10 Surefire Signs You Have Fibromyalgia

In 2003, blogger Christine Miserandino posted “The Spoon Theory” on her invisible illness blog. She used the theory to explain to a friend what it was like living with an invisible illness.

In a nutshell, the two were at a restaurant and Christine used spoons to explain her life with a chronic illness. She told her friend how every thing she does takes its toll – which requires giving up a spoon. However, because of her illness she only has a limited number of spoons she can use each day…hence, the Spoon Theory.

(Click here to read the full version on butyoudontlooksick.com)

From this – the term “Spoonie” emerged as a way to describe those with invisible illnesses like fibromyalgia. So – how can you know if you’re a spoonie or not? Check out these 10 surefire signs. If any of them sound familiar then chances are you’re a spoonie.

#1: Small tasks wear you out (i.e. you need a break after the shower)

We don’t say that jokingly. In fact, for many fibromyalgia sufferers, even something as simple as standing in the shower for 5-10 minutes (then drying off and getting dressed) can be enough to wipe them out.

If you feel completely exhausted or beat after even regular, mundane tasks – that’s one sign you may be a spoonie.

#2: You feel tired all day but come nighttime, you can’t sleep

woman with fibromyalgia who can't sleep at night Whether you lay awake all night or are able to drift off to sleep but still wake up feeling exhausted – sleep problems are a common problem for people with a chronic condition. This is especially true for people with fibromyalgia.

In fact, a recent study found that fibromyalgia patients struggle to get continuous sleep – suffering from constant disruptions to their sleep cycles.

#3: Your friends no longer call to see if you want to go out

Perhaps they kept calling for the first little while – but after having to turn down their invitations so many times, they eventually stopped. For a lot of us with an invisible illness, this is one of the unforeseen symptoms of our conditions – the effect it can have on friendships and other relationships. While many are still able to maintain strong, lasting relationships with family and friends – too many of us are left to figure out where our friends went or why they don’t call anymore.

#4: People think your PAIN iS “all in your head”

Have you ever been told that your symptoms are “all in your head”? Or that a simple change in attitude would fix your problems? Unfortunately, when dealing with an invisible illness like fibromyalgia, it can be difficult for those around us to believe our symptoms are real. Of course, this also makes it nearly impossible for them to empathize or even just sympathize with our pain. If you’ve ever been told your symptoms are “all in your head” – you’re probably a spoonie!

#5: You have enough medications to open a pharmacy

Okay – so maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration (or maybe not), but at the very least you probably have much more medications than the average person your age does. Whether it’s prescription medications, herbal supplements or vitamins – there is about as much empty parcels of real estate in your medicine cabinet as there are in downtown New York City.

#6: Your doctor is #1 on your speed dial

Woman calling doctorWe know if we don’t fill the role of being our own biggest (and maybe loudest) advocate – no one else will. Some doctors may find us overbearing – but the good ones will recognize how passionate and committed we are to fighting our conditions and searching for the best health outcomes possible – whatever they may be.

#7: You’ve been seeing your doctor for months (or even years) and still no diagnosis

The average diagnosis of fibromyalgia is seven years. Yes – you read that right, not weeks or months, but YEARS! For many spoonies – the true diagnosis of their condition can take months or even years. This is true of many conditions – not just fibromyalgia.

#8: You’re part of a chronic illness group or forum online

In the digital age – it is now easier than ever to connect with people dealing with the same health conditions as us. Whether you’re part of a Facebook Group, follow a particular blog (or blogs) or are part some other online forum related to your condition – it’s a good sign you’re a spoonie!

#9: You feel like a dense fog has settled on your brain

Do you ever feel like your mind is cloudy? Perhaps you’re having difficulty recalling some piece of information or maybe you’re struggling to focus or think clearly. If so, you’re not alone. Millions of fibromyalgia sufferers struggle with cognitive problems associated with fibro fog. These cognitive effects can make it difficult and frustrating function mentally – leading to embarrassing situations or mistakes.

#10: Your preferred unit of measurement is spoons

What’s the most surefire sign that you’re a spoonie? You measure everything you do by how many spoons it’ll take and compare that to how many you have left. You know you have your limits and you do the best to recognize when you’re getting close to reaching your limit. While others your age don’t give a second thought to what they’ll do each day – you plan each day as carefully as possible and do your best to stick to it.

Do any of these signs sound familiar? Perhaps you’ve noticed you wear out more easily – or maybe others think you’re crazy and that the pain you’re feeling is just in your head. If so – whether you knew it or not – you’re probably a spoonie.

What other signs would you add to our list? Share your ideas below or on our Facebook Page!

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  • Thanks dears: I have itching and makes me crazy. I read in article, Gabapantin, Tylenol and Cymbalta can cause itching.Then what should I do? I asked private doctor to recommend a alternative medicine for pain. I am waiting……..

    Homa Hooshmand
  • is all the time. #2, well it’s midnight right now. #3 happened a long time ago. #4 I tried to think this as well but it hurt too much. #5 I won’t do, but I am taking that many vitamins. #6 my doctor won’t listen either. #7 my doc said, You have 9 out of 9 symptoms! that she asked me. Yes, I know, that is what I have been saying. #8 no but I research natural remedies. #9 YES!!!!! #10 YES!!!!! Well, I guess that answers that.
  • I was diagnosed 4 years ago after the birth of my daughter on Mother’s Day. The pain is unreal I feel like I’m on fire in my arms and back. I feel exhausted daily, when I try to sleep it’s a couple hours.
    Thank you for reading

  • I have 7 of the 10. I was diagnosed in 2002 after months of testing & finally through a process of elimination, was told it must be fibromialgia and so the medication began. I take 3 pills twice a day, plus supplements & still experience excruciating pain in everything I do.

    Sharon J. Madden
  • Unfortunately I fibromyalgia really really bad in my arms shoulder blades up my neck and when I go yo bed it hurts so bad for my arms to touch my sheets or my blankets I’m taking narcotics to help some of the pain I’m in a wheelchair I’m unable to walk by myself cause of my hips I have psoriatic arthritis which deteriorates my hip bones and all my other bones I’ve fell 6 times already I can barely raise my arms up to feed myself due to my fibromyalgia in my arms I’m in severe pain 24/7


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