Chronic Disease Emotional Work

Day 542 and Energy Budgets

I’m not much for active time off. Or being active at all really. I have a limited energy budget so I watch my energy expenditure carefully. Other people budget their money. I budget my energy.

I’ll often find myself jealous of other people who enjoy active hobbies. My husband plays tennis and shoots competitively. Every weekend he is off doing fun shit outside. He could easily play a sport, socialize afterwards and still have the energy to go out for dinner.

Meanwhile I’m probably in bed. I have plenty of fun, lower energy usage hobbies. I read a ton of fiction. I play games. I am working on my foreign language skills (be my friend in Duolingo), and of course I’m a notoriously active Twitter shitposter. All things that can be done while laying down!

And while I love all of those activities I wish that I didn’t have to run the math on how much a coffee with friends would set back my energy budget. I long for the opportunity to simply throw on clothing and head out the door without fear of how that might impact the rest of my day or even my week. But I run on the spoon theory just like your average disabled person.

My fear is that my energy poverty is isolating me. I struggle to explain that I’d love to spend more time with people but I need them to commit to cheaper energy expenditure options. But even the energy required to explain how friends and family can accommodate me is a challenge. It embarrasses me there I need everyone to work around my needs. And I’m often too scared to be demanding about what would work for me. So instead I just spend my time and energy alone.

If you are interested in learning how to make the effort to spend time with someone with energy poverty I hope this post helps. For instance instead of playing a round of tennis, perhaps you could come visit me at home and we could quietly chat on the couch. Instead of going out to dinner we could order in takeout. And no I don’t mean cook at home because then I’d need to plan, shop, cook and clean up afterwards. I very much mean order food on disposable plates so it’s minimal energy outlay. Disability accommodations are not very eco-friendly. It’s a different calculus of resources.

You may have to do a lot more work to be friends with someone managing a disability or a medical condition. If they don’t respond it’s not because they don’t want to see you necessarily. It could just be that you messaged on a bad day and it slipped through the cracks. We need you to actively work to be present for us. It’s a big ask but it is appreciated.