Spoonie Thread: Caring for Others on Limited Spoons

Welcome to the Spoonie thread, a place for all your rants, ravings, and tales of medical woe.

What’s a spoonie? It’s a person living with a chronic illness or disability. Spoon Theory is an explanation of how chronic health problems affect one’s ability to do everyday tasks. Spoonie life is a life in which opportunity costs are high, and it can’t always be Two Things.

Today’s optional topic:

It is hard to be a caregiver when you are running on limited spoons yourself. We all have short term (or long term) periods where the people we love are in a bad state and need extra help. Just a spouse being sick can really drain us. And it can be really hard to not feel guilty about that. After all, with my disabilities I’m in a place where I am continually suffering from low energy and other sick-like symptoms. If my wife gets sick for a week, it’s hard for me to feel like I have a right to think about myself at all. She takes care of me all the time and I don’t begrudge her needing care. I actually love being able to take care of her for a change. But the reality is also that if I could just switch off my own issues, I would have done that a long time ago. No matter how much I want to have unlimited spoons to take care of her, I just don’t. My sleep isn’t going to magically become normal. My anxiety isn’t going to stop spiking. My fatigue isn’t going to agree to leave me alone for seven days.

So, how do you balance the spoon life with your responsibilities to other people you care about?  Have you ever had to be a caretaker to someone while not being sure you had enough energy for yourself?  Whether that be a job, your parents, your significant other, or your children, what are some times where your relational obligations and energy just refused to sync? What do you do when there just aren’t enough spoons to go around?