Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Spoon Theory

Since Christine Miserandino posted her Spoon Theory on what it's like to live with a chronic debilitating illness a number of years ago those like me who live with chronic pain or a chronic illness have found it a useful way to explain just what it's like to have to deal with this every day.

I thought this was very widely known but apparently not everyone - including those who would benefit from it in explaining their situation - has heard of it. What made me realise this was that I was having a particularly bad day yesterday and when I mentioned to a friend who also suffers from a chronic illness that I was out of 'spoons' I was greeted by a puzzled silence. Then I posted on Facebook about it and another friend asked what I meant. So I thought I should revisit Christine Miserandino's post and link to it.

One thing I should stress is that the Spoon Theory applies to chronic illness. It doesn't relate to those days any normally healthy person has when they're tired. Chronic illness is draining, debilitating and disrupts your life. If you suffer chronic pain or illness - or both - there are days when you literally cannot do things that healthy people take for granted. And I get it - it's very hard for you, the healthy person, to grasp why it is I pull out of a social engagement at the last moment or why I say if I'm asked to go somewhere that I'll see. I'm not being inconsiderate or difficult. It's simply that I am at the mercy of my body and I don't know whether I will be able to do what I would like to.

I'll give you an example. Pisces and I have been invited to two events this weekend, one on each day. The first is a family birthday party and the other is an outing with a group of friends which will involve a bit of walking. Both are some distance from where we live. When I replied I said that we'd love to come but I had to add the caveat that I'd make a final decision on the day. Am I being difficult or deliberately obstructive? No, I'm not. But I got the distinct impression from one friend that she thinks I am. Can her reaction change anything? Will I suddenly be able to commit? No - but the reaction does leave me feeling that I am being annoying and/or inconsiderate. Honestly, I don't need that on top of everything else but it happens all the time and just makes life that bit harder.

I get that it's inconvenient and I wish I could be more reliable but I can't - and that's where the Spoon Theory comes in so handy as a short cut explanation. Everyone has at least one person with a chronic illness in their lives so have a look. You can find it here.

Edited because I realised I had misspelled Christine Miserandino's name. Don't know how I missed that.


Jo said...

I started reading the spoon theory Helen. Not enough time now but have saved it to read later. It looks an excellent way of explaining.

Helen V. said...

It is useful, Jo, mostly because it makes the intangible tangible so it's easier understand.

Jo said...

I have read the Spoon Theory now and yes, it does make it easier to understand. I am not chronically ill, but I can see where this applies to those of you who are. It made me sad just reading it. This morning we had to heave Matt's bed around because the carpet layer was coming, at the end my back was killing me. Luckily once I sit down for a while, it goes, but I could fit it into the spoon theory very well. I have saved the article too.

Helen V. said...

I'm glad you found it interesting, Jo.