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Describing What It’s Like to Be Sick but Not Look Sick

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If you’re living with a chronic illness or disability, you often have to ration your physical and mental energy. And if that illness isn’t readily apparent to others, it can be hard to explain how debilitating that process can be. On her website But You don’t Look Sick, writer Christine Miserandino, who has lupus, illustrates that process with handful of spoons, each representing a finite amount of physical and mental energy that must be spent in order to get through a typical day. Someone without a disability or illness starts each day with an unlimited number of spoons, while others must weigh which task is worth spending a spoon for, and then making more decisions as the supply is depleted. Inspired by that metaphor, a growing community of people facing such invisible challenges call themselves spoonies. This is part of a complete episode.

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