Do You Need Spoons To Read This Blog Post?
Many of the people that we support, and in the wider community, suffer from chronic conditions that cause them to feel pain or tiredness throughout the day. Conditions such as Lupus, ME and Fibromyalgia can leave you feeling incredibly drained, with no warning about when your symptoms will flare up. This means that you can feel full of energy one day, but unable to get out of bed the next. It can be incredibly difficult to explain your symptoms to someone else, especially if you look healthy on the outside.
Christine Miserandino, an award winning blogger who suffers from Lupus, has come up with an innovative new way to talk about her symptoms with friends. Healthy people, she argues, have an unlimited number of spoons per day, whereas people who suffer from chronic conditions only have (e.g.) twelve. If this seems a little bizarre, please stick with me. Each task that Christine completes takes one spoon when she is unwell. Sometimes, just waking up in the morning can cost you a spoon, especially if you have medication to take or if you didn’t have enough sleep. Getting dressed, making breakfast and getting out of the house, these tasks can cost you a spoon each. For muscle conditions like Lupus, even choosing your clothes can take up a lot of energy. For example, if your hands are very sore that day, clothes with buttons are out of the question.
By the evening you might not have enough spoons to make dinner or go out with friends. In contrast, when Christine is feeling well she may find that it only costs her one spoon to do her morning routine. She is able to do all her activities during the day with spoons left in the evening to socialise, or do something that she enjoys.
Using this technique, Christine is able to tell her friends and carers when she is not feeling well enough to go out or needs extra support, without having to go into detail about her symptoms. She simply tells them that she ‘doesn’t have enough spoons.’ The Spoons Theory also makes you think about hurdles that people with chronic conditions have to overcome as part of their daily lives, and is a useful exercise for people supporting them. Next time you are trying to explain to someone what living with chronic pain is like, why not use Christine’s Theory? You can read it in full here.