One of the things that keeps me in check is making sure I stick with a routine. Much like a child needs a schedule to thrive, so do people suffering with mental illness. It helps us control ourselves and our environment. It also helps our loved ones be aware of episodes that may be surfacing. For example: I do the dishes everyday before my husband comes home from work at 2:00 pm. If he comes home and the dishes aren’t done, it may send up a red flag. It may be that I didn’t have time, but if it happens continuously, it could mean that I am feeling overwhelmed, which is a sign of depression. He can jump in and take care of some of my burden, hopefully helping me not to spiral downward. On the other end, if he comes home and finds our house is spic and span clean from top to bottom, he may find that I am on the brink of a hypomanic episode. If you are like me, you have difficulty asking for help. Routine helps everyone know what to expect and can alert your caregivers to possible problems.
Goals are very important. I make goals for myself everyday. I write these goals down and cross them off when they are finished. There are things that I do everyday: make lunches, feed the animals, do the dishes, straighten up the house, make dinner, etc. I don’t have to write these down, but if I want to push myself or need to get certain things done, I make a list. I feel good when I complete my list, it give me a sense of accomplishment. Goals are important in all aspects of your illness. While in a depressed episode, you may have one goal: to get out of bed. That’s it, and what an amazing first step in recovery. In a hypomanic episode my main goal is to get sleep. Very important. If I am not experiencing an episode, I still make goals. There are lots of things that I want to accomplish in my life. Goals help make this possible.
Just a look into my everyday life, this is my daily routine. Without my routine, it can shake me up quite a bit. I have adjustment periods in the fall and summer because of shifts in my children’s schedule. Vacation for me is not as it is for the everyday people. Without my routine, I feel a lack of control and I cannot relax. To compensate, I make a routine for while I am away. Obviously, I am not going to go visit my mom and do her dishes. My vacation routines are more lax and geared around things I enjoy. So here it is, this is what I do to make me feel in control of my life. My routine is not time specific unless someone/something has to be done at a certain time.
6:00am: Wake up, wake up Emilie
6:30am: Wake up Marian, make lunches
6:50am: Send Emilie to the bus stop
Feed cats and enjoy coffee & facebook
7:20am: Take Marian to school
After I get home, depending on how I feel, I may go back to bed until 9:00-9:30 am (My weekend/summer schedule starts at this time)
Let my dogs out (I have very lazy dogs), feed my puppy, enjoy another cup of coffee (This is a requirement for everyone’s survival!), take my morning medicine, have breakfast, text my husband “Good Morning”, start my Netflix/Hulu morning binge watch, and surf the internet.
By 11:00am ish: I start my chores. I do the same ones everyday and throw in a random one that needs to be done ie bathrooms. Daily chores are dishes & straightening the house.
Hubby leaves work at 1:30pm so I like to have my shower before then and be ready for the day by the time he gets home. After he gets home, it’s not so structured. We do things we enjoy until the kids come home from school by 3:30.
Dinner is started at 5:00pm ,feed the dogs, dishes done after eating. The rest of the evening is usually spend helping kids with homework, and watching tv. (We are boring.)
10:00pm: Medicine & bedtime. Going to bed within the hour is a must. Sleep is essential to managing this illness.
11:00pm-6:00am: Sleep & repeat.