Mental health

Ugly Truth 008: Spoon Theory is Real

Do not try and bend the spoon, that’s impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth…there is no spoon. Then you’ll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself. – The Matrix Dear Readers, This week, I did something kind for someone else at the expense of myself. Perhaps this is why kindness is so rare, because it does indeed come at a cost. The truth is, Spoon Theory deeply applies when you have a chronic illness, even in the face of intrinsically motivated choices. If you’re not familiar with the idea, Spoon Theory is a disability metaphor that suggests you are allowed a fixed number of spoons each day in terms of energy, and you must decide carefully how to spend your spoons. Likewise, when they are gone, they are gone. When you have a health condition of any kind, you must divy up your time in a strategic way so as to ensure your most basic needs are met. This may be in the form of a shower, cooking, cleaning, socializing or working. Once fatigue sets in, you’re out of moves for the day. This is why you’ve might of heard me say, “I’m out of spoons.” Currently, I work as a Caregiver to a family with great needs. They are good people who have entrusted me to help them. Having worked in the industry for ten years I have come across all types of people. So far I have learned that I am passionate about helping those with a legitimate need, rather than a convenience of good wealth. I am someone who craves work with a purpose, but even I have my limitations. Still, I pushed through an act of kindness this week and not only was it recognized, but rewarded. Naturally, I suffered physically for my efforts, but at the end of the day I felt good about this small victory. After a blundering week of tears and losses, I had some wins to be accounted for. I find relief in assigning pain a function. Suffering allows compassion and unconditional love. The truth is, reciprocity is the key when achieving kindness through sacrifice, and we must share our spoons wisely. When was the last time you lifted a burden for someone else? Additional Reading: The Surprising Risks of Being Nice, The StartUp **If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!** For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide! In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!
Mental health

7 Truths About Mental Illness Related Fatigue

“I often wished that more people understood the invisible side of things. Even the people who seemed to understand, didn’t really.”

Jennifer Starzec, Determination (5k, Ballet, #2)

Dear Readers,

Fatigue is one of the most stigmatized topics in mental health. Often times onlookers suspect an embellishment or falsehood of some kind. Even more often, age discrimination becomes real. Things like, “Be grateful you’re so young and healthy…” or “You just slept 12 hours, how could you be tired?…” or “Why can’t you get out of bed?…” really drive a knife into my side. Afterall, how could I possibly be advantageous enough to educate someone who just doesn’t know any better when I can’t lift my own legs?

Fatigue, or excessive exhaustion resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness, is a complex issue and often manifests itself differently in a wide range of circumstances. The same can be said within the realm of mental health alone, as exhaustion varies and fluctuates from one individual to the next. See below for the various ways fatigue presents itself in my life, and how different symptoms require different coping skills.

1. Insomnia

The inability to fall asleep.

2. Sleep Disturbances

The inability to stay asleep.

3. Anxiety

The ever energy-consuming disorder that is the physical manifestation of a psychological event. Symptoms include shaking, nausea, changes in cardiac health, disproportionate fear, crying, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, numbness or tingling in the extremeties, trouble breathing and chest pain.

4. Bi-Polar Disorder

Mania

Racing thoughts, increased energy, pressured speech, grand ideas with no real execution, psychosis, decreased need for sleep – all from which there will be a hard-hitting physical crash.

Depression

Loss of interest, loss of appetite and general apathy all lead to feelings of fatigue. Ironically, depression can be a saving grace as it often results in a significant paralysis that leaves you unable to execute self destructive behavior.

5. PTSD

Nightmares, hypervigilance, guilt, flashbacks, sensory input and overstimulation all contribute to an inflamed sense of stress and insomnia.

6. Chronic Pain & Migraines

Inflammation, swelling, paralysis, joint, bone & nerve pain related to a slipped disc in my spine resulting in sciatic nerve compression, trouble walking and episodic pain flares. Migraines consistent with auras, tension, nausea, light sensitivity, and writhing pain.

7. Medication

Medication side effects may include restlessness, insomnia, drowsiness, or sedation.

It doesn’t take a scholar to understand how draining these experiences can be. Add to that morning exhaustion a full plate of daily obligation and you have yourself the perfect recipe for a total nervous breakdown, complete with snot bubbles. So, what’s my answer to all this?

MAKE SELF-CARE A PRIORITY.

INTERRUPT THE BLAMING, SHAMING, SELF LOATHING CYCLE.

KNOW WHEN TO ASK FOR HELP OR SAY NO.

SLOWLY RETURN TO THE THINGS YOU LOVE.

EMPATHIZE WITH YOURSELF.

My hope is that this post will serve as a resource for those who may not understand the sleepy behaviors of their loved ones, as well as promote awareness and tolerance in otherwise difficult situations. Additionally, may it serve as a validating referral for those of you who suffer.

**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!**

For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!

In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!