How to describe Chronic Illness using Spoon Theory

Spoon Theory? Have you ever heard of it?

I hadn’t until my 20 something daughter texts me to say she was going to take a nap so she can conserve her spoons.

My son and I both replied “spoons? lol”

Later she texts back to tell us to look up Spoon Theory. If you have a chronic illness, auto-immune illness, autism, anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, and MORE understanding the spoon theory can help others understand your illness and the effect it can have on your life that others take for granted. For instance, not able to make it through the day with the energy that you have, something people that don’t have a chronic illness rarely have a problem with. They have an abundance of energy and don’t think about conserving their energy to get things done throughout the day.

The person that came up with this theory has Lupus. Her friend wanted to know even though she had been to doctors appts. and drove her around for errands. She was shocked that her friend didn’t understand how she felt every day. They were at a restaurant and she just grabbed spoons and gave them to her. She said now let’s talk about your day. She started to take her spoons away after each activity. Her friend was disappointed. Her friend wanted to keep the spoons but she said NO! I didn’t have a choice with my health and now you don’t have a choice with your spoons!

If you want to read about it more you can read it here

Let’s say you have a thyroid condition with depression and anxiety (like me). You are given 12 spoons a day to spend on each activity that you do throughout your day.

You wake up and get out of bed could cost you 1 spoon.

Taking a shower: washing your body and hair, putting on lotion after the shower, AND getting dressed could cost you 2-3 spoons. I usually skip blow drying my hair and makeup. It will take away more spoons.

Now you are down to 10 spoons. Next is eating breakfast and taking your medicine.

That’s another 2 spoons.

My cat needs to be played with as well. And fed. I have to take him outside as well. He visits his (our) neighbors. I follow him around the back yards. I’m hoping everyone has their curtains closed and not see us so I don’t have to talk to them. That takes energy from me as well. Not that I don’t love talking to my neighbors, it’s just on certain days that I didn’t sleep well it’s tiring to stand there and talk. That could cost me 3 spoons!

Now I am down to 5 spoons and it’s not even noon yet! This is when you start planning your day out for the rest of the 5 spoons. Do I have a frozen meal for dinner that I can put in the oven before my hubby gets home from work? What about laundry? Folding and putting the laundry away. What other chores that I have to do or can I put off for the next day?

Now you are down to 8 spoons. Luckily for me, I work from my home office and I can sit and meditate and gain back some energy. In the article, her friend gets down to her last spoon. They discuss making dinner and crashing, or order take out which you don’t have the energy to drive to go get it? Her friend says to make soup and call it a day. She is then left with zero spoons. None. Zilch.

Some days may be better than other days. It also depends if you sleep well the night before. Some days if you want to clean the house you may have to “borrow” spoons from tomorrow. You may know that tomorrow you will be wiped out if you clean the house. Taking care of yourself, and your spoons are essential. Figuring out how much energy you have for a day can help you have a better and productive day. It can help you visually to know what tasks will take more energy. It can help you plan your day out. If you have a doctor’s appt that day, you know that you won’t have enough spoons to do laundry and cleaning that day. It may help reduce the anxiety in your life, or It could help you to tell your significant other that “hey, tomorrow is a really busy day, and I know I will not be up to making dinner, can you help me out?” It may reduce arguments as well if you can plan your day out in advance.

I am proud of my daughter!! She realizes that taking care of yourself is a priority if you want to have a good day. This exercise may help you with anxiety, frustration, anger, or any other feeling you or somebody in your life may have. It can help visually explain to others how you are feeling and why you don’t have energy throughout the day.

Do you think this could help you in your life? Would it bring the stress level down knowing you won’t have to do everything in a day? Let me know in the comments. I would love to hear if it can help you.

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