Spoon Theory, a Way to Gauge Energy Levels

Read time 5 minutes

This blog is another opportunity to feel grateful and thank you dear Universe: You continue to bless me with recovery and overall health.  

College days were fun, isn’t it? The transition phase is to suddenly feel like an adult and experience things like never before. It brought so much energy around, and the energy meant everything.

For me, it was both fun and preparing to finally get placed with an investment banking boutique firm. What an experience was it to get my first paycheck, manage my own finances, practically think of ways to apply theories learned during college days, and try to put the best foot forward. Typically, professional life has a lot in common, however, work to me felt like I was serving a purpose.

Everything was so exciting except what was unexpectedly waiting at the other end. At the peak of my career, I was diagnosed with an uncommon health condition called Isaacs’ Syndrome (a neuromuscular condition stemming from muscle hyperactivity. It is also called Neuromyotonia, Isaacs-Mertens syndrome, continuous muscle fiber activity syndrome, and Quantal squander syndrome) and membranous glomerulonephritis (a progressive kidney disease) apart from Lyme disease (a bacterial illness transmitted by ticks) and glaucoma (which damages the optic nerve).

It was a casual evening walk post work when I was caught with leg cramps and aggravating pain in the lumbar region. A plethora of clinic-aid investigations were done before declaring that I was rare. Post-diagnosis, when symptoms of the disease were at their peak, I was bedridden for almost 2 years with no physical activity, pain, and weakness as I had never experienced before. I had to take a handful of medicines that made me feel drowsy, thirsty, and weak. My energy levels were so limited, I could just about crawl through my day’s activities. The uncertainty was such that at times I would start the day on a good note, get jittery by lunch, and end the day having a bedridden dinner.

This was the time when I was introduced to The Spoon Theory, constantly complaining of deteriorating energy levels and immense difficulties even in completing my daily routine. My doctor mentioned how people with chronic illness have low stamina to perform their daily tasks on any given day and therefore it becomes important for them to prioritize their work and spread the day accordingly for other activities.

The conversation with my doctor gave a subtle message that it was time to read and get more information.

Q) What is Spoon Theory?

The concept uses spoons as a way to explain how much energy one has in store throughout the day to perform daily activities or tasks. It introduces how energetically it impacts a patient with chronic illness, disability, and chronic pain.

The number of spoons it takes to complete a given task may vary from person to person and makes planning for the future difficult. For eg, Rachit has an uncommon health condition subsequently with other chronic ailments which cause severe pain, fatigue, fasciculations, cramps, etc. He has 10 spoons to sail through his day and it takes him two spoons to do his set of prescribed exercises, and three spoons to get ready in the morning. Other added activities will cost him further spoons; therefore, it becomes important for him to prioritize his activities.

Q) Where does the Spoon theory come from?

The concept was created by Christine Miserandino in 2003 when she tried to explain how Lupus makes her life difficult. It was over dinner with her friend when she used spoons as a prop to express her struggle with her energy levels, through one of the days with Lupus.

It was originally used by groups with autoimmune and chronic diseases. Managing the spoon theory is a process that healthy people rarely have to consider and therefore raises doubts when an ill person talks about getting tired or unable to finish a task due to lack of energy. Though the concept was specific to chronic patients however the scope expanded to the mentally ill and disabled people too.

Q) How did I focus on restoring my daily spoons?

  • Staying Happy: everyone’s life needs some timely doses of humour and laughter. As the idiom goes, all work and no plays make Jack a dull boy. My name may not be Jack, but it took time for me to understand the importance of this therapy and implement it to get the best results.
  • Food habits: the carbs, proteins & fats I consumed as my daily diet helped generate the energy needed by the body to keep the mechanical systems working.
  • Hobbies: added liveliness and excitement, and I always looked forward to them. My indulgence in these activities became a great way to become open to trying new things instead of being consumed by thinking continuously about the symptoms I suffered.
  • Saying yes to help
  • Physical therapies: Iyengar yoga, Magnetic Acupressure, Seitai & physiotherapy. Asanas and breathing techniques were helpful in increasing energy levels.
  • Meditation: helped in building my mental and physical resilience.
  • Medicines: supplements in Ayurvedic, Homeopathic, and Allopathic were helpful in repairing and restoring the internal system of my body
  • Spending time in nature: going back to our roots can help us find viable alternatives. Nature has instilled many plants with herbal medicinal properties that have unimaginable healing capabilities helpful in negating the ill- effects of modern living.

I suggest finding ways in which you can restore your spoons.

Q) How did The Spoon Theory help me?

Initially, it was challenging because as a young man, I took my energy levels for granted. I was taught to be calculative about managing money, earning, and accordingly spending however never in my wildest dreams, did I think that someday I would be calculating how wisely I spend my limited energy levels.

Therefore, it helped me with a prioritizing strategy and planning the day better. It gave me permission to stop the comparison business and find my comfort path. The process was enriching to give that extra space to breathe and sooner my family came to terms with what they could expect.

Though it’s not long enough when even I would eventually begin to incorporate much action like normal people and get back however knowing a little more about my condition only helps me find ways to overcome health hazards and share them with others too.


The views expressed above in this article are the author’s own and do not represent any kind of medical advice.


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