Same ol’ same ol’
Day in and day out, it’s always the same. I’m up at 5:00am, to work by 7:15, lunch at 12:30, leave at 4:00pm. Then its home by 5:00pm, dinner at 7:30pm, in bed by 10:00pm and I’m back up at 5:00am. Even the deviations from the daily grind are the same. Monday nights are therapy. Wednesday night is the bowling league. Thursday night I take dance lessons, Even the weekends follow the same pattern: Up at 5:00am, Saturday night out and on Sunday is when I do the house cleaning and laundry. Day after day, week after week; it’s always the same.
It sounds boring, doesn’t it?
In a way, that’s exactly what it is; boring. As a general rule, there’s nothing exciting to look forward to. It feels like I’m just marking time while the days go by. And the older I get, the faster those days go. It seems like it was just Christmas, yet the year is over a quarter gone. I can’t believe how old I’ve gotten either. Not that I’m OLD, but it’s still a big number; a number I couldn’t even imagine at 30 years old. But now, I can see retirement from work, old age, and death.
Is that all there is?
It wasn’t always this way. When I was younger, my life was impromptu and exciting. This was especially true when I was going through a manic episode; and with the nature of my illness there were a lot of episodes. You want to talk about predictable? I never knew what was going to happen from one minute to the next. And exciting? There was nothing but God’s clean air and opportunity! The sky was the limit, and there was nothing, NOTHING I couldn’t do. Even the angry side of the episodes was full of the unexpected. Here I am thinking I have a plan, then Boom! I was off on a tirade or new crusade.
That kind of life is about as far away from a routine as possible.
So let me think about this for a minute. I’m trying to control this unpredictable and spontaneous disease. I know from experience that once I start giving in to the unbidden impulses things can escalate quickly. That’s true with mania or depression too. A bad day can quickly turn into a bad week, and on to a bad month. Before you know it, it’s a full blown depression and completely in control.
Maybe a routine isn’t such a bad thing after all.
Then there’s the OCD Factor. Much like the organization I require of my ‘things’, maintaining this rigid and unbending schedule has to be. Unplanned deviations throw me completely out of sorts. Changes can even make me angry. The hour of time between getting up in the morning and getting ready for work is my time. My ‘ahem’ uh, roommate doesn’t get up until a little later, and I have uninterrupted and quite space to myself. So the days she wakes up at the same time I do I lose that time, and it pisses me off. No, it’s not really rational, and certainly not healthy. I should really just enjoy the extra time with her, or continue on as I normally do. But it’s out of order; against the norm, and it interrupts my daily flow.
There’s no question in my mind that keeping to a schedule helps control my illness. Not by itself of course; the therapy, medications, and vigilance are all part of the formula. And yes, it can be a rut that becomes repetitive and methodical. I’m learning however that I can find acceptable distractions, anticipation and excitement while maintaining even a strict routine. I can get involved in a dance club and make new friends. Friday nights might be the stay at home day, but I now have new friends to stay at home and socialize with (My home or theirs). Saturday can be my golf day. Yes, its scheduled and routine; tee off every Saturday at 7:00am. The excitement there comes from challenging myself to improve. When you make that ‘impossible’ shot, make eagle on a tough hole or break 80 for the first time (Okay, a guy can dream) it can be exhilarating. And when you hit the level where you’re the best you’re going to be, there are always new courses and more partners to keep things fresh. There is a downside of course; not all days are going to be an improvement, and some days you’re just going to plain suck. But learning to deal with these disappointments and maintaining calm within myself is part of how I manage my illness. Life isn’t always going to be sunshine and roses. Being able maintain that self control and keep calm is one key to happiness.
And now I have grandchildren!
Talk about something to look forward to! Even seeing them the same day every week at the same time, each time they are going to be different as they grow and learn new things oh so quickly. And then there are the babysitting opportunities I have to look forward to. Mom and Dad need a break sometimes, and unexpected events and changes in plans can create a need for Papaw to step in.
Same ol’ same ol’? Yeah, I guess so. The trick for me is to take that same old routine and use the structure and stability to enjoy the life around me. The healthier I am the more I can appreciate what I have. When I’m not spending all my energies fighting my illness I have the ability to live life to the fullest. I have the challenge of learning to accept the inevitable diversions and interruptions without my instinct to freak out. Structure leads to stability which creates an environment that promotes good health.
And good health is ultimately what it’s all about, isn’t it?