Seriously, I’m grand.
Life under Covid-19 lockdown isn’t massively different for me than my version of normal. The biggest differences are that I’ve spent much longer on the phone than previously, and that when I order my weekly groceries, the official wait time for deliveries is 2 to 3 weeks.
It does feel somewhat that everyone else is getting in on my act. They are taking my delivery slots, using my mobile broadband and planning their outings. We’re coming to the end of March, and I’ve spent more time out of my house this month than I did last month.
I spent today with my head under a metaphorical duvet. This is not unusual for me, but I have reflected on why I chose that strategy today. It’s because I had intended to call back two people who called me during the week, and who I would really like to catch up with. I didn’t answer their calls when they came because I was resting or asleep when they called. This, also, is not unusual for me.
What is unusual is the sheer volume of calls and messages. It is nice when my neighbours call to let me know I can ask them if I need anything. But catch-up calls are a different matter. It’s got me thinking again about social spoons.
If you don’t know about spoons, read about the Spoon Theory on TheSpoonTheory.com.* It’s a concept related to pacing, which anyone who’s ever used an OT will be familiar with. To be fair, I didn’t know what Occupational Therapy was, even after I shared a room in college with someone who is now a professor of Occupational Therapy. I only encountered OT as a client when I first stayed in hospital attempting to get a diagnosis for my chronic pain condition. (That was in 2007, and I got my diagnosis of Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder in 2019).
Both Spoon Theory and pacing are about managing your limited energy and resources. There’s room in the market for a lovely app to help manage spoons, and design a pacing plan – I use a combo of 3 or 4 apps to do this. Having followed intensive pacing plans and found ways to pace myself under a variety of circumstances, I still have a huge problem with social spoon management.
Social encounters are important. They are so important that the HSE deliberately cut back on supports for “social hours” about 10 years ago. And my friends and family mean a lot to me. But it takes spoons to give someone quality attention. And the problem with managing those types of spoons is that you don’t want to take a break after 20 minutes of conversation. You want to keep going and get as much as you can from the contact. And then you’re fucked for the rest of the day. Or the week.
Maybe I need to think of these as “Emotional Spoons” rather than “Social Spoons”. After all, some people take more emotional work than others to spend time with, even if that work is worth it in the long run. I’m sure everyone (i.e. not just spoonies) has avoided a difficult conversation, or kept someone at arm’s length because something else needs your attention. And a good social interaction may be one where you leave with as many spoons as you arrived with – every spoon you spent on the other person gets replaced by the spoons that person spends on you. Maybe that’s asking too much. After all, the original “Spoon Theory” article revolves around the emotional power of how you choose to spend your spoons.
So really, I’m grand. The lockdown is more or less normal life for me. I had to rearrange or cancel several medical appointments during February (before the ZomPock). The bad weather and lack of access to transport was a bigger barrier to me having a life outside my house than any public health concerns. Two things I would ask, though: please don’t expect my capacity for long conversations to be magically increased because you suddenly have time on your hands. And maybe, when it’s all over, remember what it was like. Then, by all means, give me a call.
* I couldn’t access either TheSpoonTheory.com or ButYouDontLookSick.com this evening – it looks like the site is down. It does, however, have a Wiki page: The Spoon Theory on Wikipedia