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Does Disorganization Bring Depression, or the Other Way Around?
How was your Christmas? I had a lovely time, more or less. The girls enjoyed their presents, I to some things I really enjoyed, but best of all we had a quiet few days with family and friends, playing games, reading, and just taking it easy.

On Boxing Day I swore to myself I wouldn't even get dressed. It was my day to relax and read. Unfortunately I only made it until 11:30 when I succumbed to the need for shower and normal clothes, but my youngest daughter made it through the whole day in her jammies!

This week coming up we're having several parties for teenagers. I'm starting to notice that once you have teens, they take over your social calendar. Instead of having people over for what I want to do, I'm having all my kids' friends over. But I enjoy their friends, and I do appreciate the fact that they're hanging out at my house rather than somewhere else!

In the meantime, though, I do have a week off before real life begins, and even though we're going to have a few parties in there, I plan to do some major organization (and relatively little "real" work). I have a hard time functioning when I feel like I can't find certain things, or there are some rooms in my house I'm scared to go in because they're so overwhelming.

I tackled our storage room before Christmas, and it's great now. This week I want to tackle our family room and my study. The family room is just a mass of craft supplies and knitting, and it needs to be sorted out, not least so that I can do my exercises down there with the Wii. I got a new Wii game for Christmas--the EA sports--and I'm looking forward to using it. Or at least I'm trying to look forward to using it. If I could get away with not exercising at all, that, naturally, would be better. But since I have to do something, that sounds infinitely more attractive than jogging in the snow.

Anyway, the family room just needs to be upended, and today the girls and I are going to attack. We're actually quite excited about it. Here are some pictures of what it looks like now:

Doesn't that seriously need some work?

But I do wonder sometimes if disorganization causes depression rather than the other way around. I think I mentioned this in an earlier post, after watching some TV shows in a hotel about people who just have too much stuff and are overwhelmed about how to clean it all. It struck me that perhaps at one point they were functioning, but then things got so bad that their brains couldn't handle it. How do you tackle such a mess? And living in a mess is not healthy. Our brains don't tend to handle chaos well.

We often believe that people with mental illness don't clean, but I wonder if it's the chaos that sometimes exacerbates and causes mental illness. And even if it's not as bad as an actual psychiatric disorder, I bet a lot of women are more depressed and lethargic than they should be simply because their homes are so out of control. Get the home in control, and suddenly you'd feel like you had a ton more energy.

The "housewifely" arts have fallen by the wayside in the last few decades, but they're still important. Having a clean, organized home (not a perfect home, but an organized one) goes so far in helping us maintain schedules, deal with crises, and relax. You can find things when you need them. Your home is a fun place to be.

I know that's hard with little kids, but I think it's still worth the effort. And if, like me, you have a week off before any real life begins again, why not tackle the worst place in your house? Do it in 15 minute blocks if you have to. And if it feels overwhelming, and you don't know where to start, go into the room and look at the first thing you see. Pick it up. And decide what to do with it. Just start with the first thing you can touch.

Bring in a garbage bag, a few boxes for transporting things to other rooms, and a big glass of water. And stick to the one room. If you find things that belong in another room, don't put them there yet. Just put them in a box to deal with later. Most of all, try to throw as much stuff out as possible. The vast majority of us have way too much stuff anyway.

So how about it? Are you with me? Let's clean something that really needs it, and start the new year off with a burst of energy. I'll post some after pictures later in the day, and I'll put up a MckLinky if you want to post yours from the week.

If you don't want to go the picture route, just leave a note in the comments about what you need to clean! Or if you're a perfectly organized person and nothing needs cleaning, leave a note and tell us how you've managed to attain such a glorious position in life!

Thanks for joining me, and I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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At 9:54 AM , Anonymous Sandra said…

This is just what I needed to hear to kick myself in the rump and get to work! I am off work this week, and I would love to get rid of all the clutter. I have a back room that is total chaos. We don't go in there much because there is no heat in the winter and no air in the summer. I guess I'll plug up a portable heater in there and get to work today. I also have a corner of paper clutter that I have GOT to tackle. It's weighing on my nerves more than the back room. So, I'll link up later. Thanks for inspiring me!


At 11:50 AM , Blogger The Happy Domestic said…

Yay for decluttering. I know in my own experience it's a self-perpetuating cycle... lack of energy (usually started by poor nutrition, not enough water, and poor choices regarding bedtimes) leads to falling behind in housework, which leads to feeling overwhelmed, which leads to procrastination, which leads to a disaster zone, which leads to full-blown depression and hopelessness.
Sometimes it helps to just ASK FOR HELP. My husband will willingly lend a hand if I'm feeling overwhelmed, but I have to take the initiative and ask for him to tackle a specific chore. He wants me to be "in charge" of the housework, and delegate as necessary. If it's really out of control, maybe my mom can take a Saturday to help me regain control and restore a sense of order. In my case, I never had to do chores growing up, and unfortunately now lack some of the skills and disciplines of good housekeeping. It's a real learning curve, a work in progress. Ladies, this is a good reason to teach your children to do housework while they're still young!!
One question I do have, Sheila, is how do you deal with things that need to be gotten rid of, without contributing to our massive landfill problem? Obviously the first step is not to BUY STUFF we don't need, and to buy necessities with the least amount of packaging. But what about gifts, clothes that just don't fit anymore, and necessary garbage? Any repurposing or upcycling strategies you use?


