“But if it ain’t broke…?”

Routines will help us remember what we need to remember, like taking our daily medications (that keep us alive), showing up for annual doctors’ appointments (which will help keep us alive), eating regular-ish meals (without which we would not be alive for all that long), and so on.

Routines will also give us loads of free time to do whatever we want to do even if, like me, it’s only to lie on the couch in the late afternoons and evenings, guiltlessly watching recorded TV shows while napping on and off.

That’s part of my routine.

This late-afternoon/evening routine of mine doesn’t mean I’m lazy. Believe it or not, this doubles as doing writing research. It’s “work.” I write screenplays as well as short stories and novels, so even watching a movie is “work.” A writer’s curse? Or a writer’s blessing to always have something fun to do?

My eyes aren’t the best anymore, so reading books is difficult. I can’t just spread my index finger and thumb apart across a book’s pages to increase the size of the type.

So I watch TV programs I can learn things from, or that trigger me to do online searches for obscure scientific, historical or medical stuff. I can expand the size of type on my computer screen.

I don’t really use my cellphone for anything other than texting, reminders, and being notified of incoming emails. “Business”-related emails I deal with when I’m “at work” in the mornings. I can type a lot faster on a keyboard than I can poke my cellphone’s tiny keys with a stick that has little rubber thingey on it. I have my father’s spatulate fingertips, plus my years of typing have probably flattened them a tad, too. This makes it difficult for me to operate a cellphone’s keyboard. My friends are aware of this so don’t expect my usual tome-like replies to their emails in the late afternoons and evenings.

Is there Anything Negative about Routines?

There most certainly is! In my experience, routine can cause madness.

I was once involved with a man who had Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD). This is not the same as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). https://www.verywellmind.com/ocd-vs-obsessive-compulsive-personality-disorder-2510584

This man I had gotten involved with suffered from “anxiety” (his word), and he controlled my thinking so completely, that within a year, I had a psychotic break. Yes. I did. I sought psychiatric help.

To those of you who know me today, I will say, “No, no, not him. This one goes way back.”

On the recommendation of my psychiatrist, I suggested to this man that he might want to seek psychiatric help, too. He agreed to attend an appointment with a colleague of my doctor. Therefore, this man was not diagnosed by my psychiatrist in absentia, he was diagnosed by an uninvolved professional who knew nothing about me.

My psychiatrist treated me a lot differently after he heard back from his colleague about this man. My psychiatrist set his notebook aside and started teaching me how to recognize OCPD. Thus, I had three years of training with a doctor. Do I know and understand OCPD? I think I do. Do I judge those who have it? I do not. It’s a deep-rooted coping mechanism that some people use to survive.

(This man did not pursue psychiatric help beyond the first appointment. And psychiatric appointments were covered by OHIP in those days. This is a symptom of that disorder.)

NOTE: I was raised to be compassionate to all. This can be blinding. Also, if we grow up in a certain environment, we can become immune to noticing warning traits. The TV program, Evil Lives Here, refers to these warning traits as “hints.” Missed hints.

ALSO NOTE: I have since been diagnosed as having a “perfectly normal, healthy personality” but was warned, in no uncertain terms, to “stop doing research!” This little old Hungarian shrink (ca. 2005) actually shook her finger at me when she said all this! So now I Google sections of the DSM-5 (https://www.verywellmind.com/the-diagnostic-and-statistical-manual-dsm-2795758 ) instead of diving in there in person to experience things up close. Bad idea to do that kind of thing first hand! (Yes. I’ve also gotten myself involved with the odd psychopath, here and there, too. I may write a future post about how to stop being a magnet for the DSM-5s. I just have to figure out how to do this in the first place. But oh! I could write a book! [*insert laugh track*])

Bottom Line?

If you don’t have a routine, start one. If you do have a routine, stop it.

C’mon, Sherrill. That makes no sense whatsoever!

Actually, it does. The idea is to stop doing what we always do so we can change things up. Change is always good for us old gals.

Oh. By the way, a routine is not a schedule. A schedule is a straitjacket.

Next post, we’ll get started with the first routine: Don’t sleep in.

“What?” you say, your heart and soul filled with horror at the slightest suggestion of such a thing. “Don’t sleep in? Are you out of your mind? Uh. Wait. You said you aren’t but… I guess I’ll have to wait and see?”

This week’s tip: Routine or not routine? Depends.

Until next time.

Illustrations from https://www.needpix.com/

Photos by Sherrill Wark

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