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If the Spoon Theory Was a Video Game

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It was a normal Monday morning for me. I had to go to another doctor’s appointment with yet another new doctor that I had been referred to, since no one has been able to give me a definitive diagnosis or health care plan despite two years of trying. I was getting ready to leave the house when I was overcome with this feeling of dread and despair. No matter how hard I tried, I simply couldn’t convince myself to get in the car and drive to this new doctor’s office, even though I felt OK physically on this particular day. The thought of having to start over (again), explaining my whole medical history, my complex symptoms, and my treatments thus far was just too overwhelming. I called my husband crying, telling him I just couldn’t go that day. That’s when my husband told me something that made so much sense to me, I thought I should share it here.

I had previously explained the Spoon Theory to my husband. He understood that sometimes, I would run out of “spoons” and my body wouldn’t allow me to participate in chores, parties, etc. This time, though, he said I must have run out of emotional spoons. He knew that seeking help for so long with very little results was just emotionally draining for me and I had hit a wall that day. He said, “You’re not just out of HP today… you’re out of MP.” For those of you unfamiliar with these terms, “HP” is health or “hit points” and “MP” is mana or “magic points” in many video games. When you run out of HP in a game, you die (game over, usually). When you run out of MP, however, you can’t cast any spells, use your weapon/shield, or perform other actions and you have to replenish your MP before you can do those things again. When he said that I was out of MP it struck a chord. He was right on the money. I felt pretty good, physically, that day (full HP), but I was completely emotionally drained (no MP left). He told me to just cancel the appointment and relax for the day. The stress of seeing a new doctor was just too much to handle until I could replenish my MP.

I did something that day which I don’t always do (as I’m a bit stubborn): I did what my husband told me to do! I stayed home and reenergized myself emotionally so I could go back to the grind the next day of battling a chronic illness without a specific diagnosis. I felt rather pathetic about it until my husband told me it was OK to be emotionally overwhelmed by the whole process. Usually people talk about the stress of coping with a specific diagnosis, but just the search for an answer can be very stressful in and of itself. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, lost, or down on the journey, just know that it’s OK to be out of MP for a bit. It will come back and you can continue the fight. It’s not game over and you’re not alone!

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Thinkstock photo by michal-rojek

Originally published: April 7, 2017
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