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My Self-Employment Journey – How I Created My Own Job While Dealing with PTSD

THE BEGINNING OF MY SELF-EMPLOYMENT JOURNEY


Let’s rewind to October 2018. I had been studying to become a social and health care assistant for 2 months and had tried to balance a normal life as a student while dealing with PTSD – meaning being in constant high alert.

I was exhausted all the time from never being able to relax. One day felt like a week and I knew that if I had to continue studying I would also have to do intern work full time for 1,5 years and I just realised that I couldn’t take 3,5 years of this.

MY PTSD-SYMPTOMS

Being in constant high alert for me meant having a racing heart, being hypervigilant – always being aware of my surroundings, being hyper sensitive to other people’s actions, words, facial expressions, tone of voice and body language, sweating and blushing if someone just approached me, feeling a sense of doom around every corner – that something would give me a huge shock which would send me over the edge. It felt like having a gun pointed to my head all the time, not being able to breathe freely or relax, feeling in constant danger.

At the same time I had flashbacks every day. Often a teacher would forget about me and I was sent right back into childhood and felt so shameful, that the whole world hated me and I was unlovable which made me feel more unsafe.

At the same time it was like I had another life on the side (crocheting and selling crochet tops), that was more interesting, fun and filled with freedom – but a life that I thought to myself would always be an illusion, something unattainable and unimaginable for me.

TRYING TO FIT IN



I thought that I would have to live a normal life – work a full time job somewhere so I could provide for my children, go traveling, buy a house etc. Then I realised I actually didn’t want children, that I was happy about living in my tiny apartment and not owning my own place and don’t feel a need to go traveling – I just wanted to feel safe and I was happy of the though of just earning enough to get by and feel relaxed. But it felt like my small expectations of freedom and relaxation was still not possible.

Even a 10-15 hours job would still mean I had to be in constant stress and discomfort just to earn money to pay my bills. On its own the thought of earning money was so stressful to me.

BEING GASLIGHTED BY THE SYSTEM

During the next 10 months – from October 2018 to August 2019 I was unemployed.

I was broken down, but I still had to fight the battle alone – the battle of authorities not taking my mental health serious and just wanting to get me through the system as fast as possible – into any job (even if that would mean I would then break down again, get back into the system again). It felt like screaming into an empty corridor only hearing my own voice echo back, no response, no empathy, no belief in me.

I have heard of so many people experiencing the exact same thing as me. If you didn’t look depressed, anxious or suicidal then you are not. Imagine how traumatic this is when you have been dealing with being gaslighted your whole life and then the authorities a that were suppossed to help you continue the gaslighting.

BEING IN THE SYSTEM WORSENED MY PTSD

In the end just stepping into the job center to have my weekly meeting with a social worker I would sit with the hands over my head and at the same time my thumbs in my ears to block out sound and light. I learned to be completely inside myself, because I knew that no matter how much I tried no one believed my symptoms were serious and that I needed their help – I had to change to become a person without PTSD, instead of them helping me find a place to work where my PTSD wouldn’t get so triggered.

I couldn’t imagine a life in freedom but I also couldn’t imagine a life in panic.

I WOULD RATHER BE POOR, IF IN RETURN I CAN BE FREE

So what drove me into self-employment? It was the unberable thought of living a life in fear and stress, controlled by authorities who didn’t care about my well-being. I would much rather not be able to pay my bills or not get food on the table, and then at least have my freedom, be my own authority.

I had to actually think: “what is the worst thing that could happen?” . The answer: homelessness and starving – and that sound more appealing to me than being in a state of panic and hypervigilance. The physical stuff didn’t scare me as much as everything I had already experienced.

Quitting welfare and going full time as a crochet designer was one of the easiest things I have done in my life, because everything else seemed even more impossible.

Choosing a life of self-employment and freedom was uncertain and something I had never done before – so at least I had to try it to see if it was possible, because I knew that a life in fear and stress would eventually kill me. I had no other option left, there was no way back.

GETTING OUT OF THE SYSTEM FOR THE LAST TIME

In my last phone call with my social worker I laughed ironically while I told him “I might just move into a tent and create my own job” (though I didn’t actually mean it).
So I went off welfare the 1st of August 2019 and I somehow knew that this would be the last time I would be in the system.

I was relieved but afraid because I didn’t believe that I would be able to actually earn enough to make a living off crochet. I had lived with as little as possible the past months so I had a little bit of money saved up that I could live off and I still had my part time job as a blind assistant but I usually only worked 2-5 hours a month. But having a safety net helped the fear a lot.

