How a passion for crafting is helping one woman battle depression
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For Amy Jakob, it all started when she was back in school. The fear, the anxiety, that feeling of dread. “My name would be called out for the register – I used to dread it,” she recalls. “I would go bright red which of course made things worse because then people noticed and made fun of that. “I also remember getting really anxious and panicky about anything I saw in the news or on TV, even if it was about fictional characters. I used to twist my hair a lot, so much so that I had a small bald patch.” Amy, 27, worked as a full-time maths teacher for three years but after experiencing painful episodes of depression, she decided to stop teaching. After being diagnosed with both anxiety and depression, Amy discovered her love for crafting – which helped her through her illness. “When I was at my lowest I didn’t care about anything so forcing myself to do something I enjoyed really helped. It gave me something to focus on. I find crafting massively therapeutic.” Amy, who lives with her husband Matthew and pet rat Marie in Nottingham, now works work part time as a tutor in alternative provision and spends the rest of her time on her online craft shop, which stocks embroidery kits with positive messages, handmade jewellery and the self-care kits she designs. “I really enjoy picking up different colours and having something tangible at the end,” she says. “It took a while to get used to not having such a busy life but it meant I could relax and spend time doing things I enjoyed.” Amy is one of many in the UK who has been grappling with a silent hidden illness. Figures from NatCen show one adult in six have a common mental disorder (CMD) with young women emerging as a high-risk group. At the start of this year, Prime Minister Theresa May announced plans to change attitudes to mental health, with a pledge for new initiatives for schools and employers to provide mental health support. But mental illnesses are often hard to recognise – even by those who experience them. Amy only became aware something was wrong when she joined university and left to study in Paris for a year. “It sounds amazing and it was,” she recalls. “However, I felt very isolated. It was not actually a social experience – it was very lonely and even when I came home and was now surrounded by my friends and family all speaking my first language, I still felt alone and isolated.” Amy made an appointment with a counsellor but had to be pulled out because “there was someone who needed help more than me”. She then threw herself into teacher training – but her family and friends started getting worried about her. Then, a panic attack put things into perspective.
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