My routine keeps me stable and steady, and there are parts of it that I treasure. But with bipolar, sometimes that same routine can make change difficult and fill me with dread, anxiety, or boredom.
Disorder, Anxiety, and the Dread Cycle
Dread is a common feeling for me:
What do I have to do next? Am I running late for it already? Did I forget something I was supposed to do to prepare? OMG, I’m so unprepared for this! What if I can’t handle it? Why am I so worried about whether or not I can handle it? What does “handle it” even mean? Is my anxiety going to make me implode if I keep thinking about it?
It truly plagues me sometimes … and I blame it all on “routine.” That boring schoolmarm with a belt in her hand, snapping the leather and reminding me there’s stuff I better do—or else.
Routine can be the absolute worst.
Wrangling Bipolar Energy into a Schedule
To switch gears from one thing to another, I have to harness this unwieldy bipolar energy—and it’s not easy. That’s what bipolar disorder IS, actually: a deficiency in our ability to wrangle our energy (both mental and physical).
Unfortunately, that’s what routine compliance often
I simply and absolutely have to have a safe place to direct my unwieldy bipolar energy. It can’t go unchecked. It MUST be accompanied by a chaperone at all times. And that chaperone is—you guessed it—my routine.
For the record, it also must always be accompanied by a pharmacological escort: my meds. Speaking of routine, that’s probably the most important one for most of us: routine medication compliance.
I fully support that routine!
with Simple Mornings
I must say that if I don’t get to do my morning routine, I’m often out of sorts. There isn’t much to it, actually; it involves coffee, reading, and quiet. But I’m much more comfortable going through the day—calmer, focused, and more patient—if I get this important alone time in the morning.
I love that alone time. The kids are either asleep or just
waking up and chilling while drinking their chocolate milk. My husband has a
wonderful routine of making “chocos” for the kids and a coffee for me every
morning before he leaves for work.
(… Boy, do I love that routine!)
Everyday Routine & Guarding Against Hypomania
Although my energy isn’t always consistent from day to day,
there are a few benchmarks of daily life that I can depend on and plan for:
getting up in the morning;
feeding the kids breakfast, lunch, and dinner;
focusing on work;
checking in with my sister;
having playtime with the kids;
taking my meds; and
getting everyone washed up and in bed.
I’m pretty good at following that plan. In fact, that
regular cadence in my daily life gives me something to lean into when anxiety
and (hypo)manic feelings are high. I’m better at harnessing unwieldy bipolar
energy if I have time for preparing to switch gears, and if I know what is
expected of me.
Without that routine, I’d be in trouble!
Regular, Repeated, Redundant, Routine Rumination
Speaking of switching gears … Have you seen the movie Groundhog Day? Sometimes I feel so mired in my everyday schedule that it’s like I’m just living the same day over and over and over again—just like in the movie.
Did I eat lunch
already, or was that yesterday?Eh,
who cares? Everything is on autopilot and completely boring anyway. Let’s just
get it over with … what’s the next box I need to check to get through this
mundane “routine” that is my life?
Routine can make me miserable.
Case in point: writing this blog post. I’ve been drafting it
for quite a while, but once I had committed to submitting it to bphope, all my
interest flew out the window!
In trying to sort out why this happened, I realized that making that commitment forced me to move my idea into my routine. And you may have already caught onto this—but moving my ideas around and adding things to my routine can be, d-i-f-f-i-c-u-l-t … to say the least.
Harnessing My Hypomanic Energy for
You want to know how I got over it and finished the post?
I gathered up some of that surplus unwieldy energy I just so happened to have lying around, and I funneled it here.
In the past, I might have done something a little less responsible with that excess energy … like go on a shopping spree.
Brooke Baron has a BA in English, a minor in philosophy, and a lifelong obsession with language. She is the author of A Beginner's Guide to Being Bipolar.
Although born and raised in Alabama, she has been a proud California resident for 10+ years. During a professional stint in Silicon Valley—in both the corporate and private business sectors—she handled internal and external communications, office design and construction, photography and graphic design, executive assistance, and functioning on very little sleep.
Brooke now specializes in "New Human Orientation" from her home in the suburbs. She has a young, loving, growing family of five and is fueled by that love and coffee.
In addition to caring for the rest of Team Baron, she enjoys writing, reading, researching miscellaneous topics, and funneling manic energy into creative projects. With so many balls in the air—including bipolar II disorder—balancing her life is like balancing two kangaroos on a see-saw. She offers consulting services for the bipolar community at Better Bipolar Balance.
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