Crafting for mental health

16 September 2021

Mental health professional Keionna Baker used Cricut and crafting to help work through her own personal crisis.

When mental health professional Keionna Baker discovered Cricut in 2017, it changed her life. She fell in love with crafting after buying her first machine, a Cricut Explore Air 2. She says she was “not creative at all” but now she makes handmade cards, tumblers, and other personalized projects with her arsenal of seven machines (and counting). Looking back, though, this creative journey wasn’t easy for her.

For 3 years, Keionna felt like a “void of darkness.” She struggled with the sudden death of her mother and despite her mental health background, nothing seemed to help. “I would call it a crisis,” Keionna said.

I had to tell my husband, I’m not suicidal. I’m not going to hurt myself. But, I can’t say I would not regret not waking up tomorrow. It had gotten to that point.

Keionna Baker

Managing a mental health crisis

Keionna’s mother, Juanita, was her “home.” Keionna and Juanita spoke at least three times a day on a regular basis. Anytime they missed a beat, they immediately scheduled a new time to chat. Even though Juanita readily admitted to never feeling ready for motherhood, she was always there for Keionna and her siblings. Moreover, Juanita was excited for grandchildren.

kids wearing back to school shirts

Faced with an opportunity to move, Keionna and her husband Dwayne decided to relocate closer to Juanita. Before Mother’s Day, they went to South Carolina to house hunt and tie up loose ends for the move.

It was so hectic during her quick trip home, Keionna pushed off meeting with her mom knowing she’d return for Mother’s Day and her mom’s upcoming birthday soon. “She doesn’t let me put Mother’s Day and her birthday together,” Keionna said. “She gave me a pass.”

At the age of 53 — only four days before her birthday, 1 1/2 weeks before Mother’s Day, and 2 weeks before Keionna planned on moving back — Juanita passed away in her sleep. After dropping Keionna’s grandmother at home, Juanita returned home for a nap and became uncharacteristically unresponsive to Keionna’s texts and calls. She had missed a family dinner and, she had missed two scheduled chats with Keionna. Out of concern, Keionna asked her uncle, who lived next door, to “break down the door or something.” They soon learned that Juanita’s heart had given out.

As a licensed professional counselor, Keionna understood how to deal with grief and trauma. She had support and stability, which helped ground her. Though she felt panic and severe anxiety, she knew she’d get through it. But, she said, “I just wanted to be with my mom. It was like being in this dark hole and not having any signs of light.”

Anxiety, panic, and losing “home”

Incomprehensible. There were no words to describe this gut-wrenching moment. Juanita’s passing had hit Keionna like a freight train.

Having her pass away 2 weeks before we moved, having to go and bury her — to know that I was going back to live in a house that I only got for the purpose of her being with me was terribly difficult. I couldn’t be happy about being close to home anymore. I didn’t feel like I had a home anymore.

Keionna Baker

Keionna shared that she was overcome with a “terrible tailspin of anxiety.” “I had to go to the emergency room because I thought I was having a heart attack,” she said. The mental health professional in her knew that she wasn’t thinking rationally, but for her, nothing made sense. “I started having panic attacks,” she remembered. “I had to leave work for a little while to try and get to a place where I could remain balanced.”

Keionna Baker family photo

How Cricut helped her mental health

As Mother’s Day neared, the days became difficult for Keionna but suddenly she declared to her Dwayne that she wanted to try and craft.

She tried to ignore the urge, saying to Dwayne that she wasn’t even sure why she said that because she wasn’t creative at all. But rather than ignore the curiosity, Dwayne encouraged Keionna to check out YouTube for some inspiration. Keionna searched the video platform for “crafting” and soon discovered a tutorial from Melody Lane on “How to make a monster card” with Cricut. Watching the video, Keionna thought sending cards to people could be an easy craft. Dwayne went out and bought Keionna a Cricut machine that night.

[At work,] I was always in therapy preaching about self-care. You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself.

Keionna Baker
Mental health greeting card that says "When you can't look on the bright side, I will sit with you in the dark"

Keionna told herself that it was time to practice what she preached. She committed an hour every day to her new Cricut machine and “figure it out, mess up, whatever.” Saturdays became “Live with Melody” days and the entire family even joined. Before she realized there was a description section on YouTube videos, Keionna diligently jotted notes from her videos and bought all the supplies.

“It gave me something to look forward to… when I didn’t think it was [possible],” she said.

Keionna met Melody in person during a trip to Disney World the following year and she said it felt like catching up with an old friend. Keionna felt completely at ease with Melody and shared how much Melody’s videos and Cricut had changed her life.

Keionna Baker and Melody Lane at Disney World

How it’s going with Cricut

Keionna has since started a craft therapy group to share makes and support others. She holds nightly open sessions on Zoom, and also creates her own videos. Keionna says she wants to “share a little bit with the community with what I feel like was given to me.” She incorporates Cricut crafting in her therapy practice and eventually intends to start her own craft therapy place. “It’s going to have Cricut [machines] and we’re just going to support each other and do happy stuff,” she said.

I’ve tried to incorporate crafting, and finding joy, and being supportive of others — that’s my therapy practice. It has been a staple of my day.

Keionna Baker

Each month, Keionna tries to send “2 books of stamps worth” of cards to family, friends, strangers, or anyone else she thinks needs an uplifting message. She offers to troubleshoot issues that others may have with crafting. Keionna even tries to purchase machines for others that want to try crafting but can’t afford or otherwise purchase one for themselves. Keionna shared, “I just feel like it was brought so much joy to my life that I want to share it.”

Want to hear more about the Cricut community? Read more stories about other makers.