs for food clothing and shelter are covered, it is time to look at our other needs and treat ourselves as special…Mommy’s are bad at that. We dump all our care on our kids and give what is left to the spouse. Jane above said it happens a lot in creative people. That is because we need time to create and we need to create to feel joy and we need joy to create. Life takes over and when you juggle jobs and children you loose that time.

    • Yes… It’s tough when “sharey” happens at a happy event… I *think* I don’t do that, but maybe I do or have..

      Wow Wanda, that sounds like a dark time. Thank you for sharing, and I’m glad you’re in a better place now. I think you’re right about creative people needing to create. My husband is pretty understanding of that though. I’m a lucky girl.

  16. Wow. I found your blog a couple of hours ago and have been hopping from page to page, totally fascinated by the variety of subjects and wealth of information – and now this. You are not at all over-sharey but strong and brave and cool. Too few of us in this world have the balls to be out there – I salute you.

  17. Thanks for your beautiful share. I discovered your blog a few months ago and you have become my favorite. blogger. ever. I feel that you share some of your happiness, creativity and talent with me every day. The pain that you experienced was just a path to being the person that you are today, a person that inspires and challenges others to create a wonderous world.

  18. -hug- I’m so glad to hear that your perky self is here to stay. Having delt with depression for almost half my life, I know that sharing is hard but it really helps. I love your fun outfit photos and can’t wait to see your Me-Made-May outfits. Changing your life is hard and that effort deserves a month of celebration!

  19. I’m so glad you were able to come out the other side unscathed. I’ve often said that when I’m creating, I feel as though all is right with the world. When I go too long without being able to make something, nothing seems to go well. Kudos to you for recognizing this and quitting your job to create full time. I see you as an excited, inspirational, and talented person who creates beautiful things. It must be working!
    Have a great day!
    Beth

    • Yes- I love that sense that everything fits together, that calm that comes when working on a project. Not always, but often. Thanks so much, Beth.

  20. Thank you for sharing. You are not alone with this dreadful illness. This was brave of you and I salute you. I too suffer and need to take the happy pills on a daily basis. When it all goes dark you feel like you are the only one in the world to deal with this. But you aren’t.

    Here’s to happy days.

    • Thanks for that. I’m really overwhelmed and humbled by how many others out there go through the same, and are willing to share about it. That’s such an important thing to remember- we aren’t alone.

  21. Thank you. This is so heartening- sometimes it just looks like everyone has it all together and you are the only one that doesn’t have a glossy life. Amazing how many of us are benefited and enriched thru our handcrafts- it sure rescues me form a pressured workstyle. I’m excited about Me- May..it will be the first I think I have enough creations to do it with!

    • Hehh heh heh… I’m one of the least-“together” people I know… (Though getting an electronic scheduler helped with a lot of my flakiness…) But I think when you blog, it’s really easy to only show the good stuff and edit out the frustrations or dark times.

      Oooh! Cool cool! See you there. :)

  22. What a vrave and honest post. You are not alone. Having a strong family, people who love you, activities in your life that make you happy are all so good at making things better, I applaad you!

  23. I’ve been there, myself, Steph. And I commend you for doing something drastic to change the situation.

    Good for you, and good for your wardrobe! :)

  24. All of us who sew are by definition artists, and artists by definition see an imbalance in the world they use their creativity to fix. Depression, although it can be crippling, is also a way to fold in on yourself and protect your creative spark. When you come out of your depression, that spark has been nurtured and will burn even brighter. For me, there is a strong relationship between sewing and sanity, and the more I sew, the more I’m in life’s flow and the happier I am. I am so glad you are also finding your new “sewing voice” and that it reflects the beauty of who you are in this stage of your life.

    • That’s so true. I like it- artists try to fix the imbalances in the world… Everything you wrote is beautifully put and so true, thank you.

  25. Beautiful and honest sharing, Steph. I admire your candidness. Emotions. Self-reflection. Self-esteem. Creativity. Sewing. Courage. The link between these things is undeniable. Your Me Made May plans (and declaration) are quite inspiring. Enjoy!

  26. Oh, cyber-friend Steph, how courageous of you to tell us about your Dark Time! Know that there are folk you have never met in person who are glad that you have been able to climb out of the Slough of Despond (never understood that literary reference until I was severely depressed myself, in college). Sometimes we have to give up what the world thinks is best for us and do what we instinctively know is best for us. You are so blessed to have a family who supports you. Live in the sunshine this summer, live in the light.

    • Heheh. Cyber friend steph.. hehe.

      Slough of Despond… I’m searching my memory.. Is that Narnia? At any rate, it’s apt.

