Meet Knitted Witch, my name for a toy given to me around this time of year by a good friend when I was experiencing a particularly rough patch in my life. Knitted Witch has been with me for at least ten years – maybe even fifteen.
‘She’ arrived in my life after a long-term relationship had ended; I was living alone for the very first time; and I was also working alone at home – not a combination I’d recommend, but financial and practical reasons demanded it. I became extremely depressed, suffered from anxiety and chronic insomnia, and, for a few weeks until my antidepressants kicked in, couldn’t eat anything but bananas and tinned peaches – my ‘personal emergency’ foods!
I’d been to visit the friend, and, as I was leaving her house, I noticed this knitted toy by the front door and was immediately drawn to it. I think she bought it from a WI market and had intended to give it to trick-or-treating children. Not wanting to ask for it directly, I said something like: ‘Maybe I need a witch who could magic me happy!’ My friend gave me the toy. Sometimes you have to come out and ask for what you need, otherwise people won’t know you need it.
I also understand how hard it can be to comfort a friend who’s suffering - words can often seem like inadequate platitudes. Hugs are good, but your friends can’t be there all the time enveloping you in everlasting limbs – their arms would fall off. I craved something constant and comforting, but also knew that there was only so much you can expect from friends.
I kept Knitted Witch in bed with me and I felt calmer, and less lonely. She even went on trips with me. I try to prefer down-to-earth pragmatism over superstition, and I’m not religious, but needs must! KW became a kind of talisman, fetish, or adult transitional object for me. This (witch)crafting of wool, stitches and stuffing was somehow imbued with my friend’s care and concern, and became a sponge for my sorrows. I knew people couldn’t improve my situation for me, but I’m sure that this act of kindness – the gifting of the toy -contributed to my recovery.
People don’t tend to send get well cards (also guilty) for depression, despite its potential as a life-threatening illness – only one of several ‘hidden’ illnesses that have a long history of being negated. We should send cards - I think it would be healing. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a Knitted Witch, after all.
I’m not sure how the psychology works regarding attachment to objects, but I feel that Knitted Witch’s power came simply from her being a tangible reminder of someone caring. The important thing is that I believed in this object’s power to make me feel better, therefore it did. Some people might call it ‘magic’.
Occasionally, Knitted Witch still makes an appearance. When I don’t see her for years, I know that all is well.
So, here’s to doing something kind for someone feeling troubled. And - oh - is it Halloween today?