Spoons? What’s that all about?

Ok, a lot of you might wonder why we’re talking about spoons. What is a spoon besides a utensil to eat with? What is a spoonie?

Once there was a girl with lupus. Trying to make people understand what you can do in a day is hard, so she invented ‘The Spoon Theory‘.
Everything you do costs 1 spoon or even more.
Where a healthy person has 20 spoons, someone with a chronic illness might only have 10 spoons, or more or less, depending on the illness.

Let’s say you have 10 spoons and you have to get through the day, what choices would you make?
Remember that everything you do will cost a spoon. Waking up, showering, making breakfast, eating breakfast, getting dressed. For some showering and getting dressed might even take 2 spoons. Let’s say at this point you already used up 7 out of 10 spoons, and the day just started.

The Spoon Theory tells you, you can borrow spoons from the day after, but then you will feel worse and you will have even less spoons so you don’t really want to do that.


After telling you this I don’t have to tell you what a spoonie is right? We are! Spoonies are people dealing with a chronic illness.

Does the Spoon Theory always work?
Amber: Yes, and no. I mean, it’s an easy way to explain but for me, it doesn’t work like that.
I see my energy as a battery that needs to be recharged very often, it can stop all of a sudden and you never know when.
Also when it comes to how much energy I will have during the day; it depends on what I ‘have’ to do.
When I wake up and I don’t feel well I shouldn’t do anything. If I have to, because I have an appointment or when I used to go to school, it will get worse, very fast, and it will stay like that all day, and maybe even the next.
If I can just relax and see when my body feels a bit better before I start to do things, I can do a lot more. I need a lot of breaks, and I don’t mean ‘sit down on a chair’, but real breaks, lay down, close my eyes.
I can feel ok now, and by the time I put on my coat to go to the store I feel terrible. I can feel better again 30 minutes later.
This is why I have to do things the moment I feel good enough. It’s very frustrating and you get anxiety because you never know when you will feel bad, and you don’t want it to happen outside of the house since you won’t be able to rest.
I do have some days where I almost feel normal, they are rare, only a couple of times a year, but sadly I never know when I will have a good day, which makes it impossible to plan things.

After 11 years I invented my own theory. It would be like watching a movie online. You know a movie needs some time to load before you can watch it. When you try to speed up the process it will freeze for a while or it will keep buffering a lot for the rest of the movie, so you will have to be patient for it to work.null

May: When I first heard the spoon theory I thought it was genius but as time has gone on I don’t think it quite fits for me. I still think it is a great way of explaining to people how you have to ration your energy and how even the little things take up time and energy you might not have. But I think it leads people to believe we might all start our day with the same number of spoons, or that we can save them up to use later. There is no guarantee that if you have 5 spoons for your morning and you only use 3 that it will mean you have 2 extra spoons for the afternoon

What if you have a big day, does it help to do nothing the days before so you will have enough energy?
Amber: Not for me, I know it works for others, but sadly it doesn’t matter for me. I can be very busy the week before and feel ‘fine’ or I can rest a lot, eat healthy and try to feel good and feel like crap. It’s like Russian Roulette every day, I just have to wait and see.

May: It’s almost the opposite if you try and save spoons up or hoard them then your body goes ok we don’t need that many spoons so I will give you less next time. I’ve found preserving your spoons by using them when you have them is the only way to go because you never know when they might go poof! Staying in bed all day one day does not mean you’ll have those spoons for tomorrow. If only it did I could have great days every second day! It’s not like maths there is no set formula or logic.


2 thoughts on “Spoons? What’s that all about?

  1. Hi Amber. I just found your blog via Meet Me at Mike’s. Thanks for explaining what it’s like to live with chronic illness via the ‘spoon theory’. That gives me some idea of what it must be like. It sounds extremely difficult and I’m sure it is. I hope you have a good weekend changing your bedroom and finishing your knitted scarf project. All the best from China, Isabel


    1. Thank you so much. Yes, it is difficult but the most difficult thing is family and friends who don’t seem to understand. This is why I decided to write about it, it can’t hurt to tell people what it’s like. You never know if you’re going to meet someone someday with a chronic illness. 🙂


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