      Thanks. I am lucky to have a supportive family and friends. And you all, cyber friends. :)

      • Pilgrim’s Progress. Look for it in an adapted-for-children version, to have any hope of understanding it — language is quite archaic, but the storyline holds up quite well.

  27. As so many others said, this is a brave and beautiful post—kind of like you ;).

    I’m coming up on the one-year anniversary of my own bottoming out—things are good in so many ways, but still so delicate and rocky in others. Although my mental health issue of choice is anxiety, rather than depression (apparently not the kind of anxiety that the medications target, however. :P). It still sucks.

    You’re so right about the “challenge” aspect of Me-Made May. I think this is why I may have to sit this one out, though. I already wear at least one me-made item daily—I hate not wearing something I made—but I don’t think I have the time, sanity, commitment (there’s that C-word again) to do a month of photos, or to step it up from past challenges. Heck, I couldn’t even commit to OWOP, which would’ve been much easier than a whole month self-stitched photos. It makes me sad, though, to back off what I’ve accomplished before.

    I love your version of the challenge—embracing the good parts of your life. I hope your future holds many more bright colours and happy moments, and much less of the rage-face (unless it’s called for, anyway.) ;)

    • Steph, thank you so much for sharing–this is such a brave post! I used to hide my own past struggles with OCD and major clinical depression (which used to be so bad for me that I was hospitalized twice and spent years on therapy, with meds, etc…) but what is there to be ashamed of? I’m so glad you’re doing better (I love your happy exuberant garment photos) and I love that you’re going to embrace your six months of happy clothes.

      I’m probably going to sit Me-Made-May out with Tant-Isis–one of the main things that sets off my own OCD/depression cycles is stress and perfectionism, and I tend to over-challenge myself. And I do already wear something me-made almost every day, but it’s often just socks or underwear–not so glamorous!

      • Oh wow- thank you for your frankness. I always thought you “had it together” and now I think even more of you. :) You’re right, there is nothing to be ashamed of as long as our actions don’t harm others..

        Not glamorous, but so practical and useful !! I learned to knit so I could make socks; and several sweaters, hats, scarves and mitts later I have only ever knitted one sock. Heh heh heh.

        Do you ever quilt to relieve your OCD? I don’t know much about it, but I have heard anecdotal stories that it is a good outlet for those tendencies…

    • Oh you’re going to make me cry, Taran. *You’re* beautiful. And I think it’s better to look at what you can and can’t do and make a clear choice… Sometimes I find I say YES to everything without thinking hard about it and end up overwhelmed.

      Hehe. :) I think I need a pair of cords, the weather is turning and all I have is summery new stuff….

  28. Wait! drinking wine at night is a bad thing? Uh oh.

    Seriously though, depression is tough thing to work through and it’s insidious. Brava to you for finding your way out of it and finding your creativity again.

    • No- not in and of itself. But I was drinking every night to feel numb. Probably a waste of money and I gained weight and it does take its toll on one’s health… But that’s every night. I’m not anti-alcohol. ;)

      Thanks, Elizabeth. :)

  29. I have so many thoughts to add but they need sorting first.

    My mom and husband would be the first to wish away 2011. January was so full of pain that I still feel. But I wouldn’t ask for a redo. There were so many good things that happened I wouldn’t want to miss even if I did go through the horrible stuff again. It’s just part of my journey and who I will be at the end is built on that too.

    Maybe without those hard and dark times, you wouldn’t know how special those aqua, red and pink clothes are.

    • I don’t mind if you email me or- are you making a blog post? Cool cool.

      I’m sorry for you that your 2011 was unhappy- seems like it was the case for a lot of us. I know what you mean about not asking for a redo. I look back on my life and while there’s certain events I wish I’d reacted differently to, I wouldn’t ask for a redo because the things I learn about the world and myself and the kindness of others when things are bad stick with me. It’s valuable, even if it is hard.

  30. This is so great! I’m so happy you have found happiness and are beyond inspired. I wish you the best with reaching your future goals!

    • Thanks Maddie. Some days are better than others, but I feel like I’m working towards something now rather than treading water. It helps. :)

  31. Thanks, Steph. I’ve been going through some difficulties myself for the last couple of years. As a means of managing the psychological aspect of my situation, and after a break of many years, I started sewing again about a year ago. There’s not much I can do to alter the situation I’m in right now, but sewing helps with feeling productive and creative–and healthier. I just discovered your blog a few months ago & it is one that I read to keep myself inspired and challenged. Thank you for that. Also, I know it doesn’t seem like it sometimes, but there is no shame in depression, anxiety, or uncertainty about one’s place in life. I’ve been through that too, like many others. Ultimately, (sounds like a cliche, but) the experience of getting through it makes you a stronger person. I have come to think of it as a refining process. It can be a valuable experience too–as a means of figuring out what is really important. Take care.
    ~Jen

    • I am a very very firm believer in “making” or sewing, or painting, or walking, or unicycling (or whatever) out of depression. You’re so right- if nothing else, you feel productive and it’s a step towards breaking the vicious downward spiral into a blank place.

