I’ve read in multiple places and had my psychiatrist tell me that it’s very important for bipolar people to have a routine, meaning bipolar people create their own routines but during treatment, must learn to make healthier versions of their routines. I was just like lol I do NOT have a routine. I am bouncing around without reason like a particle in outer space, just hoping I land somewhere relatively healthy.
But then I realized I actually have a routine, not in the conventional sense, but I must strongly abide by the wishes of my comfort zone at all times. Like, when I’m making plans with someone, I’m all, “oh, you want to go to a different coffee shop?” or, “you want to eat at a place I’m not used to?” or, “we have to DRIVE somewhere?” And I have to kindly suggest we stick to my comfort zone (safe foods, walking distances, assurance that we won’t be out for more than four hours, etc.). Otherwise, I will sit in catatonic fear while pretending to participate in a conversation but actually resisting the feeling that I will spontaneously vaporize in this unfamiliar situation.
This obscures how I view the progress I’m making. I can feel relatively normal in my comfort zone at this point, which is great because one year ago, I couldn’t even do that much, but never being forced to leave my comfort zone means my anxiety still goes into overdrive when I’m so much as confronted with the idea of deviating from it.
Then, awkward situations ensue because how do I explain that I can’t eat at a Thai restaurant because I’m scared of foreign food without sounding like the crazy person I am? Even people who know about my bipolar disorder and OCD don’t quite understand this, so I constantly feel like a little bitch for being the person who either sits in fear or suggests we go somewhere else. And I mean, I am a little bitch.
Running back into the house to wash my hands one more time before I go anywhere drives people almost as insane as my mind has already driven me. They’ll be like, “Allie, just stop,” or, “Allie, that 50th pump of soap is literally doing nothing.” And I’m just like I KNOW, but I can’t stop. My claim to fame is going over to someone’s house and using all of his or her soap. Even drunkenness doesn’t quell my lingering compulsions or need to stay in my small – albeit bigger than it was – comfort zone.
I don’t expect people to accommodate me obviously. That’s unhealthy. I enable myself enough. I don’t need other people to be enablers for me. But a little understanding would be nice because I am usually pretty embarrassed about what I’m doing. Social anxiety, remember? Asking to switch seats with someone for no other reason than the one I’m sitting in doesn’t feel right is weird, but the compulsion is usually stronger than the alienation I feel.
I love my comfort zone and would do almost anything to maintain it despite my counselor’s insistence that I do otherwise. I’m like, “come on. I already have to do so much work to deal with all my other shit. Just let me have this one remnant of my mental illness.” But my unwillingness to change it is probably why it’s called a “comfort zone.” I’m way too disorganized to have any semblance of a routine, but that’s one thing mental illness does: obscures semantics. My routine is my comfort zone and vice versa. I am voluntarily and involuntarily enslaved to it, and I’m too depressed to really care.
Anyway, here’s some Britney Spears for you.