“Creature of Habit” is the very definition of me, and it is both my strength and my downfall. On the positive side, I have quite a few healthy habits and routines. I am physically active, despite my illness, practice good hygiene, nourish myself the best I can given the limitations of my gastroparesis, and finish all my necessary chores. I follow the same patterns every day, and I never stray from my routine. I also engage in numerous other beneficial activities such as reading and studying, listening to music, and spending time with my family and friends. On the negative end of the spectrum… did I mention I never stray from my routine?
Most people would describe me as organized and detail-oriented. Every morning, I begin the day by making my bed. Stretching and exercising come next. I shower, take my medications, perform minor household tasks, and then go to my computer, where I work in my support groups most of the day. I take a little time to read and/or listen to music most days, and I sometimes visit with family or friends. In the late afternoon, I help my daughter with her homework, prepare a meal for my family, and relax with them until bedtime (when I am well enough to do so). This rarely varies. It is a good routine, and one that helps me feel as if I have some control over the largely uncontrollable world of chronic illness. But unfortunately, if forced to break my set schedule, I undergo much anxiety and distress.
You see, my weakness is that I am a perfectionist, and I find it difficult to exist without this sense of structure. Anything that disrupts the order of my day tends to irritate me and throw me off balance. And while my days are arranged fairly well and suit my needs nicely, I am still a slave to this need for order. I know I shouldn’t be, and I don’t want to be, but it is a difficult thing to change. It is something I work to improve. Most days, things go along pretty well, and my habits cause no problems, but on days when things do not go so routinely… well, let’s just say I adjust, but I feel very sorry for the people who must endure my reaction to this adjustment.
It is both a blessing and a drawback to be such a stickler for routine and order. It is nice to be organized and accomplish the tasks one sets out to do in a day, but a little less structure and a little more flexibility would not be so bad either. I will continue to work on this – on a set schedule, of course!