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  • Writer's pictureAlyssa Fenix

Spoons

"I searched high and low for spoons until I found out I could create my own."

There’s a theory, coined by Christine Miserandino that has to do with using spoons as a measure of the energy capacity one with chronic illness has available for use every day. This spoon theory has been recently used as well as it relates to mental health conditions and neurodivergence. The idea is that we have this limited reserve of “spoons” at our disposal at any given time, and certain circumstances, activities, and even emotions, utilize varying amount of energy, thus spending “spoons” faster than able bodied and neurotypical individuals would. While you may be thinking, that everyone has varying levels of energy, the difference is, that the starting capacity one has to work with, varies weekly, daily, sometimes hourly, so people with chronic illness, mental health conditions, and neurodivergent individuals, learn over time that if they’re not frugal with their spoons, and try to modestly budget them over stretches of time, they know the very real threat of dipping into the next day’s spoon reserve and so on. When one runs out of spoons or dares goes into a deficit, there’s often pain, burn out, and major health implications.


When I first set out to design this piece, I wanted to visually depict the theory and the intent was to cut out pictures of spoons, and show some sort of dispenser that showed the limited access we have at any given time. Ironically, I spent hours looking and couldn’t find enough of what I was looking for. Around this time, I attended an art fellowship training where I had the opportunity to connect and engage with artists of all mediums, creating art along side one another in a space conducive to creativity. and I was sure that I had blown a week’s worth of spoons on the first day. The second day rolled around and I spent even more. I was the Oprah, giving a sweepstakes of spoons left and right, because sometimes I just couldn’t help it. Even if I didn’t engage with anyone, the intense emotions of the experience, could have been enough to empty my supply. Strangely enough, the monstrous burn out that I anticipated, or the fibromyalgia flare up that for me accompanies sensory overload, never came. Turns out, dedicated time to creating art consistently, restocked my spoons. I was filling my cup up quicker than it was draining.


That was the day that I learned that it was possible to create my own spoons. Thus this piece began to unfold. Differently angled spoons of all patterns, arranged in a structured chaos design among dark and light woven patterns burnt into a cedar backdrop. Bordered with the words that resonate from my discovery, “I searched high and low for spoons, until I found out I could make my own.”

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