Understanding Spoon Theory

Understanding Spoon Theory

For Spoonies and friends of spoonies
Taylor
Taylor
6521
views

An oddly named theory surfaced a few years ago to explain the amount of planning and energy which are consumed by chronic illnesses: Spoon Theory. In summary, a friend uses spoons to represent energy and runs through a typical day in the life of her healthy friend to contrast how draining even simple tasks can be to someone with a chronic illness. Fatigued-based chronic illnesses fit the metaphor best, although other chronic illnesses can modify the theory to match their specific case. There are two main factors that go into this theory:

How many spoons do you start with?

How many spoons does each task cost?

1. A healthy individual starts with an unlimited amount of spoons (energy), while a “spoonie” (a term used to describe those who fall under the spoon theory) could have, for example, seven to 15 depending on the day. There is no control over the number of spoons because with chronic illnesses, the person bearing them have no control. With a chronic pain syndrome, a spoonie could wake up one day feeling great and have 12 spoons, but wake up the next day feeling awful with six spoons – it as always out of control for the spoonie.

2. Every task costs a spoon. For a healthy person with an unlimited amount of spoons, this is no problem, but for a spoonie, even simple tasks can quickly cause them to run out of spoons. Getting ready for the day typically only costs one spoon for a healthy individual; however, for a spoonie, each task involved with getting ready cost a spoon.

For example, it costs one spoon for getting out of bed, one spoon for showering, one spoon for getting dressed, one spoon to prepare and eat breakfast, etc. If a spoonie starts the day with eight spoons, at least four of those spoons have been used to get ready. That leaves half of their spoons to commute to school or work, complete multiple tasks, prepare lunch, commute home, prepare dinner, complete evening activities, etc. A spoonie knows they have limited spoons, thus they have to budget their spoons and tasks for the day. It is difficult for a spoonie to partake in social events because those require a lot of energy and usually spoons go towards essential tasks: getting ready, eating, going to work or school. If a spoonie goes to a social event (going to the movies, going to a party, hanging out with friends), it often shows love and trust in that relationship because the spoonie is willing to give up one of their limited spoons to spend time with those friends.

This metaphor may sound silly and confusing, but it is a very helpful way to illustrate how draining illnesses can be. Imagine if you had the flu – you have very little energy to do anything so you lie in bed, rest, eat, and complete basic tasks. For individuals with fatigue based illnesses such as chronic pain, lupus, invisible illnesses, multiple sclerosis, and chronic fatigue syndrome, the body devotes the majority of its energy to try to combat the illness and the pain which leaves limited amounts of energy to devote to daily life activities. In the Spoon Theory, the limited amounts of energy are represented by spoons as a tangible way to show others the restricted amount of energy they have to work with every day.

For example, I have seven seven chronic illnesses, including chronic pain syndromes, and I want to explain them through Spoon Theory to a friend. First, I grab a random number of spoons: six. Next, I ask my friend to walk me through her day: she gets ready, goes to school, goes home, eats dinner, hangs out with friends, goes to bed. Then I go through my day, for example:

Spoon 1 – Wake up after poor sleep due to pain and get out of bed after 45 minutes of stretching and attempts to ease the pain.

Spoon 2 – Shower, shave, brush teeth – all of which require a lot of muscle movement which leads to pain.

Spoon 3 – Getting dressed which requires a lot of movement and thought. I have to think about the weather and environment because cold weather and air conditioning increases my pain so I may have to dress warmer, or if my shoulder is giving me a lot of pain, I need to find clothing that feels comfortable on my shoulder.

You can have an open and honest conversation with your friend through this metaphor and once you run out of spoons, it will be eye-opening for your friend’s understanding of you and your illness.

Encourage a friend to share their experiences with their illness through spoons or try to share your illness with a friend through spoons.

Cover Image Credit: msunites.com

Popular Right Now

I Woke up In The Middle Of The Night To Write About My Fears, They're Worse Than The Dark

One minute I'm thinking about what I want to do after college next thing I know I'm remembering the time I tried talking to a boy and choked on my spit.

8950
views

It is one of those nights when I am tired, but for some reason, I can't seem to fall asleep. So, what do I do? I pull out my laptop, and I begin to write. Who knows where it will lead. It could lead to a killer article or something that does not make sense. I mean it is almost 2 A.M. In my mind, that's pretty late.

Anyways, let's do this thing.