ADJUSTING TO A LIFE OF FREEDOM

The first many months in freedom I still woke up every morning in panic (as I had done every day for the past many years) because I thought I had to be somewhere where I would be in constant high alert and fighting to be understood. I still couldn’t understand I was free of it.

All that time (in the system, in jobs, in school, in relationships) where I had been in constant high alert worsened my PTSD and gave me another layer of trauma to deal with. I was finally free and there was a a great deal of relaxation but my brain and body was still reacting like I was a captive in my own life.

LIVING CHEAPLY

I started dumpster diving for food and I cut down all my expenses – no wifi, no streaming services, no money for any kind of unnecessary things. I only spent money on food and bills.

Six months went by and I had earned about 1/4 less than over the Summer, which meant if I put it all together I’d have enough to pay my bills and food for maybe 1 month. So I was getting a little frightened and it was winter so not a lot of demand on Summer clothes either.

LEARNING TO MAKE & SELL PATTERNS

Gradually I started getting demands on the patterns for my designs so I started looking up crochet patterns online to see how the layout is, how they are written and I tried to freestyle my way with it – I though to myself, how would I want to read a pattern?

I opened my website in February 2020 and then later I upgraded my website subscription so I could start selling phsyical and digital items there as well. I got a holiday pay that was bigger than I had expected and my friend out of the blue gave me money because her holiday pay was a lot bigger than mine. Suddenly I started having more and more money on my account. I wasn’t using my savings anymore and I started having more money than I needed to get by.

As the patterns started to sell more and more and my website got more and more visitors I started to feel that this might actually be possible. In August 2020 I officially became a registrered business – I had applied the year before but I closed it again immediately because I didn’t believe it would work out.

TODAY

The past 10 monts I have earned more than any other job I have every had. It’s hard to understand and I pinch myself everyday. I don’t wake up with a panic attack (unless I have had bad night), I feel relaxed throughout my day, even though I still struggle with PTSD and social anxiety. I am living the life I couldn’t even imagine – a life of freedom, relaxation, empathy and joy. With respect for my own boundaries, being my own authority, not minimising my symptoms and sharing what I learned with all of you.

When I look back at just 6 months ago I believe much more in myself and my abilities. I very rarely have the thought that “this won’t work out”, which I had everyday when I first started out.

It’s not just because it’s actually going well (because even though it’s going well I can still have doubt and fear for the future – will it last?), but it’s also because I am actually living a life more in harmony with my values, needs and wants. I am giving myself the life I deserve and seeing how it’s making me more and more comfortable in myself and in my life is giving me a greater sense of trust and belief in myself and the world.

I don’t have the same obsession about the future and wheter or not I will continue to do this kind of work or not. I try and focus on the here-and-now and doing the things I enjoy doing on this particular day. If at some point I want to do other things, like work as a chef, open a café, work therapeutically with other people, be a mentor or musician I have trust. Because if I could do the unimaginable, I can do anything!

I feel extremely proud of myself and where I have come and so grateful for everyone of you who has been there by my side during this whole process. Those who have bought my digital or physical products, tagged me, sent me photos, reposted/liked/commented/read my posts and written to me and shared your own story.

Thank you for believing in me when I didn’t.

A FINISHING THOUGHT

I don’t believe the saying “believe in your dreams and they will come true”.
Yes, our thoughts have impact but what if we don’t believe? Can we only start living once we start to believe?
The other day in a feeling of hopelessness I was reminded that:

Just because you lose all hope, doesn’t mean that no good will come for you.

What if it’s the other way around? That believing in yourself comes from a progress and experience of listening, being aware, showing yourself patience and comfort.

So if you doubt yourself, don’t feel good enough, don’t feel ready, don’t have a support system, have been hurt too much in the past, fear that it will only go downhill – it’s okay.
Your life doesn’t require you to be fearless.
Your life doesn’t require you to believe, imagine or visualize something for it to become a reallity.

Start now – do what makes you happy, enjoy your passion, take your time, go in your own pace.
Wanting something and going after it, is enough for it to come true!

And if all else fails, just know:
I believe in you. There is a way, a place for you too.

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QUIZ: How to Define Your Brand Vibe

Choose the answer that either feels truest to your brand now or what you want your brand to represent.

This quiz is only meant for fun – quizzes always points to specific stereotypes and we all have all the “types” within us (it’s not black and white) – so this is just to get a sense of your brand’s vibe!

