The Cycle of Depression in the Home

I looked around the bedroom, studied the piles of clothes on the no-longer-in-use bassinet and the motley collection of jewelry and random beauty products on the top shelf of the dresser. I saw the dust-covered knickknacks on the dresser surface with the various clothes piled here and there. I leaned back and noticed the things littered on my second dresser.

I wished for a match to just burn it all down.

My home has steadily grown out of control in the clutter department. Just like mind clutter, the clutter of the home can really get me down if I allow it to. In fact, it becomes easier to ignore the clutter as I get more depressed until I wake up and open my eyes to just how bad it’s become.

I talked to my mother about wanting to just light a match and burn down the apartment. She mentioned I must be my father’s daughter because he’s talked about doing the same thing in their extra bedroom, which is also littered with piles of stuff. Truth be told, my mother said my apartment depresses her, which is a bit of a wake-up call for me.

Depression for me always involves letting the things around me fall apart into chaos. It probably looks differently for other people, and if you are the kind of person who likes to use your downtime to clean, please feel free to come visit me! This time around, my apartment seems to have deteriorated into the most chaotic and motley assortment of things everywhere.

My son’s clothes are strewn across the couch, baby food jars hide under the kitchen table, and junk mail piles under the coffee table. A collection of used q-tips sits on my bathroom counter, and used toilet paper rolls never make it to the trash can. Gross, I know. I’m being brutally honest in this post because if I don’t, I might never find the motivation for change.

Depression & the Home | Cycle of Depression in the Home | A Life With A Little
Seriously, y’all, my kitchen table terrifies me.

I plan to have a garage sale with a friend soon and thought it was time to really reevaluate all my stuff. So what did I do? I went to the top shelf of my dresser and pulled everything out. I piled handfuls of jewelry, a collection of OPI nail polish, my Jamberry nail stickers, hair ties, my jewelry box, costume pieces, and extra buttons all on my bed. I took a few pictures for posterity’s sake (there you go, Emmeric!) before tackling the mass of stuff.

By the time it was all said and done, I emptied out over 40 snack-sized bags of jewelry for the garage sale, tossed tons of old lotions and perfumes, and selected a small number of pieces to keep for myself. I dusted the shelf and settled the remainder back into the dresser, thinking what a great job I’d done.

Then I looked around my bedroom and the rest of the apartment.

Depression sneaks up on you sometimes, and sometimes it smacks you in the face. As I look around my apartment most days, I absolutely hate what I see. The mess drives me bonkers because it’s become so overwhelming. And I know I let it get to this point just by being depressed and not caring about my home.

I’m sharing the cycle of depression in the home that leads to this kind of chaos. I mean the kind of disorganized chaos that has no chance at even pretending to that thing we like to call “organized chaos.” The nitty gritty fact is depression draws you into a vicious cycle and leaves you desperate to break free. But how?

Depression & the Home | Cycle of Depression in the Home | A Life with a Little
There’s always something on the coffee table, whether that’s coffee…or more often, not.

The Cycle of Depression in the Home

Depression saps your energy.

First things first, depression is not one of those energizing types of mental health disorders where you get hyperactive. If anything, it’s the exact opposite. Depression drains you, leaves you exhausted, and then keeps you from sleeping. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? But one big problem people face with depression is lack of proper sleep. Anyway, we start here because as you might imagine, a lack of energy doesn’t bode well for cleaning.

Tiredness keeps you on the couch.

You stay where you’re comfortable, whether it’s a couch, chair, bed, hammock, whatever. You feel too tired to get up, and you sink into that comfy spot even while looking around at a home that distresses you. (In my case, I argue my couch sucks me back in, but I know that’s just an excuse.)

Depression & the Home | Cycle of Depression in the Home | A Life with a Little
This couch is scary. I can get lost in it!

You eat, sleep, play, and distract yourself in your comfort zone.

I litter things on and around my couch and coffee table all day long. It never stays clean. Even at this moment, a necklace, my jacket, two throw blankets, a book, a bracelet, and some of Emmeric’s clothes surround me. It feels cozy in the moment because you surround yourself with comfort items.

Your comfort zone piles up with clutter that moves outward.

I notice this trend in myself. The couch gets piled up with my stuff, and when I have no more surface area, I place it in the next most convenient spot. Convenience is key here. I won’t get up and go somewhere; instead, I put junk mail under the coffee table, books and magazines on the overstuffed bookshelves, and bags on the floor around my space. From there it grows.

The litter and clutter takes over your space.

Eventually I run out of couch, floor, and table space. I have to get up and go somewhere. Here’s where things get even dicier. I put dirty cups and plates on the kitchen counters, clothes on my hope chest and the (still-assembled) bassinet, and find spaces for everything else. But nothing goes in a designated neat, clean, orderly spot.

Looking around your space depresses you.

The sight of all the clutter and litter brings you further down into a state of depression. You want to put things away, but there’s just so much stuff! You get tired just looking at it all!

And then depression saps your energy.

Oh wait, wasn’t that the first step? Yep. That’s how this cycling thing works. I know I could have simplified it, but I wanted to share how it breaks down for me. Depression doesn’t just affect the brain, emotions, and body. It affects your space. It affects your motivation.

For months, I sat on this couch day in and day out. I spent time trying to figure out Emmeric’s health, binge-watched different shows on Netflix, drank copious amounts of coffee, and surfed all my social media. Things deteriorated around me until it got to this point where even my mom is depressed when she walks in my door.

Are you depressed now? I can understand if you are; though that isn’t the point of this post. The point is that depression impacts your home, and when your home isn’t comfortable, you can really struggle to want to do much of anything.

I think it’s so important for everyone to understand the cycle of depression in the home. Perhaps you know someone who has gone or is going down this path. You see their home, their room, and you can tell something is very wrong. What can you do?

If you see this in a loved one, the best thing to do is sit back and listen. Talk to your loved one and ask if there’s anything they need and find out how they’re feeling. Be genuinely interested in what they have to say and open it up to talking about whatever might be bothering them. You might find out this person really needs help trying to get rid of the clutter in their home or they just want to find motivation to get something, anything, done.

Trust me: that last part I relate to more than I care to admit. Depression makes it so difficult to want to do anything, let alone declutter, tidy, and organize.

If you suffer depression and you haven’t really looked around your space recently, take a good look at your home. Have you let it get overwhelming and cluttered up to an unhealthy point? I totally understand where you are because that is me right now! I hope to share a few more posts about depression and the home over the next week or so because I finally found some motivation to work on my mess.

I hope you can find some encouragement in this post. Know that what depression does to us is totally normal, and you are not alone. If you need help, ask someone close to you to give you a hand, and if you want to change your home, take your time and be thorough. I’ll share more about how I’m working in my own home to give you some inspiration for your own spaces!

Until then, tell me how you feel about your home. Is it a comfortable, safe, clean space for you? Are you overwhelmed by your home? How do you feel in your house?


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