When routine keeps you sane
On keeping a schedule
It’s coming up to the one year anniversary of the death of my sister. A week today will be eleven months, and I can hardly believe it. Sometimes it feels like it only happened yesterday. Sometimes, I wake up in the morning and for just a few seconds, I forget, and I can convince myself that she’s still here. But then, I wake up and the grief hits me once more.
The month after she died, I had no routine. I walked around in a state of shock and deep pain; numb; a shell, just focusing on putting one foot in front of the other, and doing the bare minimum that needed doing.
Things change after the funeral. People who check in with you, stop. The messages, and visitors stop. People move on with their lives, while you’re left in this sort of limbo, where you have to somehow, rebuild your life even though you have no idea of how you’re going to do that.
For me, this is where lists and routines come into play. I have a list of things that I must get done in a day (thank you OCD). When I’m not coping well, there are times when these things don’t get done. They certainly didn’t in that first month. It was taking me all of my energy just to get up and put one foot in front of the other.
Now, though, those lists; those schedules, are what keeps me sane. I get up and know that I have a certain amount of things that I must get done in a day, and I have to do them. Sometimes it’s a struggle. Sometimes, I literally have to force myself to do them, but once I’ve done them, I feel an odd sense of satisfaction.
I have achieved something in the day. Often, that something is so small, it would be irrelevant to anyone else, but to me, it’s life saving. To me, it says “You can do this. Just one thing at a time.” and at the moment, I really need those wins, however small and insignificant to anyone else, because when I get them, I can say that I did something with my day.
For me, these things generally involve creating, but they could be anything. If you’re struggling with the stormy cloud of depression; the crippling loss of grief, or the nerve-racking anxiety that paralyses, I say this:
Just take things one step at a time; one thing at a time. Just do that one thing, and slowly build on it, and I promise you, it will help. You just need to take that first step. I’m with you and I support you, because I know what it feels like.
And I know that even if you don’t believe it, you can do it!
Li Carter is a writer, artist and crafter. She lives in South Wales, UK, with her family, and five rescue dogs. She’s on Twitter @rbcreativeli , Facebook: Rainbow Butterfly Creative, and Instagram @rainbowbutterflycreative and is the author of My Only True Friend: The Beginning. She is currently working on a new series titled The QuickSilver Chronicles. She is the original Rainbow Butterfly, and wants to fill an ever darkening world with a little bit of beauty and creativity.