I was never one for structure or routine before entering into recovery. I thought I was a free spirit that needed to act spontaneously, but in REALiTY that meant buying the occasional bunch of flowers for my girlfriends and substituting lager for wine. When it came to work, this was almost entirely an avoidance technique that I used, as part of my self-sabotaging behaviour that I learnt during the time of my parents divorce. I changed direction at work so often that I never gave an ideas time to fully develop and therefore become successful. I was searching for perfection, but that only existed inside my head. The minute things got tough, I would find it easier to come up with a new idea than it was to work hard and make it happen.
It should have come as no great surprise then, that routine would be one of the first things my psychotherapist tried to drill into me and that I promptly ignored. I now get it. For me, one of the effects of depression can be a strong and sometimes overwhelming sense of doubt. My most used phrase in my head when I’m in a depressive state is “what’s the point?”. This is a tough one, because even at the best of times, LiFE is essentially meaningless. It’s part of our human purpose to give our own lives meaning, which is why depression can be so overwhelming and crippling. I now find that a healthy morning routine supports me when I wake. The doubt can still be present, but rather than focus on it, I now almost unconsciously swing my legs out of bed and just do the next right thing. If I stop for too long and think about what I’m going to do with my day, I can quickly feel myself sinking into a mental fog of pointless doubt and despair. So I choose not to dwell on it and simply act. This has taken a lot of perseverance, practice and patience, as it did not come easily! This is one of those behavioural (CBT/NLP) changes that medication can help with. Medication won’t fix you, but it can help you to help yourself.
On that note, I’m currently testing out a new routine. I’ve kept a daily JOURNAL since May 2015, although I haven’t always kept it, but it’s existed since then. I will admit that it has caused me a few problems over the years, primarily because it was originally intended to be anonymous, but at some point I started sharing what I was doing with people I knew, which then caused a conflict of interest between my relationships and my anonymity. I found the beauty of an anonymous JOURNAL was the ability to be completely honest and transparent, like you would in a private, hand written diary and that was liberating. I received some really valuable feedback from the WordPress community and shared without shame. The current form of this JOURNAL is quite obviously not anonymous, but then I’ve moved on and learnt about boundaries. I’m also not so raw and emotional as I was when I started this little endeavour.
The new routine goes something like this:
- Wake at 6am and watch some mindless TV until my brain is sufficiently functional
- Eat breakfast within an hour of waking
- Write my JOURNAL for the previous day
- Go for my 40 minute walk
- Shower and generally get ready for work
- Work on my book
- Lunch with maybe a little nap/TV/read as needed
- Work on my book
- Chill with Xbox or more mindless TV to unwind
- Sleep by 10pm
I’ve got a slight concern that journaling first thing in the morning is using up a lot of energy, which is then causing me problems when it comes to working on my book. This could also be because I’m writing about a complex period in my life, when a lot was going on and it also felt very traumatic, so it’s possible that the two aren’t related. What I am enjoying about the journaling process, is that it gives me a space to explore what’s coming up for me during my writing. To that end…
My anxiety is slightly peaked at the moment and I’m not sure why… I first noticed it yesterday. I felt exposed and vulnerable, which could be to do with this process of sharing my thoughts and feelings in this here JOURNAL? It may also be to do with my cleansing process online with my social media presence? I’ve held onto the idea that these concepts have significant meaning and that I’m “supposed” to do something with them, so letting them go feels a little bit like failure. Maybe that’s it? Maybe this sense of uncertainty is causing a natural state of anxiety? The level of anxiety hasn’t been overwhelming, but it has been enough to make me aware that it’s trying to tell me something.
I think there is also some fear associated with my decision to change careers. Ever since entering into recovery 5 years ago, I’ve known that I wasn’t happy in my old LiFE as an IT professional and that I wanted to do something different. I haven’t known what that is until recently, when a couple of conversations pointed towards me becoming an author. At first this prospect was exciting and I guess my head was filled with my usual expectations and delusions of grandeur that success would simply materialise. I was also grounded in the realism that I have no idea how to write for money or indeed how to get my work published. What was important was that I wrote and that I let the universe guide me. Obviously, without a product I have NOTHiNG, so first and foremost, I must do the work.
I’ve now been committed to this project for about 2 months and I’ve written a significant amount. I think I’m currently on about 50,000 words. My initial fears included that I wouldn’t have enough to write, but I’m now concerned that I have too much for a single volume, but again, there is no point worrying about such things, what it important is that I write.
I think what’s really worrying me at the moment is that I’m actually doing it. I’m slowly but surely manifesting my intention and I’ve never really done this before. I usually give up or more likely, self-sabotage, before I really give my idea any chance at success, although I am only 2 months in. What’s interesting at the moment, is I’ve got to the point in my writing where I’m looking at the causes of my self-sabotaging behaviour and it’s bringing to the forefront that this is old behaviour that I must be aware of in order to change.
I’ll admit, it’s painful looking at this stuff, so it’s a bit paradoxical that I’m hitting something of a block because I’ve reached the point that I’m psychoanalysing why I hit these blocks. I hope that by persevering with the process, that a) I’ll learn a huge amount about myself and b) what follows will become easier.