In many of my posts, I have mentioned wanting to build routines and structure. This has always been something I have struggled with. From seemingly simple things like personal hygiene, to larger tasks like attending meetings or making important phone calls. In the past, I assumed that my struggles in implementing routines were down to depression. While depression can have a large impact on a persons’ ability to do day to day things, something about depression as the cause never quite felt right to me. Despite regular therapy, I still found building and maintain routines a challenge. I realise now that depression was a factor, but it wasn’t the only one. It turns out I was displaying some fairly typical autistic behaviours, but wasn’t aware of it.
There are a number of reasons that I struggle building a routine. One that has really caught my attention is habit. When I start to develop a new habit, I am full of energy, and it seems like nothing can go wrong. The longer I work on a habit, the less energy I find that I have. It’s very similar to what happens when I find a new game, but get bored with it (or in some cases download it and then delete it without even playing it).
Another issue is how my body works. I’ve mentioned brain fog and overstimulation in the past, and when these manifest, they make it very difficult to do even basic things like eating. The idea of trying to do things like build a routine feels overwhelming and impossible. Some people have suggested that I just push through it, but that isn’t always an option.
Mental barriers are also a huge issue. This is more difficult to explain, mainly because of the nature of the way brains and emotions work. In short, it often feels like there is no real point in putting a lot of energy into building a routine. Having to use so much energy to do something a “normal” person takes for granted, leaves me frustrated and disillusioned.
These are just the issues that I can put words around. There are also numerous other issues. Overall, it can make the whole process feel pointless. So what am I doing about it? I’m trying to take advantage of the times when I feel I have energy to get things done. Not only that, but I have been keeping an eye on tasks or routines that tend to fall through so that I can look at the reasons why and try to create a better, more effective routine in the future. In addition, I have also sought out assistance from professionals. While I know that they can’t beat me into creating a routine, they will be able to help me figure out how things can be tailored to better suit my needs.
I want to be clear, I am not using my autism as an excuse. There are many reasons why I struggle to create and maintain a routine, autism is but one piece of the puzzle. How about you? Do you struggle with building routines? What advice do you have for people who are struggling with routines?