On the Rocks

Yes, I’m afraid that this will be a mental health post but as I know that those are never going to be popular, I will kindly share some knitting with you first.  I don’t know if knitting is the reason you’re following my wildly varied ramblings on this blog but I’m sure if it is preferable to trawling through another long whinge on the state of my mental health.  If you like, why not leave a comment to say why you’re following and what your favourite topics are?  A quick poll, so to speak.

When I joined the Ravelry community many months back, I confidently wrote that I was a ‘fanatical bootee maker’.  Well, since then I haven’t knitted a single bootee.  Not even part of one.  (Which, with my attention span, you should realise that such a UFO would be a distinct possibility).  I kind of felt that I had fibbed.  Declared an outright fib to the world, posted it on the Internet for all to see my dishonesty.

The problem is since joining Ravelry, my confidence has grown exponentially.  Now that’s not really a bad thing unless of course you make a statement like the one above just before it does.  Having more confidence means that I’m not just knitting bootees anymore, there are quite a few different things in my repertoire these days.  Ice cream, for one.  (You’ll find out all about that another day).  But not bootees.  I’ve been knitting them for over three years constantly, it’s quite pleasant to have a change actually.  And there is only so many babies that I know too.

So yes, my statement had become something of a lie that I had on my conscience but then I was requested to make a pair up for a new arrival so maybe it isn’t quite such the outright fib that it was before.  I have made bootees, a salve to my conscience.  Here they are:

'Jemima' Bootees - Yellow and White Handknitted Bootees

These ones are called ‘Jemima’.  (We discussed the other day the fact that I do name my knitted garments but maybe you can let me know if that’s quite sane behaviour in your comments too).  Nice and bright and cheerful.


Right, now for a change of subject although distracting myself by writing a post on bootees has made me feel a bit better, albeit temporarily I’m sure.

~ Trigger Alert ~

I suppose that if you’re a drink then being ‘on the rocks’ must be quite a lovely experience.  I wonder how and why that particular expression was coined.  Although the hygienic properties of commercial ice machines will in most instances make you heave then swear off the ice for the rest of your life.

There are other times in life when being ‘on the rocks’ is definitely not such a pleasant thing, very undesirable in fact.  Like, during times of shipwreck.  How many times were rocks responsible for some maritime disaster or other?  Too many.  Rocks were something to be feared, dreaded, respected and avoided.  So too it is in life.  Like the sailors of old, we know what our chances are on life’s great voyage and realise that at some time or other, there will likely come that crash but we do our best to avoid it, to minimise the catastrophe where possible.

Worst yet were the wily smugglers (whose ancestors were overabundant in Blyton’s works) who sought to mislead, driving ships onto the rocks where their wooden guts split open spewing treasures across the beach.  There are people like smugglers in our lives wreaking catastrophe and trampling on our mental health.

Moments of great crisis can bring out a strength in us that we never knew that we possessed.  History tells of ‘mere’ women who passed the night on the shoreline after word of some shipwreck or another rescuing all those that they could reach and find, braving the worst of weather with minimal thought of their own safety and comfort.  We rally around in these moments, finding reserves of courage, faith and energy that go beyond the normal, allowing us to continue the fight.  It’s afterwards that the shock kicks in.

But great these crises may be and their effects, there are worse experiences, for being ‘on the rocks’ brings to my mind another state.  The great rock desert.

Deserts to the young and stereotypically inclined mind are mind-blowing swathes of sand, swept up in peaks like a 1950s rocker’s hairstyle, frequented by camels and other nomadic dwellers.  Not all deserts are like that.  There is the rock desert.

The rock desert isn’t made up of those majestic red rock mesas and buttes nor of great canyon-lands for which the Southwest States are justly famous for, those aren’t desert.  I can’t find a single word for those at this time but look upon those as some of the uphill adventures that life provides.  Rock climbing is never an easy activity, well, I wouldn’t imagine that it is even to the initiated and the experienced.  It requires planning and forethought, like so many of life’s little challenges.  It can be hard to judge where to place a foothold and a guiding rope is always a blessing.  Whether the surface is smooth, time or water worn or splintered and frail, the biggest question is always where to put your feet and how to get safest to the top.  You can see the parallels with life.

