DIY: How Folding Cranes Helped Me Stay Sober

Posted by Sabrina Shelby | Sep 10, 2017 | DIY | 0 |

I used to have a drinking problem, and if I still drank, I would have a current drinking problem. Along with being bipolar, I’m also a recovering alcoholic. If it were not for getting clean, I probably would be dead by now. Part of what helped me stay sober was folding origami cranes.

Quitting drinking is a serious struggle for some, and it certainly was for me. Alcohol and drugs were the answer to my anxiety and depression. At the time I hadn’t been diagnosed bipolar, but looking back it makes sense. When I wasn’t drinking or on drugs, I felt this horrible discomfort that I just couldn’t seem to shake. Drugs and alcohol made that go away.

It didn’t take long for it to become a problem, though. It interfered with my work, relationships, and was making my depression and anxiety unbearable. I realized if I wanted to get better I needed to kick the booze. It was a really F’ing hard decision to make.

After a three day detox, I moved back home with my parents and started on my path to recovery. I was terrified. I was young and convinced my social life would be over forever. I grieved over the idea of not being able to have a glass of champagne at my future wedding, and I was still left to deal with my mental illness.

Staying sober, one crane at a time.



I had a long list of things that helped me stay sober for those crucial 90 days, but one of my favorites was folding tiny origami cranes. In the evenings, when I’d be at home with nothing to do I’d sit in front of my TV and with a stack of little 1 inch by 1-inch papers I would fold a bunch of little cranes. For me, keeping my hands busy was important to help keep my mind off of alcohol and drugs.

I can’t tell you what it is about folding origami that made me feel a sense of calm. You could probably Google it and find some thoughts on that. I’ve read how origami helps children with ADD/ADHD and autism. It’s just soothing and requires just the right amount of focus without being too challenging. Once you’ve done it enough times you don’t have to think about it and you just make one fold after the other, which was sort of how I was able to maintain my sobriety- I just didn’t drink, one day at a time.

After years of being clean and sober, I still love folding my little cranes. It calms my nerves and is a healthy distraction from life’s stressors. Plus, they’re super cute.

If you don’t know how to fold origami cranes, take a look at the diagram or visit a quick YouTube video. If you know how to make them, but haven’t made one since you were like 12 years old, give it a shot the next time your idle hands are feeling restless, or your monkey brain is making too much noise.


You can find more of Sabrina Shelby’s DIY projects at The Active Koala.


This post was created with the help of Grammarly.


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