I need to survive, eh?
I am not someone who enjoys rituals. You might think that a submissive in a D/s relationship, someone like me, adores the idea of strict rituals that deepen the meaning of my connection with my Master. Because that is what rituals are for: to give something a stronger meaning, more depth, and for reassurance. Rituals can make you feel safer, they can make you feel in control, they can be a way to connect to the universe.
The safety and control aspect is, when in extreme, linked to anxiety illnesses like obsessive-compulsive disorder. And in religious contexts, rituals are a way of connecting to the divine, the universe or to strengthen the importance of one’s faith. So I can see why rituals are important to people. I personally find them to be often meaningless actions that have no real tangible result, other than a feeling of assurance and control that you want to evoke.
So rituals, not my thing. But there is a tinier form of rituals, a smaller concept, that I should have in my life: routines! Now routines are per definition not really rituals because their goal is not control and reassurance. The goal of routines is functioning. If you do a certain thing, you accomplish something, not just a feeling, but something tangible. Routines are similar to rituals though. You do them in the same context over and over, and you do them regularly.
I need routines in my life. I mean, everyone kind of does because they make life easier. But when you struggle with mental illness and physical conditions like diabetes, you really need to have strict routines in your life that you can continue doing even when you are going through a rough patch. It is things liked bedtime, when you get up, when and what you eat, shower, cleaning the house, the day you go grocery shopping. Routines can be anything that help you function and that make life work for you.
What once was …
There was a time in my life when I had stellar routines. I rocked life! I got up early, I exercised for an hour, I had a healthy breakfast, I went to uni lecture courses and classes, I studied, I had a healthy lunch, I studied more, I met friends, I studied more, and I went to bed at a reasonable time. This period lasted for three years. I lost 65 kgs during that time (yup!), I became an academic superstar (well, I rocked uni and was working towards a PHD in literary studies) and my life seemed perfect.
But then my mental health deteriorated and I spent more time at the hospital than at home. I lost all sense of direction in my life, I gained weight from medication and new medical conditions, and I was happy to get sleep whenever possible.
So the last nine years of my life I have tried very hard to get back my routines. Without success. My sleep is so erratic that I am just happy when I get in more than a couple of hours. Physical alignments and mental health issues have decreased my motivation to exercise. Food is something I often forget about. I don’t work, I don’t study. So I haven’t even felt a strong need to implement new routines. I kind of gave up.
I fucking have to: New Routines
But now I am in a place where I have no choice. I have diabetes (genetics, some other physical illnesses and my sporadic eating led to that), I got diagnosed almost two years ago. I changed my eating habits and had been able to keep my levels under control without medication. It really made my relationship with food a weird one. Carbs are evil, sugar is avoided. It all worked out though. But I was still unable to exercise and I just didn’t eat regularly enough. Long story short, I have recently been told that it would be a better if I were on medication for my diabetes.
Now, this is not the hour of the apocalypse. My numbers have been a tad off the last couple of months, but my long term numbers are actually in the normal range for someone with diabetes. But I am still quite young and they want to try to keep me away from the insulin as long as possible, and also avoid complications later in life.
It all made sense. Until I remembered how badly my body is able to take medications. I have horrible stories to tell about side effects, oh my! Still, I felt confident this time. I needed this medication, and it was the lowest dose. Well, long story short, I had to stop taking it. I felt absolutely terrible on the medication. The sleepiness. The headaches. I was totally out of it, and when my whole body started to hurt horribly and it got worse by the day, I was done with it. I am still waiting for those side effects to totally subside.
What to do?
But what about my diabetes? The only thing I can try before having to test the next horrible medication, is to implement strict routines. I am not too convinced that I will be able to do it, but maybe the fear of new medication and early death is a good motivator. I need to lose weight. Now, that is hard, given that I have two hormonal illnesses. And I have neurological issues that make hard exercise impossible. So I set my mind on walking. and to slowly build up a routine there that I can stick to for a long time. I need to lose weight.
I need to count calories and carbs. For every meal that I eat. I also need to eat regularly. This is going to make my relationship with food even weirder. I’m already eating as healthy as one can imagine but I need to minimize my carb intake even more, I need to cut my portions down even more. Because of my hormonal illnesses, losing weight is not going to be easy. 1500 calories a day? Nah, I need to be way under that.
Apparently sleep is really important when you have diabetes, because a lack of it or bad sleep quality affects your blood glucose levels. I think this is going to be the hardest one to fix. I could try to get more sleeping medication from doctors but that is always a drag because well, they tend to think you are an addict if you look like me and ask for them. It’s doubtful that I will be able to fix my sleep. There is just no way. My mental illness can’t be fixed just like that.
Rituals make you feel better, Routines can prolong your life
So I have been looking into trying to change my life, by implementing strict routines. I have no choice than to give this a real go. I have been able to do this before. And I have come to realize that I already have some tiny routines, without noticing that they were just that. There is the writing, there are the meds in the morning. So I am not starting at zero. See, there is the difference, A ritual might make you feel better, a routine can literally prolong your life and give you the tangible results that you need to survive.