Chronic Illness = Less Spoons

For many chronically ill they really have to plan out your days.  There is an excellent story by Christine Miserandino about the Spoon Theory.  In case you haven’t read it or don’t know it hereis the original link. The fundamental principle is that we all have only so many spoons that we can use during the day. Each activity we do takes away a spoon.  In any given day we can use all our spoons in one morning and have nothing left to support us the rest of the day.

Christine explains to her friend that each task in the day requires energy and that when you have chronic pain or illness, these simple tasks can take a lot of work. Just taking a shower in a day can sometimes make you lose a few spoons.  When you are managing an illness, you also have to manage the expectation of others. There is a lot of pressure to be “normal,” and that can cause stress, anxiety, and guilt. Balancing our spoons helps us to better understand what we can and cannot do in a day.

Here is a great infographic to show the spoon theory in action:


On days when we know that we have a big evening event planned we may just spend the morning on the couch or stay in bed and sleep.  There may be other days where we have enough spoons to make it through the entire morning and evening.

However, we often don’t know when our spoons will run out. One minute we will feel completely normal and the next something has taken all our spoons that we didn’t think would. These moments are maddening, depressing and lonely. We have to fight our way through all the pain, exhaustion and tears.  There is no set number of spoons that a person gets in one day.

Taking the time to manage the expectations of those around you and with yourself can help to elevate guilt and heartbreak when you have to change plans. People will understand, and your body will thank you for listening to it. Your self-care will help you manage your symptoms better and have more days where you don’t run out of spoons.


Till Next Time – Jamie

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Inner Balance Counseling