Spoon Theory

The spoon theory is a metaphorical way of describing the energy someone has available for their daily activities. This theory helps us to understand people with both visible and invisible disabilities.

Each person has a different number of spoons within a day. For some, they may have more than ten spoons which means they can perform more than ten tasks. While for others, they only may have five spoons which means they will only have the capacity for five tasks. Each person has to make a conscious choice about what tasks to complete in a day. Some have the luxury of being given an abundance of spoons every day while others may only have enough to survive.

According to Christine Miserandino the author of the spoon theory, “The difference in being sick and being healthy is having to consciously think about things when the rest of the world doesn’t have to” (Miserandino, 2020, P.1).

Each person has a different number of spoons and that can be counted. It is important that we prioritize our spoons and choose wisely what we can accomplish in a day. To balance our lives in the midst of a spoon shortage due to chronic illnesses and a constantly changing world, we have to begin incorporating healthy habits to create balance within our lives. This may include meditation in the morning to slowly begin moving your body. Even ten minutes of breath work and intentional movement can help tune your body and strengthen you both mentally and physically. It is normal to struggle getting started in the morning but adding small intentional

tasks can help create a healthier routine to utilize the number of spoons you have over time. Planning out your spoons while doing intentional breath work can help start your day off feeling like there are more spoons than originally planned.

What spoons do you have every day? How do you prioritize them?


Cristol, H, (2021, July 7). Living With Chronic Disease: What is the Spoon theory? WebMD. Retrieved July 21, 2022. From https://www.webmd.com/multiple-sclerosis/features/spoon-theory#:~:text=When%20the%20spoons%20were%20gone,the%20lingo%20of%20autoimmune%20disease.

Miserandino, C. (2013, April 26). The Spoon Theory. But You Don’t Look Sick? Support for Those With Invisible Illness or Chronic Illness. Retrieved July 21, 2022, from https://butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/

The Dangers of Mixing Protein & Sugary Drinks

Dr. Shanon Casperson recently published an article about the effects of sugar-sweetened drinks has on our metabolism.  The peer review experiment consisted of asking volunteers to spend 24-hours in a metabolic chamber on two different occasions.  On one occasion the volunteers ate a 15% protein diet and the other visit they increased the protein to 30%.  During their consumption of their meals each participant ate a sugar sweetened drink or an artificially sweetened drink.  Dr. Casperson reported in her article that regardless of your protein percentage drinking a sugar-sweetened drink decreased fat use, and diet-induced thermogenesis (heat production).  When the drink was paired with a protein-rich meal, this combination further decreased fat use and heat production by more than 40%.  The research suggests that there is an implication that this combination (enrich protein + sweetened drink) results a reduction of our metabolic efficiency thus increasing a greater tendency to make/store fat.

By Dr. Shanon Casper.  (2017).  Sugar-sweetened drinks and your metabolism.  Retrieved from  https://blogs.biomedcentral.com/bmcseriesblog/2017/07/21/sugar-sweetened-drinks-and-your-metabolism/

Abuse on The Rise Among Teens

American teens can face a generous amount of growing pains, rejection, and various variety of joy in-between.  According to a HealthDay News article written by Randy Rotinga has found a disturbing trend that teens (boys & girls) fall prey to physical and sexual abuse while dating.  Girls report an alarming rate of one in 5 and one in 10 boys have experience abuse at least once during the past years. Being a victim of these types of abuse can increase the risk of suicidal behavior, bullying, substance use, and risky sexual behavior.  In other words, these types of crimes often leave the victims physically and emotionally scarred.  While in general females have a higher prevalence than their counterparts, however both genders are impacted by teen dating violence.  There needs to be a call for educating teens on what exactly healthy means when it comes to relationships.  Violence stops when we all stand-up together and say we will not tolerate abuse of any kind.



Anorexia a New Theory is Emerging

It has been a traditional and long-term belief that people who deal with anorexia have a high degree of self-control. There is a new theory that may explain why it is so difficult for people to stop their behavior, because new studies show it is habitual. According to the DSM anorexia nervosa (AN) is characterized by food restriction that leads to significantly low body weight compared to their healthy counterpart. There is an intense fear of weight gain or becoming heavy or with any behavior that may produce weight gain. AN suffers often see a distorted version of their body weight or shape and there is a lack of recognition of current low body weight.

