When you have a chronic illness like Fibromyalgia, you have a limited amount of energy, and it doesn't always get replenished in the time-frame or in the ways that you think it will. The Spoon Theory is a really helpful tool to help us describe to non-Spoonies how it can feel like energy is a finite and rare resource for us, and even further, helps to explain that we do not wake up with the same amount of energy every day and that all tasks do not require the same amount of energy to complete. Some days we have more, some days we have less, and some days our energy is squandered far more quickly than we think it will be- and there isn't anything we can do about it.
All in all, this adds up to an equation for Spoonies. A decision that we have to make before doing or committing to anything at any time. It's something we do both unconsciously and consciously throughout every day of our existence. We have to decide if we have enough energy to perform a task, and then decide if we will have enough energy left over to do the rest of the things we need to do that day if we DO decide to preform the task in question, THEN we decide whether or not doing the original task is worth it or not. Because of this, tasks and goals are constantly prioritized, reprioritized, put on hold, and sometimes taken off our to-do lists for good.
Why am I talking about this right now? Well, I've been in a bit of a Depression fog lately. My biggest hurdle during this time has been more exaggerated feelings of exhaustion, but also feeling overwhelmed, over-worked, and STUCK in the worst way. I just felt so overly depleted and was never able to rise above my feelings of exhaustion to move forward with anything personal, and just trying to get through a work day was a REAL struggle as well.
About a month ago I looked at how things were going- how I was feeling, my routine, my to-do list, goals, etc.- and surmised that it seemed like this pattern wasn't likely to solve itself with the normal remedies, and so I decided to save my energy and focus on going out and making connections to the world and what I love about it- I needed to do things that made me feel inspired again. I needed a shake-up.
Now, a shake-up of a routine takes energy. It takes change. This meant that I was actively choosing to not do a lot of the things I was doing before I made this decision so that I could have the energy to do the things I wanted to do going forward- things like work on content for and engage with members of the FSC as often as I was doing before.
I will admit that taking a step back from pretty much everything in my life except the bare minimums did come with a pang of guilt- a guilt that I consciously continued to let go of whenever it picked it's ugly head up. I reminded myself that actively choosing to do one thing over another was acceptable, especially when considering WHY I WASN'T doing certain things, and WHY I WAS doing the things I chose to do instead. Whenever feelings of guilt popped up in this time, I'd reflect on my choices on where I was choosing to send my energy and where I was not, and it turns out that I was perfectly happy with where I was choosing to send my energy pretty much every time, and was able to release that guilt fairly quickly (PSA: this is a highly cultivated skill that requires constant work to maintain but has been an absolute life changing life skill- THANK YOU THERAPY!).
As a result of this, I have good news: in the last 4 weeks, I have done some amazingly extraordinary things that have reignited my soul and I feel like I started to push away the depression fog- so my plan is working! I went to see a talk by Neil deGrasse Tyson, saw Hozier in concert, and saw 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' play (parts 1 & 2). It is so important to remember that sometimes life needs an infusion of inspiration and wonder to keep it's luster. This weekend, after weeks of active choices regarding my energy flow and reserves, I finally feel like I may have more energy to give not only to work, but to the other areas of my life next week- YAAASSSSS!!!!
Living with and constantly battling a chronic illness like Fibromyalgia is HARD. Chronic Illness can very easily steal some of the joy from your life if you let it, and sometimes you have to be strategic about your battles, and what it takes to win them. Reminding yourself of the amazing things that life can offer, and that you can continue to experience and enjoy them despite your diagnoses(es) can help to bring that luster back into your life. So if your light hasn't been shining as brightly lately, maybe it's a matter of refocusing where your energy is going. Maybe you need more rest. Maybe you need more art in your life. Maybe you need to spend some time with friends or family. Find out what you need to bring into your life to reignite your soul and then make the choices that will bring that into your life.
Is this easy? Hell to the NO IT IS NOT! But the bottom line is, sometimes with chronic illness, and with life in general, you have to redirect where your energy is going, and sometimes that means "stealing" energy from another part of your life- and that's okay! Remember, it doesn't have to be a forever switch of energy flow, sometimes you just need to redirect the flow a little to get through a low-point, or a different stage in your life, but if a forever switch is needed, that's okay too! Listening to yourself and giving yourself what you need not just to survive, but to thrive, is so important, and I hope you're able to redirect where you're spending your energy if you need to without holding on to guilt- because the guilt isn't worth it, but you sure as hell are.
Heather, FSC Founder