At 1:06 PM , Blogger Mandi Miller said…

We have a bedroom that turned into a storage room. But we are slowly taking back control over the holidays! Yay! By next week we should have another bedroom again!


At 4:31 PM , Blogger Chocolate Vegetables said…

I do wonder which comes first myself. I know that changing house often has not helped me. Clutter easily hides and gets packed up each time without being identified. I have been in this house for almost 3 years and I think I may be finally "seeing" my clutter.

I like each thing to have a home but when funds are short it is hard to get appropriate furniture and tools and I find this contributes to my unwillingness to deal with my clutter. After a long period of unemployment my dh has found a good job and I am looking forward to getting rid of my clutter and giving homes to the things I do want to keep.

At this time though I could realy do with working on my kids' school/toy room. With the new Christmas toys that room has gotten very messy. Time to clean it up and find homes for the new things before our school year restarts mid-January.


At 4:35 PM , Blogger Sheila said…

Sandra--Glad to motivate you! I feel so great after doing my family room today! Pictures will be up tomorrow.

Happy Domestic--Great question re: upcycling! Let me do a big post on that one tomorrow, okay? I have quite a bit to say about that, some of which I hope will be helpful!

Mandi, I do wish you luck on getting that bedroom back! What a great feeling that will be.

And I know what you mean, Chocolate Veggies, about the lack of appropriate storage items. We've tackled that problem in the past, too. I found that when we lived in very little space our place was often the messiest because you just didn't have a place for everything. But it does, eventually, get sorted out! I think the key is just to purge. Don't keep things you don't love. Don't keep things because you'll use them "one day". You likely won't. And even if you do, is it worth storing it for 9 years?

Happy decluttering!


At 6:21 PM , Blogger Herding Grasshoppers said…

I'm married to a packrat, but the kids and I work with the "Equal Mass Law". Which, in our house, means that an equal volume of stuff must go out, as what has come in. So every year, preferably before (but sometimes after) Christmas we do a big purge.

We hand down clothes from brother to brother (and then to younger friends), put anything on Craigslist we can sell, make a run to Goodwill, and what's too yucky for that goes to the trash.

I LOVE lightening it all up!

A cluttered space makes for cluttered and irritable minds. I just don't function well in a cluttered space. And while there IS a difference between cluttered and dirty, you really can't effectively clean a cluttered space.


Happy organizing :0)



At 10:38 PM , Blogger Sheri said…

In answer to your title: For me disorganization is brought on by depression, but with it comes stress. SO MUCH STRESS! LOL


At 11:40 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I'd really like to empty the laundry room and one other room that's collecting stuff. Not all the stuff is mine,so it has to be a joint effort. Much of it is my husband's or youngest daughter's stuff.

Julie: My husband also cannot bear to part with a thing. When he was working full time,I sometimes turfed things I knew he never used or wore anymore. Harder to do now that he's retired.

Moving out of our last house was most painful for him. Painful for me too, to see all the stuff that came into our new house in spite of all he got rid of. Truly, his clutter was affecting me.

The girls and I got rid of plenty of our own stuff too, purged closets, hidden away areas, games and puzzles we didn't anticipate using again.

Our kids are gone from home with only the youngest's boxes to store until she gets settled.

There are metal and computer recyclers that can take those electronic things off your hands.
Friends or neighbours who might be happy for clothes your kids outgrow. Family and friends were happy for the good-quality clothing for their children.


At 4:15 PM , Anonymous Beth Moore said…

I know for me, personally, that depression and clutter feed off of one another and it makes getting out of the mire of depression very difficult. So, I resolve every day to work on at least ONE thing to make my home more of a place of respite, rather than chaos.
I have an online buddy, and we make numbered lists of what we have to do, and then we give each other a number to work on. There are days, of course, that the list doesn't get finished, but it sure is a fun way to get things done that I would otherwise procrastinate on.


At 8:55 PM , Blogger Amy said…

My husband laughs @ me when I say something in the house needs organizing, and that I just can't function with it looking "like a mess". He thinks I may have OCD. (who asked him anyways? lol)
I keep a box in the laundry room at all times, and when it gets filled with items we no longer need/use, I drive it over to a local thrift store. That way I don't feel overwhelmed and can do it weekly/monthly.

Now only to tackle the garage in the cold of winter...ugh.


At 11:11 PM , Anonymous Computer Recyclers said…


Wonderful blog! I actually love how it’s easy on my eyes as well as the facts are well written. I am wondering how I could be notified whenever a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your rss feed which should do the trick! Have a nice day!

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Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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