The world needs more spoons.
Earlier today I read that having a mental illness can be measured in spoons. Normal people have a limitless number of spoons available to them at their beck and call. Waking up in the morning– there’s a spoon for that. Making 3 meals a day, plus snacks, plus vacuuming, plus doing the dishes, plus going to the bank, plus putting on real clothes, plus being able to talk on the phone or interact with the UPS guy in a way in which you don’t come off as a raging lunatic (that is, being able to interact with the UPS guy at all,) — there’s a spoon for that.
Then there are people like me. People for whom being able to talk to the UPS guy is laughable. People who can’t go to the grocery store, or return emails, or get out of bed, or see family or friends two days in a row, or more than twice a week. My spoons are not limitless. My spoons are finite.
On any given day, it can be assumed that I have somewhere between three and six spoons available to me for whatever it is that I need to do. Sometimes these things are a trade-off. I might be able to respond to emails, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be able to get out of bed to do it. I can make lunch, but there’s no chance in hell that I’ll be doing dishes. Or maybe I will do lunch and make the dishes, but then please, for the love of God, don’t expect me to take out the trash or go to the bank or keep that dinner date with my father-in-law. It isn’t going to happen.
Normal people have a hundred spoons delivered to them bright and early every morning.
Me? I have six. Tops.
Does having fewer spoons make me less of a person? Does it make me a loser or a moron? I don’t know. I’d like to think not, but some days… some days I’d be standing right alongside my worst critics, shaking my head and tut-tutting at myself in dirision. “What a fuckup? Get your shit together!”
I prefer to think of it like this: I have a finite number of spoons. that’s true. But the fact is, having fewer spoons has forced me to take stock of my life in a way most people can’t. I really do appreciate the little things. Having tea with a friend is a big deal, because I simply can’t be around people more than a small handful of times a month. Laughter is golden, because some days, I don’t have enough spoons to smile, much less laugh. Some days I’m just squeezing the pieces of my head back together in the hopes that I don’t completely fall apart.
I’m going to start collecting literal, physical spoons for the people I meet. I’ll put a small hole in the handle and string it with a cord, then give them away with a reminder of this post. There may come a time when you don’t have enough energy, or love, or compassion, or joy of your own and you need just a little bit more. A spoonful, perhaps. And you’ll have one in reserve for that very occasion.
I might not have a lot, but I have enough. And I’m willing to share.