Not Enough Spoons

not enough spoons
Photo courtesy of Liz West on Flickr Creative Commons

Two days after Thanksgiving I hit a wall. I woke up in the morning, fed the dogs and went straight back to bed. Slept another hour and a half, then got up for an hour. After that I did manage to finish a 1500 word article and write one whopping paragraph in my new book, but other than that, I pretty much laid around.  I felt like a slug.

Truth be told, I knew this day was coming.  I cooked most of Thanksgiving dinner myself, for the first time in five years. In addition, we had friends come visit the day after Thanksgiving. It was so nice to catch up with them and do “normal” stuff like driving through the Festival of Lights and going out to dinner. The problem was, I didn’t have enough spoons for all that activity.

Not enough spoons? If you’ve never heard of Spoon Theory, it might sound a bit weird. Let me explain. The Spoon Theory is a blog post written by Christine Miserandino, back in 2003, to answer the question of what lupus felt like. Over the years, those of us with chronic illnesses and mental illnesses have co-opted the story.  Don’t worry.  I can wait while you go read it.

Too impatient? I knew it. Okay, I’ll give you the condensed version.  Imagine you have ten spoons. Every day you have no more than ten spoons. If you’re me, working, socializing, cooking, not to mention any particularly emotional events or surprises (dog threw up, son is sick, etc.) all use up spoons. So you have to decide what things are spoon-worthy (or spoon-necessary) in any given day. On rare occasions you can borrow from the next day’s spoons, but if you do this too often, you’ll wake up one day unable to get out of bed.

Obviously I used way too many spoons between Thursday and Friday. When I overdo it, it can either result in exhaustion or a meltdown or both. Fortunately, this time it was just exhaustion, but obviously I need to re-evaluate, with Christmas approaching, and remind myself not to overdo it around the holidays.

Do you have a chronic illness? How do you keep from running out of spoons?

 

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