Today I Ran Out of Spoons

I was recently introduced to the “Spoon Theory” of health. Basically, it means that you wake up with so many metaphorical spoons denoting how much you can accomplish for the day. Everything that you do uses up a spoon. On days when you’re feeling great, you have many spoons and can accomplish many things. On days when you have the stomach flu, you have one spoon that you use to go back and forth between the bathroom and your bed.

I really liked this metaphor, and I told Kyle about it. It has pretty quickly entered our personal lexicon because it’s an easy way to talk about depression. I have suffered from chronic depression since high school, and Kyle was recently diagnosed with moderate depression, which was likely sparked by all of the school and job stress from this summer/fall/winter and Ruby’s birth with it’s inherent responsibilities and sleep deprivation. (We both have family history of mental illness, which I’m sure contributes to it all, as well.)

One of the hard things about depression is that it’s very possible to wake up and not feel like you have even the get-out-of-bed spoon today. When you tell somebody that you don’t feel well, the response is very often, “Well, what’s wrong?” followed closely by “Why?” But there is no answer to the “Why?” question with depression–it’s just the way you feel because of brain chemicals and who-knows-what. The spoon metaphor makes it easy to communicate that one of us doesn’t feel well because of who-knows-what.

This morning, I actually felt really great. I had loads of spoons. I got a lot of dishes washed, I made pancakes out of Ruby’s baby cereal (that has been summarily rejected by Her Highness–but to be fair it’s probably because it’s disgusting), I made breakfast for me, I folded laundry, vacuumed. I was raring to go and accomplish All the Things today. But then I had a conversation with somebody. It was one of those private, intense, hard conversations, and by the end of it, I’m pretty sure that it had single-handedly taken all of my twenty or so remaining spoons that I had mentally assigned to All the Other Things.

It was an important conversation. But it was hard. And I haven’t been able to finish anything else today. I even managed to unintentionally finagle a dinner invitation out of Amy so I didn’t have to do that, either.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll have a few more spoons to devote to Some of the Things.

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