The Spoon Theory written by Christine Miserandino is one of the most cited analogies for seemingly invisible and chronic illnesses, especially in explaining the challenges of such illnesses to loved ones. I have blogged about this idea before. Here is an excerpt, if you would like a quick recap (Christine has Lupus):
I explained that the difference in being sick and being healthy is having to make choices or to consciously think about things when the rest of the world doesn’t have to. The healthy have the luxury of a life without choices, a gift most people take for granted.
Most people start the day with unlimited amount of possibilities, and energy to do whatever they desire, especially young people. For the most part, they do not need to worry about the effects of their actions. So for my explanation, I used spoons to convey this point. I wanted something for her to actually hold, for me to then take away, since most people who get sick feel a “loss” of a life they once knew. If I was in control of taking away the spoons, then she would know what it feels like to have someone or something else, in this case Lupus, being in control.
I thought of this analogy, and its connection to the Hero’s Journey, reading a comment on rarasaur‘s International Label Day 2013 post. A user named merbear74 commented, and said her submission had been missed. She said she was a “Fibro Warrior”. I asked if fibro was short for fibromyalgia, and she said yes.
Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while might remember that I’ve had problems with chronic pain, including nerve damage. One of the drugs I have been taking recently for nerve pain is primarily marketed to individuals with fibromyalgia.
I think life with chronic illness or other conditions fits the Hero’s Journey well enough– both in the inner and outer sense. It is an Ordeal, and often a Big Change that requires facing fear, and accepting what consequences (for good or bad) that the illness brings. I think it’s also possible to go through this cycle again trying to explain it to loved ones– hence, I share the Spoon Theory, once again.
To paraphrase my next comment to Mer: Fight on, brave warriors. Hope for victory; we shall not let sentiments of “but you don’t look sick” get us down.