Mental Health, mental illness

Routine and Self-Care

snippet of my actual spreadsheet for the week

Around 3pm today, I was bored, which led to tiredness and sadness. Sometimes I confuse the three. Despite my inability to decisively name what I felt, I decided to fight it.

I put on some deodorant and a sports bra and a different shapeless t-shirt than the one I’d slept in, and did some arm exercises with my 5-pound dumbbells. It’s something I’ve been doing regularly, and I’m hopeful and excited for a change in my body. Physical strength is something I don’t ever remember possessing. I’ve always been weak and had little stamina. I want to be able to scrub dishes without my right bicep aching during. Yes, that is a very real, very obnoxious problem of mine.

After that happened, I read more of a book I’m excited about, and ended up horizontal again. My eyes might have closed.

It’s not that I started tired or lacked sleep the night before. I was simply bored.

Summer has always been hard on me – from when I was in school to now that I work in a school – so literally my entire life because I started this job right out of college – I remember this being difficult for me. I crave routine. Even though I enjoy a day off in the middle of the school year, 56+ of them in a row becomes quite a bit much for me.

This summer, I’m decreasing milligrams of a certain mood-stabilizing medication. I am being extremely observant and diligent on combating any symptoms that may arise. Thankfully, I’ve been doing well, and I even chose to delay routine therapy because I’m doing so well. I don’t believe in any way that this is due to me just “not needing medication” or “being cured of my illness”. I’m completely, one hundred percent confident that my coping skills (built up over many years and through a lot of therapy) and my combativeness are why I’m doing well this summer.

When summer school ended, I started lists. Immediately. The weekend after school ended, I began combating my imminent lack in routine. I even made a spreadsheet, full of options of things to do every single day. It was color coded, in rainbow order. My options ranged from good-for-me fitness activities, good for my wallet work/money-making options, good for the house cleaning/gardening ideas, good for the soul mindfulness, reading, writing, and playing guitar. As I accomplished things, I bolded the items, because crossing things off a list is the most satisfying part of doing anything. Everyone knows that, right?

I was not concerned about accomplishing every single thing, but it was nice when I accomplished some of them, and it was always a nice boredom-fighter to pull up my spreadsheet (while I was probably using my laptop anyway for Facebook or something equally useless) and see all the things I could do and then cross off.

This past week, for no particular reason besides perhaps arrogance that I could be fine without it, I stopped using the spreadsheet.

Early yesterday morning, I awoke with worry that I’d forgotten something I was supposed to do.

I’m behind on even my usual laundry schedule and my summer cleaning schedule (cleaning bathrooms, washing dishes, vacuuming carpet, and the like.)

I haven’t done my nails in three weeks.

And yesterday, I became undeniably irritable for the first time in weeks, and today I grew sad and sleepy from sheer boredom.

It’s time to come back to routine, I’m realizing, to make myself feel good and the people around me happier too. This is not something I want to do, necessarily, because I’m already “down” enough that wallowing in it sounds like an okay idea on the surface. This is something I need to do, for myself. I want and need to take care of myself, for my sanity’s sake.

So if you’ll excuse me, I need to go update a spreadsheet.


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