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I’m a “Spoonie.” Here’s What I Wish More People Knew About Chronic Illness

What’s Spoon Theory?

The Spoon Theory”, a personal story by Christine Miserandino, is popular among many people dealing with chronic illness. It describes perfectly this idea of limited energy, using “spoons” as a unit of energy. Miserandino lives with lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease which causes an immune system to attack the body’s healthy cells. One day, Miserandino writes, her friend wanted to understand better the realities of living with a chronic illness...

Sitting in a café, Miserandino goes on to explain how she gathered spoons and used them to represent finite units of energy. Energy, for many of us with chronic illness, is limited and depends on many factors including stress levels, how we’re sleeping, and pain. Miserandino then walked her friend through the friend’s normal day, taking spoons, or energy, away from the friend as the discussion went on. By the end of the day, her friend wasn’t able to do as much as she wanted. When she realized Miserandino went through this every single day, her friend started crying. She understood, then, how precious time was for people like Miserandino, and how few “spoons” she had the luxury of spending.

Identifying as a “Spoonie”

It’s unlikely Miserandino expected so many people to identify with Spoon Theory when she conceptualized it..but until Spoon Theory, no one else had explained the trials of chronic illness so simply and, yet, so effectively. It’s been accepted across the world as this amazing tool to describe what life with illness is really like. The Spoon Theory has done some great things since its inception – one of which is providing a way for people to meet others dealing with illness. A quick search on social media will pull up hundreds of thousands of posts from people who identify as a “Spoonie.”

Written by Kirsten Schultz — Updated on April 18, 2019

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