Maja Delborn was only 19 years old when she was diagnosed with burnout. A long and not so easy recovery awaited her. Now she's 24 and has participated in several Swedish podcasts, newspaper articles and interviews regarding the subject. In today's blog post Maja tells her story on the disease and how crafts helped her finding back from illness.
Getting well with crafts, is it possible?
It might sound like I’m pulling out the big guns here, but yes, I believe so. Working with my hands have had a tremendous impact on my well-being. I went sick due to burnout a couple of years ago. Five, in fact. I was 19. Now I’m 24 and no longer sick. But not really well, either. But at least I’m not defined by my illness any longer.
I’d say there are four main reasons why I slowly got better. Reasons that made it possible for me to - after a full long year of laying flat in bed - get better. Dare to let go of it all and stop trying to get better. Dare to believe everything’s gonna be OK and not lose identity in the illness. Working with my hands. And last; time. I think I finally got better because of time. I got the time to heal.
But let’s focus on crafts here. Being able to do crafts have for me been completely crucial. It started with painting. If you can call mixing all sorts of colours and smear it across a full canvas painting, that is. I soon tried out working with clay and soon after that weaving. With an old wooden canvas frame I put together another frame for weaving and weaved for all I was worth. All this was the first in my time of illness that I was able to do without getting any sicker. Surely, it made me exhausted, too. But not at all in the same way. I had found my ultimate recovery.
Somewhere around here embroidery entered my life. A huge activity to be, during my time away from work. I had throughout the years of sick gathered sayings from people around me. Stuff people had said to me, probably with the best of intentions but in some way always came out wrong. “Strain yourself”, “Pull together”, “Why don’t you just take a walk”. And I started embroidering these quotes from people telling me to pull together. Circled with cute flowers embroidered on free hand. When I wasn’t doing that I embroidered on pillow covers, small cross-stitched flowers on a white backcloth. Or words. Sometimes short and commonplace. “Bye bye”. “Weekend”. “Sauce”. Simple words that helped me not to think while creating them.
Having something to get lost in, something that gave the brain some well-needed rest was absolutely fantastic. And I have moved forward from embroidery since then. I started working with clay again. Plaster, concrete. Whatever makes me feel good. Testing new materials, new expressions but always with my hands.
I encourage everyone to rely on the healing powers of creativity. Working with your hands. Feeling and seeing something taking form as you go. The complete satisfaction of knitting your own gloves that’ll keep you warm during the cold winter days. Pottering your own cup for your morning coffee, building your own stool. I can’t think of anything more healing than just that.