Spoonies are people that live with chronic illness; theoretically measuring personal daily abilities much as one would measure the proper amount of spoons needed for an event or occasion… sometimes having an abundance, other times coming up short. For example, daily activities that healthy people tend not to think about take tolls on people with chronic illness. You start the day with a certain number of spoons, and play your day around not running out. Socializing might cost spoons, using the stairs might cost spoons, lifting things might cost spoons, etc.
Here at MPC, we are always watching the web for information about the relationship of the mind and body with regard to chronic pain. In my view, the Spoonie phenomenon is one of the most positive developments I’ve seen. Here’s why.
One of the most challenging aspects of living with chronic pain is the feeling of isolation. Since no one can truly understand what another person is feeling, people in pain often feel trapped in their own world which is defined by what they can and cannot do because it hurts. They might start out talking about it with friends and family, but this soon decreases when they start getting those cold glance and, in some cases, outright rejection. The fact is that very few people want to hear about someone’s pain more than once or twice. So where does that leave the pain person? Quite alone. Enter Spoonie World.
In my various online searches about chronic pain, I started coming across the spoonie idea. I started seeing Twitter and Facebook posts from people identifying themselves as spoonies and I saw references to how many spoons someone felt they had on a particular day. Of course my reaction was huh?! Spoonies?! So I looked further.
I found a collection of chronic pain people that was easily identified and very supportive of it’s members. Importantly, it arose spontaneously and has no central organization. This makes it a truly organic and people-driven concept. Simply talking about being a spoonie was instantly understood without any need to elaborate on the specifics. One can join and be accepted by just referring to it in one’s posts or identifying as a spoonie. Other spoonies instantly understand what is being said at the most important level, the emotional which is why I think the spoonie idea is most valuable.
The accepted understanding of the emotional toll chronic pain takes on one’s daily life is the best aspect of Spoonie World. It helps to alleviate the feeling of isolation, while offering a sense of purpose. The purpose is that of extending assistance and understanding to other spoonies. This can refocus attention on others rather than oneself and that can help reduce the suffering for both involved.
I hope no one ever claims ownership of Spoonie World. It’s finest feature is its honesty and people-driven existence. If you ever start seeing things like “*80% of Spoonies agree that Product X…..” or some such nonsense, please refer back to this article. Spoonie World is all about its individual members supporting each other by acknowledging the emotional roller coaster they endure. May it continue thrive and spread the caring for others idea to the benefit of all chronic pain people.
Spoonie: A person living with chronic illness, that identifies with Christine Miserandino’s Spoon Theory.