Bipolar 2 From Inside and Out

Social But Spoonless

In the past week I have been out of the house more and seen more people than I have in years. It’s almost like having a social life.

In the past week I have also slept more than I usually do in my sloth-like, torpid existence.

I think the two are not unrelated.

If you follow Spoon Theory ( you know that each spoon represents an amount of coping that you can do.

Every day you get a certain number of spoons – not the same number every day.  You use them to perform everyday tasks that most people think nothing of – things like getting out of bed (some days you don’t even have that spoon), taking a shower (1/2 spoon for Janet’s patented “super-fast smelly-bits sink wash-up”), getting dressed, finding something to eat, fixing that something (keep a box of Cheerios by the bed in case you run out of spoons at this point), and all that is without even leaving the house. Some days that’s all the spoons you have and when you’ve used up your spoons, that’s it.

Other days you can manage to do all that and leave the house, go to work, run errands, and assorted other normal activities. But for those of us who have mental disorders, such days are few and far between.

You hear depressed people talk of not being able to get out of bed, and for the most part that’s caused by lack of spoons. I am usually notoriously low on spoons. My husband now understands Spoon Theory and we use it as common shorthand for “I’m too tired” or “That’s all I can handle right now.”

Dan, however, is an over-scheduler and I often have to rein him in by pointing out that his proposed slate of activities will not be possible because I, for one, will run out of spoons, and he may too.

The dry run for my recent spurt of socializing began last week. After I went for my final session with Dr R., I managed a trip to the bank, a trip to the place where I could pay my power bill, and since it was right next door, a stop at Kmart to buy underwear. It was a good thing that was a hypomanic day, but it floored me for the rest of that day and the next. And it started a cycle of bipolar up-and-down oscillations that were clearly related to spoon usage.

My spate of social endeavors started with a double-header. On Saturday I had lunch with a friend at a favorite restaurant I almost never get to go to. We talked about politics, social issues, and book proposals. Then I went home and had a little nap.

That evening Dan and I went to Monkey Bones for Zombie Dogz. I know that takes a little explaining. Monkey Bones is the tattoo studio where I got my semicolon tattoo ( Zombie Dogz is a local food truck. (Also, it’s fun to say “We went to Monkey Bones for Zombie Dogz.”)

Notice that in a single day I had to get up, out of bed, and get dressed twice. That’s a lot of spoons. Sunday I was not able to get out of bed at all.

Monday did not involve socializing, but it was another hellacious spoon-eater. Dan and I spent the day scrounging for documents and information that the IRS wanted. It was taxing. (See what I did there?)

Tuesday was an extra-special social event, though it did not involve getting dressed and going out, or even interacting with other people. It was Jenny Lawson’s online book launch party. Better known as the Bloggess, Jenny has severe social anxiety. At this stage in my life, I certainly would not be able to dress up, mingle, and make polite conversation with both friends and complete strangers. The online party was a genius idea.

I sat at home in my pajamas with some red wine while the Bloggess read chapters from her new book, Furiously Happy. (You should get it, by the way. It’s about mental illness, but funny.) As low-key a social situation as that was, it still used up spoons because it was something I had never done before. Making sure I had the right URL, converting Central Time to Eastern, not being able to ask questions because I don’t Tweet, worrying that Dan was getting bored – not a lot a lot of spoons, but still some.

The effects were getting cumulative. Again I was unable to get out of bed the next day. In fact, Dan and I both slept away most of the daylight hours. For him it’s understandable because he works third shift, but I have no such excuse. Except that if you borrow from the next day’s spoons, or try to keep going without them, you will pay.

Thursday, I was determined, with or without spoons, I was going to meet a friend for coffee. I’ve seen her only once, briefly, in several years. In a way, it was a test of my ability to maintain anything approaching a real social life.

I put forth the extra effort because a mutual friend cut her ties with me because I canceled so often on social engagements. I suppose I really have nothing to prove to anyone but myself but it seems important that I do so. It’s not like coffee with a friend is an ordeal or anything. It’s just that I know I’ll be using a spoon for more than stirring my coffee.

And I hope I have enough spoons left over to work on my other blog.

Comments on: "Social But Spoonless" (3)

  1. Janet, does that resemble my unwillingness/inability to go downstairs? My head says there are things to be done; the rest of me can’t put one foot in front of the other to go down the stairs. I’ve come to realize that I really don’t know where anything is in this house — that after being here two years. SOSDD.


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