Farbklecks, Klat, Farve, Farvecirkel, Farveskema
Hænder, Ord, Betyder, Fingre, Farverige, Markører
Lufthavn, Transport, Kvinde, Pige, Turist, Rejser
Solnedgang, Mænd, Silhuetter, Hjælper, Hjælpende Hånd
Kamera, Iphone, Macbook Pro, Macbook, Mockup, Livsstil
Blomst, Gren, Kvist, Efterår Farve, Kronblad, Vene
Stue, Interiør Design, Møbler, Lampe, Sofa, Interiør
Læsning, Bog, Pige, Kvinde, Solskin, Sø, Roman
Spaghetti, Tomater, Basilikum, Træske, Rustik, Træbord

1: Luxury & minimalistic vibe
Your brand will probably make your customers feel a strong sense of self, independent, timeless and simple – that with few things they can get luxery and satisfaction. They will feel that they have worth and strength and a voice that deserves to be heard.

2: Bold & powerful vibe
Your brand will probably make your customers feel that they can do anything, to have fun and be open to life, to feel fearless and courageous and that they don’t need to shrink themselves. They will feel non-judging towards other people and love to explore all that life has to offer.

3: Calm & vital vibe
Your brand will probably make your customers feel vital, calm and settled and that they shouldn’t live for other’s expectations. They will feel in tune with themselves and their emotions and will find a lot of joy just being alone with themselves and their hobbies.

4: Simplistic & meaningful vibe
Your brand will probably make your customers feel content, learn to enjoy the small things in life, that a meaningful life is not doing a lot but just finding joy right now. They will that vulnerability and being your authentic self is the best thing.

5: Romantic & connecting vibe
Your brand will probably make your customers feel cared for and embraced. They will feel like you are the home and loving mother/father to come home to. They feel a sense of connection with you, themselves and the people around them, that they are part of the world you have created and your door will always be open.

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Testers wanted

I am testing one design at a time, so I will reach out to you (first come first serve) the next time I need testers!

I need a tester who are able to:

– follow the pattern instructions
– check spelling/typos/mistakes or things you found difficult
– check that my pattern works on your measurements, as well as yarn and hook used
– be willing to take photos of the finished product (wearing it and flatlays) that I can use on Instagram and website



Testers will:
– get the pattern free of charge
– be able to contact me anytime during the process if help is needed
– be able to learn more about designing, construction, crochet, pattern writing/pattern testing
– have their work seen by thousands

Please read and fill out the form below to sign up to become a tester!







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Why Creating For Yourself Helps You Slow Down

Being in a rush

Sometimes I notice how I rush to get ‘somewhere’.

I am in a hurry to finish projects, because I falsely believe that my work is not good enough, so I shouldn’t take my time with it – it’s better to get it over with so I can get to the next step where I will do and be better than before.

In that state the present is never enough.

I am too hard on myself, judging myself for not doing it good enough and judging myself for rushing and not taking my time. Because I know that I am good enough, but in that moment I am out of touch with myself and the truth.

I feel behind in life and in my creations. I feel that I am not good enough and therefore I have to catch up with everything I have not yet done. I have to reach every goal I have not yet reached so I can feel good enough in the present moment. But it makes no sense as I am abandoning the present moment.

A to-do list that never ends



It feels like I’m in a race with myself. I am on negative 100 and have to rush mentally just get to zero.

It feels like having a whole list of to-do’s and everytime I cross off something 10 more things appear. And no matter how much I do, create or rush the feeling of inadequacy just becomes worse and worse.

Sometimes I find myself getting annoyed about how many ideas I have in mind because I feel like I’m out of time – that if I had create all of that I wouldn’t sleep, eat or do anything else for the rest of my life. It feels exhausting.

Enjoying the unfinished projects


Then this morning I noticed something. I noticed the dress I have been working on for weeks that I have never felt rushed with, the items that are finished yet I haven’t even woven in the ends – and I don’t care!

I don’t mind having unfinished projects and taking my time when I feel the intention to create arises from me.

I am practising telling myself:
I am enough.
I have enough.
I don’t need to do more to be okay or successful.
I don’t need the things I create.
I have and am enough right now.


Create because I want to not because I need to.
Create for myself not for others.

When my focus is outwards on the world and what I think is expected of me it will never be enough – because there will always be a need out there, there will always be expectations but it’s not my job to please others, do it the “right” way, post the right things at the right time, create the “right” things at the right time.

The need to rush comes from fear.
I get scared that I won’t be able to continue to create for a living, that what I create will not be enough to pay the bills. I always thought the worst part about having a creative job was not creating or having ideas enough but it’s the opposite. The challenge for me is to tell myself that it is enough; that I will still be able to pay my bills even if I create less.