      You’re right- there’s no shame. But it feels shameful. And I like that- thinking about the dark times as a refining process. Maybe that’s why we have those times, so we can stand back and re-asses our lives. I spent some time praying for guidance, too and God answers.

  32. I know exactly how you feel. Depression is not a pretty thing. I must say, I was surprised at just how many people here have delt with the same thing. It feels almost like you’re in a deep abyss, surrounded by nothing but darkness; nothing seems to affect it; no happiness can be derived from anything around. Then there are the days that, for no reason at all, you can see again; you’re happy and can’t think of a single reason why you would have ever been depressed, but the next day it comes back. Then it’s the same routine. It seems almost like you’re a robot with no feelings–coldness is all you have. Somedays you feel like if you could just let it all out, you might feel better, but nothing ever comes to the tongue.

    I still feel that way often, and only two people know about it–one I told and another who was told by the previous. Around any other person or in any other situation, I can pretend to completely different. At work (I just started working as a cashier–my first job, unfortunately. I had hoped to be able to get through college and not have to worry, but things never seem to work out, do they?) I make every single person I meet feel like I am the happiest person in the world to be able to help them that day, and maybe I am…I don’t know. It seems almost like when you disappear behind another mask, it doesn’t matter what you really do feel on the inside–the only thing that matters is how you should, and it blocks everything out until you can come out from behind that mask.

    I’m sorry I didn’t say much in the way of support, but trust me, you have it from me as well as all of the others; I suppose I felt the need to open up a little to someone who shared the same problem. I hope you never have to feel that way again–thank you for the chance to say something.

    • Sometimes I think the bravest thing anyone can do is to find pieces of happiness when the odds are stacked against them… It’s one of the reasons I really love dancehall songs from WW2. Roll Out the Barrel by Andrews Sisters- Wow. They knew about pain, and hardship, and uncertainty and found a way to sing and dance anyway.

      I know what you mean about the mask. That really resonates with me, and it’s what I’m trying to do- come out from behind the mask.

  33. As so many others have said, thank you for sharing your story; it is brave, but you need to know that it’s inspiring, too. It’s too easy when we are depressed and suffering to think that we’re the only ones–and it’s so helpful when we find that someone who seems brave and confident and strong has been dealing with the same kinds of issues that we are dealing with. I know that’s how I’ve always felt when depression hit me, so thank you again. I’m so glad that you have found your way back to yourself.

    • Thanks, Nancy. :) I’ve spent most of my life fighting the dark place, honestly. Battle after battle. I think it is getting easier, and anyway it’s really hard to be sad when I’m wearing my bright red Strawberry Alarm Clock pants.. ;) hehe.

  34. Fantastic post, Steph. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.
    And wow- a lot of this hit home with me, I had a really rough go last year and also disappeared for a while. Thank goodness for supportive husbands and family. What you’re doing now is awesome and very inspirational.
    *hugs*

  35. A ballsy, vulnerable post Steph. But honesty and openness almost always leads to health, healing and help. I am sure more than one of your readers with benefit directly from your bravery. I don’t think there is a living soul out there who hasn’t in some way or another struggled with depression or at the very least, depressive bouts. Seems like you are on the way up and we all get to benefit from the return of your joy! God Bless.

    • I hope someone might read this and know they don’t have to be owned by their depression. Really, the most important thing is to reach out, or to let people in. It’s so so so scary to do that, though- but I’m really moved by the response to this post. I didn’t see that coming! It kind of reinforces for me that we’re not alone, and shared burdens are the lightest. God bless you. :)

  36. I know it must have been scary for you to post this. Thank you for sharing your journey. I am so glad you were able to make choices to change your life and put in place supports to be able to blossom as you have. xx

