Sunday, May 1, 2011

selecting my spoons

Here is another post for blogging against disablism day.
Christine's spoons theory basically says that you start the day out with a certain number of spoons, choices energy, and everything else that goes into functioning. Unlike healthy, able-bodied people, it's about making choices of how to accomplish everything. I am totally blind, have mild scoliosis and joint pain, and have depression. The depression manifests itself as inability to concentrate, little motivation to do anything ensomnia and overall tiredness. Healthy people tell me just go and do it; it's no big deal. My response is always, if i could think myself emotional, energetic, and able to do whatever I want, I would do it in a second.
Here are some choices for the day.
First of all, do I want to get up; the answer to this one is always yes, even if it is only to feed and relieve my guide dog. Next is the choice to go to class; currently it's nearing the end of the semester, and I have to go to class to turn in papers, get final notes, and take exams. Do I want to take my cane, which could be painful depending if my muscles are stiff and my joints don't want to move as easily as they should, or do I want to take my guide dog, who has lately not been guiding well. Do I want to take the long way to class or take the shortcut which gives me an extra five minutes? If I am feeling disoriented, it has just snowed, there is noise and a lot of people around, I sometimes take the long way because it is a straight line and a right turn two blocks from the bus stop. If I have managed to sleep for more than four hours and have had water in the morning, I am more likely to take the zig-zag path across the quad and won't be confused by campus life. The second decision for the day is do I want to get lunch on campus, and if so, where? Sometimes I am just too exhausted by 1:30 that I just head straight to the bus to go to my apartment, even though it is not good for my health or concentration to skip a meal. If I decide to eat on campus, I usually end up at the pizza shop because it has only one line for ordering and checkout, unlike everywhere else that has food; this limits me to unhealthy pizza, strombolis, or wraps, but if i eat at all, it's a good sign. The other place I might choose is the husky lounge; this has sandwiches, grilled food, smoothies, entres, vegetables, and to-go food like apples and bananas. I just can't deal with all the people some days; I start panicking about it an hour or so before I have to go there. I sometimes feel dizzy and I have to keep asking people where the line is and if I am at the end of whatever line I want. Once I get my food from there, I have to find which, out of four registers, is open today, and I sometimes get lost in the place. Also, Dee is sometimes distracted by food on the ground and college students who think it is funny to throw things at her or anyone who wants to approach and ask invasive questions about my blindness or my dog or share info about some disabled person or their pet who died last month or last year. Once I get home with my food, I go to work; I help blind children and adults learn to read Braille, use technology, or learn daily activities like how to cook, tie their shoes, or use the phone. Most days it is children, who usually take the rest of my patience and energy. By the time I get home, do I want to eat dinner? Going to campus to get food is almost always a no; that is time waiting for the bus, a 10-minute ride to campus, at least a 10-minute walk to food, dealing with all the people, and the walk and bus back to the apartment. Since I was tired earlier and went to work, I didn't have time to find someone to take me grocery shopping, so I barely have food in the apartment. I pop in a frozen pizza or ramen noodles, more unhealthy chemically-laden food, or I place an order for delivery. Next is homework. I usually can't concentrate for more than a half hour at a time, which is exacerbated if I do not like the text of the books or research I am reading. It takes me at least an hour to write a page, and when I have to rescan articles, find all of my audio bookmarks, and figure out how to organize the info, I'm exhausted again. This leaves me no energy or time to socialize, which makes the depression worse since I've isolated myself from other people. My thoughts are racing like a hampster on a wheel, which means I get 5.5 hours of sleep on a good night and less than four on a bad one. The cycle of selecting which spoons I can give up starts all over again the next day, and able-bodied neurotypical classmates and friends wonder why some days I choose to sleep on the weekends and only leave to relieve and walk Dee.


  1. I am sorry your college does not add to your spoon count ... by ensuring no student distracts your dog, by providing assistance at the food service sites, and generally society providing you with the means to employ someone to ensure you have food, and someone to prepare it for you if you are working. This I know is an ideal world, but shows I hope that it is not your needs that are the problem, but a civilised society not providing for the basic human needs - food and rest - of you who contribute so much to your community. Do you have spare spoons to explain this (as you have done so completely here) to your college and any other available service providers. Best wishes

  2. I came to your blog via Blogging Against Disablism Day, and I really enjoyed reading your post. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Most times the food service people are helpful, but they too distract my dog by clapping hands and stuff to get her to follow them instead of giving me directions. And when I'm in a good part of my depression cycle, traveling independently isn't a problem, and I also enjoy cooking for people and baking. But when it's not, i stick with convenience foods, sigh.@Sally

  4. Sorry people are so inconsiderate and selfish.
    The load of sh*t you contend with should make you Queen of Spoons.
    Thanks for sharing this with all of us. Say hello to Dee.
    Paula Apodaca

  5. There's never enough spoons, are there? And I wish people would realize that they are stealing them on you, and make different choices. Glad to be able to read your BADD post (even if I'm a few days late).

  6. Sometimes there aren't enough; I guess that's why there are reserves, sigh. Thanks for reading!
    @Never That Easy