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  • Using the Spoon Theory as a Patient with a Chronic Illness

    Posted by Charlene Marshall on October 15, 2018 at 7:37 am

    Original publication site and photo can be found here.

    Many of us living with a chronic illness have heard of the Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino, as a means of explaining the reduced amount of energy available for our daily activities. “Spoons” are used to visually represent how much energy a patient has throughout each day, slowly reducing the total amount as each activity uses 1 (or more) “spoons”, depending on the exertion or intensity of energy required. To read more about the spoon theory, including a visual of how this works and why it is beneficial when trying to quantify the amount of energy available you have as a patient with a chronic illness, click here.

    Today I was having a discussion with a friend about a difficult situation within my family that I’ve been navigating. Her response to my sentiment “I just feel completely out of spoons!” (referencing my fatigue) made it blatantly obvious that she had never heard of the Spoon Theory. I reference this all the time among my friends with a chronic illness, or “spoonies” as we sometimes refer to ourselves, however, I had forgotten that this is likely not a common topic among those who are healthy. I find it such a great way to help others understand that different activities (even though required daily) take up different amounts of energy for me, and when you only have so much in a day; other things have to be put aside or changed/cancelled. It is an easy way for me to quantify my energy, since sometimes I may not look sick but I can’t keep up to other colleagues, friends or young adults my age.

    As a result of how helpful the Spoon Theory has been for me, I often share it with other communities or groups of people living with a chronic illness. I thought it might help some of you on this forum as well.

    Had/have you ever heard of the Spoon Theory?

    Has it been beneficial for you (or do you think it could be) when explaining your limited amount of energy in a day while living with IPF/PF? 

    I’d love to hear your thoughts!

    Charlene Marshall replied 5 years, 7 months ago 2 Members · 2 Replies
  • 2 Replies
  • Michelle Lantis-Harms

    October 16, 2018 at 9:10 am

    I first read about the Spoon Theory on a Lupus group I was in. I absolutely love the way it explains chronic illnesses. I also remind myself that if I choose to do an, what for me is, extreme activity such as taking my granddaughter to the zoo, I know have to give myself a lot of downtime afterwards to refill my spoons. Thanks for bringing the Spoon Theory to this group, I never thought about it! Have a great day everyone!!!

  • Charlene Marshall

    October 16, 2018 at 7:21 pm

    Hi Michelle,

    Thanks so much for contributing to this topic! Like you, I love the way the Spoon Theory helps us explain or quantify our already-limited energy when living with a chronic illness. The founder of this theory actually has Lupus so it makes sense that you discovered it in a group for that disease. I find not only does this help others understand how different activities of daily living take up different amounts of spoons (ie. energy) but it helps us create a bit of a baseline/balance too. So glad you found it helpful and applicable to this group, thanks for writing 🙂

    Take care,

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