Time for a routine. Pictured: a day-planner, a vase of flowers and a clear jar of chalk

Time for a routine?

I’ve been out of work for just over two months now and I think it’s time to establish a routine.

Becoming okay

My days have been blank canvases, and that’s suited me as I’ve pulled myself more and more together in the face of depression. There have been days when I’ve woken up and felt ready to conquer the world and there have been days when I couldn’t sit up without needing to vomit. It’s been helpful to have that flexibility, and it’s something I couldn’t possibly have while working a full-time job, no matter how accommodating my team are.

But now I’m in a different place, a better place. I’m still having bad days when I need to throw out all of my plans, but mostly I’m… okay. That’s a good word for it. I’m not exactly thriving but I’m also not suffering the way I was a few weeks ago. I’ve reclaimed some of the joy I lost over the last few years and I can feel myself becoming more and more of the person I used to be.

So I want to maximise my chances of getting even better and moving forward.

Needing stability and reminders

One of the big question marks in my life right now is whether or not I’m neurodivergent. I have my suspicions, which align with those of a counsellor I spoke with recently during a consultation. My doctor isn’t so sure, but he’s supportive nonetheless and he’s referring me for the assessments I need. But one of the most important things for a lot of neurodivergent people is a solid routine. Whether or not that’s me, I guess we could all benefit from having that steadiness in our lives.

One thing that I’ve been really messing up lately is my diet. I used to eat out of habit or boredom, but lately, as I’m filling more and more of my time with reading and writing, I’m not noticing myself getting hungry. I’ve never been very good at recognising signals from my body, and lately, I’m trying so hard to prioritise navigating feelings of distress that I’m entirely overlooking hunger. Having regular mealtimes is just one fundamental way in which I could benefit from a routine in my daily life.

So I’ve devised a schedule that allows for a fair bit of flexibility and wiggle room, which I also desperately need.

My ideal weekly routine

This schedule only covers Monday to Friday so that I can spend Cat’s days off with her, doing whatever we want. It also allows for a really decent amount of sleep (although lately I’ve been needing extra) and will give me regular times for meals, medication and house chores. Writing, meal times, household obligations and bed-times are the main features that will guide my day, at least for the next week.

I’m going to try this schedule as a week-long experiment and see if it helps or hinders my progress. If I’m not quite ready to be living by a routine, even a very flexible one, then I’ll take a step back and revise. But my hope is that, by creating a routine, I’ll start to regain some of the control I lost as my mental health declined.

Wish me luck! The experiment commences on Monday.

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