I’m sure you’d much rather hear me talk about my vegetarian 30 day challenge, but this is actually something I want to talk about. Today, for my Innovations Roadmap class, I had to give a presentation about a problem and how it’s connected to me. My problem statement (after my teacher amended it) is “Knitting/crocheting is an undervalued tool in helping with mental disorders.” I then had to explain why this was important to me. My teacher stresses that the personal connection is important because you need the connection if you kind of lose track. This was the hardest thing for me to do. I’ve got the mindset that I need to deal with problems on my own and that no one else cares about it. Telling people why knitting/crocheting and mental health is connected made me extremely nervous. It didn’t help that for the past few weeks, I haven’t been feeling very confident in my problem statement and coming up with a ‘valid’ connection. Today, I got up there and explained why this problem is important to me. I picked up knitting when I was 12 because I was bored. In high school, it morphed into a coping mechanism for stress. I had an on and off relationship with high school. In college, it became the coping mechanism for extreme stress, anxiety, and depression. I am prone to anxiety and stress, so that was nothing new. But there’s a unique thing in Utah that I didn’t have to experience before. Snow storms that block out the sky and the sun. Sickening fog that does the same thing. It is entirely possible to not be able to see the sun for a while. I’ve lived in sunny places for my entire life, with little cloud coverage. There was one week in particular where I didn’t see the sun. One whole week without the sun and blue sky. My mood plummeted. That one week, I was seriously depressed, and refused to tell anyone but Nate about it because of the aforementioned reason. I thought I needed to remain strong because society didn’t want a weak individual. My self-esteem suffered, my attention span shrunk miserably, and I found it hard to get up in the morning. I starved myself as best as I could without my roommates noticing. I self-harmed a little. I contemplated suicide once or twice because I would’ve have to deal with all the stress anymore. The thing that kept me from doing anything too distract was knitting. I got lost in it and kept away the ‘cycle of rumination.’ I admitted to my Innovations Roadmap class I may have a form of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder. As the name says, it’s seasonal. Mine may occur during winter because of the cloud coverage in Utah. I can’t say for a fact that I have this disorder for sure because in order to be diagnosed with it, I need to experience symptoms for two consecutive years. That’s the thing with depression. So this disorder, my stress, my anxiety, is my connection to my problem. I admitted this in a wavering voice to the people that lives in the same wing as me. I admitted this after saying last week I was afraid of talking in class because I didn’t want to be judged (and be considered weak, hypocrite, that sort of thing). The response? My teacher said I was brave for admitting this sort of thing. When I got back to my room, I found nothing but support. Kristan and Olivia who live next door said they liked my presentation, and Kristan offered a solution with Vitamin D pills, which is what the pituitary gland needs and gets from sun exposure. I bought some of those pills while I was at the store earlier and laughed when I saw them called the ‘sunshine pill.’ They also said I could come over to their room any time and chill with them and bake. It was such a nice offer, because I love baking (and they make good cookies). Olivia who lives in the same room as me (I’ll call her Liv from now on) said I had a good presentation and said her room was a source of free hugs. I’m really glad I met Liv. I value the friendship I have with her. She understands what I’m going through, and told me her coping mechanism is music. And this girl is a wonderful musician. Her songs are great and she’s funny and awesome. Ysa, Lynette, Madeline, and a few others also said “good presentation. That was brave of you.” The positive reception I got made me happy for the rest of the day. It told me I was not alone. It reaffirmed that the people I live with are the best, considerate people I can live with. It took a while for me to find that sense of ‘community,’ but now that I’ve found it, I love it. I won’t be too nervous speaking to them. I don’t feel that insecure. To know I have people I can hang out with… That is important to me. More than most people know. I’ve been feeling like I didn’t have any people I could hang out with easily. This, though, encourages me to be more outgoing with those on my floor, talk, and connect with them more. To the people on my floor, I am nothing but grateful. Thank you, everyone.