Many people with disabilities which affect evergy levels have adopted the Spoon Theory as their mantra. Indeed when I first read it the words they struck a chord with me. So much so I posted them on social media and asked friends and family to take a look. I wanted them to better understand me. That may have been a mistake. You see, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Spoon Theory doesn’t fit my life.
Firstly, for those not in the know I shall give a brief description. The Spoon Theory is a concept whereby energy is equated to spoons. Basically as a chronically ill person I would have a finite amount of spoons per day. Each activity I do would remove some spoons until eventually I had none left. The point of it is that we don’t have endless reserves of energy/spoons.
This is very very true. In basic terms the Spoon Theory is an excellent way of describing life with a chronic condition. However I find I just can’t embrace it.
One reason is on a given day I have no clue how many spoons I will have any given day. For me there is no set amount to wake up with. I cannot bank on having six or twelve or even one spoon. The theory states that going over your energy reserves on Monday, will take away from Tuesday. This is certainly true. But I can have a completely restfull day, and still have nothing in the tank for the next day. Until I open my eyes and take that first wakeful breath, I have no idea what kind of day it will be. Even then, I can never be sure.
Often I wake in a morning and think ‘Yes! Today is a good day!’. Then, within hours, or even minutes, the tides have turned. Maybe my spoons are ninjas? Maybe the borrowers have been rifling through my stash? Whatever it is, I can go from having just enough energy to less than zero quicker than a scrambling fighter jet. Sometimes it’s due to a weather change, sometimes it’s stress. Often I have no clue whatsoever what’s happened.
On top of this. The amount of energy activities take changes on a day to day basis. I cannot plan my day around how much energy things will take from me. Because I do not know. A shower may be doable on Monday. On Wednesday it may feel like bricks are pummelling me rather than water. My joints may feel stiff and rusty. Everything could take ten times more energy. I cannot count on being able to do tomorrow what I managed to day.
Finally there’s another complicating factor. Pain. Let me tell you now, you can have all the energy in the world, but if you feel like someone just drove a dumper truck over you you’re not going anywhere! Pain entwines through my entire body in a daily basis. I never know how tightly it will grip. On a good day I can hide it. On a bad day it consumes me.
So yes. The Spoon Theory is fantastic. But unfortunately it gave people the wrong idea. They thought if I rested I could then plan activities. If I worked my day so I didn’t have more than one thing on, then I could do that one thing. They had the impression that I had some vestige of control. I do not. I try. I try not to let my health rule me. But at best, I’m flying by the seat of my pants through an ever changing roller coaster of pain and fatigue. At worst I’m being pulverised by a Hulk type monster with PMT. Either way, it’s a whole lot more complicated than simply rationing my Spoons.
PS The original Spoon Theory can be found here http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/
Though I’ve come to realise it doesn’t fit me, it’s still worth a read!