Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Spoon Theory.

At a dinner party over the weekend, some friends who live with chronic-pain started discussing Spoon Theory.

They referred me to a blog-post as the origin source of the term, I recommend reading it: The Spoon Theory written by Christine Miserandin.

In the piece she discusses explaining her experience living with Lupus to her best friend:
I explained that the difference in being sick and being healthy is having to make choices or to consciously think about things when the rest of the world doesn't have to. The healthy have the luxury of a life without choices, a gift most people take for granted.
I think her piece is really powerful, since it’s so rarely discussed - how difficult it is for us to represent our experiences to those who have no frame of reference for it.
Most people start the day with unlimited amount of possibilities, and energy to do whatever they desire, especially young people. For the most part, they do not need to worry about the effects of their actions. So for my explanation, I used spoons to convey this point. I wanted something for her to actually hold, for me to then take away, since most people who get sick feel a “loss” of a life they once knew. If I was in control of taking away the spoons, then she would know what it feels like to have someone or something else, in this case Lupus, being in control.
Her use of spoons allows for an immediate representation of loss.
I also needed to explain that a person who is sick always lives with the looming thought that tomorrow may be the day that a cold comes, or an infection, or any number of things that could be very dangerous. So you do not want to run low on “spoons”, because you never know when you truly will need them. I didn't want to depress her, but I needed to be realistic, and unfortunately being prepared for the worst is part of a real day for me.
This was a big one for me. I have a fear-based foreshadowing sense of dread in me. I’m always worried I’ll go through a “bad period” and get so depressed and despondent my life will fall apart. Even when things are going relatively well, I need to make sure I have “backup” plans in play, that I have support services I can turn to. It’s pre-emptive, but it’s anxiety based. I think about my mental health daily. I know some things make it harder on me. I know walking into any situation tired means I'm at a a greater disadvantage than I usually am. I am only starting to use language to really discuss  and explore my experience (that's pretty much what this blog is), and ideally in doing so, I'll really develop the language to properly describe my state of being, and represent what it is I live to those around me.
I rarely see her emotional, so when I saw her upset I knew maybe I was getting through to her. I didn't want my friend to be upset, but at the same time I was happy to think finally maybe someone understood me a little bit. She had tears in her eyes and asked quietly “Christine, How do you do it? Do you really do this everyday?” I explained that some days were worse than others; some days I have more spoons then most. But I can never make it go away and I can’t forget about it, I always have to think about it. I handed her a spoon I had been holding in reserve. I said simply, “I have learned to live life with an extra spoon in my pocket, in reserve. You need to always be prepared.”
This made me wonder about the friendships I have. I would say those closest to me know how deeply depressed I am, and have heard the stories that have come out of the most difficult times in my life. There are always friendships that are more superficial, and those are what they are. Only a handful life with depression and anxiety - so at least they have a frame of reference. I guess there's a limit to how close I can become you're a god-damn unicorn. Anyway, I have a friend or two who are these kinds of people, the happy kind. We hang out when I'm in a good place.

I once grazed a pretty dark topic with one of these "normie" friends. Her eyes glazed over and she looked horrified. So that only happened once, and it scarred me. It no doubt scarred her.

The way Spoon Theory was introduced to me, was by two wonderful, supportive people, so this already to me has a supportive, positive vibe to it. Hearing them discuss their spoons between each other was really sweet. They were speaking the same language, and were really empathetic to what the other was saying.

Anything that helps us represent our struggles, and helps us in conveying how we live our lives is always appreciated.

I plan on using this system from now on with these friends, and I hope to share this with friends and allies in various spaces.


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