Living with a chronic illness or chronic pain can be isolating. These conditions are often invisible, and when you do not look sick, it can be difficult for those around you to fathom the struggles that you face. This can make the task of building and maintaining a reliable support network challenging. Even with compassionate medical professionals on your team, the lack of understanding from friends and family can still leave you feeling as if you are fighting a battle alone. Fortunately, you do not have to accept solitude as your lot. Connecting with others fighting similar battles with chronic health conditions can provide both invaluable emotional support and handy tips for dealing with the practicalities of living with a chronic health condition.
How do you find others living with chronic illnesses? Thanks to social media, all you need to do is claim your spoon and dive in. Spoonie support can be found in the form of a thriving social media community that utilizes a variety of platforms like Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook to provide understanding, support, insight, advice, and amusement to individuals who face each day with the shadow of a chronic health condition looming over them.
What do spoons have to do with chronic illnesses? One day, a concerned friend asked writer Christine Miserandino what living with lupus was really like. Deciding words were not quite enough, she used spoons to demonstrate how her chronic illness impacted her energy levels and her life. Handing her friend a clutch of spoons, Miserandino explained that healthy people have a virtually unlimited supply of spoons, so they don’t have to worry about how they use them. However, a chronic health condition limits the number of spoons a person has. People living with these conditions must use their spoons judiciously to get through the day. As her friend verbally recounted a typical day, handing over a spoon for each task she accomplished, the quickly dwindling supply of silverware made it easy to see that people living with chronic conditions face hard choices as they go about their daily lives.
That metaphor struck a chord. In fact, it birthed a movement and led to the creation of a supportive online community that empowers those living with a chronic health condition. Individuals living with chronic pain or chronic illnesses who have discovered the benefits of spoonie support often refer to themselves as spoonies. Reaching out with memes, tweets, posts and other forms of social media communications, they share the trials, tribulations, and triumphs that come with being a spoonie with others who can truly understand their experience.
For spoonies, embracing the label can have a positive impact on the quality of their life. Many people with chronic illnesses struggle with the idea of what they should be able to do. The concept of doling out a limited supply of spoons can make it easier to understand how their illness impacts their life. That recognition often allows sufferers to spend less time wasting spoons worrying about what they cannot manage and encourages them to think strategically and focus on how they can best use their energies instead. The spoon metaphor also provides a simple way to explain their struggles to concerned family and friends. In addition, being a spoonie means being part of a community. Connecting with other spoonies via social media offers reassurance that you are not alone.
At Spine Institute Northwest, we understand the value of a solid support network. If you’re living with a chronic illness or chronic pain, we’re willing to listen and ready to work with you to find solutions that support your well-being. To enlist our support, please call the Spine Institute Northwest today at 206-496-0630.