But I have no spoons left to give…
It may seem like the oddest thing to say to most people, but for some of us, this makes sense. And if you take 5 minutes to google “spoon theory”, it might make sense to you too. But like in so many other aspects of my life, I’m in my people-pleasing mood, so I will give you a very quick tour of the spoon theory, prior to my originally intended endeavor.
Some people have a medical condition, physically or mentally, that affects the energy levels. When energy runs low or dry, they – we – have no choice but to rest and recharge.
The spoon theory very simply put means that one person starts a day with a specific amount of spoons. Every task requires a certain amount of spoons that you have to “pay”.
Healthy people, when they run dry of spoons in their hands, they have a secret cupboard they can pull out in case of emergencies – and get extra spoons to pay for the tasks.
We don’t all have access to that cupboard!
Some of us, also and hereafter referred to as “spoonies”, only have the spoons we woke up with in our hands. There is no secret stash to turn to. And to make matters worse, we often pay a higher price for the tasks than healthy people do.
When we run low or dry, we need to recharge – we can’t just “hold on for another hour” or “pull ourselves together” (bring the secret stash of spoons into play) – and quite frankly, by pushing us to do so (because it happens – a lot!) you are putting us in situations where we are paying far graver prices than being tired and exhausted.
Another misfortune about being a spoonie is our recharge time, which is longer than with healthy people. So when once run down on spoons, we do require some extra time to get our batteries full again.
One thing I can’t tell you though, is why they chose to make spoons the task currency. You’ll have to google that.
Having autism, I am per definition a spoonie. Major mental break downs has further limited my grab of spoons, so I can’t hold on to as many spoons as I could before the break down. I am building that grab volume back, but I have also come to understand that my break downs are essentially due to using up all my spoons too fast in a day and then whipping myself – or letting other people whip me – forward on bleeding feet and knees.
Pain has a funny way of becoming numb, when exposed to it too often. But just because you can’t feel the heat on the stove, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t remove your hands. If you ask a spoonie to “pull themselves together”, bully them or guilt them – you are pushing their hands onto that burning stove. It doesn’t matter if we are in a state where we can’t feel the pain fully – the third degree burns will still be there.
You wouldn’t do that! You would never cause that kind of physical pain or damage to another person. I can hear your protests even from this side of the tablet screen on which I’m tapping my plea. And yet, chances are, if you are not – or haven’t been – aware of the spoon theory and if there are spoonies in your immediate relations… that’s exactly what you have done! I’m not pointing fingers per se, because there is a good chance I have done the same in the past, before I became aware of it, before I realized that my own behaviour was causing great damage to myself – because if I could put my hands on the burning stove, then why wouldn’t others be able to? It wasn’t until somebody took my hands and turned them palms up that I understood the damage. So I might very well have been guilty of pushing a few spoonies too far.
And for that I am immensely sorry.
These words are tapped onto a tablet screen in the dead of night after a day where my spoons had run out. I woke up with less spoons than usual and unfortunately this particular morning required a shitload of spoons. My skin was itching, the slightest sensation of my hair blushing against my cheek or ears set my teeth on edge. Showering required a few extra spoons than usual. One of the cats ate a couple extra and don’t even get me started on the bus to work with noises, people sniffing and coughing non stop, the check out machine making noises (I have auditory sensory issues)… it’s one of those days where healthy, non-neurodiverse people would say just that: “It’s just one of those days”, and they’d pull out a few extra spoons to make it to bedtime and a good nights sleep would have the spoons restored in the morning.
Spoonies having “one of those days” has another outcome. In my case, what I refer to as a silent meltdown. I cried. Sucked it up, put my hands on the stove to make it to bedtime (because apparantly I don’t learn very well from my own mistakes) – and then I broke. Wailing as silently as possible, thoughts going 200 miles per hour and wanting to hurt myself. The latter, I’m proud to say, I managed to avoid. Instead I made some tea, still sobbing, found the tablet and started tapping. You see, this right here, these words, are me recharging. I will need proper rest too, but I can’t make it there unless I slow down these thoughts of mine.
I also know that tomorrow, or actually that is later today, I will have to be cautious of how I spend my spoons, because I will have even less than when I woke up yesterday. And feeling guilty of the household tasks I will yet again have to postpone will also cost quite a few of those limited spoons. And that is a bad spiral going downwards, as postponing increases disorganisation and clutter costs extra spoons too. It’s kind of like the difference between taking a loan in the bank and getting a quick loan online. The online loan may be easier, but it will end up costing so much more. Or as some people also say: it’s like pissing your pants to stay warm. Only problem is, sometimes that option is all you are left with – and you hope it’s buys you just enough time to find shelter from the cold.
My hope is that one day I’ll be brave enough to say it out loud:
“But I have got no spoons left to give…” – and that it would be not only respected, but also bring on the question, that is worth more than winning the lottery…
“What can I do to help?”
Or maybe, just maybe, the help is just granted, without me having to use spoons to figure out the answer.
You know… like it naturally happens when people have physical illnesses or injuries. What a wonderful world that would be!
My mind has slowed down now. In this very moment I am not quite sure if any of this has made sense to anyone but myself. But I shall try to close my eyes, get some sleep and see how many spoons I can restore before waking up again.
Sending thoughts and love to fellow spoonies outthere.