How my ‘day in the life’ has changed over the last 3 years
Having a set routine has always been very important to me, for different reasons. I like the consistency, doing things that make me happy, sets me up for the day and for bed and because as someone who’s autistic, not having a routine is difficult and any changes to said routine can be stressful. I love watching ‘day in the life’ videos. They’re just relaxing and interesting to watch. However, it makes me think about how different my 'day in the life' constantly changes due to my chronic illnesses.
Back in 2019, I made a great routine for myself. I would wake up around 6am, put on a 5 minute podcast, do some stretches, get ready for my day, have breakfast and leave for university. In the evening I would do some laundry, light tidying, any uni work, make and eat my dinner, sit with friends for a bit, do some light yoga and end the night by reading a book. On Fridays I didn't have any lectures so it was my cleaning day ; changing the bed, hoovering, dusting, wiping things down and cleaning the bathroom.
In between these activities, I would go out with friends as well, and stay up once a week for a weekly phone call with a friend. At this point, I was running on a good cycle and I was very happy. Until I wasn't. Due to the Depo Provera injections I was receiving for my excruciating periods, I was very depressed and anxious. This is something I wasn't aware of during this routine phase of my life, but the symptoms started at this time. I would cry, panic, be anxious over anything, call my parents in London to come get me in the middle of the night and more. Because of this, my routine slowly went down the drain, I didn't know what was wrong and I hated feeling that way.
Slowly, this got worse, a lot worse. At this point I had no routine, eventhough I tried my best to build one. I would do any exercise I could, try my best to go out, tried sleeping early/waking up early and overall to balance things again. It just wasn't working because mentally I was really struggling.
When we finally realised it was the Depo injections, my GP immediately asked me to stop them, but warned me it will take time for the effects to disappear and for my mental health to improve. The life span of 1 injection is 3 months, which meant I would receive a new one every 3 months, and at this point I had 6 injections. I was desperate to be better.
After stopping the injections, COVID hit. Not the best timing. Having such bad depression and anxiety then having to stay home 24/7 and having anxiety about this new dangerous virus, was extremely difficult. As soon as it was legally allowed, I went up to my university town to empty my old house and stayed with a friend for a few days, which felt amazing. To get away, have a change of scenery, be with different people, doing different things outside, helped immensely.
Over the next few months, everything started to settle. My depression was improving a lot (now its very mild) , my anxiety is a lot better but still around, no more crying, finding new hobbies and things to do that bring me joy and no more panicking when stepping outside the house ! I couldn't be happier being off those devil injections.
Since then, I've tried my best to create a new routine. I managed to get into an evening routine and it was going great until my pelvic pain started getting worse. Tried adding hydrotherapy weekly, which was going well, until my bladder said 'no thanks'. I've spent a while trying to find a new routine and every time I build something, it gets tumbled down due to bladder issues, pelvic issues, back issues and more. Not great.
But I'm stubborn. I keep going and finding new routes. I realised, my health is very unpredictable, things happen, COVID happened and I have to focus on small things that bring me joy and build a routine that is easy and adaptable. So if something does happen, big or small, I can still flow and adapt to the change. Another reminder is, I don't need to have a set routine like I did back in 2019. That was a different me, this is a new me. I've grown and changed and that is completely okay.
I'm very happy with my little, flexible routine now. Laying down at the same time every day even if I don't sleep early, getting ready in the morning and doing my affirmations, what I'm grateful for, lighting an incense and working with tarot and more. It's not perfect. I'm not 'that' girl. I do what works for me and what makes me happy. Right now, im waiting for a big surgery, but after that I am hoping to start exercising again so hopefully that will be part of my routine !
When you're chronically ill, it can be frustrating to not have a set routine and be able to do things you could do a few weeks, months or years ago. It is hard and takes time to find things you can be flexible with, that won’t overwhelm you when things need to change the slightest, and manage around your health that bring you joy. Don't give up ! Anything and everything counts as long as it makes you happy 😊