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The Chronic Illness Metaphor I Find More Accurate Than the Spoon Theory

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I’m sure you’ve all read the spoon theory. It’s a great attempt at describing how we live, but it falls short for me. It seems like spoons are seen like a battery. What do we do when a battery runs out? We plug it in to recharge, or simply go to the store to purchase a new one.


Here’s the problem: We aren’t batteries. We can’t replace a malfunctioning piece, or take a little break, and be like new. That’s not how it works for us.

I see it more like a ticking time bomb. There appears to be nothing wrong, until boom! Our world has exploded. Just like a bomb, our inevitable crashes have a cause, and you can see the warning signs if you look close enough. With enough skill, you might even identify the bomb early enough to put a little distance between it and yourself. But it takes a very skilled person to locate and disarm the bomb before it goes off, so the majority of these bombs explode.

The reason for each of our bombings is very different, but they all have these similarities. We’re all plagued by a “bomber” that is set on destroying our life. We may be alive, unlike many literal bomb victims, but look at it as if your body is a city. The entire city doesn’t generally crumble from a single bomb. However, there is collateral damage. The library explodes, there’s brain fog; the park, muscle fatigue; the theater, sensory overload; the hospital, inflammation. All these things add up, until you have no choice but to rest. It’s not something you can just slap another battery in and keep going. It’s something where your world stops while you pull yourself out of the ruins and rebuild.

I guess what I’m getting at is that something as mundane as a spoon can’t describe the heartache and exhaustion and defeat we feel. It’s as catastrophic as a bomb.

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Thinkstock photo via stocksnapper.

Originally published: July 18, 2017
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