How Hama Beads changed my life
Overcoming mental illness
“As far back as I can remember I've struggled with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), a mental health condition that causes obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. I remember wondering in primary school whether everyone else spent ages counting in sixes and doing all this other repetitive stuff or if it was just me. Perhaps it would be something I'd grow out of as I got older? It wasn't until I was about 12 that I actually said anything to my mum.
“By that point, I was spending ages doing simple tasks, counting constantly, and I just couldn't take it anymore. For example, it was taking me about 20 minutes to just put my toothbrush away, and I had to go in and out of any door I went through multiple times. It was just that sort of thing all the while, with the thought that, if I didn't do these things, something awful would happen to the people I love and it would be all be my fault. (I know that's faulty thinking, but that doesn't make it any easier to resist or ignore.)”
“So finally I got the help I needed. I had intensive therapy, and when I was about 13 or 14 I began taking medication daily to help with these feelings. I've been on it ever since then, with a few gaps of several months where I tried to come off it to no long-term success.
“The therapy helped immensely and taught me ways to keep my OCD it in check. Unfortunately, it will never fully go away and it has fluctuated over the course of my life so far. Sometimes it's manageable, and sometimes it gets to a point where I have to seek help again.
“Twice in my life I have been housebound due to my disorder. The symptoms at these times were unbearable and I had a panic attacks whenever I tried to leave the house.”
My life now
“I'm 23 now and in my final year of university, studying Biomedical Science.
“My OCD has been affected by university life, but not as badly as the dark times when I couldn’t leave the house. It bothers me that my symptoms are worse at the moment and, now that I'm an adult, it's much harder to get mental health help.”
I felt peaceful for once
“I found some Hama Beads when I was cleaning my room and, when I started using them, I just couldn't believe the effect. My mind went quiet for the first time in ages! There was no incessant need to count or repeat my actions, and the intrusive, negative thoughts died down. I felt peaceful for once, and I can't tell you how long it's been since I felt that.
“There is a relaxing pleasure in gradually building a pattern out of Hama Beads. It's so simple and yet it captivates my mind entirely.
“I'm not sure exactly why Hama Beads has this effect on me, but I welcome it and thank you so, so, much.”
"I've included some of the things I made so far. They're quite simple and small as I only have a small pegboard – but I am hoping to move on to using Mini Beads next!”