The Frustration of Routine, and How to Handle It

A columnist with vasculitis makes her peace with the occasional banality of life

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by Allison Ross |

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Another week, another doctor’s appointment, another stack of bills. Even my pillbox reflects it — each dosage carefully lined up, disappearing one day at at time, only for me to start the same thing over the following week. It’s an endless cycle.

The vasculitis lifestyle is a unique one, involving more details than the average healthy person needs to consider. It can be overwhelming to keep up with everything on top of a busy regular life of family, work, hobbies, and relationships. Furthermore, it can feel hopelessly mundane very quickly.

Some people thrive on routine to help them be productive and grounded. But for me, it’s the opposite: I feel stuck. Daily efforts as part of “the grind” make me feel uninspired, and, like everything I do, they matter a little less each time I return to them. I thrive on variety to keep me interested in moving forward — even if that entails a bit more stress than otherwise.

So, though I appreciate some structure to my life, it’s a fine line I walk between planning and spontaneity. At some level, we probably all walk this line! However, being chronically ill brings the big questions into sharp focus:

“What’s the point of all this?”

“Will the work/pain/obligations/anxiety never end?”

“How do I find joy again?”

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I remember undergoing different treatments at various points of recovery and wondering if I could hold out long enough to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Some days, it didn’t seem worth it. But I didn’t have a choice.

Another alarm clock, another pile of dirty dishes, more lab results. This feeling seems to be heightened (at least for me) in September, when the back-to-school attitude reminds me that everything in life is cyclical. The breezy summer days are coming to a close, and students and teachers alike plunge back into a season of focused work.

“Just another manic Monday,” as the Bangles sang in the 1980s. They’re not the only artists to write about the banality of life. It seems to be a popular theme for poets, songwriters, and many other creatives throughout the past few decades.

Lately, I’ve been playing one particular new song on repeat:

“Do you ever get a little bit tired of life

Like you’re not really happy but you don’t wanna die

Like you’re hanging by a thread but you gotta survive”

Em Beihold’s “Numb Little Bug” is an earworm, and the lyrics here are almost tangible. The song struck me because it so accurately summed up how I was already feeling. Weary. Tired, but not sleepy-tired. It’s exhaustion, coupled with a mental heaviness that’s like trying to throw off a quilt in midsummer — but the quilt is stapled to the bed, and I’m trapped under it.

As a vasculitis patient, there’s a hint of danger in the mundane. I know that if I let my mind spin or go idle for too long, it can quickly travel down a spiral of anxiety or depression. Wandering thoughts can go dark almost before I realize it.

My doctor asks for changes in symptoms at our checkup every four months. I’ve told her no, nothing’s changed for several years, I just need a refill of my meds. She always meets this news with a smile.

“Boring is good,” she assures me. “That means you’re doing well.”

Maybe the endless cycle doesn’t have to be a mental health struggle. Maybe it can be filled with thankfulness and hope. If it’s a challenge to keep my mind stable, at least my physical inflammation isn’t currently an issue.

With the right support system of people and self-care, and by giving myself time, I always know I’ll snap out of it. Fortunately, life is too vibrant to stay in this mental space forever.

I reframe my perspective: another Monday, another morning, another chance at survival. Routine means stability. The grind is positive. Instead of letting myself feel “blah,” I practice gratitude. Then I pick up my laptop, get to work, and let the days continue to roll by.

Note: ANCA Vasculitis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ANCA Vasculitis News or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ANCA vasculitis.


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