I absolutely despise disorganization and clutter in my house, yet this seems to be all that surrounds me, especially after I’ve been held captive by depression for a period of time. When I’m amid its clutches, nothing is more disheartening than seeing the manifestation of depression all around my home. I already feel like crap and to see reminders of my failings at life in my immediate environment, can only force me further down into the dark rabbit hole of hell. From piles of dirty laundry, disorganized counter tops, an overflowing sink with days old dishes, and the worst – the looks on my children’s faces. The disappointed expressions when I tell them, “mommy is going back to sleep for a little while”. Words they’ve heard too many times before and know that when their mom clambers back into her room, something isn’t right. Something is amiss again. I was grateful that Jarrod would pick up the slack for me when I would go into another funk but I worried so often about how my reclusive nature would affect them. Do their innocent minds take my hiding personally and wonder if I love them? All I’ve ever wanted was for my babies to know how much I adore them. What a travesty it would be for them to internalize my disappearance as a way to avoid them. The truth is, when I seek cover and go back into my cave, I am running from myself. Not them. I loathe who I become when I’m depressed: I’m irritable and unpleasant to be around. I don’t want them to see me that way. Not ever.
I find nothing more frustrating than being in a depressive slump and not knowing how the hell to get out. No matter how much reading I do in search of how to make myself feel better, I find the advise to be patronizing and impractical. Suggestions are often for super high achieving, high functioning adults, and while I’d like to think of myself as one, when I’m in a depressive slump, the last thing I am is high functioning.
Frustrating List of Commonly Made Suggestions on How to Get Your Life Back:
“Declutter your home because the state of your house is reflective of your mental state”
Thanks, Captain Obvious. My mental state is a disaster, hence why my house looks like a bomb went off. If I could amass the energy required to declutter – let alone clean my house – I would.
“Write a gratitude list”
Err, the last thing I’m feeling is connected to any sense of gratitude, no matter how grateful I am for, say my children, who I currently find annoying and want to instead, appreciate, because they are more than deserving, so just tell me HOW.
“You need to exercise by joining a gym and go everyday”
Nope. ‘Aint happening. Not while I’m feeling sh*tty. I can barely convince my body to get up and relieve itself when nature calls so getting it up to do uncomfortable, sweaty things, is just downright inconsiderate. Thanks though. Next.
“Reconnect with friends and socialize more”
Is the person who’s suggesting this even aware of the amount of work involved in say, going out for dinner? By the time I’m finished cleaning myself up and getting put together, I already feel like I’ve gone out for the night; I’m exhausted by my 10,000th outfit change from fighting with my pants that my mom body won’t squeeze into anymore. No way. Home is my best friend and jammies are my jam.
All of the above suggestions are dandy and I’d say even necessary. However, these aren’t effective suggestions for someone currently in a depressive state. At least not for me. When I’m depressed, any and all tasks take more energy than I can summon, regardless of how menial. Before we begin the tackling of the house steps, it’s time to start by giving yourself a big hug…
Go into the bathroom where you’ll be in private so you don’t feel like a complete jackass doing this, look at yourself in the mirror – no matter how hard, no matter how disheveled you look, no matter how dark the circles or puffy your eyes are from crying, look into your eyes and tell yourself how much you love you and how sorry you are that you’ve been so hard on you. I know that sounds ridiculous, but seriously, you need to love the sh*t out of yourself because you’re wounded like crazy. You need and deserve as much love as you can get and if outside sources aren’t sufficient enough, you better be there to love yourself, dammit.
Now, without further ado:
How to Actually Get Your House in Order
Start slow and take baby steps.
Print this ish – and put it on the fridge or wherever you can to refer back to.
1. Combatting Laundry
Oh, the dreaded laundry. “How the hell do I combat this Mount Everest–Pile–of–Dirty–Laundry-Sh*t Storm“, you ask?
Start with towels and sheets. ONLY. Having grandiose plans of doing umpteen loads of laundry is impractical. Once you hear the dryer beep after the first load of clothing is done, you’ll role your eyes, and say ‘screw it’. And then hate yourself tomorrow for letting the clothes get wrinkled and having to run the dryer again. And then wait for them to be dewrinkled. And then not feel like folding again. Then wake up the next day and do it again and again and – you get it. Just do towels or sheets because that way they can stay in the dryer and not get wrinkled. That’s it! Washing machine, then dryer then THAT’S IT!
Pull towels and sheets out of the dryer and fold them while watching something on tv or something really funny on YouTube. After putting towels away, then go and separate your darks from your whites. If you’re in desperate need of something to wear, wash what you need now plus a few other outfits in one load but that’s it for today.
Combat HALF of the darks. But you have to finish from start to end, so keep your schedule open to ensure laundry/folding/putting away.
Next HALF of the darks. Follow until completion. I know you’re sick of laundry at this point, but that pile needs to get tackled or else it will continue to suck joy out of your soul.
Now half of your whites. Baby. Steps. Are. Integral. Don’t get all gung-ho and think you can tackle it all, or you’ll exhaust yourself and be in the same trap next week.
You guessed it – the next half of your whites. Until completion.
Day 7: DONE! No laundry today. Celebrate.
