A Spoonie? What’s a Spoonie?
The spoon theory is a metaphor those with a disability, chronic illness and/or autoimmune disease, for example, use to explain the reduced amount of energy available for activities of daily living and tasks. And a spoonie, is someone with a chronic illness, who needs to watch their ‘spoons’.
Let me explain what the spoon theory is.
The idea of the spoon theory, by Christine Miserandino, is that many people with a disability or chronic illness must carefully plan their daily activities to use their spoons wisely, while most people with better health or who do not have a disability, do not need to worry about running out of them. Spoons are a unit of measurement used to track how much energy a person has throughout the day. If you imagine that each activity requires a certain number of spoons, which will only be replaced as the person rests, then if you run out of spoons, you have no choice but to rest until your spoons are replenished. I myself imagine having ten spoons each day, and tasks just as showering or bathing require two spoons, and walking for half an hour (usually home from work) require six. I have to work out what activities I can afford to do each day, so as not to run out of spoons (energy) and be left exhausted.
As other people without a disability or chronic illness do not feel the impact of spending spoons for mundane tasks such as bathing and getting dressed, they may not realise the amount of energy used by those who do need to plan their energy usage just to get through the day. They do not tend to have a limited amount of energy, as most daily tasks could never get close to exhausting them, unlike those with hypothyroidism, for example.
Since Christine Miserandino wrote that post, which has had many, many views and shares, ‘spoonie’ and #spoonie have been used on social media sites to connect people living with chronic illnesses and raise awareness of the constraints of the health conditions we live with.
Even those who have their hypothyroidism well treated, like myself, tend to be more at risk of over exhausting and expecting too much of ourselves, compared to other people.
So, I’m a spoonie. And I say it with pride. Why? Because I’m able to get myself through the day, despite having a difficult chronic illness and because I’m able to wisely plan and use my spoons. Non-spoonies will never understand what this means, and likely take it for granted. It takes balance, it takes patience and a lot of practice to learn how to use our spoons efficiently. Sometimes we try and it’s still out of our control. Sometimes we have less spoons on other days compared to our already small amount of spoons on regular days.
We have to juggle and manage a lot, and many of us also have families and children to juggle, alongside our health condition/s. We should never feel sorry for having to say ‘no’ at times and putting our foot down. We should never feel sorry for putting ourselves first and being assertive.
Be a spoonie, and be proud. You’re a spoonie superhero.
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