  37. I sew more in my head than in real life, unfortunately. But I love clothes and am thoughtful with my purchases. A few years ago I made the decision that I did not want to wear the safe basic colors anymore, no matter how chic. So I wear all my favorite colors now like I did in high school. It also makes it more challenging to mix and match. Basics always go together so where is the fun in that?
    About the depression I have to tell you, it gets worse with age. I have a strong family history of it and I just accept that is how God made me. I was no longer able to control it with lifestyle at about 34. I started taking antidepressants and have not looked back. Sure, I still need to focus on lifestyle like eating better and getting plenty of exercise. Fortunately, I have never been a smoker or much of a drinker. Let me tell you, every drug or alcohol addict did not plan on becoming one. They just were unhappy and self medicated.
    Now, I find myself trying to adapt my casual lifestyle to the Regency/Victorian/Georgian/Edwardian lady in my head. I am trying to find the balance of dressing more decoratively and romantically without looking like I am wearing a costume. I really admired your lacewing blouse and shisha mirror hemp skirt. That is what I am talking about. You have my email. Write me anytime. I have 4 kids and just turned 40 so I am a little further down this road than you. You are doing great, Girl! Keep it up.

    • ETA; You are controlling it well with lifestyle now. Don’t be ashamed if you need more help later, is all I am saying.

    • I have a lot of pity for drug addicts and alcoholics, even eataholics for that same reason.. I see it as self-medication and I think it’s awful that often people who do these things to themselves are marginalized at the very least and criminialized at the very worst.

      Thanks, it means a lot to know someone’s there to listen. :)

      I’m pretty ambivalent about mood medication for myself. That’s such a can of worms, but suffice to say any time I’ve been on mood changers it’s not good. Not good at all. I’m rather terrified to try them again, I prefer the dark place of my own making to the ones I’ve visited under the influence. But if they work for someone else, I say do whatever helps.

      • There are so many different kinds of anti-depressant medications. I hope it never comes to that for you but IF it does, do not be ashamed. And you still have to have the lifestyle right and make good choices. Medicine helps with the chemical imbalances in the brain but it does not magically erase bad choices. A lot of people with anxiety are actually depressed. It is like two sides of the same coin. Depression is also linked to chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.

  38. Steph thank you for sharing this. It IS brave. I started off last year depressed and heartbroken. I went traveling, spending all my savings, not caring what happened next. I did find help in unexpected places, but I’m not here to discuss that. What I want to acknowledge is that sometimes the oblivion beckons and only people that have been there know how real it is. There is no shame in seeking help.

  39. Steph, It’s so refreshing to read something so honest. Depression can have the double whammy of bringing us down AND making us retreat away from where we could get the support we really need. And then, the internet does make us feel like we can’t share our weaknesses and need to compete to be as cheerful and productive as “everybody else.”

    Then, isn’t it strange how suddenly the world looks different when we start to emerge, and the old clothes just don’t seem right either. I’m so excited about all the designing, writing and creating you are doing–it’s very inspiring for me.

    • Thanks, Sigrid… I don’t think I would have written this without your post and Lousie’s posts on handmade armor. Maybe this post should be titled “Handmade Zoloft…”

      It *is* strange. I keep telling myself I’ll wear most of the stuff again, but I kind of hate most of the stuff I used to wear. It’s weird.

      I’m glad there’s some inspiration here… Very glad, I get so much from the work of others.

  40. Thanks for sharing this post. I’m so glad to hear that you’re feeling better. And I’m really glad that you were brave enough to make big changes in your life when you weren’t happy. And I’m glad you’ve started sewing things that you feel like wearing– I say, go ahead and wear those bright, crazy colors!

    • Thanks, Ginger. :) So bright… So very bright… I don’t think I have a single black or neutral thing to wear next month… A few whites, and a navy Bow Tie Tee.. We’ll see what happens!

  41. I know everyone’s already said it, but you really are brave to share this all, and to have made the changes in your life that needed to be changed in order to get to the point where you CAN share it. A friend and I were talking just 2 days ago about depression and related issues and how hard it is to share, even after the fact – I know that most of my high school friends would be shocked now if they knew that I had been depressed when they knew me, and then they wouldn’t know how to react to that knowledge. But once people do open up about it, its surprising how common it is! I don’t take medication anymore because I don’t like who I am when I’m medicated, but a smoothly running sewing machine and a soft ball of yarn help. As does a lack of hormonal birth control. Makes some things trickier, but it makes for a less suicidal/homicidal Sarah, and thats A Good Thing.

    I’m also looking forward to seeing what May will bring by way of Steph-clothes, I never remember what I’ve seen on other blogs for more than a week or two!

    • If nothing else, the bald statistics on how many people take anti-depressants SCREAM that it’s something most people struggle with.

      I’m overwhelmed by all the love and support shown here, I wasn’t expecting this. I mean- our little community is almost universally supportive and positive, but I’m just blown away. Thank you for sharing. I’ve been there too.

  42. Good for you for not letting it take you down permanently. Learning how not to be depressed is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and the most valueable lesson I’ve ever learned.

