The Spoon Theory

34862F5FThe last two days have been sort of wearing on me.  It was busy, filled with a lot of people time that just wears me down and needing a time to nap-not as much to sleep as to just “power down.”

Some of this exhaustion is related to my Aspergers.  Unlike others, someone with autism has a more limited “power source” which can get depleted rather quickly.  It means taking more time to recharge, but of course in the real world, you are asked to keep going, even though you don’t have much to give.  When you go for so long on empty, hilarity ensues, and when I mean hilarity, I mean I become a cranky jackass.

In someways, it’s a slow motion meltdown and what I’m saying is that I can’t continue anymore without recharging.  But to most people, it just comes accross as the bitch from hell.

The blog Inner Aspie, explains this well:

This kind of issue is usually cleverly camouflaged by quick moving moods, that tend to appear,and fade without warning in depths that make little sense.  Inside, I am a confused, tired, worn out mess, which gives way for my moods to take auto pilot, making me sensitive, and cranky.  On the inside, I am dying for a quiet moment from the outside pressures.  I am needing to regenerate alone, with some quiet, nonsocial pressure.  On the outside, it looks like I am being moody, and maybe even inconsiderate.  If I need to go to an important meeting, or make a social appearance I usually can, and will with what looks like ease, only to switch back to being a total witch the moment I am in a more private setting. This looks to others like I am being purposefully rude, and choosing to be moody.  “After all, she can control it around others, so why is she so snappy to me when we get home?” Is something a loved one of an autistic person might say if they’re in a situation where the autistic person is on social overload.  It’s because I can only keep up with this facade for so long.  If pushed beyond my limit I will have a meltdown in front of others,as well.  I do try my best to never let that happen, and it is very rare that it does, but let me assure you, it can.

People with autism try to cover up their exhaustion because, you don’t always have the choice of backing out of something because your tired.  Neurotypicals don’t understand and in some cases don’t even care.  But you can only act for so long.

Another way to describe this is using the “Spoon Theory.”  I’ve seen it used initially with someone with Lupus, but it can be used for autism as well. Here’s a taste:

At that moment, the spoon theory was born. I quickly grabbed every spoon on the table; hell I grabbed spoons off of the other tables. I looked at her in the eyes and said “Here you go, you have Lupus”. She looked at me slightly confused, as anyone would when they are being handed a bouquet of spoons. The cold metal spoons clanked in my hands, as I grouped them together and shoved them into her hands.

I explained that the difference in being sick and being healthy is having to make choices or to consciously think about things when the rest of the world doesn’t have to. The healthy have the luxury of a life without choices, a gift most people take for granted.

Most people start the day with unlimited amount of possibilities, and energy to do whatever they desire, especially young people. For the most part, they do not need to worry about the effects of their actions. So for my explanation, I used spoons to convey this point. I wanted something for her to actually hold, for me to then take away, since most people who get sick feel a “loss” of a life they once knew. If I was in control of taking away the spoons, then she would know what it feels like to have someone or something else, in this case Lupus, being in control.

Read the whole thing.  Think about a loved one that has MS or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Lupus or Autism.  Realize that life is a lot more challenging for them and give them a little bit of grace, for God’s sake.


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