If you’re on Twitter, you’ve probably seen the #Spoonie hashtag at some point or another. If you are a spoonie, you’ve probably used it yourself. If you have an invisible illness or even a visible illness and haven’t worked out what a spoonie is, the answer is you probably are.
The term originated from a post written by Christine Miserandino entitled The Spoon Theory. Spoonies are people that live with chronic illness; theoretically measuring personal daily abilities in the proper amount of spoons needed for an event or occasion… sometimes having an abundance, other times coming up short.
The term chronic just means the course of the disease or illness lasts for more than three months. In my case, I have chronic anxiety and have had recurring acute depression but they go hand in hand, so let’s just say I have chronic anxiety and depression. It’s like a permanent raincloud following me around combined with a voice telling me anything and everything can go wrong.
I think it’s easier to recognise how a physical/visible illness can affect daily abilities although as Christine explained, you can’t truly understand. An invisible illness is much harder as “you don’t look sick” and most people find it easier to recognise something they can see.
After reading The Spoon Theory, I decided that it was probably the best way to get Mr Me to understand, as well as anyone else around me who maybe would want an insight so I decided to create The Basic Spoon List. For 2days, I am going to give Mr Me 12 spoons (possibly 15 if I feel like being genereous) and The Basic Spoon List (see below). And I mean basic because I don’t think it would be fair to give him the list that is actually my life – it’s hard enough for me as it is!
So here’s the list for him and the amount of spoons each action uses with an explanation for most – I hope by seeing my days broken down into such complexity and how much effort each thing takes will help him to understand why I am always tired and rarely want to do a damn thing:
- Get out of bed: -1 or 2 spoons depending on how many spoons used the day before, how much sleep you’ve managed and how tired you feel physically and mentally.
- Get dressed/washed/brush teeth: -1 spoon for getting all things done unless this is part of getting ready to leave the house
- Make food: -1 spoon but considering you have to make the kids food 3 times a day as well as 2 adults food 2/3 times a day, this can equal a lot of spoons
- Eat food: -0.5 spoon for each time you manage to eat a meal because the effort of making the meal usually makes you tired.
- Make a small decision: -0.5 spoon ie deciding what takeaway to order, deciding whether to buy a pair of boots or trainers, deciding what nail colour to buy because you’re wondering if Mr Me will like it and so forth.
- Making a big decision: -2 spoons as this can result in an anxiety attack which has it’s own amount of spoons ie choosing a school to send Mini Me 1 (caused an anxiety attack), sorting out finances, deciding to study or go to work or stay at home etc.
- Decide to go out and actually go out: -2.5 spoons as you have to make a decision, get ready to go out and actually leave the house.
- Get Mini Me/s ready: -1 spoon each. This could be more if a Mini is not cooperating.
- Do the dishes: -1 spoon if all dishes are done. 05 if some is completed.
- Do laundry: -1 spoon (2 spoons if folding and putting away laundry also) this varies but I usually do one load, dry one load and fold one load.
- Tidy 1 entire room: -2 spoons if it looks like the room was destroyed by a massive house party.
- Be “out”: -2 spoons but could go up to 7 spoons if I’m out all day for some reason, with one or both children and the likes. Especially if I have to be social. Lord help me if I have to be social!
- The highly recommended exercise: -4 spoons if done properly because deciding to do it, getting ready, possibly leaving the house and actually working up a sweat.. but not as many spoons because it’s good for you and you will feel better for it.
- Have sex: -6 spoons because I have to think about it, decide I want it, make it happen, and physically participate (plus I like it rough LOL)
- Play group with Mini Me 2: -4 spoons – decide to go out and actually go out + get 1 child ready + be social!
- Blogging: Minimum -2 spoons for thinking, creating, typing and promoting.
- Random body ache: -2 spoons. This can be anything from a headache, backache, stiff neck.
- Period: -2 spoons for every day of medium to heavy bleeding because all I want to do is eat, sleep and be warm.
- Illness: -3 spoons because even women struggle when their throat and sinus is burning, their nose is running, their ears are blocked and they still have to parent.
- Have an argument/confrontation: -3 spoons because of the energy it takes to participate in an argument, being able to care above your depression and not having an anxiety attack if you’re lucky
- Anxiety/panic attack: -4 spoons. Crying, hyperventilating, panicking, overthinking, sweating, racing heart, and trying to ride it out uses a tonne of energy! -7 spoons if this is the result of a confrontation/argument.
So, there you have a basic list of daily activities or events that drain me bit by bit. Writing this helped me to realise I am way exceeding my daily allowance – I’ve probably borrowed so many spoons from the next day that come the end of the week, I’m literally running on empty.
If you’re a spoonie, what uses your spoons most regularly? What’s the one thing you would like to be able to do without having the thought in the back of your mind that you’re going to be exhausted when you’re done?