Organization & Cleaning: Anxiety and Depression Edition

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Just want to start this one off with the fact that my pupper just got a bath, and she’s currently sitting in front of me trying to lick the “clean” off of her. Ha. 

When it comes to my depression, I’m pretty stereotypical I think. If I’m really down in the dumps, the LAST thing I want to do is clean up my house. I can barely manage to get my “bare minimum chores” done, much less any of the larger projects I have on my list. Everything just seems so daunting to undertake, even the smallest projects seem like mountains of crap to me.

So when depression strikes, I’ll spend my day avoiding any kind of major cleaning and organizing only to berate myself for “not doing enough” when I’m laying in bed unable to sleep at night. The silly part is, is that I KNOW that this is a typical symptom of depression, and I know depression is an illness just like any other. Yet, I still beat myself up at night for it.

Now my anxiety? That’s a whole different mutt. One of my biggest triggers for my anxiety & panic disorder is clutter. I can wake up in a wonderfully relaxed and happy mood, and if my kitchen counters are cluttered and there’s a mountain of dishes in the sink (I’m literally staring at my boyfriend as I type this) then my heart starts to race and I start to feel the all too familiar fingers of anxiety combing through my brain.

My anxiety is a bit strange, some therapists have suggested that it might be tied into OCD like some of my family members. However, beyond the original diagnosis of Anxiety and a Panic Disorder, I’ve never bothered to get more. It has to do with control for me, I can even pull up memories of dealing with it more than a decade ago when I first started driving. (I got my license late.. as I could walk to work.) I remember getting extraordinarily anxious in my car while sitting in traffic, heading to work. I was driving this POS Mazda at the time, which I loved, but since I had been working two jobs it had gotten dirty and cluttered. I remember setting down my coffee mug by the stick shift, glancing at the floor of the passenger seat and feeling overwhelmed and not safe. 

Now mind you, this car oddly enough brought me a sense of peace.. with the exception of when it blew up in a target parking lot, complete with black smoke. My dad drove an old beat up Mazda to work when I was a kid. It smelled like oil since he was a mechanic and well, it leaked oil. It was a manual (which I remember since us kids fought over who had to sit in the middle on the bench seat), just like mine. I had even found this wide bottomed, ceramic mug that my dad had back in the late 80’s, early 90’s at the thrift store. This stupid piece of shit car reminded me of my dad and my childhood, and in the early throws of adulthood, surrounded by poverty, I needed that feeling of calm.

So I looked down at the passenger seat floor and I could feel the panic rising. I never worried about my safety, not even when the radiator blew in the middle of the road. I didn’t even have air bags, and got in a fender bender, but I still felt safe. Yet, when I looked at all the TRASH and CLUTTER on the floor of that car, I felt like if I didn’t clean it up, something TERRIBLE would happen. I just knew it.

That feeling is still around. If my floor is dirty, or my books overflow the bookshelf (which happens more than I’d like to admit) I get overwhelmed. Instantly. The boyfriend is pretty used to this now as he’s seen me have full blown panic attacks because the kitchen table is covered in papers, or my side table is too cluttered. Once my day heads down that path, it’s very rarely recoverable.. at least not to a normal state. Back when I still worked, I would feel the urge to turn my car around and go home because I was SURE I had left the doors unlocked and that someone would break it. I would triple check that the windows were shut, except for one (because fire: cats need to get out) before I left, but feel like I had to drive back and check. Then when I’d get to work, on lunch, I’d start feeling anxious if I didn’t organize my desk, or my purse, or vacuum out the Rav4 on lunch. It’s a downhill battle that I didn’t have a chance of winning, even with the help of Ativan.

So in order to keep my anxiety under control, I make sure to stay on top of my chores. It’s not any worse than anyone else’s cleaning. I just do the dishes before bed, wipe down counters. If I see trash that needs to go out, I do it. Cat litter boxes get changed every other day. I enlist Jon to help, or make sure Noodle does her chores (although her mountain of dirty laundry in her closet never seems to get smaller hah).

Do you see what I’m getting at here?

What happens when you have anxiety AND depression. You turn into a hot mess is what happens. Your depression makes sure you lack the motivation to get your chores done. Your anxiety ramps up because you have too much to do. From there it’s just an endless cycle, all the way up until you have a good day, and clean up and tackle the the projects you need to.

It’s definitely tough. Even tougher now that the kid is a preteen. Clutter seems to just follow her around. (A lot of you can relate the the hair ties, clothes and shoes everywhere!) Yet in her pre-teen hormonal angst, she’s a lot less likely to clean up versus a toddler offered a cookie if they pick up their toys. Alas, she even knows the look on my face, right before I lose my cool, and quickly picks up her crap and shuttles it into her room. Haha.