According to medical experts suggest that at least 50 percent of people hospitalized with AN often relapse within a year of their release date. In this new study told by Erica Goode researchers are finding the dieting characteristic of AN may lie in a well-entrenched habit. Once the brain attune to this habit it sets into a motion that creates inflexibility and is slow to change. This new theory lends support of implementing early treatment/intervention for people who deal with AN.  In many ways AN behavior is not unlike how addiction works.  The host will gravitate to habitual behavior even if it is self-destructive and the person does not attune to the damages that occurs. Like many other addictions these people want to change, help, and really try to stay within healthy limits however they can’t help this ingrained habit. The research shows that people vulnerable to AN, the weight loss initially serves as a reward. This is because they often get lots of compliments, it relieves anxiety, and for a short time it increases self-esteem.

Source: Anorexia May Be Habit, Not Willpower, Study Finds.  Erica Goode.  October 12, 2015.  http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/10/13/health/extreme-dieting-of-anorexia-may-be-entrenched-habit-study-finds.html

Addressing Disabilities

Emily Ladau expands the mind and our language in seeing different perspective on how to discuss disabilities. I have an impassioned quest to widen my awareness in general but recently it ignited me into action after being corrected among a group of colleagues.

Being corrected by others who do not share the same perspective or condition is troublesome. Well-intentioned people rarely see their words as having consequences. Even if it does come from an educated perspective it does not make the lesson sting any less. When exposure occurs it can leave us feeling raw. I felt that way when I was being “corrected” by an abled individual about the possible pit-falls of not using person-first language (PFL).

disabilities1My first reaction included horror that I might have accidentally offended or labeled a client. Accusing me of ignorance about my own disability shocked me to the core. My second reaction was that of an attack to my identity and simultaneously feeling shamed. I felt ashamed for being disabled and that experience was all too familiar. Like Emily Ladau she felt exactly the same when her professor taught her that saying a “disabled person” was promoting a stigma.

PFL started from people who wanted to fight back against societies terrible assumptions, ideas, thoughts, and behavior that promote ideas like burdensome, less than, not good enough, and various other dehumanizing experiences. PFL users value advocacy to stop subjugation disabilities.  An example of PFL is to label myself as a woman who cannot walk. In the circles/users of PFL this is showing the person respect. It made using terms such as disabled woman as an insult.

When the confrontation occurred, I responded by explaining how I did not see calling myself as a disabled woman as cruel rather it is part of my identity. I felt my point met with resistance and my reactivity shut-down my brain’s ability to communicate. A friend of mine understood where I was coming from and gifted me the term identity-first language (IFL). According to Ladau IFL is often preferred by countless people within the disability community. However, some abled bodies tend to see IFdisabilities2L with confusion or even with hostility. The reason for this it goes against the core belief of PFL to not use the term disabled person due to their belief that this term is cruel.

Like Ladau I agree that PFL intentionally separates a person from their disability. PFL’s intention is to acknowledging the personhood but it’s unintentional consequences it implies that disability or disabled are inherently negative and/or derogatory. When we use separating language it can create a feeling of otherness. PFL separates the person from their disability, otherwise their personhood isn’t whole.  Yet we do not separate other characteristics from the person such as we do not say a person who is Caucasian. Being Caucasian isn’t automatically viewed as offensive rather it is a simple fact. Being wheelchair bound is a truth of how I exist not a dirty word.

Here is a basic IFL truth: it is acceptable to use disabled person. IFL users believe that the terms disability and disabled speak to a person’s culture and identity. For an example when addressing the Autistic community using IFL promotes the idea that Autism is part of their identity (i.e. Autistic person).  IFS usage within the Deaf community is an understanding there are two types of identity. One is distinguish as using a lower case “d” (referring to a physical state of being) and others capitalize Wheelchair_1605the “D” (indicates culture and identity.)   The example here would look like this d/Deaf person. Another principle is to never apply IFL to medical definition such as saying Down syndrome person is disrespectful. This is not referring to someone by his or her culture or identity but rather via his or her diagnosis. Identifying one by their diagnosis is both incorrect and hurtful. Finally, foundation is not lumping mobility equipment with a person by saying wheelchair person. Instead mindfulness and awareness encourages saying wheelchair user.

IFL is another way to help address disabilities. The golden rule is to stand with cognizance that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all model. Pause before deciding how to label others and let the person decide for himself or herself. I whole hearty agree with Ladau that the particulars of language can never be bigger than the true injustices or victories that one experiences when belonging to the disability community.

Source: Emily Ladau. Why Person-First Language Doesn’t Always Put the Person First. http://www.thinkinclusive.us/why-person-first-language-doesnt-always-put-the-person-first/

It’s Complicated: Why More Research is Needed When it Comes to Porn

The following topic about porn may create uncomfortable feelings for some people. Please understand the purpose of my blog is to talk about mental health concerns and sometimes topics are triggering. If this is you than I advice you to skip this weeks blog post but make sure to come back next week.

