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Erica's a mental health advocate and writes a personal blog about her mental health. She's training to be an Animal-Assisted Psychotherapist.
Erica set up a Crafternoon event to inspire others and raise awareness of better mental health.
My name is Erica, I’m 29 years old and I have BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), depression and anxiety. As well as my mental health problems, I also suffer with the chronic pain illnesses fibromyalgia and hemicrania continua.
Over the past few years, I’ve been in therapy and have also found a love of crafting. I had to give up work while I attended a therapeutic community and personality disorder service, and continued to work on my jewellery making, pyrography and illustration. I used these activities as an escape for when I needed to keep myself safe.
"I felt the need to continue blogging to quieten my critical inner thoughts, and safely release my feelings."
I started to blog about my journey of what it’s like to live with mental health problems and chronic pain after therapy. Having been through art and writing therapies I felt the need to continue blogging to quieten my critical inner thoughts, and safely release my feelings.
"I decided to set myself the challenge of organising a local craft group, which would test my abilities and give me a sense of achievement."
After leaving the therapeutic community, and still out of work, I joined a local support group in association with Mind, where I was able to discuss my personal issues. However, I felt I was still missing something, so I decided to set myself the challenge of organising a local craft group, which would test my abilities and give me a sense of achievement.
The craft group has been running for almost a year now. We’ve even held several craft fairs and have a few lined up this year. It’s been extremely exhausting and challenging, but it’s been worth it.
"I also knew that other members of the group would be supportive."
When I found out about Mind’s Crafternoon, I knew that it was something I had to do. I also knew that other members of the group would be supportive, either because of their own experience of mental health problems, or because someone close to them has experience too. The idea of getting everyone together to have a go at different crafts seemed like a really nice way for us to raise money for Mind, as well as talking about why crafting is so important to us.
"It didn’t stop my anxiety from telling me that something would go wrong."
I took the lead and organised the event and arranged a suitable date and time with our local art café. We were then able to promote the event with a couple of posters I designed. I asked several members of the craft group if they would like to run an activity, and I approached local businesses for raffle donations, as well as asking a local group on Facebook for craft materials to donate for the event.
I threw myself into organising our Crafternoon, making sure everything went to plan. However, it didn’t stop my anxiety from telling me that something would go wrong.
"The Crafternoon inspired so many people to try out something new."
We ran many different activities including card making, jewellery making, sewing and pyrography. We also had a face painter, held an auction and a raffle, and sold delicious homemade cakes to raise money. On the day, we raised £188 and £20 online donations plus Gift Aid, giving us a total of £218!
I didn’t get the chance to craft anything, because I was so busy talking to everyone but I ran a pyrography workshop, which was so popular some even went on to purchase their own kits!
The Crafternoon inspired so many people to try out something new. Everyone was quick to thank me for my hard work and congratulate me on the total raised. I, on the other-hand, struggled to acknowledge my own achievements, but was proud and extremely grateful to everyone else!
I found that organising the event was incredibly overwhelming, and I became physically ill with a cold and extreme fatigue. I know that next time I organise a Crafternoon it will be less physically and mentally draining, because I will make sure I delegate tasks to volunteers. Experience of running Crafternoon will make it easier to do this, and also more enjoyable for me!
"We were able to share our crafts, have a laugh and enjoy the company of friends and crafters alike!"
I will be sure to take some time out during the event to make sure I’m not too overwhelmed by the experience and don’t exhaust myself. I know deep down that our first Crafternoon event was worth it. We were able to share our crafts, have a laugh and enjoy the company of friends and crafters alike!
We plan to organise some more fundraising events in the future, but for now I know that I need to take a break from this because if I’ve learned anything through therapy, it’s the importance of self-care.
I’m so happy to say that nothing went wrong, so I can gladly say “anxiety, I win!”
Read about anxiety and panic attacks
When you’re living with a mental health problem, or supporting someone who is, having access to the right information - about a condition, treatment options, or practical issues - is vital. Choose one of the options below to find out more.
Blogs and stories can show that people with mental health problems are cared about, understood and listened to. We can use it to challenge the status quo and change attitudes.