Here at the shop I'm pretty open about the fact that I have struggle with mental illness most of my life. One of my more recent break downs came to a crumbling halt when I went to go jump off the Bear Mountain Bridge. Crazy, I know! But mental illness doesn't make sense, mental illness doesn't care that you have customers to attend to. Meds that keep me calm enough to not jump in front of cars don't care that I also have to be able to do math and help people figure out yardage and stuff.
See, my psychiatrist doesn't care that I feel pretty doped up. His main concern is to keep me above all safe. Safe from myself and safe from others. But mostly safe from myself. There are days when you'll come in and see I'm kind of out of it, maybe my eyes are a little swollen from crying in the stock room.
Somedays it's just too much to bounce around the front, helping customers, bouncing back into the classroom to help someone, deal with all the shipments as they come in, make all my travel arrangements for work stuff, and carry on like I don't have a care in the world.
I've written before about how involved we can get in customers lives. They're here because they have a new arrival and want to make all of the things for that new baby. Or maybe their best friend is going through something and they want to make something personal. Maybe there's a milestone or an event coming up in their lives and we're here to help make skirts or dresses or favors or come up with ideas for decorations or meet that family member that tends to take control of everything so we can make some decisions about you need. Customers come in when there's a death in the family, maybe to get fabric to wrap a loved ones body, sometimes to bring in their clothes and make momentos for them or their family. And we all talk and ask questions and try to support each other in any way we know how. And so many times, these people are people we've just met. Maybe we've seen them in passing in the store, maybe they've never bee here before. But we're all here as a community to help each other along.
Which brings me back; through all the darkness and all the misery that I've struggle through there have been many 'customers' (I use the term loosely since they are a bit more than that to me) who have helped me along the way. Have been understanding as my meds have changed and made me a confused lunatic. They've helped me organize my thoughts and listened to me as I ranted and raved about this one, that one or the other one. I've literally been caught when I was falling down.
Some people may find it odd, others may not be so comfortable with it, but it's just the way a store like this operates. Everyone is welcome no matter how much or how little you sew. Whether you want to learn or thing you just can't do it. I manage with a mental illness that tries to keep me down and we all help each other. Come on in, the door's open.