You’ve been doing this for months. It’s the same routine every day. You wake up, look over at your nightstand, and stare into the amber colored plastic. Two pills left. That’s two days left in the month. You contemplate not getting the prescription refilled, but you tell yourself you should; that it’s better to live the same days over and over again than to deal with any sort of day-to-day differences. You reach over, grab your stale glass of water, swallow the pill. Begin the cycle. Shower, get dressed, go to work.
At work you stare at the same computer screen for the same amount of hours each day. You answer the same phone, eat in the same lunchroom, and clock out at the same time. You come home, flip on the tv, and fall asleep. This is the routine. Of course, in between, you glance at the pile of unfinished paintings, the dust on your of half-read books. You ignore them, and you tell yourself routine is good. I’ll tell you one thing: routine is not always good.
Don’t get me wrong, schedules are great for many things. They’re good for keeping track of your schoolwork, deadlines, appointments. But they’re not always what you need. They can make you feel trapped, bored, lazy. They can suck the creativity right out of you. Don’t let routine put out your light.
I used to read five books a month. Being able to submerge myself in another world, another life, with new and unknown people, places, and things gave me life. I used to love doing yoga. I would connect my mind with my heart, the earth, the day. It fed my soul. I used to draw and paint. I had stacks of artwork that I always had the intention of framing, selling, or gifting. That all went away when I was swallowed by the throes of depression and pumped with medication.
All it took to diagnose me with depression was one 20-minute meeting with a therapist who knew virtually nothing about me. I was sent off with a prescription in hand, and was told that with one little pill, all my problems would be solved.
I’d be able to walk into a party without feeling a pinch of anxiety. I’d be able to get out of bed each morning and sleep through each night. I would be attentive and efficient at school and work. I was all these things, but it came at a cost.
I stopped reading, doing yoga, painting. I didn’t socialize as much as I used to. My art sat unfinished, collecting dust. The pills didn’t solve everything. They took away the things I loved most and replaced them with routine. Sure, they helped me deal with the day-to-day bullshit, but they hardened my soul and smothered my fire. After months of taking the pills and living by the cycle, I began to notice the difference in who I had become, and I was determined to get my old self back.
I locked myself in my room, turned on an old playlist, and started the process. I threw paint at canvas, slid the pen across paper. I dug out all of my half-read books and made a mental list of which ones I would finish first. When I was finally too tired to do anything more, I lied on my bed and closed my eyes.
I thought about how great it felt to be creating things again. Breathe in, breathe out. I could feel the fire burning in my chest. It felt good.
I rolled over and saw the orange plastic bottle. Two pills left. Tomorrow I’ll take it. I’ll shower, get dressed, and go to work. I’ll stare at the same computer screen, answer the same phone, eat in the same lunchroom, and clock out at the same time. When I come home, I’ll keep parts of my routine, but I’ll be sure to feed my soul. I’ll grab a pen and paper and doodle. I’ll take a bath, listen to music as loud as I can. I’ll order take-out, maybe watch a movie. I will not ignore my dog-eared books. I will stray from the cycle to keep myself alive, and I’ll do it for me.