Living with schizophrenia is an exercise. If you’re not juggling meds and sleep schedules and self-care, you’re concerned about anxiety and paranoia. There are hundreds of little things that go into the very act of being a regular contributing member of society. Because of that, it’s important to make things as easy for yourself as possible.
You need to wake up every day and know what needs to be done and how to do it, and if you set yourself a schedule and a routine, juggling things becomes, at the very least, manageable. I don’t know exactly when I came to the conclusion that having a routine every day helped, but it was somewhere between my diagnosis, being fired from a job, and figuring out what exactly I wanted to do with my time a couple months further down the road. I was struggling with keeping myself together, and I had no reason to get out of bed, but I knew that I needed to do something to get a handle on things. That’s about when I started getting a regular groove.
It kind of appeared out of nowhere, but I realized that doing the same thing every day meant I didn’t have to worry about what to do, where to go, and what to occupy myself with. It was freeing in a way to know that my day would proceed like the one before it and the one that came after it.
It’s a strange set of circumstances when you get too busy wallowing in your symptoms to perform basic hygiene or to eat, and setting a schedule, sticking to it, and knowing that I have it helps. On any given day, I wake up, have my coffee and a bagel and then check my internet. After that I call my mom and decide whether I want to go the coffee shop or do something else with my day. I’ll get lunch at the same time every day, and go home in the early afternoon and exercise, and then I get the evenings to myself and can choose to relax, read, or be creative.
That’s basically how every day in my life has played out for years, and I like to keep it that way. It keeps me centered and ready to do what I need to do, and it gives me just enough flexibility to make some decisions about how I’ll spend my time. Strangely, I don’t like weekends because they are just different enough to the point where my regular routine is thrown off. I like the repetition of the weekdays, and if that makes me boring, so be it. I’d rather be boring and not crazy then completely freewheeling and having a psychotic meltdown with my days.
I don’t know if my routine actually keeps me from episodes, but I’ll be the first to tell you that the set way things go make living much easier for me and for that I’m grateful. Routines are good; they set the tone for your days and they make it easier to proceed. They provide a structure for life that makes carrying on a relative bliss as opposed to a more chaotic existence. A routine can help you make better decisions, it can provide a basis for your obligations, and it can make life manageable. In my opinion, when you have a mental illness, making life manageable is just as important as taking your meds.