Should I Leave the Spoon Theory Behind?

When you deal with fibromyalgia, a big amount of frustration stems from the lack of energy available for you to complete things in your normal everyday life. The simple daily tasks that you took for granted now seem daunting and drain you of energy. Showering, cleaning, grocery shopping, doing laundry, attending a get-together with friends. You have a very limited supply of energy when you have fibromyalgia. So, you learn to choose wisely and pick a few items to complete. Leave the rest for another day.

The spoon theory … every activity takes a certain amount of spoons. Healthy people have an unlimited amount of spoons. Those with fibromyalgia have a limited supply. Every activity takes a certain amount of spoons. When they are gone, you are done for the day! Energy is the number of spoons you use for activity in this theory.

The bank account theory ….  you have a checking account, and you spend accordingly. You know what you have put in your bank account and what you will be able to spend the week. Now let us say fibromyalgia is your bank. Every morning when you wake, no matter how much money you put into your bank account the night before, the Fibromyalgia Bank arbitrarily resets your balance. You check your account, and that is all the money you will have for the day. You have to figure out how to spend according to what your balance is. Energy equals your bank account balance in this theory.

The gas tank theory … you fill up your gas tank to full every night. When you wake up, your tank may read full, half empty, or maybe you only have a quarter of a tank. It doesn’t matter that you filled your tank for the new day, fibromyalgia is the new day, and it will tell you how much gas you have in your tank. Energy is the equivalent to the amount of gas you have in your tank.

You pick your own theory…I really like them all. There are much more! The three I mentioned are my favorites to use when I try to explain to someone what it feels like to have fibromyalgia. Between those theories and feeling like you have the flu, all day every day, I can usually get my point across. The bottom line is you have a limited amount of energy with a chronic illness. There are days when you just don’t have any spoons, money, or gas left in your tank.  Those who do not have a chronic illness do not have a limited amount of energy. They can wash some more spoons, deposit some extra cash into their bank account, or head to the gas station for a fill.

Replenishment works for the non-chronically ill. Why can’t the chronically ill do the same? Why can’t we replenish our energy when it is exhausted? In fact, we must be extremely careful to not reach “empty.” Once our energy is depleted so is our ability to manage our fibromyalgia. We may go into a fibro fog or have a fibro flare that can last days or even weeks. Hitting empty for a person with fibromyalgia means we were not able to plan accordingly. This is a daily task we must accomplish, preserving our precious energy at all times. We plan our days, attempt to accomplish our well thought out goals, and stop all activities when we hit empty.



10 thoughts on “Should I Leave the Spoon Theory Behind?

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  1. Thank you for explaining the spoon thing. People keep talking about it but I never know what it actually means. I really love the gas tank model. I’ll have to start using these to help others understand and implementing them in my own daily life!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are very welcome! Sometimes we get so used to ‘fibro speak’ we forget not everyone knows what our norm is. We are each so different and different things speak to different people! I applaud your efforts to help others understand! -Kim


  2. The Gas tank theory is the most accurate I think. We could make it more fun by creating a “Box of Chocolates Theory” You never know what you’re going to get, (or if the kids raided it.) ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A great round-up of the theories, all of which illustrate the problem with chronic illness and our limited resources. If only we could wash a few more spoons, buy new ones, keep a spare packet in the drawer..! x

    Liked by 1 person

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