Many of you may already know about the spoon theory. I heard of this the other day and I wanted to share it with you. I have thought about the use of my energy and how to budget it, but I never had a metaphor to explain it. Well Christine Miserandino come up with this great tangible unit of measurement.
The spoon theory is a disability metaphor used to explain the reduced amount of energy available for activities of daily living and productive tasks that may result from disability or chronic illness. Spoons are a tangible unit of measurement used to track how much energy a person has throughout a given day. Each activity requires a given number of spoons, which will only be replaced as the person “recharges” through rest. A person who runs out of spoons has no choice but to rest until their spoons are replenished.
One of the tenets of the spoon theory is that many people with disabilities or chronic illness must carefully plan their daily activities to conserve their spoons, while most people without any disabilities or chronic illnesses do not need to worry about running out. Because healthy people do not feel the impact of spending spoons for mundane tasks such as bathing and getting dressed, they may not realize the amount of energy expended by chronically ill or disabled people to get through the day.
Spoons are widely discussed within autoimmune, disability, and other chronic illness communities, but the concept of spoons is otherwise considered a neologism. The term Spoonie is sometimes used to refer to a person with a chronic illness that can be explained with the spoon theory.
The term spoons was coined by Christine Miserandino in 2003 in her essay “The Spoon Theory”, which is posted on her website ButYouDon’tLookSick.com. In it, she recalls a conversation in which her close friend and roommate asked her a vague question about what having lupus feels like. The two were in a diner and Christine took spoons from nearby tables to use as a visual aid. She handed her friend twelve spoons and asked her to describe the events of a typical day, taking a spoon away for each activity. In this way, she demonstrated that her spoons, or units of energy, must be rationed to avoid running out before the end of the day. Christine also asserted that it is possible to exceed one’s daily limit, but that doing so means borrowing from the future and may result in not having enough spoons the next day.