Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Is a messy home a caused by depression, or is depression caused by a messy home? I've heard passing references to a link between disorganization on the outside and fogginess on the inside, but I wasn't able to find any research on the subject. I know that I'm no stranger to having a bit of untidiness in my life, and there are plenty of other people I know who fall into both the categories of "depression victim" and "house cleaning challenged."
However, as my mother would say, "Dull women have immaculate homes."
There might be some wisdom to the axiom linking an orderly environment with an orderly mind, but until someone does a study I'm not making any pronouncements. However, I think it's fair to say that a messy home feeds really well into the cycle of I'm-not-good-enough that depression creates and builds upon. If you don't have the energy or focus to clean, it's pretty certain you'll put it off. As the mess builds, so does the guilt. The problem gets bigger as the guilt feeds the depression, which diminishes the energy levels and reinforces how impossible the task is. You know the drill, you've probably done it to yourself. Charming little cycle of self-recrimination and self-fulfilling prophecies. You expect that you can't clean the place up, and your mind works overtime to make sure that it doesn't make a liar of you. Didn't think you had that much mental energy, did you?
As with everything depression-related, small victories add up. Commit to not adding to the mess today. You will not create another dirty dish without washing it. One dish isn't so tough. And those socks? Just force yourself to put them in the hamper; you'll be glad you did. Keep up on not adding to the mess, and you'll see you can control your world after all. Then you'll be ready to take a step or two towards the bigger mess.
I would keep making small victories. Don't try to clean every dish in the kitchen, but do try to wash all the ones in the sink. Maybe picking up all the dirty laundry is a bit much right now, but how about just the stuff that you piled on your bed? Each time you succeed you're teaching yourself that you are capable and you are in charge.