My theories about the Spoon Theory

Controversial: I’m not a Warrior! Or an inspiration. Or brave.
11 January 2023
A motorised / off-road wheelchair use in a field. He is wearing his red Wheelchair Rugby kit
Since When Was I Disabled?
17 July 2023
From the left, Mark has rolled his chair into picture. He is wearing a black top with smiley emojis down the arm. He is leaning far forwards and looking at the camera. To the right is a Spring garden background…

A tired man in his Spring garden, yesterday.

I think I have written about this before, but I have been utterly overwhelmed by fatigue these last ten days. Work, campaigning and social media had to be jettisoned. I think and I hope I’m emerging, but in any case in a brief clearing of the fog, I’ll put finger to tablet.

The Spoon Theory was written by Christine Miserando in an attempt to explain chronic (ie forever, relentless) fatigue and disability over just being knackered. She has another auto-immune disease called Lupus.

In a crap summary of her eloquent analogy, we all have a certain number of spoons allocated per day to accomplish tasks from the trivial – getting dressed – to the bonkers – running a marathon.

A healthy person can – for example – get dressed without a thought. Wash, prepare brekkie, ready for another day. They can focus on the fun, productive stuff.

For a chronically ill person, with Lupus or Multiple Sclerosis or whatever, that simple start to the day costs us a spoon or three. And with only a certain number of spoons ‘allotted’, the choice between washing, eating and – whisper it quietly – doing something productive in a day – can be painfully stark.

During this uber-exhausted period, I’ve had to favour staying fed and watered, and staying present for my family, over pretty much anything else. No spoons beyond that. Please please read Christine’s essay above for a far better explanation!

That’s why you hear some people in the disabled community calling themselves ‘Spoonies’. And why some of my friends call to ask after my spoons before booking something. Weird I know.

Anyway, my theories and observations in brief:

1. I’ve never found a better way of explaining chronic fatigue or managing disability.

2. A couple of years ago, I definitely got a little hung up on it as a way of living – almost a religious adherence – rather than it just being an analogy. Did I miss out on some outings and adventures because I was scared of running out of spoons? Probably.

3. Theory number 2 is important to remember to avoid shutting down completely. I can push myself and sometimes go into ‘spoon deficit’. I’ll pay for it afterwards with a period of zombie-dom. But occasionally it’s worth it.

4. Those 3 points were roughly it. All I planned to write. Then these last few days hit. For no particular reason. Because Multiple Sclerosis. And I was stared down by a lack of spoons. No energy. No adventures. Just existing. I can’t currently go overdrawn. I can’t push myself. I just wait for better times. The Spoon Theory comes into its own. No marathons are imminent.

In summary… Meh!






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