2 Daily Maintenance
On the first day out of your slump, do not wash your hair – just the necessities. I have a bush on my head. A serious bush. The amount of effort it takes to wash, condition, brush and style then repeat, is way too much for me, even on my better days. So, dry shampoo to the rescue. Put your hair up, hop in the shower for five mins, get fresh then get out. No shaving. This is just to get clean. If you go overboard during a ‘high’ moment by doing all of the above plus shave/use a deep conditioner/a micro beaded scrub and blah blah, then you’ll wear yourself out, and when it comes time to shower again tomorrow, you won’t feel like it because the task seems too overwhelming. Just get your lady parts clean and get the hell out. Keep it simple.
I suggest that you not join a gym just yet. Similarly to how we combat the laundry, we start exercising by taking baby steps. We recognize our current state of mind and acknowledge that coming out of this slump won’t be easy, so setting ourselves up for failure, is really futile.
I’m not a fitness coach trainer, so I’ll just suggest what I did to train my discipline muscle and that was by doing 10 pushups every morning for the first week. That’s it.
The next week, add 10 squats.
By the third week, you’ll be able to add more to your daily fitness routine. There is an abundant amount of workouts all over the interwebs, so feast away and introduce more intense fitness routines by the third week.
You may be thinking – ‘why is this so simplistic’?
Here is why:
In the initial stages of integrating exercise into our daily routines (yes, daily – if you suffer from depression, you have no choice but to exercise), the goal is to establish a routine. That’s it. We aren’t after muscle fatigue, exhaustion, dizzy spells, or even perspiration.
Starting in a new routine is often just about building discipline – discipline is like a muscle that needs to grow, so don’t expect yourself to be super-military-disciplined overnight. It takes time to build. But stay consistent with baby steps by doing small, seemingly menial exercises each day and it has no choice but to grow. Trust me, I can be the laziest person and I HATE this about myself because all I want is to be disciplined, but I never realized that discipline is something that you train your mind to become.
4 Sit-up STRAIGHT
Posture is everything. There is muscular correlation between how we carry ourselves and the effect this has on our moods. I admittedly have the worst posture and would do anything to have perfect prima ballerina posture so much so that I wish I had a rod inserted into my spine. That sounds gross. But people who sit up straight just look like they really have their sh*t together, don’t they? And there’s scientific evidence as to why that is now. So. Pretend there is a string attached to your chest, and someone who is standing on top of your head, pulls the string up. Feel your chest rise? Don’t you feel a bit better already? I just did it and I feel better. Read up on this and do it, it’s worth it, I promise.
Treat yo self. Self-care is dire. If you’re a mom reading this, then you know that as moms we put ourselves last on the totem pole because we learn to operate by helping people survive and thrive around us. We do this by feeding, dressing, washing and wiping. And we have literally no energy left to spend on ourselves. In error, we believe that our children’s survival is not dependent on our self-care. It actually is. So much so, that it’s dire to their emotional well-being. Not that we need the added pressure of not messing up our kids, but they are learning how to care for themselves by watching how we care for ourselves. Now don’t slouch as you read that and think, ‘my kids have seen me lie in bed, stuff my face with chocolate, rage clean and not shower for days’. Don’t beat yourself up more than you already have by not taking care of yourself. You can change how they see you just as much as you can change how you see yourself. You are awesome and the fact that you’re reading ways to help yourself out of the slump you’re in, just proves that there is someone in there desperately wanting to break free because you aren’t defined by depression. You have pride and value responsibilities, discipline and goal setting just as much as anyone else. So, once a month, make it a rule to either get a manicure, pedicure, facial, shop, etc – do something where you splurge on YOU.
It’s not expensive and it’s totally doable. This will make you feel special, because you are special. So special. And this will help to remind you just how special and worthy of pampering you are!
6 Tackling the Stupid Kitchen
If unloading the dishwasher seems an all-out overly taxing job and you haven’t anyone to rely upon to help you with it, say to yourself that first you’re only going to unload the utensils. Later on in the day, come back and unload two cups. Chances are you’ll be up for finishing the entire top rack. The next day do the bottom rack. Now the dishwasher is empty – behold! And now it’s time to load the dishwasher with dirty dishes. Sucks, I know. The cycle continues but run the dishwasher now and unload the dishes tomorrow.
What about weekends? I get thrown off.
So. Do. I. Ugh!
I think it’s the lack of schedule or feeling trapped and aimless on the weekends. Also, I NEED alone time and as much as I love my family, if I don’t take a break from them, just to have a little me time, I go crazy.
I also get bored. So – to combat this, after Jarr gets home from the gym after having had his time, I FORCE myself to go out. Even if I don’t want to. I HAVE to leave by myself. Even if it’s just for a drive. Grabbing a coffee or going to the grocery store. The simple act of showering, dressing, and leaving the house makes me feel renewed.
I hope that these few basic survival steps will help you out of the depressive slump you’re in. I promise life gets better and will become more manageable once you gain a sense of control over yourself and the environment in which you live.
As you begin picking up the pieces around you, your self-love will start to come back. The more effort you put towards doing things that are important to you – the more you will prove to yourself that you do have value and worth; you’ll see it manifest itself around you. You’ll gain a better sense of control over your life and things will slowly begin to fall into place. It won’t happen over-night but you’ll begin to see differences in your day from effort that YOU put forth, like folding laundry, putting the dishes away, seeing effort that you’ve put into your appearance, whatever it may be that you’ve started to do daily, the more you do it, the more you’ll see it and the more you see it, the more you’ll feel it. I promise.
Sending you big, bear hugs.