The rock desert is something different.  It is the ceaseless reg of the Sahara, dry, dusty, harsh.  It can be a bewilderingly huge plain with little changing definition.  That is where I am, on my rocks, staring out into life with little idea of where I am facing or where to go.  I am overwhelmed, stressed out like the poor lost traveller stranded in that reg, dehydrated, confused and more than a little bit worried about his predicament.  Some moments the wind gets up and whips the gravel and sand into a whirling frenzy, other times the wind is softer and it moves low across the ground surface, skimming like a dirt tide.  That is where stress gets you.  I can walk off in any direction but the landscape doesn’t change perceptibly.  I am trapped within this vortex with nowhere to escape to.  The stress is constant, relentless and unchanging.  Sometimes you feel like throwing yourself down in the dirt and wailing, other times more like throwing your head back and screaming like a banshee in a wolf pose.  The problem is that neither of those courses of action change anything.  You’re still stuck there.  And working out how to get unstuck is rather tricky, there are no obvious or immediate solutions.  You just have to keep wandering and hoping.  But unfortunately, that doesn’t feel like it’s enough.  I’m stuck, I’m lost, I’m stressed out, I’m overwhelmed.

Sahara Reg


6 thoughts on “On the Rocks

Add yours

  1. I’m going to go with this one, from your post about Depression that I intended to respond to anyway:

    “I need other people to say good stuff about me. Now that’s a very big-headed, wicked, prideful thing to say. And also incredibly shallow. But I can’t think positive for myself. If the people around me are positive about me then I absorb that, my confidence grows and the Voice disappears. I start to make small victories over Depression.”

    I read your blog (when I have time to read ANY blogs) entirely for what you call the “mental health” thematic thread, or what I would call your honesty and integrity–as well as your wonderful ability to express life’s turmoil and the tendency to get sucked into some vortex of despair, with which I believe we all struggle.

    I think it’s extremely healthy to a) understand how affected we are by inner and outer voices, and b) to use that understanding to leverage an upward spiral. Even when we can’t “think positive” for ourselves, it’s healthy–and a victory–to take in what other people know about us and hold safe for us while we may be out of touch with the whole truth. I think depression is often secondary to anxiety, and anxiety is most definitely reduced by any small movement in confidence.

    I’ve been interested in your growing confidence with knitting; maybe it’s not entirely coincidental, or guilt-driven, that you include those booties in this post. When dealing with anxiety, it’s all about baby steps. But those “small victories,” I think, are much more powerful than they seem at the time–even marathon runners begin as toddlers.

    I also admire the undercurrent of humor you sometimes record in even the darkest struggle (I started reading when you posted about the terrible bed), and your straightforwardness in whatever you write about.

    Living with chronic pain, or chronic illness of any sort, is incredibly challenging. The landscape is monotonously bleak and rocky, as you describe–and that’s just the hard truth. But writing that truth well, as you do, is an act of drilling down to the water table, even when there is no oasis in sight. It’s the opposite of shallow.

    1. Thank you for such a positive response, I really needed that today! Anxiety and loss of confidence are huge factors in Depression, or at least, I find it to be so. I love how you describe marathon runners beginning as toddlers, well I might be a toddler today but maybe one day I will dare to dream, to set my sights a little higher. I also totally agree that we can only move on or forwards when we are aware of what our battles are and who we truly are, those internal and external influences have a huge part to play in that. They say that if you don’t laugh then you’ll cry and there’s definitely some truth in that too. Thank you for reading and commenting, I appreciate how much time it takes, and thank you too for extending the metaphor. I’ll keep drilling, I may make a oasis yet. Thanks again. :)

  2. You know what? I actually think I subscribed to your posts because of one of the mental health ones. So there. And those booties totally put me in the mind of The Tale of Tom Kitten, where Jemima Puddleduck and her quacking siblings make off with the kittens’ nice new clothes. So the name is very Beatrix Potter and therefore wholly perfect.

    1. Really?! I’m glad that I’m not putting people off then. And yes, that was exactly the schema in my head: Jemima Puddleduck. Our minds obviously think alike on Beatrix Potter. :)

I'd love to know what you think, concrit is especially welcomed on fiction pieces. Thank you.

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