For those who are healthy, the word “spoons” may mean little more than something you use to eat your cereal. For chronic illness sufferers, it has a special place in our hearts thanks to Christine Miserandino from But You Don’t Look Sick. Christine has Lupus and was faced with the challenge of trying to explain how her illness makes her feel to a friend. Although written for her specific situation, the story has clear applications for anyone with Chronic Illnesses and has been picked up by the community as a whole. Please take a few minutes to read Christine’s Spoon Theory. It is a few pages long, but I promise it is worth the time.
I remember first coming across Christine’s story online and it was like a light bulb for me. I was so excited to read it and to have a great way to try to explain how my day to day life had shifted to my family & friends. Christine’s words speak so clearly to so many people that it has literally become a pervasive reference among those who are chronically ill. So much so, that you can do a #spoonie search on Twitter and come up with pages and pages of results. You can find results via Google, on Pinterest, Tumbler and Instagram – anywhere a spoonie may choose to express themselves, you’ll find the tag.
As it is alluded to in the name of Christine’s site, many auto-immune diseases are Invisible Illnesses and those diagnosed won’t appear sick, but inside they are often battling with some form of pain and fatigue. Although I firmly believe that most of those with a chronic illness don’t want or seek other’s pity or sympathy, I think the Spoon Theory can aid in bridging the gap between the chronically ill and the healthy, providing much greater understanding and helping everyone to take advantage of the remarkable power of empathy.