Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My Cure for Stress

As I mentioned in a comment in my FatFrogDiary blog, my DH is once again out of work. I'm sure many of us have felt the bite of the bad economy, and some may even call me lucky for DH having found work at all, even if it lasted a mere six months.

However, some good has come of this horrible, horrible year and a quarter since I had my bariatric surgery. Before my band, I was a stress eater. Any amount of stress caused me to run to the fridge for something naughty to shove in my face. The more stress in my life, the fatter I got, and of course when times were good I didn't lose the weight.

DH lost his job six weeks after I had my surgery, and was out of work from March 09 to September 09. We both looked desperately for work, because writing doesn't pay my bills. It helps, but cannot replace DH's income. Neither of us had much luck. Only through a miracle did we manage to keep the house.

Once I had the band, I literally could not overeat in times of stress. The one time I tried, well, let's just say it wasn't pretty. Nothing like worshiping the porcelain god to reinforce what the doc said about not eating bread, cakes, and other carbs. EUWW.

However, that meant I had to find an alternate means to work through my nerves, depression, and of course the inevitable rocky marriage. The cure was literally at the end of my fingertips.

How many of you just pounced on my writing as the possible cure? You're only partially correct. There's only so much keyboard time anyone can do, even a professional writer. My head explodes after a few hours, but I certainly did become prolific last year. Retreating into my own weird worlds was only part of the solution.

The other part was quilting. Strangely enough, I'd just joined a local quilt guild the day before my DH called to tell us he'd lost his job (yeah, March 09.) At first, I was a little frightened and overwhelmed by the complexity of the projects the other guild members produced without batting an eyelash. Moreover, I found out there was much, much more than mere patchwork. I found an art form.

Best of all, as times got more and more difficult and I couldn't afford to buy materials, I could volunteer to make a charity quilt and the materials were given to me to do so! I learned on those simple quilts for Linus Quilts (http://www.projectlinus.org) where a traumatized child who has lost so much can receive the warmth of a cuddly blanket to help them through a crisis. All I had to do was cut and stitch the material provided, sandwich the top, batting, and backing, quilt it together, and then bind it. My efforts perhaps were less beautiful than my fellow guild members, but just as soft and warm. There was still a mother's love in every stitch, and a sincere hope that each recipient felt the cuddle I sent with my clumsy work. Below is the latest Linus Quilt I'll turn in at the next meeting on the 13th.

When times were good, I could pick up a bit of material and make a quilt for myself or my own family. I learned to make pillowcases for the Million Pillowcase Challenge (another charity)...

And 16" doll quilts for the American Woodworker's Guild to go in the doll cradles they make for Christmas charities...

Now that DH is out of work again, my computer time is very limited. We have not had so much good fortune that every computer in the house is hooked up to the net. Only one--this one. So, I must vacate my office while DH looks for work and sends off countless resumes.

So, when my muse deserts me, I'm quilting. Needless to say, as worry becomes despair, and depression darkens my world, I cling to my little bits of cloth and immerse myself in putting together scraps into pretty pictures to brighten my world for a little while until they go out to bring bright colors and softness to someone who perhaps has lost more than I.

Best of all, I stay out of the kitchen. Occasionally, I can still cheat, so my weight loss hasn't been as dramatic as some. That's my fault. Old habits are hard to break, but I'm quilting instead of eating most of the time.

So, if I am silent, know that I'm probably at my sewing machine, doggedly trying to stay out of the kitchen. Bear with me. I'll be back.

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