Learning to find a more sustainable balance in my work life in particular is something that I'm currently working on (and in life in general, feeling very much called to embrace "slow living", which is very contrary to how society generally works). Having recently needed to make the difficult decision to stop working as a special needs teaching assistant due to finding it too challenging physically, mentally and sensory wise, and due to having more care/general responsibilities at home to try to balance as well, I've found myself working once again on my craft business.
I ran HollyPCrafts for a while a number of years ago, but for various reasons I stopped to train and then work for a bit as an SEN TA. If I'm honest, I expected to still be working in that role for a while yet (in addition to writing a book about my experiences as a neurodiverse young carer, now young adult carer, with chronic and mental illness, and how my faith helps me with each of these things). I'm still processing making a decision that I found more difficult than I had expected and at times I'm having to remind myself why I had to make that decision in the first place, and that I was right to make it.
Anyway, what do the words "neurodiverse" and "spoonie" even mean?
Neurodiverse is the term that is used to describe someone who has a condition (or conditions) that is part of the neurodiversity spectrum due to the way that their brain is wired. The main neurodiverse conditions that I know of are autism, ADHD, dyslexia and dyspraxia; I have a diagnosis of combined-type ADHD, which in old money means that I have both ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), and in new money means that I have both inattentive-type ADHD and hyperactive/impulsive-type ADHD. ADHD affects many things, such as your organisational skills; your feeling of time (hello, time blindness and now/not now timings); your attention regulation; your motivation; your emotional regulation; and how you cope with actual or perceived rejection (rejection sensitivity). If you want to learn more about ADHD, I highly recommend watching some of Jessica McCabe of How To ADHD's videos on YouTube (www.youtube.com/c/HowtoADHD/) (Jessica also has the same type of ADHD as me).
Spoonie is a term that is used to describe someone who has a condition which means that they have limited daily energy. The spoon theory was first developed by a lady called Christine Miserandino in 2003 to describe how her lupus affects her . The term is often used by people with chronic physical and mental health conditions, and is also sometimes used by those who are neurodiverse (yours truly has/is all three).
Spoons are used as a metaphor for energy; those without chronic health issues and/or who are neurotypical tend to have an unlimited number of spoons (energy) each day and so can basically do whatever they want activity wise during the day (this includes self-care, homemaking and childcare), whereas for us spoonies we have to choose how best to spend our energy each day so that we don't borrow spoons from the following day(s), meaning that we wouldn't be able to do as much, if anything at all, then. Also, we often have to plan our days and weeks so as to allow for rest days and higher energy use days; if we have a higher energy use day coming up, then we may need to plan rest days around it so that we don't overdo things (which for me means not going for a walk around Trentham Gardens two days in a row, just as an example, ahem).
People who aren't spoonies generally feel rested after a night or two of good sleep, and so their spoons are replenished ready for the following day, whereas for us spoonies this often doesn't happen due to our poorer sleep quality, and at times we can wake up feeling as tired, if not tireder, than we were when we went to bed the night before, which can be incredibly frustrating when you've slept all night (when we can). This means that our spoons don't get replenished through sleep so we continue to struggle energy wise, which then obviously impacts on how much we are then able to do during the following day(s).
For me, finding balance as a neurodiverse spoonie crafter is very much learning how to work best with both my brain and my body, which at times are very much at war with one another! One common problem for me is that my ADHD brain likes to think that I can do way more each day than is actually possible time wise etc, and so when I do try to accomplish everything on my to-do list, stay focused, organised, doing things to time to force my brain to focus on what I'm trying to do, then my body gets exhausted with the amount of energy that is involved, which then leads to burnout and flare-ups, which can often mean that I then can't do what I'd planned for the rest of the week as my energy is all used up and needs longer to replenish. I also have to bear in mind (which I often struggle with) that I do have other jobs to do than just running my craft business, such as helping out with care responsibilities at home, general homemaking tasks, writing my book, and managing my conditions, both diagnosed and undiagnosed.
I'm very slowly learning how to balance all of these things, and I have to remember that life happens in seasons, so there may be times when I'm unable to juggle quite as much as at other times, and vice versa, but I don't have to get frustrated with myself as these things often aren't my fault (or anyone else's) and they do take a lot of work and energy to balance. I've been blessed by being reminded that my worth isn't defined by my productivity level, and that slow progress is still progress. On a practical level, one way that I am trying to find balance is to write my to-do list for each week under four different headings, using different colours for headings and the tasks to be completed, and then each day choosing at least one thing from each heading to write down in my diary for my to-do list for that day, trying to be more realistic as to the amount that I can actually accomplish that day.
As a Christian, I also believe that I have an eternal home in heaven with God, and so my time here on Earth is only short in comparison, and so I just have to focus on what it is that He's called me to do, not on what society or other people are trying to persuade me that I need to accomplish in order to be worth something or to be contributing to society in the best possible way. For me, I find rest very much in living in His plan for my life and accepting that, even though it probably looks very different to how other people think it should look. I'm learning that I'm made as a unique individual and that being a Christian means that I'm very much living contrary to society anyway, and that my worth and value are found in being His daughter bought by His blood, not by anything that I personally can ever accomplish. Honestly, it's been incredibly freeing recently, and I'm exceptionally thankful for it.
I pray that this blog post educates you a bit on some of these things and encourages you to keep going and not feel alone if you are struggling at all, whether the difficulties fall under any of these headings or not.
Thank you for reading, and well done if you've read all of the way to the end! I apologise for the ramble but it gives you a bit of an idea as to what it looks like inside the head of an ADHDer.
Many thanks again, and God Bless.
Hopefully see you again soon.
 Wikipedia (2020), Spoon Theory, [Online], Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spoon_theory [Accessed 23 October 2020].
Hi! I'm Holly. I'm a Christian and a textile crafter, cardmaker and writer based in Stoke-on-Trent (UK). I hope my products and content inspire you to give crafting and homemaking a try, or indeed any new skill or hobby that you're interested in. Thank you for visiting!