A ‘Spoonie’ is someone who identifies with The Spoon Theory, a metaphor written by Christine Miserando as a way to help those who live with chronic illness, explain life with limited energy and the difficulties it entails.
The theory uses spoons as a visual tool for energy. You wake up on a morning and have X amount of spoons to complete the days activities, your spoon count is not limitless and you have to decide how to ‘spend’ your spoons wisely.
The name ‘Spoonie‘ came from this theory and is a term many chronically ill people refer to themselves as. There is indeed a great Spoonie community, where acceptance and understanding is tenfold.
This theory is a great tool to help people gain an understanding of what life can entail when faced with chronic illness.
How did The Spoon Theory come about?
Christine Miserando first came up with this theory when she tried to explain to a friend what it’s like to live with Lupus. She explains:
“I thought she already knew the medical definition of Lupus…then she looked at me with a face every sick person knows well, the face of pure curiosity about something no one healthy can truly understand. She asked what it felt like, not physically, but what it felt like to be me, to be sick.”“How do I answer a question I never was able to answer for myself?”
She passed her friend a handful of spoons (they were in a cafeteria) and explained that the spoons were a symbol of all of a persons daily energy reserves. A healthy person will have unlimited amounts of spoons, i.e. energy, a chronically ill person does not. Every activity, no matter how small, depletes from this energy supply. Getting out of bed, brushing your teeth, showering, getting dressed, eating, and any number of mundane, ordinary tasks will take away from your spoon count. This is where difficulties lie.
And many other questions come to light.
What happens when I run out of spoons? Can I borrow from tomorrow?
Often if a chronically ill person choses to ‘borrow spoons from tomorrow’ (if that is even a possibility) they will pay tenfold, there are always consequence when you live with illness. The Spoon Theory is a metaphor and a visual aid which enables others to understand the difficulties that many, many people face on a daily basis while at the same time offering a sense of belonging to a community.
Do you identify as a Spoonie?
As a healthy person does The Spoon Theory help you understand and appreciate how a friend or loved one with chronic illness needs to manage their energy resources efficiently?
Let me know in the comments, I’d love to know!