The "Have Done" List
Finding perspective with chronic illness
One of the most frustrating elements of living with a chronic illness is the unpredictability that we can have in our capacity. The range for a “bad day” and a “good day” can vary dramatically, leaving us confused and struggling to figure out what is a safe level of activity on any given day.
During my lowest points, my baddest of bad days, it felt impossible to do anything. Turning over in bed, or trying to sit up, could feel like the biggest thing in the world.
Even on bad days that weren’t as bad as that, it often got to the point where I would feel like I was doing literally nothing. And when I say literally nothing, I mean literally nothing.
I mean, it’s understandable. Living with chronic illness can often feel like an exercise in loss and grief. Work, friends, hobbies, my ability to just do things around my own home as and when I wanted to - all the things that, to me, made up a life, seemed to be fading away.
But, there were times when I felt like I was doing literally nothing, even when that wasn’t the case. And when I say literally here, I mean in the actual sense of the word, not the dramatic way we tend to use it online.
Even though there were times where I wasn’t able to work, socialise, and could barely do the basic things one does at home to get through the day, I was still doing something…and that’s what I want to talk about today.
One tool that I used to help me gain a better perspective of my health (and, honestly, my own sense of self and wellbeing) was something that I called my “Have Done” List.
It’s the antithesis of the To-Do list, in the sense that it’s not about expectations or the things that we need to or should be doing. It’s not about trying to push ourselves or do more than we’re able to.
Instead, it’s a recognition of all the small things we do every day, even if we don’t feel like we’re doing anything.
It gave me a sense of perspective, of accomplishment. That even when things were so hard, I could look at all the things I was doing and feel proud of myself.
Granted, they weren’t the things I wanted to be doing or believed I should be doing. But, during my tougher times, my Have Done Lists helped me to pay attention to the smaller things I was doing in my life, to better understand how I was spending my energy, and taught me to recognise and accept where I was, no matter what I was or wasn’t able to do on any given day.