The Coin Theory isn’t so much a theory as it is an explanation. It’s based on The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino, in which she uses the idea of having limited resources (aka: spoons) in her daily life with Lupus. It’s a great read and it offers insight into the life of those chronically ill.

Unfortunately, it’s not easy to understand without the context Christine presented it in so I changed it up.

Take a mental trip with me. Think about video games that required you to use coins/points/energy in order to do activities.  Once you run out of coins, you have to wait a certain amount of time before your coins get refilled. Now imagine that life is like that game. Every day you wake up with a certain amount of coins and every activity requires a coin.

It sounds like you’d be able to get through the day if you’re careful, right? But let’s take a moment to consider our daily routine. We drag ourselves out of bed, brush our teeth, take a shower, get dressed, make breakfast, take care of any pets you may have….and that’s not even counting school, work, or other responsibilities. Can you imagine how quickly you would spend your coins?

This was the easiest way that we could explain depression to someone who has never experienced it. You’d be living life with limited energy.

Amanda and I began using The Coin Theory as a simple way to let each other know how we were doing. A text reading only “I don’t have enough coins” would let the other know that we were struggling, we needed a little extra support, or maybe that we just couldn’t deal with the day. That happens sometimes. When it does it’s really easy to get mad at ourselves and start harboring feelings of shame and frustration. Maybe if we can externalize that blame, we could take one more weight off our shoulders. It’s not your fault that you struggle to get through the day. You’re not broken, maybe you just don’t have enough coins today.

Another part of The Coin Theory is the idea that sometimes we use more coins than we were given. We are essentially using tomorrow’s coins, and as such might not have as many the next day. I say this because The Coin Theory doesn’t mean sitting back and accepting the limitation. It requires defiance. It requires acknowledging that today is a struggle but refusing to let that struggle stop us. We fight back. We dig deep within ourselves and find the strength to get through the day, regardless of the number of coins we have.


If you are considering or planning to end your life, please call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The Lifeline is a free service, and a trained professional is available to talk to you 24/7. Reach out for help, you are not alone. And you are loved more than you will ever realize.