Lately I have found myself running pretty low on spoons. I’ve never been very good at managing my spoons anyway, but the last few weeks have seen my supplies dwindle to almost nothing.
For some of you, this will make complete and utter sense, for others you’ll likely be thinking, ‘Huh? Like, you collect spoons? Have some kind of spoon fetish? Buy and sell spoons on eBay?’ Let me explain.
In 2003, Christine Miserandino, who has Lupus, developed ‘The Spoon Theory’ as an effective way of describing what it is like to live day to day with a chronic illness. The idea is that people living with a condition have a limited amount of energy, or ‘spoons’, that they can use throughout the day. Having a shower, for example, may cost you 1 spoon, getting dressed will cost another and so on. Once you have used up all your spoons you have no energy left for the remainder of the day.
As Miserandino puts it, “Most people start the day with unlimited amount of possibilities and energy to do whatever they desire… When you are healthy you expect to have a never-ending supply of ‘spoons’. But when you have to now plan your day [due to an illness] you need to know exactly how many ‘spoons’ you are starting with… Sometimes you can borrow against tomorrow’s ‘spoons’, but just think how hard tomorrow will be with less ‘spoons'”.
It took me a while to get my head around this theory when I first came across it almost 9 years ago, which I think I can put down to the fact that I was stuck in the deepest of denial and simply struggled to comprehend having less energy to do even the simplest of tasks. Oh, who am I kidding, I still struggle to comprehend having to juggle my energy all these years later. Sometimes I wake up brimming over with spoons, only to find they’ve all but vanished once I’ve served the kids their breakfast. Like I said, I’ve never been very good at managing my spoons.
A classic example of bad spoon management occurred last week when, fresh from my weekend drama (see previous post, ‘The Lurgy’) I decided it would be a good idea to go to work. Bearing in mind that a full day at work requires a full set of spoons and that having a cold automatically rendered my spoon supplies dangerously low. Of course, when you are ill you should rest. I know that. But I refuse to accept it. So off I plodded into work with legs that could barely stand and a body that could barely function. I at least had the sense to use my wheelchair, but of course all that did was draw attention to my pathetic state and cause my colleagues to flap! I didn’t last very long, and ended up dragging my spoonless self back home and into bed before the clock had even struck 11, but I felt good for having tried.
On days like this I often try ransacking the cutlery drawer in search of more spoons, only to find useless reserves of knives, forks, spatulas and, occasionally, a corkscrew. But even a glorious corkscrew can’t help when all you need is a spoon.
You can read ‘The Spoon Theory’ in full here: https://butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/