Written by Lindsey Woodward
Hi! I’m Lindsey. While writing poetry is my default when it comes to creative expression, it sometimes manifests through other forms. It happens organically, on impulse, which often shifts to (healthy) compulsion and hyperfixation and is often linked to the status of my mercurial mood. My most recent means of creative exploration is through the craft of hand embroidery.
I found embroidery mid November 2019 during an episode of hypomania which is a recurrent symptom of bipolar disorder, a diagnosis I’ve been navigating for 20 years now. A major component of my experiences with hypomania is a sense of vibrating with a surplus of frenzied energy and a subsequent inability to remain still. Imagine a hive of angry wasps in your skull who spill out to reverberate through every cell in your body if you don’t keep moving. That’s not even close to explaining it, but I’ve been writer’s blocked for months now and that’s the best I can do to assign words to an experience beyond language.
Anyway! I’d always meant to pick up embroidery since my late Grams gifted me her needles & threads a decade prior (and I desperately needed a way to busy my hands ‘cause they are at times prone to becoming a proverbial devil’s playground if left unoccupied).
My 3rd project was an xmas gift for Grams & she passed suddenly less than a week after I hung it on her wall. So I continued stitching, partly as a way to honour her memory because she was the absolute shit.
So since then, whenever words evade me (which is often), I channel the bulk of my creative energy into this art form. Mind you, it started as more of a hobby than art, but somewhere along the way there was a shift and it became something more for me, it’s been a neat process.
Over the past few months, my leftist politics have seamlessly merged with the craft and this is where I’m currently at with it, although I expect that too to shift at a moment’s notice and I’m totally down for that.
For me, embroidery is both meditative and grounding (save for those moments I’m overcome with frustration and hack the piece to shreds, but that in itself is cathartic and sometimes you just need to destroy something so you can start over).
Creative expression has always been integral to my personal healing and is one of my greatest assets when it comes to caring for my mental health. I definitely lose touch with it at times, especially when I’m going through a depressive episode, but I constantly return to it. It’s always there, even if it feels like I’m punching through a brick wall to reach it. I’m super grateful for the ability to channel much of my energy and emotions in constructive ways, as long as I’m willing to allow them to take different forms and not confine myself by labeling myself a writer or an embroidery artist or what have you. I just make things.
I’ve included images of a few of my favourite embroidery pieces as well as a pic of Grams and her kitty Bella whom I inherited and has since been caring for me.
I’d like to thank Jenni for the kind opportunity to be featured on her blog!
You can follow me on Instagram if you’d like: @thethreadmenace
For writerly stuff email me at email@example.com
As for writing…I’ve been poetically bankrupt for a while now, but below is a poem that was published earlier this year in The Fiddlehead. Its ostensible themes are poverty and addiction and it necessitates a content warning: eviction, poverty, addiction, overdose, death.
the notice taped to the door beaten bloody with the guts of flies& angry wasps confused by their
stunted flight paths/ they pound to get inside as reminders as omens as remainders of the many passed
days& youve still found nothing/your pockets&wallets&bank accounts barren as menopausal
wombs&the cheque in the mail cant afford the fear youve been delivered the uncertainty and who can
deliver you from this poverty you never asked for you tried you tried 4 different jobs in 3 months& you
couldnt slog through 8 hours without crying in the back or dipping out for cigarettes on unpaid
breaks& you smoke instead of eat unless you sneak abandoned sandwiches left melting on the heater or
you dive dumpsters after work when the stores have forgotten to lock them to keep out your hungry
hands when the stores have tossed out tomatoes unfit to sell yet barely bruised you sift through without
gloves so putrid after broiling in late july’s boil but you dont notice until later when you fall onto
your mattress fully clothed& the smell reminds you of your grandmother baking cabbage rolls&
ghoulash before she died alone in her armchair//you skipped out on the funeral you were afraid youd
yell at your family for grieving when their grief was undeserved/ unwarranted because where the fuck
were they when she forgot who she was? She helped you get by bought your meds to keep you alive
you have no insurance nobody else would have//she left& you had to forget so you could walk 3 km to
the job you hate in the pouring rain at 5 am in the pissing rain sopping in your only uniform when you
got there because the wind flipped your umbrella inside out&you needed a loaf of bread to
eat slopped with peanut butter scrapings salvaged with a tablespoon&you dont have time to search for a
new home not a home but a place you can stay thats safer than than the streets cause youve kept the
needles away for 8 months but youre weaker now& thinner shakier// the classifieds: $1450+ monthly for
a 1 bedroom. You make $1307.54 after tax on a great month/save the paper use it for asswipe/go to
library where internet is free&scour kijiji&facebook&random google searches etc etc scour bluelit
screen like the counters at work where you spray disinfectant but the rag is days old&they wont give
you a new one/theres nothing you can afford you have less than a month to find somewhere/you read
somewhere that the previously incarcerated are 10 times more likely to be homeless&living rough makes the needles choiceless no contest(it didnt say that last part wasnt part of the study)the only way to forget the only way to feel alright feel nothing&sleep more soundly than you ever have&you dont tell anyone but you wouldnt mind if you cooked up a grain too much&banged too hard&your breathing stopped in a Narcan less alley but you dont say nothing because everyone feels thesame
you dont say nothing cause everyone feels the same.