Have you heard of the Spoon Theory? If not, you should read it. It’s a fascinating way to explain chronic illness or fatigue to someone who has never had to deal with it. It’s my go-to explanation, and I find it really helps. Of course, because I’ve been able to adopt this theory to explain my life, I’ve come to consider my low-energy days as “low spoon” days, and my friends all know that this is the easiest way to ask how I’m doing. “How are your spoons today?” or “Did you replenish your spoons with your nap earlier?” are some of the things I hear on a regular basis.
I went to the mental health clinic today and had a good cry or ten. (Hint: ten.) It was very intense, especially for a first appointment, but I’m glad I went. The therapist talked to me about some of the things that I’ve never really gotten to talk in depth about (things about my past, my family, and why I am the way that I am), as well as talking about the effects of endometriosis and anxiety on my energy levels and overall mental health.
I learned today that my immediate reactions to a lot of things in my life are not the appropriate reactions. Instead of giving myself a bit of room to relax and sleep and rest when I’m having a “low spoon day”, I instead berate myself (either mentally or sometimes out loud) for being “lazy” and spending my time wrong, or even for not being able to just do things like other people can.
The reality is that I’m almost always in pain, and I’m usually running on empty as far as energy is concerned. I’ve been fortunate enough to have built up a tolerance to a lot of my pain, and I don’t feel anything as much when I’m resting. However, when I’m out and about and doing things, I usually collapse at the end of the day, unable to do anything else.
This makes life harder for me than it is for a lot of people. I have to measure out my activities very carefully – if I walk the extra half mile to the ferry instead of taking the bus, I might not be able to cook dinner. If I socialize or game for long periods of time, I might only be able to do the bare minimum of activities the next day. It’s weird – it’s like when someone has no money (and believe me, I’ve been there lately!) and has to budget out their pennies. Except it’s just day-to-day activities that I’m budgeting for, and I’m budgeting a very limited supply of energy.
Over the next little bit, I’ll be spending a lot of time trying to balance these things. I start a new job on Monday (more on that later, once I’m more comfortable and feel more secure in it – anxiety is being a jerk right now and I don’t want to count my chickens too early!) and I’ll probably come home, eat, and sleep, for at least the first couple of weeks. But on top of that, I’ll be actively monitoring my thoughts – this will take a lot of energy, but I wonder if I wouldn’t feel better more often if I didn’t beat myself up constantly over things that I can’t really control?