Right! I understand that this is quite a controversial topic but I HATE ROUTINE!
And I know what those who know me might be thinking, because I’m all about routine, have been for years. But, I have also been quite anxious and depressed for years.
I thought I loved routine. Let’s face it, routine saved me. It got me out of a very bad rut that I was in at one point in my life.
My routines have always been strict, I knew what was going on and when. My kids were brought up with routine. I planned absolutely everything so nothing could be a surprise.
But when Covid hit and we went into lockdown I had an eye-opener.
I was furloughed for the first 3 months, the kids were off school and there was this sense of peace that I hadn’t felt before. Nothing was expected of me, I had no commitments and it was wonderful.
Don’t get me wrong, not being able to go anywhere sucked but not having that routine was so refreshing and made me feel like my old carefree self.
As a child and teenager, I was so laid back, confident and slightly bonkers. I loved spontaneous adventures and would talk to anyone. But after a while, the years of being bullied took its toll.
At school I was never popular, I was always the weird one, never fitted in anywhere and of course, I was bullied for that.
At home wasn’t much better either. My sisters’ father took great pleasure in making my life a living hell, always told to shut up and it got to the point where if he was home I wasn’t allowed to leave my room.
As a result, I started to become very self-conscious and began to experience feelings of depression and anxiety from about the age of 15 and went into self destruct mode.
When I was 23, I got a job as a dental nurse.
As a single mother working full time, routine became essential. I needed to be at school and work by certain times, had coursework to complete as I was training and homework for Natalia. I had to have a routine and it got me out of the rut I was in.
But I wasn’t happy. I knew what was going on, things were planned but I was miserable; I see that now.
I became obsessed with routine to the point where I would actually plan every hour of my day.
Anything unexpected started to instil panic in me. Things as simple as an unexpected knock at the door or a phone call. As a teen, I spent my life on the phone but I suddenly found myself unable to make phone calls or answer the phone.
I started to plan conversations in my head, to make sure that I always knew what I was going to say and could kind of guess what other people were going to say. It helped me cope with the overwhelming anxiety.
As a dental nurse, I had to talk to people and the way I got around it was by studying my patients, I got to know their personalities and adapted my personality for every patient. I pre-planned every conversation that I had with them, I seemed confident and bubbly until they said something that I wasn’t expecting.
But looking back, all of this organisation and routine didn’t actually help, it only made things worse. I thought it was helping me to cope, unfortunately, what it actually did was make me fear the unexpected.
The toll of routine was evident in my children too.
Natalia always had to know what was happening and Amelia would freak out if we broke the routine; for example, if friends invited us out and we were out past her bedtime she would have a complete meltdown. Florrie is the Queen of routines and a perfect example of how routine can be bad. She’s created so many routines for herself that we just can’t get her out of.
Craig is also the same. If I say to go out for a walk in the evening, he struggles to get over the fact that we could be out past the kids’ bedtime and that we can’t sit and watch Netflix all night. Suggesting going out somewhere on a Sunday would lead to arguments because Sunday was “cleaning day”.
We all got to this point where deviating from our routines panicked us.
The other thing to consider is my hypermobility. I get fatigued very quickly and when I get fatigued I get ill and it can last a long time.
When I finally got back to work (I’m an office worker nowadays) the routine kicked back in. Up at 4, meditate, exercise, log on to work by 6.30am, follow the planner that I had created to make sure I knew exactly what I needed to do and when, eat at a certain time and the list goes on.
It didn’t take long for me to frazzle. I’ve become ill, everything has flared up; my rosacea, my hypermobility, stomach issues, exhaustion, inability to concentrate and worst of all, my anxiety.
I freak out at the thought of joining meetings, unexpected calls, writing emails; literally everything.
To clarify, it’s not my actual job that’s the issue here. I have a good job and work with really lovely people. The issue is having to work, how constant it is and repetitive (I’m very aware of how ridiculous this all sounds).
And it’s not just work either, the routine of school bothers me, the repetitiveness of it all and the nonsense that comes with it.
I think back to the time of lockdown where I didn’t have anything to do, no meetings, no emails and no routine and think about how happy I was and how happy my family was.
This year I turned 33 and it hit me that I still have at least another of my lifetime until I am able to retire and that really panicked me.
With my hypermobility, how much of my life will I be able to enjoy after retirement? Will I even be able to walk as I’m starting to struggle with that now?
It has scared me to know that when I eventually get my freedom I am likely to not be in any fit state to enjoy it or do anything with it. And until then I have to behave in a certain way, talk in a certain way and be everything I’m not so that I can pay my ever-increasing bills.
Since this thought came into my head, my mental health has gone down the pan. I begrudge everything that I have to do, the routine of everyday life is angering me.
Despite the panic attacks when the unexpected happens, I also get bored very quickly and doing the same thing day in day out is boring.
Deep down, I’m still that wild child. No matter how many times I tell myself that I’m an introvert and want to be on my own I’m not, I’m still that person who wants to talk to everybody. I want adventure, I want to enjoy my kids without being exhausted, I want to live my life every day, not just on a Saturday and possibly Sunday if we are willing to skip a cleaning day.
Most of all I want freedom, to not have to decline things because I’m working, to have rest days doing absolutely nothing and not feel guilty about it, to not miss out on my children because I’m at work or they are in school.
I want to see the world and enjoy what life has to offer without having to ask permission to have time off, or being fined for taking my kids out of school for a couple of days.
In August I did one of those monthly reflections posts and it’s quite clear what makes me happy. Pretty much the whole post was about the adventures I’d been on with my family.
The truth is, that’s what makes me happy. Exploring the world with my family. It’s the only time my mind is quiet.
My mind is so noisy most of the time, I can’t concentrate on anything and I’m tired all the time. But once I get out into the world, it’s quiet, it’s peaceful, it’s fun and those feelings are so addictive.
Routine has made me feel so restricted. Like my life is slipping away from me, and I’ve come to realise that this is in fact what has been affecting me since I was a teen.
In school, there’s no freedom or individuality. You all have to look the same, behave in a certain way, stick to a regimented routine or be punished; eat at a specific time every day and try to do, learn and retain information that you have absolutely zero interest in.
And to what end? So you can get a job where you have to look the same, behave in a certain way, stick to a regimented routine or be punished; eat at a specific time every day and try to do, learn and retain information that you have absolutely zero interest in and you have to continue doing this until you are old and frail or worse, dead.
Is there any wonder why mental health issues are at an all-time high? What a crock of shit society has created for us.
If you are reading this, you have probably got a good idea of the state of mind I’m in right now. I’ve recently started taking medication for my anxiety, and I’m very grateful for the help. Nobody should be ashamed or scared to get help.
That being said, I have realised that basically I’m being medicated to keep me on the hamster wheel. To keep me living a life that I don’t enjoy, a life that causes me anxiety and I’m taking medication to numb these sensations slightly.
I don’t remember what the point of this post was anymore! I guess I just needed to get things off my chest. So if you got to the end of this post, well done!
Hit me up if you know the secret to getting off the hamster wheel because I’m done with it. I just want to sell everything and go!
Don’t count the days.
Make the days count!