I’m really bad at changes of routine. They knock me off balance, scare me. I’ve spent the last few years trying to keep things as samey as possible. Even to the point where I refused to move even though I really disliked where I was living, and kept working somewhere I wasn’t happy with anymore. That feeling of change was too overwhelming to deal with, I didn’t think I was capable of it.
I often say that the life I lived before I got sick was nowhere near as good as the life I have now, and that’s still true. But I always loved unpredictability back then, the unknown was always welcomed. It’s the one thing I wished hadn’t changed for me. The one thing I wanted back. And recently I figured out how to do it for myself-and it’s totally changed everything for me. And if you find yourself in a similar bind then I really hope it helps you too.
(slight disclaimer here: I know that lots of what I write here sounds beyond weird if you haven’t ever been housebound or gotten out of a chair etc. Thank you for putting up with it. This is definitely going to be one of those times. I’m definitely about to sound totally ridiculous. That’s okay, I’m a pretty ridiculous person. But if you have been where I’ve been then this is going to make you feel a lot better, that’s all that really matters to me…so here goes…)
Even though I’m way, way happier now than I was during or before I got sick, I’ve been terrified of changes to my routine because without realising it I’ve been craving certainty anywhere I could get it. When your life is turned upside down all certainty leaves and doesn’t come back on it’s own. I used to be certain of so many things, even if I wasn’t happy I was certain. I took everything for granted because I was certain. I missed that certainty so much that even after I physically recovered all those years down the line I still couldn’t feel certain. Certain that I was going to stay well, certain I was going to have the confidence to face people again. Certain that I’d ever feel normal. No certainty. None. And I didn’t even now that that was what I was needed so badly-until I stumbled across it.
I was having one of those downward dips where I didn’t believe I was ever going to be able to make my life work properly again. I’d left Horrible Flat and moved in Nice Flat. I’d left Boring Job and started Lovely Job. And I was panicking my ass off. I wanted old flat where I knew my way around, I wanted old job where I knew exactly what was going to happen literally minute by minute of every day. It was all too hard and I didn’t even know why.
So I started to look for things that were familiar. My belongings were the same, I looked the same. That felt more comfortable. I was happier then. I looked for things I knew like what day it was or what colour my front door was, what time trains ran at, song lyrics I knew, (seriously I know how absolutely crazy this all sounds but saying all of these certainties to yourself is amazingly comforting). The more things I looked to be certain of the more I found. And the relief of these certainties is something truly indescribable. It’s like someone just comes and fills a hole into that abyss that opened the day you got sick. It’s transformative beyond measure.
I’ve spent these past couple of years trying so hard to avoid something I couldn’t even put a name to. This chronic uncertainty that never let up. I’ve made myself miss out on so much, friends, jobs, relationships, because I never felt truly safe. Because without certainty I couldn’t have any confidence. But I have that missing piece of me back now. And all it took was saying silly things to myself like what colour the grass was or what the characters were called in Eastenders-how weird is that?
Honestly, even if you think I’m the biggest idiot around just give it a go for a week. The world can be a very big uncertain place when your safety net has been taken away. You deserve your certainty back. Everyone does. I’m so glad I found mine again. Five years is a long time to be scared for.