After a couple weeks of crushing chest pains and stabbing feelings in random parts of my stomach, I managed to get a doctor’s appointment, where they did a bunch of tests (including an EKG) and determined that I have an ulcer brought on by the debilitating stress that is my everyday existence.
A little background on me. I am and always have been an anxious person. I fight it pretty much all the time, but it manifests in weird ways, like waking up in the middle of the night convinced that I reported Common Council voting “yes” when they really voted “no” and my headline will be wrong and everyone will hate me. Even after I have double and triple checked, it still keeps me up at night.
Couple that general anxiety with editing a book and planning a wedding, and, well, you wind up with an ulcer. I named mine “Lem.”
Don’t get me wrong — I love my job and my book is awesome and my wedding was magical, but these things are stressful and I internalize stress. My doctor wrote me a prescription, which included “relaxing activities — music, walking or scrapbooking.”
Well, I wasn’t going to take up scrapbooking, but I did dig out a whole bunch of craft stuff — including cross-stitch, sewing and knitting — to help sooth my nervous soul. When I can’t write, I turn to crafting as a way to keep myself creative.
I love sewing. I made/altered a lot of my own clothes in high school, spurred on by DIY articles in Seventeen and YM. I’m not the greatest at it, but I can smoothly stitch a salvaged t-shirt graphic onto a new tank top, as I did with both my well-worn Siouxsie and the Banshees and Alamo Drafthouse shirts. I also made a case for my new kindle, out of the sleeve of an old leopard-print jacket.
This addresses my stress two-fold: 1) It’s a relaxing activity and 2) It helps me de-clutter. I love that jacket, but never wore it. Now, I get to keep a fabric that I love, with new usefulness. My friend Mike was teasing me about being “productive” when I was supposed to be relaxing and recommended his regiment of video games and binge-watching. Works for him, not for me. Because I didn’t see it as being “productive.” Yes, I got a couple new additions to my wardrobe (perfect for my upcoming honeymoon!) but more importantly, it was time I spent for me and for no one else. I wasn’t on anyone’s schedule, what I created was just for me.
And it WORKED. One day in and already I feel more relaxed, fewer pains, the ache in my chest is only at about 50%…and I haven’t even filled my prescription yet!