On spoons and other matters

So, a fresh delivery of spoons has been accumulating.  The problem with spoons being that they seem to run out all at once, but so many people have them on back-order that they arrive in drips and drabs and you hardly notice they’ve come in, until one day you (by which I mean “I”) realize that you have a brain, and energy, again.

The realization that I once again have full access to my brain came yesterday, as I was staring moodily at the blank computer page where a chapter should have been taking form.  I had written out what I thought the next scene should be, but then I realized that. . .it was boring.  I needed magic! sparkle! energy! And I said to myself, “What is the most magical thing in the sea?”

And I remember this true story from my own past.

It was 1978; Steve and I had been given the use my friend David’ beach house in Hatteras Village for a week.  David’s house was on stilts, and the only thing between it and the ocean was the house directly in front of it, which was designed on an ancient flying saucer blueprint.  It also sat on stilts.  I guess they thought it would float, in the event of a storm tide.

In any case, one morning, I was walking on the beach, and came across three guys, fishing.  And one of the guys had just brought his catch up onto the sand — I could see that it was a Really Big Fish.  As I came up to the group, one of the other guys had cut the line, and the fish was flailing, and seemed to be trying to bite — anything, really.  The guys kinda moved away, and I said, “What kind of fish is that?”

“Oh,” said the one whose line had been cut.  “That’s just a sand shark.”

This is a sand shark

Notice how most of his head is mouth?  A mouth full of lots and lots of teeth?  I want to tell you that, drowning and furious and desperate as it was, it impressed the hell out of me.

Later that day,  I was playing the the surf, and staring down through this incredibly clear, turquoise water at the rays, and the fish, and all.  Prompted by who knows what, I looked up, and to my right — and there, coming toward me fast, was a dorsal fin.

I flashed on the sand shark, and knew, for one very long moment, as I stared at that fin flying toward me, that I was going to die.

And then the dolphin broke water not an arm’s length away, arcing high into the sky, and grinning down at me, with a “Got you!” gleam in his eye.

And I laughed, and it was magic.

. . .and I knew then what to write in that blank screen that was supposed to be the next chapter.

It really is good when your brain works.

. . .which brings us back to spoons, the losing and regathering of same.

Yesterday, I came across this.  I suggest you all read it.  Yes, right now; I’ll wait.

Back?  Cool.

As far as my own experience goes, the tips are pretty much dead on.  If it were my list, I would repeat  Point 19 several times.  I would, indeed, print out Point 19 and tack it up where I could see it.

I would likewise repeat and print out Point 14.

If it were my list, I would add naming a Designated Hitter, if at all possible; someone who will answer important emails, make necessary phone calls, and keep the mundane stuff up and running while you’re not able to do so.

But, really, that’s a niggle.  Excellent tips; well-said, and well-presented.


Today, it’s raining, and it’s looking like me and Mozart on the couch with a yellow pad, planning out the next bit of story.

I’m looking forward to that.

* * *

Progress on Carousel Seas

28,952/100,000 OR 28.95% complete

Ah! How she yearned to learn the truth of herself, and to know whether that hauteur was earned. . .or a pose.



13 thoughts on “On spoons and other matters”

  1. Not quite sure what any of it has to do with spoons, but okay.
    I’ll agree. Also, have “comfort food” for your mind, including the “ultra-dark, madly expensive, only get it out for the most dire occasions” things to read/watch/listen to. Bookmark them on your computer, put them in careful protective casing on your book/CD/DVD shelves, and pull them out as needed.

    Your (Lee & Miller) books are the Special Dark Semi-Sweet Chocolate comfort food for a lot of us. Special, but not the ‘save for the darkest days’ rare for many of us.

  2. Good list. #12 is one I would tack up for more than depression–for parents of autistic kids, for instance, whose relatives or neighbors insist there’s nothing wrong with the child but bad parenting. People that deny your reality–whatever the problem is–just suck all the energy out of you. They’re abusers, often without intending to be. #14 and #19, yes, also.

