Chronic Illness: What’s a Spoonie Anyway?

Are you a spoonie? If you have a chronic illness or know someone who does then you may have heard this term before. But if you’re like me, before my illness, I had no knowledge of the term.

So, What’s a Spoonie?

A spoonie refers to anyone who has a chronic illness. This can include:

There are others too, but this covers some of the most well-known chronic illnesses.

The Spoon Theory

Christine Miserandino developed The Spoon Theory to help explain to her friend what it’s like to live with a chronic illness, in her case lupus. Even though her friend had been beside her throughout her illness, she struggled to understand what it was really like.

To explain the theory to her friend, Christine handed her a bunch of spoons and said, “Here you go, you have Lupus”.

Next, she “explained that the difference in being sick and being healthy is having to make choices or to consciously think about things when the rest of the world doesn’t have to. The healthy have the luxury of a life without choices, a gift most people take for granted. ”

She then asked her friend to count how many spoons she had. She explained for each activity, or daily task, her friend did (such as washing her hair, shaving her legs, getting dressed, typing on a computer, and standing on a train) she would have to give up a spoon.

She told her friend that if she didn’t choose her spoons wisely she would be out of spoons before the day had barely started.

At the end of the hypothetical day her friend only had one spoon left, and was starving. If she cooked dinner, that would cost her the final spoon. But then she wouldn’t have any left to wash the dishes. On the other hand, if she went out for dinner, she might lack the energy to drive herself home.

Although my battle with Lyme disease is going on close to 4 years now, I had wondered until recently what a Spoonie was, that is until I came across The Spoon Theory. I shared it with my sweet Mom and she thought it was a great way to explain what I’ve been through and what others go through every day.

Chronic illness? Check out The Spoon Theory.

No Sob Stories Here

So, my purpose is not to tell a sob story about myself or anyone else. 😉

My intention is to share this insightful concept, The Spoon Theory, with you so it might help you and the ones you love.

If you have a chronic illness you may want to consider sharing the theory with loved ones to help them better understand what your daily life is truly like. As much as they love you and care about what you’re going through, chances are they don’t fully get it, because it’s truly hard to understand if you haven’t lived it yourself.

I didn’t have a clue what chronic illness was all about until I had became ill with Lyme disease and 4 other chronic illnesses (Sjogren’s, Mixed Connective Tissue Disease, fibromyalgia and chronic migraine).

It wasn’t that I didn’t care about people going through health crises, because I did. But I see it very differently now and I’m thankful for the Spoon Theory to help others better understand what it’s like.

It’s so not fun having to cancel plans with family and friends at the last-minute because you’re “all out of spoons” but now I’m thankful to have The Spoon Theory in my back pocket to help when I need it most!

Please check out my website:

I would love to hear from you!

Do you have a chronic illness or know someone who does? Do you think you might use the Spoon Theory to help your loved ones better understand what you’re going through?

Originally published at on February 24, 2016.