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Chronic Pain: The Spoon Theory & 9 Steps to Improving Quality of Life

June 11, 2014

Chronic Pain is not something I talk about very often, because it is my life and I have accepted it as such.

I have Fibromyalgia, a syndrome that causes mild to severe chronic all over pain with no known reason or cure. The treatments for it are limited and none of them have ever worked for me.

Chronic pain takes a great toll on a person emotionally.

Before I started experiencing it and even the first few years of symptoms I was a VERY active person. I am really social (as most of you probably already know :)), and have always prided myself in being a really hard worker. As the years went on and the pain got worse I was unable to keep a job anymore and ended up nearly bed bound.

To go from super active to barely mobile is really depressing and every other emotion you can think of. I felt useless, a burden to my friends and family, lazy, and a complete waste of space. 

However, I have never been one to sit around and feel sorry for myself. Bad stuff happens to everyone. This was just another part of my story and I needed to find a way to build a life around it. And I have for the most part. I am still working on it and take life day by day. And even second by second if I have to.

Chronic pain can be caused by a myriad of issues. Injury, Inflammatory diseases (arthritis), Cancer, Multiple sclerosis and Fibromyalgia are among the most common causes of chronic pain.  

The Spoon Theory

One of the first things a person with chronic pain has to deal with is trying to get the people around them to understand. This is not easy if these people haven't experienced it. I found this article to be the best way to explain my pain to anyone.

My family now asks me how many spoons I have each day, or I tell them that I ran out of spoons.... and they understand. Finding The Spoon Theory and giving a printed version of it to everyone I knew was life changing for me. No longer did people expect too much or even too little.

This is an excellent  resource to give out and to discuss while in a chat with someone with chronic pain. Though it is written by someone with Lupus, anyone with chronic pain can identify with it. They can use it to help the people around them understand and this could very well make their lives better.

Quality of life

Depression, anxiety, fear, sadness, loneliness... We can almost all identify with those emotions, but with someone with a chronic incurable  illness these emotions take on a life of their own. With injuries or even cancer, there can be an end to it. But with other illnesses and syndromes there isn't an end game. As far as we know, we are stuck like this forever.

Acceptance is something that comes with time and a lot of work. We have to figure out ways to live our lives as best as we can. Yes we have to skip a lot of things we want to do so that we can do the things we NEED to do. But there is a place a person can get to where they find balance. Changing priorities are a big one. Like letting someone else do the laundry so that I can go to the store. I know me, and know that I can't do both in a day. So accepting that I have limitations and leaning on others is something I have had to learn.

Suggestions to give to someone who wants to know what they can do to give them better quality of life:

1. Journaling their pain. Keeping a pain journal is so important. Documenting when the pain is worse during the day, what activities trigger it, what activities are helpful and everything they have tried to relieve the pain.

2. Experimenting with different hobbies and how those hobbies effect their pain. It takes a while but everyone finds something they can do with minimal added pain.

3. Support groups. There are some in most countries, states, towns. A google search will help with that. There are also LOADS of online support groups. I really like It is a forum like website that has pretty much everything a person could ever need support for.

4. Herbal remedies. THEY WORK! A simple google search for pain relieving foods can help. I find that fresh cherries and adding tourmeric to my food is helpful with pain.

5. Finding exercises that work. This can take a lot of time and be very painful. Most exercise makes things like Fibro worse. I do yoga and find it to be relaxing and it keeps my muscles from tightening up, which makes the pain worse.

6. Meditation

7. Learning to take time for yourself and give yourself a break.

8. Breathing exercises

9. Finding alternatives to pain medications. This also falls under herbal remedies but there are so many other things that relieve pain. hot/cold compresses, massages, fire cupping, acupuncture, etc. This is something a person has to experiment with for while to see what works

Note to Reader: This is actually very limited information on the topic of Chronic Pain. I do hope, however, that after reading The Spoon Theory, you can better understand the topic and thus be better prepared for chats with members dealing with it.

By 7 Cups Listener, 



​Photo Contributed by 7 Cups Listener,