The Routine

A day in the life of a control freak without a plan

Let me walk you through my typical day. It begins much as you might expect. I wake up tired, having spent much of the night rolling around with a hyperactive brain in a body that just wants to be still. I have this morning playlist that initially puts me in a pretty good mood. I do some stretching, start the coffee, and get cleaned up. I put on the outfit I picked out the night before, something that makes me feel good. Then I practice some coping skills to make them habitual. (If you don’t practice them when you’re calm, you’ll never do them when you’re losing your shit.)

Every morning starts the same way. This is the part of the day I have the most control over. It’s when I feel safe, secure. It’s when I feel like my life is my own. I leave for work feeling confident and prepared. But as I step out of my perfectly ordered zone, how the rest of the day will go is anyone’s guess.

My job is implementing behavioral interventions with kids, and it can be really fun sometimes. Overall, I really enjoy it. On the other hand, most days bring something that instantly changes my whole mood. I muddle through each day, not knowing what will happen or what I will think about or what I will do to stop it. It feels like I’m doing the same things every day. Sometimes, an intervention will work and I’m ecstatic. Sometimes, it seems like we’ve gone backwards two steps. I sit in tiny chairs and do the same things again, and again, and again, and after months I’ve made such little progress. *I don’t take this personally, as there are so many factors that are out of my control*

Every week I have the dreaded supervision. Sometimes a clinician visits me with the children, an anxiety sufferer’s nightmare come true. It’s incredibly stressful for me to do my job while being observed. I have such a fear of doing something wrong that I actually shut down and do next to nothing. It’s awful. On the days I don’t have somebody hovering over me, I become so frustrated and irritable by the end of the day that I don’t want to do anything else.

Some days after work I do manage to drag myself into the gym. At first, this was terrible. I had no clue what I was doing in there and I knew everybody in there was making fun of me. Except, after being there for a couple months I realized, Hey, nobody here cares about you. And while that sounds awful out of context, I was really happy to discover that I could just do my thing. The workouts help to keep my mind off of the intrusive thoughts that overtake me when I’m stationary, and seeing some progress has been great for my self-esteem.

The worst part of my day is when I’m alone, tired, and unoccupied. This time is almost guaranteed to break me down into a sad lump of self-doubt and shame. This is when I’m at my weakest. This is when I think myself into a hole. This is when I’m too exhausted to challenge the negative self-talk. I accept it because it’s easy, and it becomes a little bit more a part of me. This is when my thoughts influence my behaviors. This is when I send texts that I shouldn’t and buy things impulsively. This is when I eat three plates of nachos, because salt tastes so damn good. This is when I think back on all the things I suffered through. This is when I wonder what I could have changed. This is when I feel down. This is when I get stuck. This is when I should be learning, growing, moving on, and sleeping.

I’m so excited to start making changes. A new job, gym progress, only one plate of nachos. I’m not fond of counseling (ironic, since it’s my future career path) but I’m determined to meet my goals. I’m ready to get out of the trap that I set for myself. Each day is so full of dread, waiting for the next breakdown. But now there’s a little bit of hope that this will all end.

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