Spoon theory, for the uninitiated, is a way for people with a host of behavioral issues to explain how they deal with stress.
You are given a certain amount of spoons every day from the great spoon-giver. Each spoon represents the amount of social interaction or physical activity a person can expend before the need for what we’ll call regeneration.
Regeneration usually, for most of us, means spending time alone with our thoughts to process the situation and regain emotional strength to go out into the world and interact again. Those of us who live with social anxiety use spoon theory as a simple way to explain what we go through but we don’t really expect people to understand it. At least I don’t. It’s impossible to empathize unless you can feel it.
Anyway, I have problems on weekends recovering from work. It’s really starting to piss me off, perhaps more so now that it’s so obvious. When things were bad, weekends melted together with workdays since the level of stress and hyper-vigilance was constant.
Although the ‘bad times’ I experienced are receding into the past, the emotional scars remain. I feel them every time I drive onto the property at work. The subdued, yet ever-present feeling that I am always one word away from having the moon and stars fall on me again is always there.
But the overt threat of losing my job or being shot by the police in a botched ‘health and safety check’ is gone and now weekends should be a time for me to ‘do’ and enjoy more than sit and worry.
And yet, Saturday morning arrives and I make it to the couch and find I have a monumental task trying to raise myself back up again and get on with the day. Other than the bed, the couch is my ‘safe place.’
Yesterday I went to the cast dinner for the performance of Listen to Your Mother, an event I have been very much looking forward to.
But yesterday morning I felt entirely empty of strength and filled with worries. It took everything I had to get ready for this happy event. The cast had lunch at Lidia’s and read our written stories to each other. My worries included how I, as the only man in a 12-person cast would be received, and the usual fears about driving downtown exacerbated by the St. Patrick’s Day parade being held at the same time.
As usual, my fears were groundless. Listening to everyone’s stories was literally a transcendent experience. Being around such creative and intelligent people was like breathing pure oxygen for me.
And yet, when I got home, in no time flat, the feeling of excitement and stimulation drained quickly and I was back on the couch, dog tired, wired and fried.
I am so sick of this.
I should be over this. But I should have realized long ago that my conditions, which have waxed and waned my whole life, will be with me always. Thirty years of meds, shrinks, zen training, ‘lifestyle changes,’ weight loss and exercise have not exorcised this beast. I will carry it to my grave.
It is my shadow. I can, under certain conditions, banish it for a period of time or land up in hypomania – where I’m in a fun and creative period making everyone else’s lives miserable.
But it always comes back.
I vent to my wife but she’s heard it all before and I know that my moods affect hers. So I try to keep the feels to myself.
“Why couldn’t this feeling last just a few hours longer,” I asked my wife and the universe.
Why indeed? Would it be so much to ask to at least go to bed feeling the warm afterglow of an enriching, life-affirming experience?
But that’s not the way things work. Every day is a fight, sometimes easier than the day before, sometimes not. Two days are never the same and the differences in mood and energy from one day to the next can be so stark as to be scary.
I must realize that getting angry at the situation or getting angry at myself for not being able to maintain a steady mood state will get me nowhere except more frustrated.
Somehow, at this late stage of a lifelong struggle, I must learn to accept the situation with grace, appreciating the good periods as well as the bad.