Porn has been around for decades but before the Internet existed it took more effort to get access to illicit material.   A Porn2naked picture was so taboo and rare that in the mid-1800s a photograph of a naked prostitute cost more than engaging her for sex.   It wasn’t until Hugh Hefner launched his magazine did porn go to the mass-market level.  VHS created opportunities to anonymously watch porn in the comfort of homes rather than having to visit seedy movie theaters.

Is porn on the rise due to the anonymous nature of the Internet? According to Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam, two-neuroscientist who wrote a book, “A Billion Wicked Thoughts.”  Ogas and Gaddam reports that 4%-11% (depending on which software one uses to gather the data) of Internet space is used for accessing and storing pornographic content.  Obviously consumption of porn usage has gone up and yet there is very little research done on the effects of absorption of these materials.

The American’s National Institutes of Health (NIH) has advising to researchers to avoid using the word “sexual” when asking for funding. This has led to a lacking of research not only in sexual offenders but also in normal sexual functioning. NIH has a rule that no computer purchases via their funding can contain sexual images or films. Are you as confused as why there is such strict limitation for funding studies on porn effects?

Here is what we know about sexual functioning/porn. Studies show that reported porn use is higher among Porn1people suffering from erectile dysfunction, relationship difficulties, medical and social problems. Individuals who engage in porn at an early age and are heavy users often simplify sexually activity as simple physiological functions; like eating. These same people have at least one occurrence where they have tried to coerce partners into sexual acts. The problem with the lack of research is we have no idea if porn consumption caused these types of behavior or did the behavior come first.

Other studies show evidence we form our sexual tastes around puberty. One of the criticisms of porn is the unrealistic expectations it creates in people. These myths can create difficulties with intimacy and may create lifelong problems.  According to Geoffrey Miller men have used porn as an easy substitute for real pleasure. The porn isn’t the problem according to Miller but the porn does make it easier for men to stay stuck in a rut.

I will leave you to make your own judgments if porn is harming society but what I strongly believe is we need more research done on human sexuality. We have to take responsibility to educate society on the possible effects of porn use.  We can’t sit by idle anymore, because like it or not accessing and the consumption of porn is far too easy these days.

Source:  Hardcore, abundant and free: What is online pornography doing to sexual tastes – and youngsters’ minds?  http://www.economist.com/news/international/21666113-hardcore-abundant-and-free-what-online-pornography-doing-sexual-tastesand?fsrc=scn%2Ffb%2Fte%2Fpe%2Fed%2FAusersmanual

Providing A Light In A Dark World

Depression and anxiety affects many people in the United States and anyone can fall into their deadly grips. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) about 25% of US adults struggle with depression, anxiety or some combination of both. What is even more staggering is 50 to 60% of people living with depression and/or anxiety receive no mental health services.

How are depression and anxiety similar? According to the author Laurie Myers depression Vincent_Willem_van_Gogh_002and anxiety share a psychological component. This simply means both mental health conditions often creates isolation and prevents people’s ability to be in the present moment. This doesn’t mean there aren’t any differences because anxiety and depression differ greatly. The nice thing about this article is that it does highlight the commonalities between them thus healing approaches are beneficial for both.

According to Meyer’s mindfulness techniques helps decrease negative self-talk. Mindfulness tools help center people to become aware of their thoughts and rumination patterns. Thoma_LonelinessAnother useful tool is having clients build a family tree that promotes exploration how these two conditions have a genetic component to them. This is helpful for people experiencing intense shame around their mental illness. Helping our clients understand that they can take their power back by implementing a healthy regime (diet, exercise, getting enough sleep). Having this regiment helps the brain regulate emotions.

Neurocounseling helps to show the link between the brain structure and chemical processes that influence emotions. Exciting new Studies on the brain is showing a frontal asymmeWatts-Hope2try and how this affects both anxiety and depression. Out of these studies they have shown that the left frontal lobe is often associated with positive effect and when it is malfunctioning depression can manifest. Having an excessive active right frontal lobe creates anxiety. According to Meyers humans tend to have negative thoughts. Understanding the struggle with negative thoughts and normalizing them to our clients often have positive effects. Teaching muscle relaxation techniques to clients who suffer from anxiety is helpful due to the link between the body and brain. If the body is tense this signals to the brain there is something wrong thus creating anxious feelings.

