The idea of spoons when it comes to chronic illness is that spoons are akin to energy. Counting your spoons is the idea of tracking how much energy you have and what you need to do and balancing those two in hopes of avoiding running out of spoons.
The idea is that healthy people have seemingly unlimited spoons (or energy), while those of us living with fatigue-related illnesses have a very finite number of spoons that can be used much faster than if we were healthy.
The concept comes from The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino. I named this blog after that idea because when I first got sick I was introduced to this theory and it hit me hard how true it was in my life. It was the best explanation I’d seen at that point for what it’s like to live with this overwhelming fatigue and to find your life so terribly limited.
Recently, I received a message on Facebook or twitter from someone that they’d stopped counting their spoons and just decided to do whatever they could and not worry about it.
The truth is I’ve never really “counted spoons”. I’ve never said I have this many spoons or been able to determine how many spoons an activity takes. My friend Jessica recently reminded me of this. She pointed out that what the Spoon Theory is really about is moderation. It teaches us that we need to learn how to pace and live in moderation, and not just doing so without thinking about tomorrow.
The truth is that when it comes to our energy, or to spoons as we Spoonies call it, there is not a set number of spoons that we have to begin with. There is no way to conserve spoons for tomorrow. We just don’t know how many spoons (or how much energy) we will have at any point. We could wake up feeling awesome like we have all the energy in the world then boom a shower later and we are ready to climb back in bed for the day.
So, what’s the point of the Spoon Theory?
To me the point of the spoon theory is that it’s an analogy that helps us explain to others what it’s like to live with limited energy. It’s not to say you should keep some sort of log of your spoon count and know exactly where you are in any given day. But, we do need to keep moderation in mind. We do need to think about tomorrow and keep in mind that if we overdo it today, doing anything tomorrow might not be an option. So, while I don’t think we can necessarily conserve our energy, I do think that we can overuse our energy and deplete it faster than we should.
We can make choices to pace ourselves, to take things a little slower, to remember to rest and take breaks. Those choices can help us have a better chance of seeing our energy last.
- Tips for Pacing When You Have Chronic Illness
- The Importance of Pacing and Fibromyalgia
- I didn’t write the Spoon Theory, I Just Live It!