A list is a record to keep track of several items. A list must contain more than one item to be considered an actual list. Believe me my lists contain more than one item. Even my lists have lists.
I have learned that I could not live without lists. Lists have helped me survive many of life’s most challenging and joyous moments. Whether it was going on trip, baby names to choose from before my children were born, preparing for my daughter’s wedding, college supplies, work to be done around the house, grocery lists, to-do lists, daily goals, how to survive, medications to take, self-help strategies to try, books to read, recipes to make and you name it. I made lists of lists to make. Like I said even my lists have lists.
All jokes aside…
Lists are very therapeutic.
Lists helped me survive and overcome many moments when I didn’t think I could.
A to do list helps you organize and prioritize what you need to do and how to get them done. Projects, goals, tasks and plans can get broken down into smaller steps. To do lists make seemingly daunting and overwhelming tasks seem doable. You can conquer anything.
When lists helped me:
- When I didn’t think I could get through an excruciatingly painful moment.
- When I was in a severe depression, even suicidal depression.
- When I was immobilized, frozen in my bed unable to move from severe symptoms of depression or PTSD.
- When I was hypomanic or in a mixed state and my brain and thoughts were racing too fast and flying all over my mind causing me to be unable to focus on a thought long enough to accomplish anything.
- When I was so discombobulated from thoughts misfiring inside my mind I became stuck within myself.
- When all I wanted to do was cry.
- When I was angry.
- When I was too busy.
- When I had too much to do.
- When I was overwhelmed.
- To help me remember things.
How lists helped me:
- They helped me see the whole picture.
- They broke seemingly too large or daunting tasks into smaller doable tasks.
- They helped me take smaller steps to achieve my goal.
- They helped me see it was possible to finish tasks.
- They reduced my fears.
- They reduced stress.
- Once you write it down, it becomes real.
- They helped keep me focused and held me accountable.
- They helped me feel productive and good about myself.
- It feels great to check something off my list. I feel the satisfaction of completing something even if it is a small step towards my huge goal.
- Checking things off a list encourage me to keep going,
- The more items that are checked off my list, the better I feel about myself.
The more depressed or discombobulated I was the more detailed my lists became.
I wrote very detailed lists.
Some days I could not even muster up enough energy to write a list. My goal was to survive. My goal was to find a way to stop thinking suicidal thoughts or just get out of bed other than using the bathroom. At those times we need to be kind to ourselves and praise ourselves for the smallest of accomplishments. Each moment we are alive, we are survivors.
If you have ever been in a severe depression, you know that even moving is difficult, so making a very detailed list is essential to give you hope and a sense of accomplishment and pride in yourself. You need to start somewhere. Anywhere and anyway is acceptable. First of all, making the list is a huge accomplishment. You should feel proud of yourself for being able to make a list.
Here is a sample list when I was in a severe depression:
- Breathe. √
- Sit up. √
- Get out of bed. √
- Go to the bathroom. √
- Brush my teeth.
- Brush my hair.
- Get dressed.
- Listen to Christian Music.
- Watch television.
- Write in my blog. √
- Write comments.
- Read other blogs. √.
This is a sample of breaking one task into many smaller steps:
To make my list I need to:
- Sit up. √
- Get out of bed. √
- Find paper. √
- Find a pen. √
- Start my list. √
- Make a title. √
- Write tasks down. √
- Number tasks. √
- Finish my list. √
- Make a new list. √
Get out of bed:
- Breathe √ √ √ √ √ √ √ √ √ √ √ √ √ √√ √ √ √ √
- Open your eyes. √ √ √ √ √ √ √√ √ √ √
- Sit up. √ √ √ √ √
- Pull off covers. √√ √ √
- Stand up. √ √ √
- Go to the bathroom. √√ √
You could put as many checks as you want to after each time you accomplished these tasks towards getting out of bed. After you can get out of bed easily make lists with bigger goals. If all you can do is get up to go to the bathroom, be proud of yourself for that. You are a survivor. You will make it. It will get better and you will soon be able to do more.
Some days, my only goal would be to remember to write a goal tomorrow. At least I was planning ahead and fighting to live.
Don’t write too long of a list that you become overwhelmed and your list doesn’t seem achievable. Write a short list. Break your list into many small lists if you need to.
Make one list and then make an outline of sorts by breaking down each task on your list. Put your list into an outline sort of form on each page.
Writing your list becomes a nice distraction and when your list is completed you can check that off your list. This is a huge accomplishment. You should be proud of yourself. You took a big step in the right direction. You made great progress. Congratulate yourself and praise yourself and treat yourself to something rewarding if you can. You are moving forward.
Each task I completed and checked off my list boosted my confidence. It encouraged me to keep going. That is why I broke each task into smaller steps. It made me feel like I accomplished a lot, even though I may have only completed one thing.
Writing the lists distracted me from my pain and/or negative thoughts.
It is good to make short-term lists and long-term goals and even dreams for your future. Make as many lists as you need. Make lists of lists if you need to. Do whatever helps you be as efficient, productive, healthy, happy and mentally well as you can. Never give up.
You can achieve anything you want to. Write it down. Make a list. See it. Visualize it and make it happen.
Soon you will be able to make a beautiful long list of everything you have accomplished and achieved. Happy list making and happy living.
Do you already make lists? What kind of lists do you make? Do lists help you?
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