Skip to content
Home » Blog » Understanding Spoon Theory: What the Heck is with these Spoons?

Understanding Spoon Theory: What the Heck is with these Spoons?

We think it’s important for anyone who comes to our podcast and blog to understand what this Spoon Theory thing means, especially since the title of this podcast and blog is the Chronic Spoonful–and we keep referring to each other as “Spoonies.”

Most people when they come into the chronic illness community start seeing this spoonie thing referred to on a variety of websites. People start asking, “How many spoons did that take?” or “Did you even have any spoons left?” When you’re first doing your research, that sounds insane. Spoons? What the heck do spoons have to do with this pain, brain fog, and immense fatigue we’re feeling?

History of the Theory

Well, once upon a time, a woman named Christine Miserandino was trying to explain to her friend how her lupus affected her. So she handed her friend some spoons. Then for every activity in her day, she took away some spoons. So, a spoon was taken away for showering, getting dressed, standing on the train. If she skipped a meal, there went a spoon. By the time she got through her necessary tasks, she had no spoons left for anything else. And so…Spoon Theory was born!

Spoon theory relies on a person having a set number of spoons for that day, and each task takes away a number of those spoons. The only person who sets that number is you. Every person has a different number of spoons, and each task takes a different number of spoons for each person.

The theory took hold in the chronic illness community, because it’s an easy way to explain to people where you are in your chronic illness day. It’s also a kind of catchy way to relate to one another and bring us all under one umbrella community.

Can It Be Criticized?

Of course, with any good thing, there comes criticism. Spoon theory doesn’t really cover our days when we wake up energized and then suddenly plummet into a hole of nothingness (or vice versa: those rare days when we find that burst of energy half way through).

It also has been commandeered by other communities that really shouldn’t take it on. Sorry all you healthy people out there, but your normal fatigue does not get to take a spoon. Ever. If you do try to take spoons for your little nap, then you continue to marginalize this community that fights every day to have their invisible illnesses seen. Just stop. Now.

In any case, this is where Spoon Theory comes from, and how people with chronic illness got the nickname Spoonies. So hopefully that helps clear some things up. Feel free to add insight or ask questions in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share via
Copy link