Since I created the Splat system – by accident – about five years ago, the tools I use to make it work for me have certainly evolved.
The original premise has remained unchanged.
It’s catchy. My friends like it, whether my able-bodied friends or my friends with chronic conditions.
- One friend uses it to talk to me about their mental health.
- Another uses it to talk to me about their aging and chronic pain.
- Another uses it to talk to me about their stress at work.
What do you feel like you’ve been run over by today?
Granted, Splat isn’t for everyone, all the time. Many people don’t have a Splatus (Splat status, or vehicle you feel you’ve been run over by). Every human on the planet doesn’t feel run over every day of our lives. Some of us do, so take care to let us keep this language, and if you’re able-bodied and having a good day, just call it a good day! It’s not a moped day. That’s *my* great day, and I don’t want to lose that message. Because that’s where it all started.
Every day, I feel like I’ve been run over by something. That’s how chronic illness works. It’s just a different vehicle on different days. Here’s my scale:
- Moped (motorbike) day: My symptoms are always there, but today they’re pretty chill!
- Eurocar (like a Mini or a Fiat) day: My symptoms are holding me back a little, but I can do more today than usual.
- Sedan day: Just a standard day with this illness. I don’t feel well, but I can do the things.
- Pickup truck day: I can almost get by like a normal person today, but everything is a huge struggle and I want my mommy.
- Tractor trailer day: Everything mean they ever said about this disease is true. I feel absolutely awful. If it’s critically important, I’ll do it. The rest of life will have to wait.
- Freight train day: All of my symptoms are at their worst. I’m totally miserable, and I couldn’t keep my “invisible” illness invisible if I tried. If you need me, I’ll be in my bed, and, well, just don’t need me.
- Asteroid day: Zombies are more alive than I am.
It happened the day I was at work (in my past life as an ad man) and I was talking to my pals in the graphic design room, who were my “people” I felt safe talking to about anything, and rather than having to listen to myself list off my horrid symptoms of the day, I simply said, “Look, every day I feel like I’ve been run over by something. Today it’s a tractor trailer.”
I instantly realized I’d created a secret language that simply communicates not just how I’m feeling … but what I’m able to handle that day. (I don’t want Splat to remain a “secret” by the way!!)
Eventually, I decided to use it to communicate with myself, about that very thing: what I can handle. That’s when I created the Impact Map.
I use it to establish ahead of time what my expectations are of myself depending on what Splatus I’m at on any particular day. One of my first ones I sketched in my Moleskine looked like this:
Along the left side I listed each Splatus, creating rows, and along the top I listed categories of things I need to do each day. You can see where I filled in what my expectations are for myself for each category depending on my Splatus that day. Amica is my dog, by the way.
I loved how this let me actually have a routine and stick to it, no matter how much my chronic conditions refuse to stick to a routine.
I later realized a self-care column was important to add. While in all other categories, I do less the worse I feel, for self-care I do more. Self-care could involve anything from napping, to calling a loved one, to taking an as-needed medication. Eventually, I made myself what I call a Splatquake Kit, which is like an earthquake kit, but instead of being for an earthquake, it’s all the things I need (or like) if I’m consistently having freight train or asteroid days: no-prep comfort food like soup, a kind note to myself, Icy Hot patches, etc.
Just showing up can be hard for us, and the Impact Map helps solve that problem.
I can even use it to make plans, now! I have more confidence committing to friends – and have a special opportunity to spread awareness and prevent the negative effects of “passing” (an article on that here) – by making Splatus-dependent plans. For example, I can pick a date with a girlfriend and we agree that if I am (or we are) at a lighter Splatus, we’ll spend a day shopping and then go out to dinner; for a moderate Splatus, we’ll just do dinner; and if it’s the heaviest Splatus, she’ll grab takeout and we’ll do movie night in.
That got me wondering how else the Impact Map can be used for communicating in relationships (of any kind), and hence the Splatvocate Map was born. It’s a collaborative mapping that instead of having daily routine items as the column headings it has:
- what it feels like to me
- what I need
- what might help
- what not to do
- what to do for yourself
The Maps and Tools
I also made a “Splat cube” template to print out and make. This is an easy way to communicate your Splatus without even saying a word! Find that and a lot more on my official Splat page here.
Splat continues to evolve. I built in a to-do list that really helps me stay on top of things without feeling overwhelmed. I wrote a how-to on this “Little Things” method, and it’s here.
Or you can take a look at this variation of how I just use “things” to plan and stay on top of my chores. I list all the “things” I want to do on the right, and then under the “chores” column I designate how many I’m expected to do.
Last year, I started keeping a daily journal that follows a certain template, and from that came the idea of writing down a task list in the form of daily “resolves.” Of course, my brain went back to Splat and my Impact Map, and I found a new way to make a day-to-day map with things I must do, should do, and might do. For a how-to and template on that method, go here.
What are your objectives?
I also made a template for the journal itself. It incorporates “objectives,” which are worth checking out; if you don’t use my journal method, you might like to simply add your “superobjective” and daily objectives on your Impact Map. The journal template is here. Follow the “What’s Your Purpose?” link at the bottom of the article to learn more about objectives.
Does your furfriend have a disability?
And last, but certainly not least, my very latest evolution of the Impact Map is PetSplat! It’s a map for your pets, to manage their care, because pets have invisible disabilities, too. Check that out here.
There’s much more about Splat and communication and advocacy in my two books:
- Talking Splat: Communicating About Hidden Disabilities
- Splatvocate: Supporting People With Hidden Disabilities