Healer, Heal Thyself

Some of you may be familiar with “Spoon Theory“. In short, spoon theory says that when you live with a disability, you have a limited number of spoons, or energy to do things, each day. Some days, you have more, other days less. Some days you end up overextending and borrowing from the next day.

burning matchesThen I heard about matchstick theory. It resonated so much more with me than spoon theory. And lately, I’ve been burning my matches a lot. And fast.

It’s bringing up quite a conundrum for me. On the one hand, I was in a car accident when I was young, and I have lived with chronic pain ever since. A lot of the time, I can pretend like it never happened. As long as I don’t push myself too hard, that is. Even then, I don’t often know that I’ve pushed too hard until it is too late. Because when I am busy, and doing the work, I don’t notice the pain. Until I stop.

I’ve been told I’m going to have pain for the rest of my life. And when I’ve burned all my matches, and I’m in a lot of pain, that thought gets me down. I have trouble seeing past it.

On the other hand, I believe that I am capable of healing. Our bodies completely renew themselves every seven years. I believe that Jesus and Buddha and Muhammad were examples of our next stage of evolution, and that even in recent times there have been gifted individuals who have miraculous healing abilities.

I have tools like Reiki that I use regularly. I take supplements to rejuvenate my body. I stretch every day so that I can move (and I hurt more when I don’t stretch). I see a chiropractor regularly, and a massage therapist as often as I can afford one. I meditate. I clear my chakras, and envision myself healthy and whole.

And I haven’t found the magic fix yet.

There is so much societal shame around disability. We’re all supposed to be contributing members of society, working 40 hours a week to pay for food and shelter, working more to keep that shelter clean and tidy, volunteering our free time to a worthy cause, and make sure you go on dates to keep your romance alive! And if you can’t do all that, you’re lazy. For many, these standards are unattainable.

Even I can see it is unrealistic, yet I continue to push myself to do more and more, and get frustrated when I can’t do it all. There’s a part of me that is angry that I still experience pain, depressed that my body does not have the stamina it did when I was younger. I believe I can heal, so why haven’t I?

Because belief is hard to maintain in the face of pain. When my joints ache when I stand up, and it takes me a few steps to get steady on my feet; when the ache in my head has been there for days and I can’t turn my head without extra pain; when my body protests that 10,000 steps are too many; the idea of being pain-free seems like a pipe dream.

I won’t give up, though. I will keep stretching, and visualizing, and learning. And I WILL heal.



Running out of Spoons

I don’t generally think of myself as someone who has to worry about running out of spoons. If you’re not familiar with Spoon Theory, it is a metaphor that those who experience chronic illness use to explain how they have to plan their day(s) according to how much energy they have and how much their illness is affecting them. You can read the more thorough explanation here.

spoon theory chronic painI do experience chronic pain, and have since I was young. I have good days and bad days. On high pain days, I have to go slower. But most of the time, I recover pretty quickly when I overdo.  I definitely have it a lot easier than many people that I know.

Lately I have been experiencing both physical and mental health issues. They’ve combined to completely sap my energy. I think I’ve been running on fumes for a while, and denying it, pushing myself to keep going. It’s a vicious cycle – poor mental health leads to poor physical health which leads to worse mental health…

And now I’m empty. Or nearly. I don’t recall ever feeling no motivation before. I’ve had more than one day where I don’t want to do anything. It’s really frightening, really. There are projects I want to do, or feel I ought to do. And I can’t seem to bring myself to do them. Even writing this blog post has taken hours to write. I write a few lines, and then get distracted. I have no focus.

Thankfully, I have support. And people to remind me of all the things I often recommend to others – to be gentle with myself, allow myself the time and space to heal. Pushing myself to achieve more isn’t going to make the struggle go away. I didn’t get to this place overnight, I can’t expect to be healed overnight.

It’s not easy for Wonder Woman to take a break. And it is DEFINITELY not easy for me, at least in my mind, to not achieve. In practice, it’s amazing how quickly the days go by watching Netflix and playing games on my phone. I have to work on not beating myself up about it, though.

It’s going to get easier. I am getting better. I have to trust that this is all part of the process. And I’ve got the words from one of Shane Koyczan’s new poem/songs going through my head:

I may look like debris
But I’m a masterpiece
My next heartbeat
Deserves a press release.

~ Shane Koyczan, Debris