    The only good thing about depression over the long haul is that if you’re surviving, you’re learning a boatload of coping skills–both general, like the list, and individual, what works with your particular biochemistry and circumstance. You learn triggers for it, the early signs of an impending fall off the cliff into the bottomless pit…and you have some rescue tricks to try. (These days, I usually catch myself no more than 10 meters down the cliff. Sometimes I can even stop the fatal slide toward the cliff (ice axe slammed into the mental glacier before I reach the crevasse…)

    Although for me, the soft comfortable clothes (as opposed to the “good looking” clothes) are a crucial part of self-care…I feel better when the amount of physical discomfort is less.

  3. Thanks for the post and links. That was really good for me to read today. I need to remember to save some spoons for the taxes that still need to be completed. I think I’ll take a knitting break, maybe swatch some of the fun yarn I recently spun and think of what I’m going to make with it. Creativity time helps.

  4. I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten a lot better about knowing when the downslide is coming, and, yeah, sometimes I can short-circuit it. Not, alas, always. But, having survived before, and knowing its survivable, helps. The worst part is when you lose your brain and you *don’t remember* how to cope.

    I think clothes that make you feel confident and “good looking” clothes are different? My best clothes are jeans and a flannel shirt (winter)/t-shirt (summer); I feel comfortable doing what I want to do, and that I’m ready for anything. I also put on my rings and my moon necklace, because I like to wear them.

    You’re not going to find me “looking good” in heels and a suit — wearing that kind of stuff reminds me of working in an office, which was…depressing.

  5. Thank you. The brother who lives with me has depression – something neither I nor the rest of my family (and we are of an age with you) knew until about 7 years ago when he couldn’t “slam the ice axe”. It is working well for us but I do wish I was more adept at sensing when things may not be so “good” with him. And what I could do to help.

  6. Most people who have depression have really good acting skills. It springs from the same instinct that makes a cat seek out a hiding place when she’s ill.

    When you feel awful, and “know” you’re worthless, and your brain isn’t working so good, the last thing you want is for someone to notice the blood on the water. (“And besides,” whispers the Liar, Depression, “it’s not like you’re *sick*, is it?”) So you dissemble. You learn how to smile, and to ask the right questions, and to answer with the correct ritual answers (“How’re you doing?” asks an office mate, who really doesn’t want to know. “Fine!” you chirp.)

    So, you (both) have years of survival expertise to fight against. Maybe show your brother the tip list? ’cause it’s not on you to figure out when he needs help; he (if he wishes to do so) needs to ask.

  7. You are the second friend in the last few days who has sent me that list, without knowing why it’s appropriate. I need it because I am hanging on until the first week in May to see a new doctor and hopefully get my meds back. When your primary insurance is Medicare it is VERY difficult to get taken on as a new patient. Two doctors have retired on me in the last few years and each time it gets harder to find another. Regardless of politics, I want everyone into the system so maybe SOMETHING can be done to fix it. Ooops, not hiding well enough 🙂

  8. I found both the list and the spoons very helpful. It is often very hard to explain to my family that sometimes getting out of bed is a triumph. I don’t look sick. I am good at looking like I am managing even when I’m not. I once told a friend that she could tell I was feeling worse when I didn’t wear both some make-up and earrings. Then I made myself put both on every time I saw her so she wouldn’t feel bad that I was struggling. Teaching my partner not to ask,”are you depressed?” or “do you need to see your psychiatrist?” is an ongoing struggle. I hate feeling managed or poked at. Spring is helpful, my spoons usually come home in Spring.

  9. I’m for # 17 – I have to be *very* careful about what I read or watch, because it can affect my mood for days.

    Liaden books are comfort food for me. As is Lois Bujold. As are mindless romances, because I *know* everything will work out just find in them.

  10. Thank you for sharing Sharon! The 21 tips, the spoon theory, the insight into the creative process with the sand shark/dolphin story.
    The birth of my children sparked postpartum depression in me that has just settled into a whacked out brain chemistry and ongoing depression. As the 21 tips have laid out, we learn to cope and still find joy in life; even if its not what the ‘happy people’ define as joy.

  11. Thank you for this. I’ve shown the post on The Spoon Theory to my spouse, and I know that it has helped him to understand me and my depression better. I’ll show him the List of 21, too.

    To the list of good authors, besides you and Lois Bujold, may I add Kerry Greenwood – I’m currently on my 2nd run through her mysteries, clever and positive.

    Thanks to Goodreads for keeping me up to date on your blog.

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