Many sufferers of chronic fatigue are familiar with the “spoon theory,” which measures daily energy reserves in terms of spoons. A healthy person might get, say, thirty spoons a day, while a CFS sufferer only gets ten, or fifteen. Why did they (whoever ‘they’ is) decide to use spoons as a symbol of energy reserves? Why not forks, or knives? Or how about a point system? I guess I would know the answer to this if I’d read more about the theory.
So what follows is an illustration of my adapted spoon theory and how it applies to my life. Perhaps you can relate to this…
Before I was sick, I had 50 pieces of sterling flatware in my energy drawer. Now 25 of those pieces are in the dishwasher, and nobody’s unloaded it for eons.
So I have 25 spoons left in my drawer, which get used, rewashed and put back into the drawer every day or every other day.
Each daily activity costs me some spoons, and my activities are more costly than my healthy friend Bouncer’s, who not only has a drawerful of 50+ spoons, but who seems to get more use out of his (Yeah, he probably doesn’t clean them regularly).
I can do just about anything that Bouncer can, if I’m willing to give up my spoons. I can go for an hour run, but I might as well toss my entire 25 spoons for the next three days into the dishwasher, while Bouncer, who has accompanied me on my run, only uses five of his to complete the task.
You see where I’m going with this. I have to choose my activities wisely. And I’m a little jealous of Bouncer.
Being so shortchanged on silverware, I’ve also grown keen to the fact that emotional, mental and physical energy are not created equally, and that emotional energy is the most costly by far.
When I had health like Bouncer’s, I was too blind to notice this.
So even if I do nothing but lie in bed all day, if my emotions are a mess then all my spoons are filthy and my energy drawer is empty. Mental energy usually takes a close second, as reading and writing can use up twice as many spooons as tidying the house.
Sometimes I don’t realize I’ve used up my spoons until it’s time for another meal, and then I have to spend a day on the sofa while my spoons get recycled and Bouncer takes care of me.
There is a positive side to this, though (besides being taken care of by Bouncer!). I cherish and appreciate my spoons more than when they were spilling over the edges of my energy drawer. If I can retain that appreciation, perhaps in health I’ll never let the dishwasher get completely full.