What Is A Spoonie? An Explanation Of This Popular Chronic Illness Theory

What is a spoonie. The spoonie theory explained.

Although the spoonie theory has been around for 14 years, it would be a few more years until I heard about it. My first encounter with the term was on Twitter in 2012. While meeting other chronically ill people, I noticed many included the #spoonie in their comments and bios. My first thought was, what the heck was a spoonie? And then I wondered if I was one!

Who knew that after a decade of being chronically ill, I would discover a community of fellow chronic illness warriors through a spoon hashtag?!?!

What is a spoonie and why it is such a popular way of explaining what it is like to live with a painful and debilitating chronic illness.
What is a spoonie and why it is such a popular way of explaining what it is like to live with a painful and debilitating chronic illness.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission to fund my coffee-drinking habit if you use these links to make a purchase. You will not be charged extra, and you’ll keep me supplied with caffeine. It’s a win for everyone. I am not a medical professional, and nothing stated in this article should be mistaken for medical advice…


What is the spoonie theory?

Here’s a quick explanation of the spoonie theory:

Many years ago, the awesome Christine Miserandino described the energy level of the chronically ill using spoons. Each spoon represents a portion of energy, and once they are used up, we are out of energy. We never know how many we’ll wake up with or how fast we’ll blow through them.

Click here to read Christine’s original explanation.

Some use this theory to help pace themselves throughout the day. But it is important to note that while we may learn how many we need for certain activities, it’s not always guaranteed that we won’t flare.

The best use of the spoonie theory is as a visual aid to help others understand the limitations our chronic illness puts on us.


Am I a spoonie?

A spoonie is anyone with a chronic illness. You could have fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, endometriosis, MS, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and the list goes on and on…..


The impact of being a spoonie

My chronic connections were limited before stumbling upon the spoonie community on social media. I received four big chronic illness diagnoses between 2001 and 2004, but until 2012, I knew only a handful of people with at least one of the same conditions. That changed, however, when I discovered spoonies.

Meeting others who understood what I had been dealing with was the best thing ever. These people didn’t need me to explain what I went through for the decade prior; they lived it too! But the best thing to come from joining the spoonie community is the advice shared, the compassion we have for each other, and knowing we are not alone.

The spoonie theory is a fantastic tool, and the community is filled with some of the most amazing chronic illness warriors I have ever met.

When did you learn about the spoonie theory?

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Published by Cynthia Covert

Diagnosed in 2001 with psoriasis, followed by fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, endometriosis, and later a botched hysterectomy turned her world upside down. Cynthia shares her experience, advice, and tips for how to make life with chronic pain easier and less painful.

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