    I think it’s amazing that you take the time and the energy to heal yourself and made sure you got the help and support you needed. Crawling out of a depression to me felt a little like running a marathon for a couple of years; it’s terrible, it takes entirely too long, and you’re still going to do it because the alternative is giving up and that isn’t an alternative.

    Go you for running the marathon! There will be cheerleaders along the way if you need them.

    • Well. To be perfectly honest there’s no way for me to heal myself. I spent a lot of time praying for guidance and meditating, and I think that’s where the shift came from. From just asking God to help me out, and then getting up and seeing what I can find to do with myself.

      That marathon analogy is spot on. I’m sure this is something I’ll continue to struggle with, but it’s good to know there’s some cheerleaders! :)

  43. It is so wonderful to read such an honest account of your journey back to happier times, really inspirational for anyone who may be at a not so happy point. It must have been so difficult for you to find the right words to explain those feelings and you’ve done it so well. Thank you for sharing

  44. steph – thank you for sharing. it takes me 40 years to handle my depression, when i see your postings the first time i recognize the signs. i´m happy you find a way to get over, seeing a “doc” helps a lot. and talking about gets you out from the dark corner. “we” have to break the tabu to find healing.
    looking forward for “happy dresses” and easter greetings from the saxonien mountains…..

    • Thanks, Beate (good to “see” you!)… There have been some times I didn’t post any photos of a garment because everything on the image looked like sad, angry, defeated person… And other times I posted anyway and wondered if it showed. heh. I guess it did.

      Is talking about depression a big taboo? My social skills are sort of weird from moving around a lot, I forget… Well…. If it is, it shouldn’t be any more than a broken arm or a stomach ulcer should be taboo. It’s just another kind of sickness.

      • in germany seem to change after a fames soccerplayer killt himself in depression. but it go´s slowly and the “normal” people use to ignore the sickness of the soul – maybe fear to discover own deficits.
        i´m very impressed about this masses of comments, it shows how much we need to talk. in this strange world it´s not easy for a sensibel person to be happy. you are on an good way!
        p.s.: your article about the plastic-clothes makes me a gooseskin – and adds another point to my dislike of synthetic fabrics.

  45. I am so glad to hear you are feeling better. I hate the meds, but when I came out of the last one and realized how truly, truly bitterly unhappy I’d been and how horrible it is to loathe yourself all the time, I promised myself if (when?) it happens again straight to the doctor I go.

    I like the symbolism of only wearing clothes from a happy time!

  46. Oh Stephanie – how brave and how wonderful you came out of it an energised person with passion and determination. Hooray for bright colours, vibrant things and life.

    I think everyone knows someone(s) who has dealt with depression, in its many guises, or has gone through it themselves. It is not new but boy does it become all consuming. So it is a strong person, with strong relationships in their life, to make it through so well.

    Thank you for telling us about this part of your life and I’m rooting for you in the challenge. Nice one.

  47. I’ll add my voice to the chorus! I’ve also been through these times, and have to be on alert for evidence of my mood sliding downhill. It’s very, very common, I reckon, especially in women. And I appreciate your courage in posting about your depression not only for the societal effects it has when we open up about it, but also for the insight into you. As someone said, we read you daily or close to it, and feel we get to know you. Now I feel much more like that!

    Here’s to real, human sharing, even in the tubes!

  48. I’m sure this was probably really hard to publish, but it is a brave and lovely post. And such a wonderfully symbolic way to go about your me-made challenge. Clothes are so meaningful, aren’t they? I can certainly relate, Steph. I struggled with this myself many years ago, and wouldn’t have been able to identify it (it becomes normal!) outside of some close friends, but I can see it on me in pictures. So I celebrate with you! Here’s to more…

  49. Reading a “sharey” post makes for empathy and an understanding that wouldn’t exist with a blog full of “nice” posts. I’m glad you shared this journey. I really liked Zoe’s post about MMMay, too. It got me thinking about what I’m going to challenge myself with.

  50. this is a wonderful, thoughtful post and i so respect you for sharing it. i think your new resolve absolutely shows through in your most recent work and how much you’ve been building on everything from the BCT to participating in the sew weekly. i think you speak very eloquently about your struggles in a way that is super-relateable, and in particular, the way your sewing work has proven an outlet and a catalyst is something that resonates with me.

  51. Awesome post Steph! Thanks for getting ‘sharey’! I’m sooooo pleased you have chosen to take part again and have found a new and inspired from which to do it xxx

  52. Pingback: Finsihed Object: 50′s Dress and Useful Tips for Making One « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World


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