Monday, 17 February 2014

The Spoon Theory

For years people have been calling me lazy. I left school when I was 13 and was accused countless times of being lazy. Throughout my many jobs I was declared slow, and unmotivated. I couldn't explain to people that after less than an hour on my feet I was exhausted. 

The Spoon Theory was created by Christine Miserandino to help explain how her Lupus makes her feel day to day. However it rings true for many invisible illness sufferers and is a great way of not only explaining to others but also helping clear things up in your own head. It made me think about my day more carefully and prioritise certain things.

"My best friend and I were in the diner, talking.
 As I went to take some of my medicine with a snack as I usually did, she watched me with an awkward kind of stare, instead of continuing the conversation. She then asked me out of the blue what it felt like to have Lupus and be sick. She came to doctors with me, she saw me walk with a cane, and throw up in the bathroom. She had seen me cry in pain, what else was there to know?
She asked what it felt like, not physically, but what it felt like to be me, to be sick. 
At that moment, the spoon theory was born. I quickly grabbed every spoon on the table; hell I grabbed spoons off of the other tables. I looked at her in the eyes and said “Here you go, you have Lupus”. She looked at me slightly confused, as anyone would when they are being handed a bouquet of spoons. The cold metal spoons clanked in my hands, as I grouped them together and shoved them into her hands. 
I explained that the difference in being sick and being healthy is having to make choices or to consciously think about things when the rest of the world doesn't have to. The healthy have the luxury of a life without choices, a gift most people take for granted.
Most people start the day with unlimited amount of possibilities, and energy to do whatever they desire, especially young people. For the most part, they do not need to worry about the effects of their actions. So for my explanation, I used spoons to convey this point. I wanted something for her to actually hold, for me to then take away, since most people who get sick feel a “loss” of a life they once knew. If I was in control of taking away the spoons, then she would know what it feels like to have someone or something else, in this case Lupus, being in control.
I asked her to count her spoons. She asked why, and I explained that when you are healthy you expect to have a never-ending supply of “spoons”. But when you have to now plan your day, you need to know exactly how many “spoons” you are starting with. It doesn't guarantee that you might not lose some along the way, but at least it helps to know where you are starting. She counted out 12 spoons. She laughed and said she wanted more. I said no, I’ve wanted more “spoons” for years and haven’t found a way yet to get more. I also told her to always be conscious of how many she had, and not to drop them because she can never forget she has Lupus.
I asked her to list off the tasks of her day, including the most simple. As, she rattled off daily chores, or just fun things to do; I explained how each one would cost her a spoon. When she jumped right into getting ready for work as her first task of the morning, I cut her off and took away a spoon. Showering cost her spoon, just for washing her hair and shaving her legs. Reaching high and low that early in the morning could actually cost more than one spoon, but I figured I would give her a break; Getting dressed was worth another spoon. I stopped her and broke down every task to show her how every little detail needs to be thought about."

This just a very small, broken down part of The Spoon Theory. To read the whole thing click here. Do you know anyone with an invisible illness? I know loads of you have them yourselves, Have you found it difficult explaining your illness? What do you think of the spoon theory?


  1. I've never heard of this spoon theory before but it's so spot on, thanks for sharing hun.


  2. This just shows how much effort goes into being 'lazy'. It is such a shame people can't be more understanding about invisible illnesses because it must be so tough.

    Great post x

  3. this is completely true and a problem i face, often. Thanks for sharing :) xx

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  5. This is a great post and more people need to be educated about it.(I deleted my last comment as I felt it was too personal too share) but glad I came across your blog x