Spoon Theory…?

If you’re like many in the general public, you may not have heard this term and theory. Even for me, I just learned what it is last year. The general idea is a person will begin the day with a finite amount of “Spoons” which equates to physical and mental energy. For most, if you run out of energy through work, exercise or a task that requires a great deal of mental focus they will simply take a break, get some rest, grab a bite to eat and rather quickly be back in good form. Which will add “Spoons” back replacing those lost. Such is not the case for those with certain conditions. Though at times a rest will return some energy.

An example from my life, as part of my MS I experience “Uthoff’s Phenomena” which is when a sudden increase in body temperature, as little as 1-3 degrees will cause extreme fatigue, dizziness and increased cognitive decline until the body cools back down.

Given this fact, “Spoons” need to be carefully managed to ensure there are enough to complete the most important tasks of the day. Especially when there are late day plans such as a dinner out, a movie, even just a gathering at a friends house.

As an example, say I began my day we 20 “Spoons”. After having a shower, shaving and getting dressed I may have lost 2 “Spoons” {18 remaining}. After making breakfast, doing dishes and cleaning the kitchen I’ve lost another 4 “Spoons” {14 remaining}. Now I need to go to the grocery store, liquor store for tonight and return a shirt at the mall. Because it is summertime, it’s hotter than usual outside I’ve now lost 7 spoons and take a break in the air conditioning of my car {7 remaining}. When I get home the food needs to be put away, make lunch and vacuum upstairs, 4 “Spoons” {3 remaining}. Now it’s time to pick the kids up from school, get supper going and get changed and ready to go out…. 2 “Spoons” with only 1 left to go out and have an enjoyable time?!! I need that “Spoon” to brush my teeth and get ready for bed in another 4 hours!

Though this example is just that, an example, it reflects a reality many experience when living with a wide array of illness. Though we may start our day with lots of energy after a good nights sleep, that energy can quickly be used up simply by going about our day.

On a daily basis I am mapping out my day in my head. Always looking to see what is ahead and planning how best to use my energy and when. Even those close to me tend to get a bit frustrated at times with this persistent behaviour. That said, it’s a coping mechanism for me. Having a plan in my head lowers my anxiety and helps set a calm tone for the day.

The frustrating part of Multiple Sclerosis is how quickly the day can change. Many days I have woken up ready to tackle the day with a seemingly abundant amount of “Spoons”. Without forewarning, my body will simply let me down in varying ways. My mind may say I have 15 “Spoons” but when I move around my body does not agree. Something as simple as walking up and down the stairs can become a challenge for my body, yet my mind it fully charged. A strange feeling to say the least.

Conversely, there is an overwhelming sense of frustration when my body is doing great and my brain is on its last “Spoon”. I can handle the physical problems, it’s the cognitive, thought process interference that impacts me to a greater degree. When I’m managing physical symptoms, I can see and feel them. They are tangible. When my mental focus is impacted, people cannot see how the disease is effecting me at that moment. It’s a lot easier to cancel or reschedule plans by explaining I’m having difficulty moving. When I have difficulty engaging in a conversation, I feel worse than the loss of physical “Spoons”.

This loss of mental energy is far more difficult to explain to those who are lucky to not have experienced before. I have not written an article in some time. It’s not for lack of wanting to, I simply find it hard to focus to put enough “Spoons” into my thought process. Some may think I have a lack of motivation, for those who can relate to the “Spoon Theory” it will make sense. Over the last 3-4 months there has been a lot of change, good and bad, in my life. Now that things are falling into place I am finding my mind is beginning to ease giving back mental energy.

What I hope you will take away from this article is that we all have “Spoons”. Whether you are healthy or ill, the theory is the same. Energy is not just how quickly you can walk or how quickly you can complete a job, but the way in which our minds can process information. Hitting a wall mentally without warning is a strange feeling I don’t think I will ever fully get used to. Hopefully there are a few takeaways to help those who don’t experience this better understand those whom do.

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Chronically Grateful Me

Life is hard enough. Don't go through life with pain that’s keeping you clutching the steering wheel. Join me as I learn to deal with Adrenal Fatigue-Hashimoto’s- Hypothyroidism-OA- Osteonecrosis – Spondylolisthesis and how going to a mostly to a plant-based lifestyle and meditation helps my pain.

viola-et-cetera

Mein Alltag mit Höhen und Tieren

A Chronic Spoonful

Thoughts and stories from the world of chronic pain, illness, and disability

Poorly parents, mummy with MS

Being a parent and managing a chronic illness

Bethy Bright and Dark

My MS (Mis)Adventure

Diabetes Blog - Happy-Medium.net

Searching for the right balance between the highs and lows of diabetes

Jumbledbrain

Discover - Empower - Thrive

my oms life

mum, psychologist, researcher & overcoming MS with a new way of living through Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis lifestyle approach (OMS)

Beautifully Raw

Cultivating Wholehearted Living

Pain Pals

My family & friends living with me.....and chronic illness

The Little Cripple That Could

Being angry never solved anything

OCD meets MS

The ultimate battle. . .

Fightmsdaily

Living life with a chronic illness is definitely not easy. But I do my best to push through all the barriers this illness puts in front of me! In my heart and mind, I believe maintaining a positive outlook on all situations in life will carry us through to much better times! I hope you find the information that I provide both helpful and inspirational!

swanyriver

Swimming as hard as I can to stay afloat!

FibroFlutters - Chronic, Invisible and Rare Illness Support / Advice / Advocacy

FibroFlutters - Support Group for people with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain, EDS/Hypermobility, Mental health, Chronic fatigue/Me, Rare & others offering friendship, support & advice in Sunderland, NE UK and across the globe

Chronically Grateful Me

Life is hard enough. Don't go through life with pain that’s keeping you clutching the steering wheel. Join me as I learn to deal with Adrenal Fatigue-Hashimoto’s- Hypothyroidism-OA- Osteonecrosis – Spondylolisthesis and how going to a mostly to a plant-based lifestyle and meditation helps my pain.

viola-et-cetera

Mein Alltag mit Höhen und Tieren

A Chronic Spoonful

Thoughts and stories from the world of chronic pain, illness, and disability

Poorly parents, mummy with MS

Being a parent and managing a chronic illness

Bethy Bright and Dark

My MS (Mis)Adventure

Diabetes Blog - Happy-Medium.net

Searching for the right balance between the highs and lows of diabetes

Jumbledbrain

Discover - Empower - Thrive

my oms life

mum, psychologist, researcher & overcoming MS with a new way of living through Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis lifestyle approach (OMS)

Beautifully Raw

Cultivating Wholehearted Living

Pain Pals

My family & friends living with me.....and chronic illness

The Little Cripple That Could

Being angry never solved anything

OCD meets MS

The ultimate battle. . .

Fightmsdaily

Living life with a chronic illness is definitely not easy. But I do my best to push through all the barriers this illness puts in front of me! In my heart and mind, I believe maintaining a positive outlook on all situations in life will carry us through to much better times! I hope you find the information that I provide both helpful and inspirational!

swanyriver

Swimming as hard as I can to stay afloat!

FibroFlutters - Chronic, Invisible and Rare Illness Support / Advice / Advocacy

FibroFlutters - Support Group for people with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain, EDS/Hypermobility, Mental health, Chronic fatigue/Me, Rare & others offering friendship, support & advice in Sunderland, NE UK and across the globe

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