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Means and Ends

© 2014 Scott Strange, Strangely Diabetic and http://StrangelyDiabetic.com

I recently attend the annual Friends for Life Conference in Orlando. This was my 4th year and I usually really enjoy it and come back recharged.  While I enjoyed chatting with folks and catching up and needed the few sessions I did attend, I felt unusually disconnected this year. I didn’t get a recharge or feel more energetic when I got home.

I’ve become a pretty big believer in Spoon Theory as it relates to depression and burnout, it is the best explanation that I’ve seen of how we have to decide what we are going to expend ourselves on.  For most of this year, I’ve been faced with a rapidly dwindling supply of spoons.

What this means is that after I make sure that mom is cared for, after I get work taken care of, after I get my diabetes taken car … ah crap. Ran out of spoons. The result of this is quite predictable. Eventually all this crap flows up hill and the frail infrastructure I call ‘me’ starts to devolve.

My family has helped by staying so I could take that trip to Florida, making sure she got to appointments. But it was the monitor, the one I have on 24×7 so that I can hear if she calls out, that seems to drain me the most. It seems it’s something that I can’t escape, even when I sleep.  Sleep hasn’t been very well for a while, years actually. I even went as far as taking the clock out of my bedroom so then I wouldn’t watch it and worry about how tired I’d be when the alarm went off. I recommend this by the way, removing that LED reminder was one of the smarter things I’ve done recently.

All the usual signs of depression stopped by to stay a while. You know, the loss of interest, withdrawal, bad coping skills. I’ve spoken with Morpheus off and on over the summer and while she didn’t seem surprised about my lack of recharge, I think I did surprise her about a couple of things that were going on. As a matter of fact, I don’t believe that I had ever really seen her look truly concerned about me like she did at one of our little chats.

I kept pushing myself trying to get out of bed each morning without using 3 spoons (one to decide to get up, one to actually get feet on floor, and another one not to go back to bed).

And then? Well then, my body finally said “Enough of this”.  I spent the next 5 days sleeping anywhere from 12 to 18 hours a day. And it was a good sleep, rest that I obviously really needed.

One evening during that period, I took mom grocery shopping. She had some family visiting from California and was excited to see them. She’s really been struggling with some health issues lately and had finally gotten a clean bill of health from the doctor. So there was some excitement and a little pep in her step as we went down the shopping aisle. Mom believes that she ‘has’ to fix something if people you only see once a year are coming to visit, no potato salad from the deli counter! So made from scratch it was.

As I watched her pick out her groceries, even as I was about ready to drop from exhaustion, I smiled as it occurred to me that I had made a choice. And I was grateful that excitement was still part of her life partly because of that choice.

Yes, there have been costs to that choice for a reason. But sometimes, just sometimes, the ends do justify the means.

© 2014 Scott Strange, Strangely Diabetic and http://StrangelyDiabetic.com

  • scully

    <3 it's a never-ending battle isn't it? It's always there kind of like diabetes. It's just varying degrees of coping. The apple cart is so sensitive. One thing out of order and the whole thing goes down.
    everything has to flow right for life to go on uninterrupted by depression (for me, anxiety). My apple cart is like an upside down pyramid. An agitated game of Jenga….
    I think that's enough analogies for one blog comment.
    May you find a bit of balance soon.

  • Carol

    Taking care of your mom is one huge spoon with or without diabetes or depression. It is a monumental thing to give so much of yourself for her care. I never understood any of that until taking a role in my FIL’s care. He is 95, lives in assisted living and about to move to memory care. I take him to all his dr appts, and my husband is his emotional support and visits him multiple times a week. We never know when the next call will come that he has fallen, or that he is upset about something that is not the least bit rational. Even though we don’t take care of him 24X7 like you do, it is a very difficult and consuming thing. We have rearranged our work lives to do what we do for him and be ready for the ER visits and hospital stays that come suddenly. We really don’t have a lot of goals for ourselves right now. We have to guard our “spoons”, and therefore have less time for friends and other family members. He will not get better this side of heaven, and that in and of itself is depressing. But yes, those glimpses of joy on his face are the good times. I’m glad you could see and enjoy the excitement on your mom’s face. It is indeed a beautiful thing. My hat is off to you!

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