I was just reminded of my anxiety-depression conundrum while I was tackling some cleaning and organizing earlier today. I’m coming off of a down swing with the depression, so I had some projects to take care of (I’m looking at you linen closet (wait, am I finally an adult because I have a linen closet??)) and it just felt nice to clean out parts of the house. So I figured I’d write about it, because we all know that talking about it, educates people. Dealing with anxiety and depression is easier than it used to be, but there’s still a lot of stigma attached to it, so the more information that’s out there, the better.

Plus, I’m really happy to have a lot of “good days” as of late.

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Hippie-Dippie Post : Peace Out Negativity

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So I’m on this bender, and by bender I don’t mean booze.  I’ve been doing my best to organize and simplify my life, but not going as far as stressing myself out.  I’ve conquered my closet (which is going to goodwill) as well as my work-space (at home – meaning my desk) and various other things.  The idea is, that to live simply and keep myself organized, I will keep my stress levels down.  So far it’s been working.

Mostly.

Laundry is no longer a dreaded nightmare, besides the folding of child clothes anyway.  My finances are in order and straight.  My yarn and needles are now all organized and starting a new project or searching for a certain color of yarn no longer makes me smell colors.  It helps.  The little things.  Organizing my coffee cups and donating the crap ones.  Tossing the lonely forever single socks and stacking my books.

So yesterday, I was browsing Facebook and I as I scrolled I realized how much pure and utter CRAP was on my timeline.  I’ve been bitching for WEEKS now that I’m fed up with the political bashing, that I’m fed up with whining, and significant others fighting on Facebook (while low blows really amuse me, it started to get painful to see).

So I kept scrolling.  Do I delete my Facebook?  Well no, my close knit circle of friends from CafeMom are on there, a few of them I talk to on Facebook first before the phone.  Do I spend the time blocking each post I dislike?  Uhm, lazy, and that requires me to not be lazy over the span of a few weeks, long enough for the posts to filter through.  So no.  Bam! (Insert politically charged gun control post) and I about threw my phone.

(For the record, I’m on the fence, I agree with both sides (and both of you need to stfu).  I don’t believe that gun control or lack there of is going to fix the loophole that exists in school safety, a PLAN will.  So shut the hell up.)

My blood pressure rose as I looked at the name.  Wait…. what?  Who is this person?  Well, they live in my town, but do I actually know them?  Maybe.  Are we friends?  No.  I kept scrolling, this time paying attention to names.  I couldn’t believe how many people on my “friends list” I didn’t actually know.

That became my mission for the evening.  Deleting people.  But why just stop at people I don’t know.  How about I delete acquaintances?  I mean, we never hang out, we have little in common, and when was the last time I even talked to you on here?  Gone.  Oh look, there’s that kid who was in my 3rd grade class!  Annnnd if I close my eyes… nope, can’t remember what you look like.  Gone.  So the weeding out began.  Then I realized, what about those people who post shit that pisses me off?  Well, unless you’re a close friend of mine, obviously if we have differing opinions to that degree, delete.

Note:  I didn’t just delete people who have a different opinion than me.  I deleted people who constantly argue with me with out anything to back it up.  I deleted people whom I have no relationship with or haven’t had in a long time, who post blatantly ignorant hateful things.

Facebook hasn’t been my favorite thing in a long time, but unfortunately I do rely on it to talk to long-distance friends and family.  After years of being on there, I just realized that I didn’t need to have people I met at a bar 3 years ago on there.  My Facebook is for my friends and my family.  It’s for my thoughts and articles, debates with friends and pictures of my kid.  It’s for that stupid fucking cat picture that cracks me up.  That’s it.  It’s not for hateful messages, arguments and drama.  It’s not for people I don’t know to have a peek into my life.

So 100+ people gone.

Today, I logged on and started scrolling on my lunch.  Instead of seeing Anti-Liberal / Anti-Conservative bullshit, I saw the update about my friends new baby (gorgeous by the way).  Instead of the “My boyfriends and Ass, I hate him” then two minutes later “He’s sooo sweet, he gave me flowers” from someone I can’t even remember meeting in real life?  I read a update from a close friend’s own store.  I read things I wanted to.  I was able to keep up with the people who mean something in my real-life.

It may seem pretty stupid to you, but clearing up that bit of social media was good to me.

Now look at yours, who’s looking at your pictures of your children?  Who’s reading your FourSquare check ins?  Do you really need to see that kid post ANOTHER picture of him smoking a bong?  You might, I don’t.