One question we often get asked is the meaning of the word ‘Spoonie’. Those of us who have been in the chronic illness community for a long time often forget that it isn’t actually a part of others’ everyday vocabulary, so here we’ve put together a short explanation of where the word ‘Spoonie’ comes from, and why those with chronic illnesses like to use it.
Basically, ‘Spoonie’ is a slang word for a chronic illness sufferer. It derives from ‘The Spoon Theory’, created by Christine Miserandino, which you can read for yourself here. The basic idea is that somebody with a chronic illness begins each day with a particular number of metaphorical spoons; these represent a their energy levels for the day. As the day goes by, these metaphorical spoons slowly diminish, as the person runs out of energy. Tasks that are more energy-consuming require more spoons, and sometimes people have to borrow tomorrow’s spoons to get things done… leading to less spoons and a tougher day the next day. By explaining energy levels using spoons, physical items that people can imagine for themselves, healthy people can often better understand something that is typically invisible or difficult to see in those with debilitating health conditions.
Though The Spoon Theory was created by somebody with a chronic illness, it is often referred to by people with other disabilities or mental illnesses too, who can often relate to the idea of limited energy expenditure, and not know how to explain it to their healthy friends. Whilst ‘healthy’ people don’t often have to give a second thought to their energy levels when deciding what to do with their day, us chronic illness fighters have to plan things meticulously, and use our spoons wisely. As Christine says, ‘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’. That’s why the term ‘Spoonie’ has become established in the chronic illness community over time: it’s a way for people to identify themselves and explain the struggles they go through on a daily basis, in comparison to healthy people.
So, why Spoonie Survival Kits? We want to support anyone who can relate to this theory, and we hope our project can remind all of you lovely Spoonies that you CAN do this!