10 years ago I was diagnosed with clinical depression and an eating disorder called Compulsive Overeating Disorder (COD). While I’ve been on top of making sure my medications are working and that I’m using coping mechanisms I’ve learned, the last 4 to 6 weeks have been difficult. In mid March my company had us work from home. Two weeks later, 85% of my company were placed on furlough (unpaid leave). This has had two resounding effects on my day to day life: first my stress and anxiety levels have increased and second, my daily routine which helped to keep me on track and organized was suddenly gone.
When I was working, I had a goal and something to focus on each day. I would wake up and by the time I was ready to leave for work my brain was already rattling off the goals and tasks for my workday. It was what got me up and going. Organization is the key to keeping my mental health and eating disorder in check. Consistency and tasks help me keep my stress and anxiety down by anticipating what will need to be done and what will happen. For me, uncertainty breeds stress and anxiety. And stress, anxiety, and uncertainty are definite triggers for both my depression and my eating disorder.
Now, there isn’t a job to help motivate me to get out of bed in the morning. So what do I do? How do I keep going?
After a few weeks of feeling like I was stumbling around in the dark, I decided I needed to make myself a schedule to adhere to, and give myself something to look forward to. I need a goal to work toward to help me focus. So I started small. Every day when I get up, I make my bed. It’s one small task that is easy to accomplish and helps me start my day by feeling successful that I’ve accomplished a task. I set times throughout the day for me to do certain things, like working out, reading, and cleaning/tidying. I made the schedule up and posted it in full view in my kitchen. So now I have the ability to ‘check’ the boxes on certain tasks each day. It helps give me a sense of knowing what to expect and feeling like I’ve accomplished something.
By asking myself what it is I need in order to be motivated each day and realizing structure and organization are the keys to my continued good mental health, I’ve been able to alleviate at least some of the stress and anxiety that come with our current situation.
Does this happen every day and I’m now on a well regimented schedule? No. In fact, just yesterday I accomplished nothing more than waking up, making my bed, and getting meals taken care of for myself and my family. And that’s OK. By understanding that my schedule will only alleviate some of the stress and anxiety, I’ve allowed myself space to have ‘not so good’ days where my only goal is to survive. It’s so important to recognize that even if this is the only goal achieved in a days’ time, it is the most important one.