Meyers concludes by concentrating on women and depression. She feels counselors should understand that there is a gender difference when it comes to depression and anxiety. Meyers believes that women often can suffer through life transition events. Women often transition from being a woman into being mothers and for some this is considered a loss. Another area of awareness that Myers encourages is the link between pregnancy and depression. Postpartum depression is widely known but what isn’t widely known is that women can become depressed during pregnancy. Women with a history of depression are more likely to develop pregnancy related to depression.

Source: Treating Depression and Anxiety by Laurie Meyers. Counseling today August 2015. Page 27 – 33.

The Cost of Devaluing Oneself

Dictionary.com defines self-esteem as “a realistic respect for or favorable impression of oneself.” This act of valuing oneself is incredibly important in the development of happiness. Being able to self-regulate wards off depression and can help support emotional and physical health. Self-esteem is how our narrative voice, which informs us on who we are/what we value/who we can love/what we deserve/what we can or can’t do with our lives.

There are two main sources of low self-esteem (LSE) one is situational and the second one is having a Gloomy_Sunday_by_andygunawannegative internal dialogue of ourselves. A situational example is enduring a breakup of some form. This can severely affect one’s view of desirability which plays into our sense of self-esteem. The second source is the inability to let go of the internal dialogue, which is referred to as the “inner critic.” The inner critic can turn a mistake into an affirmation you are indeed worthless. This one is more insidious and difficult to overcome but it is not hopeless. This type has shown by some researchers to be a factor in the development of depression and anxiety.

Self-esteem begins at childhood as we begin sensing if we are likfamilyed by feedback that comes from others. This feedback can either increase or decrease our self-esteem. Children with healthy boundaries have an understanding of what is expected of them, and have a structure on how to behave within all types of systems. This allows children to accurately predict how others will view them. But children who get mixed messages and/or live in a chaotic environment often learn not to trust themselves thus negatively affecting their esteem. According to Brene Brown, “family messages die hard. Any many times they are very insidious.” Individuals suffering from LSE can be susceptible to internalizing outside criticism. Research measuring levels of stress hormone cortisol have found those with LSE often have higher levels cortisol.

This doesn’t mean that LSE doesn’t have fluidity to it. It can be moved from LSE to higher levels of self-esteem. Check out my services page to see how I go about helping my clients overcome LSE. The overall message from this article road sad teddy bearsis individuals suffering from LSE have to remember they are not alone. The struggle to be accepted by others and oneself is a human condition.

The other thing that is important to remember when working through issues about self-esteem is that the more comfortable you are without being avoidant the higher probability of increasing your self-esteem. After all one cannot “…esteem a person you don’t know…”

Source: Quieting the inner critic, http://ct.counseling.org/2014/01/quieting-the-inner-critic/

The Many Layers of an Introvert

A STAR is born at least according to a psychologist named Jonathan Cheek. GirlandFenceSTAR is an acronym that stands for Social, Thinking, Anxious, and Restrained. Cheek has discovered that introverts are actually on a spectrum and believes they are often misunderstood. Introverts fight the stigma of having a behavioral defect due to a central idea that if you’re not social then there is something wrong with you. Others think that they are introspective and thoughtful, but what if none of these categories captures you? How stifling it would feel for them.

Each category describes a different type of introvert. Social introvert refers to individuals who prefer socializing with smaller groups as opposed to larger groups. Thsmiley faceey are also known to crave solitude but not out of shyness or anxiousness. Thinkers have no aversion to social gatherings and are marked as being thoughtful, self-reflective, and introspective type. Anxious introvert do seek solitude because they fight feelings of awkwardness and being around people triggers feelings of self-consciousness. The rumination behavior that goes with this type of introvert can become a barrier for them. Finally restrained introverts are reserved and often think before they speak.

Cheek’s model expands the definition of what it means to be an introvert. I applaud his work because I believe every category needs expansion. In my practice clients often find new layers to their concerns or awareness.  The more one can add to the category of introspection the richer our lives become.

Source: http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2015/06/apparently-there-are-four-kinds-of-introversion.html

High Altitudes can be Fatal for Some

A recent study has shown that living in high altitudes has made people 30% more likely to commit suicide. Renshaw, the leading researcher, believes one of the reasons for this is lack of oxygen. As oxygen decreases so do levels of serotonin and affect the uptake of dopamine. These are two neurotransmitters that relay signals between neurons and other cells. This in turn increases the likelihood of becoming suicidal. People can adapt to high-altitude living but women in particular are more sensitive due to a lower supply of serotonin. Those that have a pre-disposition to depression or anxiety are more likely to develop suicide tendency as well.

Source: http://mic.com/articles/104096/there-s-a-suicide-epidemic-in-utah-and-one-neuroscientist-thinks-he-knows-why