Or, read the minds of seven people for one month

The college student was taking care of herself — and trying to make sense of her mental health and difficult experiences growing up. But when the now 26-year-old sought the help of the Ana-Samuels…

Or, read the minds of seven people for one month

The college student was taking care of herself — and trying to make sense of her mental health and difficult experiences growing up. But when the now 26-year-old sought the help of the Ana-Samuels Family Hospital’s Knitting Circle a decade ago, little had changed.

“They’d see me and I’d be back out of there,” she recalled.

For years, she’d relied on psychiatrists, counselors and different techniques she’d seen elsewhere. The advice she’d heard could sometimes ease her stress but typically failed to result in deeper exploration, she said. She found herself still wrestling with depression, nightmares and anxiety, often for days or even weeks.

“You go and the doctor doesn’t really get you. You go and you sort of tell yourself, ‘This is how it’s always been,’” she said. “And that’s how it is. That’s how a lot of us kind of have to deal with it.”

Even trying to tackle her greatest trials — like a failed marriage — brought a sense of detachment, she said. Feeling things made her anxious but not by much. And if those feelings were too fierce, she could always find something positive to find. Instead of fixing herself, she said, she simply tried to find the best path through it.

But something about the Knitting Circle’s approach broke through, she said. In a private group setting where time to play and talk mattered more than the time she spent there, she felt vulnerable.

“It was … this really safe place,” she said. “It made me feel calmer and less anxious and less stressed. It was really appealing, and it made me feel closer to purpose and stuff.”

Instead of simply shrugging off her mental health challenges, she began finding personal meaning for them.

Even thinking about “brutal things” like pain and loss brought her a sense of relief, she said. Her experiments with meditation and other physical exercises helped restore an influx of strength and focus.

Eventually, she said, it took more than just stretching her emotions into something more manageable. It became more about figuring out how to make herself whole again.

The Knitting Circle also helped her feel closer to the cultural traditions in which she’d been raised and from which she’d received so little throughout her life.

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