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What’s spoon theory?

hello world!

You might have seen people referring to themselves as Spoonies and thought what on earth does that mean?  No, we’re not a collection of spoon enthusiasts - although that could be an interesting hobby. Spoonie means that a person has an illness or disability that causes them to have decreased energy levels. 

So I thought I’d answer a Q&A about being a Spoonie! 

What’s spoon theory?

Spoon theory was first mentioned by Christine Miserandino in 2003 as she tried to explain her energy levels while dealing with chronic illness. Here are the basics: 

Say you have 16 spoons to represent your energy levels. Each activity you do takes away a number of spoons. From having a shower to going to work, making a meal or seeing friends. Getting out of bed may take 1 spoon, showering takes 2, getting dressed takes 1, travelling to work takes 3 and working takes 4. That’s 11 spoons used with the basics of the day. If the average person with a chronic illness has 12, that’s only 1 small spoon left to use. Yikes! 

Does everyone have the same amount of spoons to start with?

This is debatable, as a general overview someone with a healthy body would have 16 spoons and someone with a chronic illness/health issues may have 12. 

Personally, the number of spoons can depend for me on how much sleep I’ve had, what the weather is like, if I’m coming out of a flare or if I’m in one. 

What does identifying as a Spoonie mean to you?

For me, it makes me feel less alone. I know that there is a whole community of people who can understand the adjustment I have to make and can laugh at my jokes that others might not get. Also, it’s an easier way to explain to people! 

What are some ways to help ‘save’ spoons?

  1. Accept help 
  2. Try and rest when you can 
  3. Stop and take note of how you’re feeling, try to adjust if you feel you’re low on energy
  4. Explain spoon theory to others to help them understand 

Do you have any other questions about being a Spoonie or want to chat about it? Drop me a tweet at @chloemetzger on Twitter! 

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