I recently read an article describing what it feels like to be sick with a chronic illness and whether or not it’s a mental or physical disability (or both), most days we need an army of spoons just to get through. The “Spoon Theory” is simply a metaphor which was created by a woman by the name of Christine Miserandino who suffers from Lupus and one night while enjoying a dinner out with a friend she was caught off guard when her friend asked her what it truly felt like to be sick.
It is so difficult to really grasp a true understanding of what a person battling any mental or physical illness feels and as much as I try to help others understand, it’s really hard to lay out every detail and emotion of every single day. But using a handful of spoons (or any other cold metal object) could actually do the trick! You see, a healthy mind and body start off each morning with endless possibilities, they don’t need to think about how their actions or routines are going to affect their day like that of someone with a mental and/or physical disability would. This is where the spoons come into play!
As a healthy person holds the bouquet of spoons in their hand they never quite give a second thought as to how many spoons they will need in order to get through their day but when you are battling a physical and/or mental illness those spoons become your lifeline. When Christine handed her friend the arrangement of spoons and told her to count them one by one and to be conscious of how many she was holding in her hand, but more importantly to be very careful not to drop any of them as they are sacred to a person who is sick. Her friend did as she was told and counted them one by one but was disappointed to discover that she only had twelve all together and proceeded to ask for more. Christine laughed at her and explained that she wished she could find a way to have more than twelve spoons to hold on to most days.
These spoons are by no means a crutch, an excuse or a way to obtain sympathy but more so they are a means to an end. Each and every day I (and countless others) wake up and are immediately faced with challenges as well as many sacrifices and I can probably speak for those of us who face physical and/or mental struggles daily that we would give anything to not have to be faced with these internal/external struggles in order to keep going.
Now I’m gonna ask you to take a moment and think about your day to day routines, chores and leisure activities you do and as Christine told her friend, don’t leave anything out even if you think or it may seem so simple or mundane because they are not so simple and mundane for me. Just by opening my eyes each morning I have already lost my first spoon of the day because I can’t just jump out of bed to start my day. For starters, I have barely slept, I don’t want to get out of bed and then the anxiety, exhaustion and guilt begin to unravel the rest of my day and slowly take away a spoon at a time.
The energy it takes to physically get out of bed, to shower, to prepare a meal, to get dressed, to get to work or to go to school for many people struggling with a mental/physical disability can be so challenging that they have already lost six spoons before even leaving the house in the morning. And then there are the days where it’s still early in the evening and you only have one spoon left and have to make choices and sacrifices in order to make it right up until bedtime. Sometimes you may need to borrow a spoon or two from tomorrow just to get through today but then you run the risk of feeling even more depleted tomorrow.
I hate feeling like I always have to make choices and sacrifices that can often affect other people around me but when I’m faced with losing that very last spoon I have to in order to keep a reserve of spoons for days ahead and it’s especially important to have that reserve in order to do the things I can with the people I want holding my “spoons” the most.