Explain rheumatoid fatigue with the spoons theory

autoimmune chronic pain Hidden disability Invisible illness joint pain rheumatoid rheumatoid arthritis rheumatoid disease Spoons theory

three spoons on a blue background

Fatigue is one of the most common rheumatoid symptoms, but it can be hard for people to understand. How can you explain it?

The Spoons Theory is a personal story written by Christine Miserandino. In the story, Christine is speaking with a friend in a cafe. She uses the spoons in front of her to explain what it is like to live with a chronic illness and only have a limited amount of energy each day.

Imagine that every morning you are given a certain number of spoons - say 10 -  and each day there are tasks that require one or two spoons each to perform.

Waking up and getting ready in the morning - that’s one spoon….making breakfast - that’s another….laundry, unloading the dishwasher, an evening out with friends, cooking dinner for our family...each task requires a unit of energy or a spoon.

As the day unfolds, you give up more and more spoons, until you inevitably run out. If you haven’t done all the things that you wanted to do, it can feel very frustrating.

If you or someone you care about suffers from a chronic illness, the “Spoons Theory” is worth a read.

We love this personal story because it helps those with an illness educate others on what they are going through in a typical day. It also helps others without an illness relate and understand how life is different.

The spoons theory can help explain to those around you that you aren’t unsocial, flakey or uninterested, you simply are out of the necessary energy to attend that lunch, go for after-work drinks or anything else you’re ‘out of spoons for’.

It also helps those of us with a chronic illness prioritize our days. We have a good idea of how many spoons we have in a day… how can we best spend them?


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