My Take, Uncategorized

Mental Well-being: Cleaning House

Hi everyone, and welcome to my latest blog on mental well-being and cleaning house. Today we’ll take a look at what it is, what it isn’t, how to get there, and more! To begin, here’s a short story I was inspired to write during my cleanup process.

The Stain

It begins with a little cleaning; discarding the old, broken and unused. You find things you’d like to keep, only to discover how tarnished they’ve become. Hoping they can be scrubbed clean, you try to make them relevant again. But some messes defy even the best detergents, and you begin to wonder if only bleach can do the trick. The temptation is great, but sheer stubbornness stays your hand. You remember that bleach destroys indiscriminately; erasing the beauty of anything colourful. The stain may be ugly, but are you ready to part with what it so desperately clings to?

Hopefully you enjoyed the mini story and didn’t find it self-indulgent. I had fun and don’t mean for it to sound that way but I can’t tell. Moving on, you’ve probably noticed a cleaning theme. That’s because I’m really trying to work on my mental wellbeing
and a part of that for me is literally ‘cleaning house’. Before you think that I’m jumping into another activity to avoid dealing with my head, let me say this:

1. You’re not alone in thinking that and it could be true.

2. I hope that’s not the case because I’m trying to deal with my issues from different angles.

Cleaning House for Mental Well-being

Though I’ve done quite a few hypomanic cleaning sprees at the apartment with my boyfriend, I’ve yet to do a serious job at my parents. I’ve done bits and pieces but not never the long-overdue ‘deep-cleanse’. I’m not silly enough to think that my mood problems can be ‘swept’ away, but I’m also not going to dismiss how the environment has a bearing on our mental state. I frequently find myself dismissing the little things that help in favour of searching for ‘the big thing that will change everything’. If I’ve been learning anything, it’s that I’ll be waiting a long time – if not forever – for that ‘big thing’!

Well-being with 1% Changes

This brings us to my goal of 1% change – an idea that comes from my first, longest and
favourite therapist. I need to forget about huge leaps and concentrate on consistently improving my life by 1%. Small changes can really add up if you stick to the program.

Why am I not so much better if I know this? That’s a good question, and one that I’ve been asking myself for years: How is it possible for me to be decently self-aware and informed of strategies and yet continue to struggle and ‘relapse’ as I do? Seriously, please tell me!

Oh… I’m sorry. I hope I didn’t give you the impression that I know the answer. I only have are theories, and they range from mildly hopeful to jump-off-a-bridge-pessimistic. Let’s move on, shall we?

The 1% changes I’m trying to implement are aligned with one major objective: Stability! No one change is enough to fix things, but perhaps they’ll add up and gradually make my life happier and more sustainable.

Maintain a realistic work schedule = Purpose and income = Greater financial stability = Less stress.

Cleaning and organizing my living spaces = Less cluttered and depressing = Easier to find and use things = Less time wasted rushing around/looking for things = Greater simplicity and ease of functioning.

My Mental Well-being Program

The beginnings of a routine are forming; I work at the pet store on Mondays and Tuesdays, and every few weeks I see my psychiatrist. I meet with my new social worker every Thursday, which is also when I visit my boyfriend for a day or two. It falls well. Mostly.

I’ve also been doing quite a few marketing hours lately (mostly from home), and I’m in the last phase of training for my new job. I try to continue my cleanup project and of course make time for writing. My writing seems to be coming in last though, which hurts me. I find it difficult to get through everything despite it probably being less than what the average person manages. (There I go comparing myself again…) You know you have a time management problem when health obligations contribute to feeling over-booked.

Am I stressed? Yes! Sometimes I feel like a functioning nervous breakdown on two legs. The key point is that I’m functioning, and that’s worth a lot. For some reason – not complaining – I’ve been getting by despite being in fairly strange mental zone. I keep moving with the idea that at one point or other, things will get easier and I’ll know why all of this has been worth it.

I’m learning a lot actually. It’s quite something to keep going when your brain gives you tons of reasons as to why you shouldn’t. But hey, if my brain can get random things wrong, it can be wrong about this too, right? So I’m learning: I’m learning that devoting all my time to building a cat tree for someone’s birthday is an awesome idea… albeit a wee bit unrealistic. If I weren’t trying so hard to be sane and revamp my entire life or anything, maybe it would be ok. But I am, which means I have to be careful. Long story short, we can’t do everything. Limitations suck but even a small extra can push you over the edge if you’re already not too far off. Like it or not, that would be me.