Creating for myself

When I focus on creating for myself I feel body breathe deeper, I feel more settled, more trusting of myself and my path, because I am here now, and there is not anywhere I need to get to.

Everything happens right now, my ability to sense, create, be present, grow, find safety and slow down – nothing every happens in the future, it happens now.

Therefore I can’t rush to get somewhere because there is no “there” there. I am not rushing to get somewhere I am rushing because I falsely thing that it will make me feel less stressed, incapable and inadequate when in reality rushing makes me feel all those things.

So this is a reminder for me (and for you) to do and be right now from the intention that arises right now inside me.

Be with that. Create with that. Slow down with that.

Create for me, live for me.









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How I Measure My Body for Patterns

It’s easy to crochet after measurements, as long as you know how to take your measurements. Here I will show you where I measure for tops, bottoms and accessories.

Remember to always measure the crochet when it’s flat!




In regards to subtracting from your measurements you subtract how much the pattern states, unless you are freestyling therefore you will have to look at some of the changes you have made.

First of all: try on as you go/when it’s possible. This is the most accurate way of knowing how the garment will fit.

Generally cotton, tencel and viscose stretches more than wool, acrylic and polyester.

Things that mean you will probably have to subtract more than the pattern states:

  • using a bigger hook
  • using bigger stitches
  • having a loose crochet tension
  • if you want the garment to fit more loosely


    Things that mean you will probably have to subtract less than the pattern states:
  • using a smaller hook
  • using smaller stitches
  • using textured stitches (like shell, moss or making checkers)
  • having a tight crochet tension
  • if you want the garment to fit more tightly
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Free pattern: Jute Bag

JUTE BAG


Hook: 4 mm
Yarn: 420 grams. 2 strands of jute – these two strands counts as 1 strand of yarn.
You need 8 squares for this bag.
Stitches (US TERMS):
Slip stitch, chain, single crochet, double crochet, decreased double crochet.

3 decreases double crochet:
Yarn over, insert hook, pull yarn through, yarn over, pull through 2 loops, yarn over, insert hook, yarn over, pull yarn through, yarn over, pull through 2 loops, yarn over, insert hook, pull yarn through, yarn over, pull through 2 loops, yarn over, pull through all loops.

GRANNY SQUARE


Round 1: Chain 4, connect to a ring with 1 slip stitch in the 1st chain, chain 2. Make 12 double crochet in the ring, finish with 1 slip stitch in the first double crochet.

Round 2: Chain 3, make 1 slip stitch in the next double crochet. Repeat and finish with 1 slip stitch in the first double crochet = 12 arches

Round 3: Make 1 slip stitch around the first arch. Chain 2. Make 3 decreased double crochet around the arch, chain 3. Make 3 decreased double crochet around the next arch.
Repeat and finish with 1 slip stitch in the first decreased double crochet.

Round 4: Chain 3. Make 1 slip stitch around the next arch, chain 3, make 1 slip stitch into the decreased double crochet. Repeat and finish with 1 slip stitch into the first decreased double crochet = 24 arches.

Round 5: Make 1 slip stitch around the first arch. Chain 2. Make 3 double crochet around the same arch, chain 3.
Skip 1 arch and make 3 double crochet around the next, chain 3, skip one and make 3 double crochet around the next. Repeat and finish with 1 slip stitch in the 1st double crochet in the beginning of the round.

Round 6: Make 1 slip stitch into the next double crochet. Chain 3, make 1 slip stitch around the next arch, chain 3, make 1 slip stitch in the 2nd double crochet, chain 3, make 1 slip stitch around the next arch.
Repeat and finish with 1 slip stitch in the first slip stitch in the beginning of the round.

Round 7: Chain 3. Make 3 single crochet around each of the next 6 arches. Chain 3. Make 3 single crochet into each of the next 6 arches, chain 3 – repeat and finish with 1 slip stitch around the first arch.

Chain 1 and break off the yarn. Leave about 25-30 cm yarn end to join the squares.

JOIN THE SQUARES

Start by making 1 side of the bag – by connecting four of the squares. Do the same with the other side. Then connect the front and back on 3 of the sides.
Sew them together by sewing through the stitches – back and forth – use only one strand of your yarn end, this way you can sew in both directions with the yarn end. Make sure to match up the corners (where you chained 3) and sew through the corners a few times.

