The stress, hurt, and fear piles on creating a jagged mountain of distress. Then, all it takes is a feather landing on top or a whisper of breath for it all to come tumbling down. The taste of blood in the back of my throat, a raging migraine, and my heart beating out of my chest – the consequences of holding it all in for so long. Afterward, there is clarity and motivation to carry on.
One “black day” is manageable, most of the time. Many of them crammed on top of each other can feel insurmountable. These “black days” have been plentiful recently, and respite is nowhere in sight. Instead of feeling desperation and defeat there is numbness. Even anger is unable to be roused leaving a sense of complacency and acceptance. There is still hope for the seed of happiness to sprout and grow, but for now, it is firmly buried under the weight of too many “black days.”
Imagine if we could see the emotional pain and scars represented on the skin of those around us. Festering, oozing, open sores on the skin of those still trapped in their pain and black and blue bruises covering the bodies of those beginning to heal. What about those with scars? Some may hide the scars, embarrassed by their pain and past struggle even though they had to be so very strong just to survive. Those with scars that show, uncovered in the sun, for all to see may be the strongest of all. These are the scars of people who were strong enough to survive, heal, and continue living despite their past. How different would we relate to people if we could see their internal pain? How different would we present ourselves if our past was visible on our skin?
I found Spoon Theory at a time in my life when I refused to listen to my body. When I was sick, exhausted, and in intense pain, I’d take a pill and carry on. Sounds brave, doesn’t it? Ignorant is a better word to describe my behavior during that time. Pushing myself and ignoring my body only increased the number and severity of my symptoms. Eventually, the pills stopped working, and I was left bedridden. Budgeting my time and energy and learning to listen to my body allows me to be more productive than ever before. I’m proud to be a Spoonie!
I know for a fact that if I had a traditional “physical disease” people in my life would be more understanding. For some reason crippling depression, complex PTSD, and migraines that not only offer blinding pain but impaired cognitive function are “all in my head” and I should be able to “get over it.” My family would not be embarrassed or disappointed in me because of my illnesses. My boss and co-workers may not have accused me of “faking it to get out of work,” and maybe I’d still have my job. But I don’t have a traditional “physical disease,” so I must work harder to heal and overcome the stigma others, with no concept of my ailments, place upon me.
Learning about Spoon Theory changed my life and made it livable. I’ve always been the kind of person who pushed through any illness or pain to get the job done. When I became chronically ill, this attitude only exacerbated my illness. I’ve had to change my outlook on life, learn to say “No,” and maintain a schedule to accomplish what is most important. No matter how much I want to, there are things I will not do because the consequences outweigh the benefit.
Chronic migraines brought me to my knees, and I have no desire to return to that position. Some days I feel good and energetic, ready to take on the world but my body has limits and forces me to adjust. Instead of pushing through it I must slow down and rest, or the consequence will be severe and painful. It is a dance I am still learning and a new way to face life, much different than the way I was raised. There is no use in me overexerting myself if it leaves me in bed with agonizing pain for days afterward. Conservation and the careful use of precious resources is a priority in this new phase of my life.