Decomplicating for Mental Well-being

I’m trying to decomplicate my life to the best of my ability. I’m tired of complications and being a master at creating them. Nope! I want to be a ‘Master Demystifier’ instead. That sounds good but, there’s a bit of a hiccup.

History has demonstrated that my method of existing is – to put it delicately -unpredictable, extreme, overemotional, impulsive, self-destructive and…well I think you get the idea. Taking that into account, it feels like I have to change everything. What’s it like to feel like you need to change practically 3/4 of your persona? Pretty crappy! More specifically though, it’s overwhelming, intimidating and depressing. I can’t focus on all of it at once or else my head would explode, wouldn’t it? Wait. Do I still have a head? I do! Wow! Colour me impressed.

So if I were to boil my struggle down to one precise, philosophical question, it would be this:

WHAT THE F*CK am I gonna do?!


I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t know where I’m going, I don’t know what I want to do, I don’t know how I’m going to do it and I don’t know why I’m doing it. Aside from that, things are peachy.

I think humour has revealed the main dilemma: How can I become comfortable with not knowing?

This reminds me of an important realization I had while driving. It’s true that I often feel lost and disillusioned when it comes to the future. I don’t know where to aim, much less do I feel confident in my ability to get there. Washed up by the ripe old age of 24 – that’s just sad! However, a silver lining resides in this new understanding that I’m trying to live with.

Here it is:

It’s realistic to accept that I don’t really know where I’m going, what I’m doing, or why. Motivation can be in limited supply while fear is easy and cheap to come by. So if I’m already going to feel lost and discouraged, I have two options:

The first option is to do nothing. To let the fear and confusion consume me to the point that I’m no longer productive or capable of supporting myself. I’ll be back on medical leave and feeling more useless than ever.

The second option is for me to do what I can with my life, as it is now. The scary emotions won’t vanish but they won’t be as bad either. I’ll be less stressed and pressured because I’ll have a routine, purpose and hopefully a steady means to support myself financially.

I think the best course of action is evident. If I’m going to feel ‘uncomfortable’ either way, I choose option two! It might not be romantic, poetic or anything of the sort, but this ‘might as well‘ realization is key to my current motivation.

NOT Doing for Mental Well-being:

For a long time I believed that improving my life meant adding things. I’m starting to see the value in stripping away to the essentials. My dad has likened this to the sculptor who begins with a lot of material and removes until the work of art is complete.

Regardless of the subject, we often think that ‘adding’ something is the solution. Maybe this comes from our capitalist/materialist culture of more is better, and maybe it doesn’t. I just know that more has not been doing me any favours so it’s time to try less.

Doing LESS for Mental Well-being

‘Doing less’ and ‘not doing’ is a pretty big challenge for me. I literally feel ill-at-ease and guilty unless I achieve a certain degree of productivity. Much of my ‘relaxation time’ remains goal oriented, but at a more chill pace. I’ve been practicing by reminding myself of priorities rather than jumping into big projects that sound fun but are in fact unrealistic and contrary to other goals.

It’s a test of patience and character, but I’ve made up my mind to do less and achieve better. This might be a better recipe for consistency and success.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your ideas and whether you relate to these feelings!

6 thoughts on “Mental Well-being: Cleaning House”

  1. Having things tidy to how you want it certainly helps with mental health.

    I am a person myself who tries to be minimalist after I had a major declutter some years ago.

    I am not a person who owns much furniture. But I got rid of a couple of pieces of furniture a few months ago. Not by choice. But because of getting rid of one particular piece to charity, meant I had to add at least a couple of other items to it for it to be collected by a charity it was being donated to. But after doing that, I have found to enjoy the benefits of not having them, even though both were regularly used.
    From that, I looked at something else to get rid of in another room. It reminds me again of the satisfaction you can feel from it.

    My next clear out will be some paperwork, now I have a decent shredder.
    I am not in a rush for doing it because its not something that’s in my face. But I will be doing it soon.

    I enjoy certainly having less. My only enjoyment you will see more of in my house is dvd’s. But I keep this to a certain amount and if there is something I know I won’t watch again, I either sell or donate.

    1. That sounds great, thank you for sharing Liz! And I agree, the process is quite satisfying. I’m going to try to stay on this path rather than returning to clutter.

      1. All the best with it. Go at your pace. Once you start, you start to evaluate other areas. Even when you stop for a while, you will find you will sometimes sit, like in your living room for example and think of getting rid of a particular item. Or thinking of another room how it would feel if something was removed.

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