When I was looking for more information on the Spoon Theory I found out that, what I thought was a nice analogy and cute story, was actually more contentious than putting the milk in first. (Just to clarify, that’s not contentious, it’s just wrong. Listen to George Orwell, he knew that back in 1945!)
There are (believe it or not) discussions about who’s “allowed” to use the Spoon Theory. Everyone agrees that it’s OK for people with Lupus to use it, Christine Miserandino herself has Lupus. Because Lupus is an autoimmune disease almost everyone agrees that they’re covered. Most people are fine with it being used to describe the fatigue symptoms that a lot of people with chronic physical disabilities experience.
But then we get to the people who are living with mental illnesses. This is where the disagreement really starts to show itself. Opinion seems to be divided between those people who believe that it’s a good analogy for any chronic condition that can affect your day to day life, and those who believe that it should only be for people with physical disabilities (visible or invisible). This frustrates and annoys me.
I think that anything which helps people to understand the human condition better can only be a good thing. I know that people who are living with a mental illness experience fatigue, rather than their body fighting their immune system, they’re fighting their own mind. And the Spoon Theory can help to explain that. But it’s not just fatigue, spoons could be used to represent the ability to handle interactions, emotional strength, or just the will to keep moving.
As you might be able to tell, I’m firmly in the “if you think that it’s useful to explain how your life experience is working, use it” camp.
But there’s the other argument that I’ve seen. This one argues that the Spoon Theory is divisive and creates a them and us mentality. This argument says that the theory focuses too much on what a Spoonie can’t do, rather than what they can.
I’m afraid that I disagree wholeheartedly with this. I believe that it allows me to explain where I’m spending my spoons, I work full time. I’m happy that I do and it’s beneficial for me, but it does mean that I have fewer spoons for socialising. My usual reasoning (that I’m an ignorant, selfish and hate-filled anti-social shell of a human being) doesn’t usually fly with people who know me. So if I explain that I’ve used my spoons at work, or that my Humira Hangover has taken away my spoons, then people can understand what’s actually happening.
To be honest, just as with the other argument, I’m a firm believer that anyone who thinks that it’s useful should be able to use the Spoon Theory. And for those people who think that it separates people with disabilities from those who don’t have them, poo to you. Anyone should be able to use it!