Coming out of the Spoonie Closet and Supporting Others
A few years ago, I came across the word Spoonie for the first time. A Spoonie is the term often used to describe someone who is chronically unwell or exhausted with little energy to complete everyday tasks.
The name Spoonie first originated from a blog post written by Christine Miserandino. In a nutshell she created the analogy of having a set amount of energy to use each day and compared this to having a number of spoons. Each spoon represents a simple task and once your daily allowance of spoons are used up, one finds themselve out of energy and exhausted.
These days you can find the word Spoonie throughout social media for example hashtags,
such as Spoonie, Spooniegirls, spoonies, Spooniestrong, Spoonielife. The list goes on.
Some people like myself actively talk about chronic illness with others. We may talk about our illness and the effect it has on us online, in support groups, on a blog or social media. This can be really beneficial and help those who are chronically ill to feel supported. However sometimes spoonies remain closeted or choose not to share their experiences.
There can be many reasons one might be a “Closeted Spoonie” and not want to share their illness or how they are feeling emotionally and physically.
Here are a few reasons:
-Someone who is chronically unwell may fear annoying others with the details of their illness.
-A chronically ill person may have been misjudged in the past especially if they have an invisible illness which is not visible from looking at someone.
-Being unwell, you can often feel a burden to others and may not want to appear negative by complaining or going on about your condition.
- Someone who is unwell may be struggling to accept their condition and may still be suffering from denial hoping they are going to suddenly get better when the reality is unlikely.
-Often people with chronic illness feel misunderstood especially when those unfamiliar with “Spoonie life” have unrealistic expectations of the person who is unwell or sick.
When I first started blogging I felt very self conscious regarding my illness and was quite reluctant to talk about it often on the blog. I even considered dropping the subject at one point as I really worried about what others would think. I worried people might get sick of hearing about my health problems, Some probably do and so I limited myself to only talking about my health once a fortnight.
As time has gone by, I’ve come to realise that being a “Spoonie” and having chronic illness is part of who I am and therefore it should be a part of my blog. I’ve also come to realise that my blog has a great purpose. It not only raises awareness, it helps those who are unwell to feel supported and is therefore beneficial to such people.
Over the past month, I’ve had some wonderful emails from people thanking me for doing what I do, talking about my illness and sharing with others. I’ve been thanked on social media and asked to keep going. I’ve been told my posts are useful and helpful and that they make a difference. The feedback is so positive that I’ve become less worried about annoying people and feel more empowered through sharing.
It’s taken years for me to realise just how ill I am. A chronically unwell person does go through different stages of grief due to that which is lost. It can be heartbreaking and a struggle and takes time to learn to cope and manage in the circumstances you find yourself in.
I might have been a closeted Spoonie for the first 5 years of my child’s life. After all, I became physically unwell after the birth of my daughter but now, I will shout from the rooftops and do my best to share what life is like for someone like me and for others who sometimes suffer in silence or are misunderstood.
I’ll share my experiences and tips and do my best to support those around me and hope that by spreading awareness I am making a difference. Let’s all come out of the Spoonie Closet and share with the world in the hope of being better understood and supporting one another whether ill or not.
Angela Milnes xx
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