“What’s it really like to have, you know, a mental illness, like go from normal to disabled?”
Okay so here’s how it is, having Bipolar Disorder for me is like….
It’s like spoons.
Okay so let’s assume, like me you have Bipolar Disorder, bam! Congratulations! You are now mentally ill! (welcome to the club, take a seat) Here you go, – 20 spoons for you to spend as energy currency today. That’s it.
Now what do you need to do today? Remember each task will cost you a spoon.
Your first spoon goes to waking up, after you haven’t slept well because you might be having an episode, anxiety, suicidal ideation, or you had one too many.
Your second spoon goes to making breakfast because if you don’t, you can’t take your bipolar medication and if you skip that, you can throw away tomorrow’s 20 spoons as well.
Spoon number 3 goes to showering and shaving your legs and getting dressed because with brain fog, you can’t remember what you have and because the medication deregulates your body temp and helps keep weight on, you need to find what’s comfiest.
Spoons 4-12 is dedicated to our children (in our case) school chat, Autism home therapies and strategies, school assemblies, school pick up and drop off, family quality time, camp prep, kids parties etc.
We are now left with 8 spoons.
With those 8 spoons, remembering you have a mental illness…you need to work out what’s important.
The following items will cost you a spoon:
Going grocery shopping
Cleaning the bathroom
Putting on the washing / dishwasher
Spending a couple hours on the internet
Visiting a friend
Having a long telephone conversation
The following will cost you two spoons
Sanding cupboards for two hours (one spoon per hour – you are home-ing)
Hauling and lifting plaster
Teaching Recovery (going there, class prep, delivery)
Attending exhibitions (public transport, stations, public)
Writing and giving speeches (public, anxiety, socialising)
Moving and shifting furniture / building items
Supporting your spouse who has disabilities (extra load)
Making cakes, treats and special craft items
Special occasions / functions
Your partner also has 20 spoons each day for his Bipolar Type 2 Disorder but loses an additional spoon for each co-disorder he has:
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Borderline Personality Disorder
So he starts his day with 15 spoons to spend on the above list (as a family) and his own personal list and might need to borrow some of yours…
You might need to cook a few extra times, pick up more chores, take over for the day, costing already allocated spoons so it needs to be juggled around. What you planned to do, you can’t anymore because that spoon has gone elsewhere.
Now don’t forget your son also has autism with uneven developmental delays so he might need extra spoons from you because of his autistic tantrum/s, confusion, school issues or learning delay/s.
Your daughter also has bouts of anxiety whereby some events or circumstances can cause her to ‘anxiety vomit’ (cyclic vomiting syndrome) and so you need to limit the causes, people, situations and circumstances that contribute to that.
Sometimes you wish you were the only one with limited spoons and your family had an unlimited supply to support and nurture you, but, we are a spooning family!
This is what it is like to be blessed to have a disability. ❤️ You have limitations, you have spoons, you just need to think carefully how they are spent and as a family with multiple disabilities, we need to pool them together and count them carefully.
That’s how we roll, because we have to. 👍 But we do so, in gratitude, love, compassion, understanding and loving kindness towards ourselves and others.
The Spoon Theory is written and copyrighted to:
© Christine Miserandino