Like many people, thoughts seem to pile up in my head at this time. It could be anything from a time when I was younger to embarrassing stories to wondering why I am "wasting" my time somewhere to thoughts about the future. All of these things come at me like a wildfire. One minute I'm thinking about what I want to do after college next thing I know I'm remembering the time I tried talking to a boy and choked on my spit.

The thought that is going through my mind as I write this is about the future. It's about the future of my fears. Let me explain. I have multiple fears. Some of my fears I can hide pretty well, others I am terrible at hiding. My fears may seem silly to some. While others might have the same fears. Shall we start?

1. My career

I don't know where to begin with this one. For as long as I can remember, my consistent dream job has been working in the world of sports, specifically hockey. A career in sports can be and is a challenging thing. The public eye is on you constantly. A poor trade choice? Fans are angry. Your team sucks? "Fans" are threatening to cheer for someone else if you can't get your sh*t together. You can be blamed for anything and everything. Whether you are the coach, general manager, owner, it does not matter. That's terrifying to me, but for some reason, I want to work for a team.

2. My family

Julie Fox

Failing with my family, whether that be the family I was born into or my future family, it terrifies me. I have watched families around me fall apart and I have seen how it has affected them. Relationships have fallen apart because of it. I have heard people talk about how much they hate one of their parents because of what happened. I don't want that.

3. Time

This could be a dumb fear. I'm not sure, but I fear time. With every minute that passes, I am just another minute closer to the end. With every day that passes that I am not accomplishing goals or dreams I have, I am losing precious time. It scares me to think of something horrible like "What if I die tomorrow because of something horrific?" or even worse, "What if I don't make it through today?" It's terrible, I know.

4. Forgetting precious memories

When I was younger, I had brain surgery. It is now much harder for me to remember things. I am truly terrified that I am going to forget things I will want to hold close to me forever, but I won't be able to. I am scared I'll forget about the little things that mean a lot. I'm afraid of forgetting about old memories that may disappear. I'm worried that I'll forget about something like my wedding day. That might seem out of this world, but it's a reality for me.

5. Saying "goodbye"

I hate saying bye. It is one of my least favorite things. Saying bye, especially to people I don't know when I'll see again, is a stab in the heart for me. I love my people so much. I love being around them. I love laughing with them. Thought of never having a hello with them again scares me beyond belief.

6. Leaving places that I love

Alright, let me start off by saying this- it takes a lot for me to love a place. It has to feel like home. It has to make me feel comfortable. It has to be a place I can go to and be myself. Thankfully, I have had and still have multiple places that are like that. I have also had places I could not wait to leave. I think that's why leaving places I love is so hard and something I fear so much. I am afraid I'll never get that place "back", for lack of a better term. I guess, I'm trying to say, it's like a piece of me is leaving as well.




These six things are just the start of my fears. Some of these might seem "dumb" or "ridiculous" to you, but for me, it's my life. These are the things that I think about the most. These are the things that feel like a pit in my stomach. These six things are parts of my life that mean a lot to me.

Cover Image Credit:

Emily Heinrichs

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

How To Work Toward Your Fitness Goals So You Can Actually Enjoy The Journey

Don't start tomorrow, start today!

77
views

People have different reasons for wanting to get fit. Some people want to lose weight, some people want to gain weight, and some folks just want to be more active. No matter what your goal is and why it is never too late to start your fitness journey.

1. First, do research!

Everyone's body is different, so what works for your friends may not work for you.

2.Try to start your fitness journey within 24 hours of reading this! Stop putting it off! You don't have to wait until New Years to set your goals. You don't have to wait until next winter to start working on your summer body.

3. Join a gym and actually GO!

Grab a buddy if it is too intimidating to go by yourself. If you don't know what exercises to do, go to a class. Most gyms have fitness classes like Zumba, yoga, spin, or kick boxing.

3. Join an intramural or club sport.

If you know you won't work out directly on your own, do an activity that will force you to.

5. Take advantage of the area around you.

Go hiking, swimming, or biking!

6. Change your diet.

Cutting out greasy foods and sugary drinks can go a long way. Also, meal prep may be tedious but it is worth it! If you make all of your meals for the week on Sunday, you won't have to worry about ordering pizza because you don't feel like cooking.

7. Go for morning or evening jogs.

Even if you aren't the best runner, the more you do it, the better you will become.

8. Do simple workouts in the comfort of your own home.

You don't need any form of equipment to do a few sets of push-ups, sit-ups, and squats a day.

9. Do a combination of things listed above! Just be active.

Cover Image Credit:

Maya Sampson

Related Content

Facebook Comments