STRAPS

Insert your hook in the 7th single crochet counted from the middle – make 1 slip stitch, chain 2. Make 1 double crochet in the same stitch, make 1 double crochet in the next 5 stitches, chain 2 and turn over. Make 1 double crochet in each stitch, chain 2 and turn over. Crochet back and forth until you have 20 rows or however long you want the strap to be. Break off the yarn and sew the other side to the bag. Do the same on the other side.


Remember to tag and mention @mati_denmark if you share on social media.
The pattern and product made from the pattern is for private use. May not be sold or distributed.


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Free pattern: Molly top

Pattern or finished product is for private use and may not be sold.

Video and written pattern is made as one whole, so my advice is to use both.



Download the written pattern here:
English pattern
Dansk opskrift

If you can’t donate here are some free ways to support me:
– follow/subscribe on youtube and Instagram
– save/comment/share/like my Instagram posts
– tell your friends/family about me

Thanks a lot!

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How Much to Pay Yourself

What kind of work are you doing?

ACTIVE WORK
You are selling physical items or actively participating in every sale that you make.

Example: custom made or ready-made products, coaching/mentoring, sponsored posts

PASSIVE WORK
You make the work once and then the item can be sold again and again automatically without you actively doing anything.

Example: patterns, e-books, courses, affiliate links

Is this your part time or full time job ?

There is a big difference in what you need and what you want to earn.

If this is your full time job you might both have the time and energy to focus on your job and therefore be able to make more money. But if it’s just a part time job and you don’t depend on it, you can work less (and work when you want to) and therefore you don’t need to earn that much.

If you are in-between and you want to make this your living, my advice is to keep your other job so you know that you can pay your bills – if you are able to go down in hours so you just earn what you need, then you can spend the free time you have on your own business but still be able to take it slow and do it your way.

How much to pay yourself

Penge, Card, Forretning, Kreditkort, Betale, Shopping

Example:
Money: You need/are satisfied with 175 euro per week – 700 euro per month.
Time: You want/are able to work 40 hours a week – 160 hours a month.
Your hourly rate: 175/40 = 43,75 euro

HOW MUCH THE PRODUCT HAS TO COST
Let’s say you can make 10 active products a month.

700/10 = 70

That means that your product has to cost 70 euro.

HOW MANY PRODUCTS YOU HAVE TO SELL
Let’s say a passive product costs 5 euro.

700/5 = 140

That means you have to sell 140 passive items a month to earn 700 euro.

How to price your products

Option 1.
You can look at all the individual factors regarding the product and then calculate how much that is.

TIME
– How much time did you spend making the item (and how much do you want to pay yourself an hour)?
MONEY
– How much money did you spend on materials?

You spent 15 hours. You pay yourself 43,75 euro per hour. The materials cost 10 euro.
15×43,75 = 656,2 + 10

666,2 euro is what the product should cost.

Option 2.
Forget about the time and money spent and instead find a fixed price for that item.

TIME/MONEY/ENERGY

– How much time, money and energy did you spend on this product? Is this a product you made as a “test design” where you were just playing around?
QUALITY
– How is the quality of the product and materials? Is the work kind of slobby or is it done with a lot of effort and precision?
OBJECTIVELY
– If you saw this in a shop, how much would you pay for it?

What amount do you think is fair when keeping these factors in mind?

Custom made or ready-made products

In my opinion custom made and ready-made items should be priced differently as there is much more work going into custom made products.

CUSTOM MADE
– communicating back and forth with customer
– working with their specific measurements
– making the item in the color, material and style that the customer want
– pricing can be difficult as the item may take longer for some customers than others
– the customer doesn’t exactly know what they get before they receive the item – this can cause uncertainty and stress for both creator and customer

READY-MADE
– the product is already made in the color, material, size that you want
– in the listing you can state all the details about the product – this way the customers knows what they get
– easy to price as you can just determine from the time, material or quality how much you think it’s worth

Setting a goal

It’s a good idea to have a goal in mind – what is your goal – how much do you want to earn and how much do you want to work? Even though it might seem unrealistic right now it’s good to have an idea about where you want to be so you can move towards that.

Final thoughts

Only you can decide what your time and effort is worth. Only you can decide what your hourly rate looks like and how many hours to work.


If you don’t want to work that much then that’s just perfect, there will always be people out there willing to pay a good price for your work. Remember to pick the customers that value you and your work.

At the same time it’s just as great to work 60 hours a week if that feels good to you!
There is no recipe on how to do it right. If you want to sell your items cheaply, then do that!

We are all different and the most important thing we can do is stay true to ourselves and what is important to us.