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carly

Cleaning anxiety

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My anxiety has been so bad lately.  I just feel like I can't get ahead, ever.  I have a toddler and I feel like the house is constantly a mess.  But it is SO HARD for me to get myself up and clean, so it just gets worse. My daughter turned two last week and her birthday presents are still out in the living room.  There are dishes in the sink.  SO MUCH laundry that is clean, but I can't actually bring myself to fold it.  And that is just normal every day stuff.  The basement needs a good cleaning, there is a closet that needs organized...  Ugh I feel sick to my stomach.  I just can't bring myself to start.  I think I feel too overwhelmed.  I have read blogs like unfuck your habitat and they are inspiring but... I don't know.  It's hard with a little one and depression and anxiety and exhaustion.  Maybe that is just an excuse.  It's not that I'm lazy, though if you looked at my house you'd think I was, I'm sure.  I just can't ever get caught up.   

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It's ok, take a deep breath, let it out slowly,do it again, 1..2...3...to 10......

 

I am so sorry you are depressed and feeling anxious.

 

You are not alone however.

My house is a mess.

My dishes are always unwashed

There are closets that have not seen the light of day since the stone age.

I have one teenage girl and one somewhat clean hubby but the clutter is out of this world.

 

It is ok. You are NOT a bad person.  YOu are NOT lazy.  

 

Plus, you HAVE A TWO YEAR OLD.  You get lots and lots of slack.  When the birthday presents are still there in July, then worry.

 

I am one to talk. I feel the same way you do no matter how many times I tell my self it is ok. But saying that always helps.  

 

Pick ONE very small thing to do so you have a sense of accomplishment, even if it is just putting plates in the dish washer.  

Edited by water

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I don't have a little one, but I can so relate to your post. I have this problem constantly. I took me nearly a week to clean one room this past week. I don't really have any advice above what water has written. I just want you to know that you are not alone.

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I get like this too, all the time. I don't even have kids. I can't imagine how hard of a time I'll have with it once I have kids!

I do the bare minimum, as infrequently as possible. I only actually clean something when it's gotten too gross to look at, and even then it might take a while. I'm struggling with how to get myself to do it more regularly. 

 

With me, I think the problem is rooted in the fact that I'm terrible with time management. I never make time to do things I need to do; cleaning is just one of those things. Also reading the news, house maintenance stuff, etc. Yet I will happily sit at the computer or TV for hours. This is a real problem for me.

 

The biggest thing I neglect, as gross as it is to admit, is the cats' litter boxes. They're down in the basement - out of sight, out of mind. I typically only scoop them once a week, on trash night, and it's so gross. I also never vacuum up the cat litter that spills onto the basement floor. It's embarrassing. 

 

Have you considered a cleaning schedule? I've been thinking about making one up. Start small, one or two small tasks each day, then work up to a bigger load!

 

Just know that you are not alone in struggling with this. Best of luck to you!

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YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

 

Part of it for me is my perfectionism; I get overwhelmed at the chore because I feel like I have to do it 100%...but doing just a little bit every now and then, chipping away at it, is far better than never starting because you don't think you can do everything.

 

Also, fuck folding laundry. First of all, KUDOS for having CLEAN laundry at all!! I will never fold; I'm proud of myself for sorting it and throwing it all into drawers. It'll unwrinkle when I wear it.

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I, too, have a house full of dirty laundry, dirty dishes and general chaos.  I like to use the timer method.  Set a timer for, say, 20 minutes.  Clean as much as you can in 20 minutes and when the timer goes off, reward yourself with watching some tv, spending time on CB, or whatever it is the seems like a good reward for yourself.  When you feel up to it, set the timer and go at it again.

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Oh good god me too. I didn't clean much for about a year because of this. I would steam clean the carpets and pick up toys in the living room. That was it. And I'm at home all day. I hated myself for having a messy house, but the thought of beginning to clean it made me almost panic.

 

I shouldn't put this in past tense because I could see this happening again any day, hahaha.

 

The birthday presents for her 6th birthday were sitting out for quite a while too. A month or two. We don't have any space in our house because (seriously this is why) her grandparents have bought her so many fucking toys (one or two a week for six years and she wouldn't get rid of any until recently) that there is nowhere to move them. They are EVERYWHERE. I finally told them that for every new toy they get her, she has to get rid of 5 and haven't seen a new one in months! Cool.

 

Anyway, part of it was "Where the fuck do I start?" and also, I was sad and tired. I thought maybe if I cleaned I'd feel better. Only a little. 

 

Thing is, for me, to just do a little. I have Clorox wipes, right? Well there are some on the kitchen counter, the counters in the bathroom, etc. So if I go to take a shit and the counter looks gross, I wipe it down. Once a week maybe. Kitchen more often. 

 

I couldn't do that before because for some reason, it was like "if I clean one thing, I have to take 23 hours to clean ALL the things!" and it was overwhelming. Somehow I was just about to start with taking two minutes to wipe down a counter. Then I thought the next day that well, it probably won't take more than 10 minutes to sweep! It took five.

 

So I made a goal to clean all the rooms, but only one a week until I get to a stage where it only takes 20 minutes once a week to keep it that way. SIX trash bags came out of my bedroom alone (granted that was the most shameful room probably ever). 

 

That's what I did. Now the house looks good and SMELLS good and you know, the other inhabitants like that so okay.

 

But yeah, I just made little projects once a week. The six trash bags to organize the bedroom and shit, well that only took an hour.

 

Just had to put a foot on the ground. Also, no advice like this ever helped me until I made the choice to do it. 

 

My house was more "dirty" than I thought it was. 

I love those fucking Clorox wipes. THANKS, CLOROX! MY HOUSE IS CLEAN FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A YEAR! <---Kinda serious there. haha.

 

I hope you get over the panic. It's hard. I know that. And it's a shitty place to be in. 

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Thank you all so much for your great advice.  I think part of my problem too (along with wondering where to start) is perfectionism where if I can't do it ALL PERFECTLY then I can't do any of it.  The advice about Clorox wipes is great, Emperor!  I know I just need to get started.  And if I didn't have a toddler underfoot constantly, I could totally do it.  I have a time management issue, I know I do.  She will be watching cartoons or playing independently, and I'll just be sitting on the couch wasting time on my phone or something when I could be doing something productive.  I need to use my time better.  It's so hard to get started.  Your replies are very motivating though.  I did manage to put away several baskets of laundry this weekend.  So it's a start.  Thank you all.  

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Thank you for starting this thread, it sounds like me too. My apartment is a disaster right now.... And it makes me feel worse than I already do. I look around and my stress goes up immediately. Why can't I just do it? I can't even have anyone over and haven't in months.

I made a list yesterday of the things I really need to get done. It was two pages long. I looked at it, got overwhelmed, cried my eyes out and ended up doing nothing on the list. I've had a couple friends offer to help, but I can't... I'd be so embarrassed if anyone saw it all. I really don't know what to do.

Every day I get up and I'm like, today I'm going to get it going and do stuff! But I barely even start and end up online or watching Netflix to hide from it all. The replies here make me feel like I'm not the only one and that is at least comforting.

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I made a list yesterday of the things I really need to get done. It was two pages long. I looked at it, got overwhelmed, cried my eyes out and ended up doing nothing on the list.

 

Oh, I'm sorry.  This happens to me too. Never list all the places that have to be cleaned. That is like listing all your faults.  It accomplishes nothing for most people except the masochistic fun of beating yourself up.

 

I pick ONE single spot or desktop or room or closet and clean that.  And it happens when I am ready and when I have time.  When people come to visit, I have forced into action. Yesterday I cleaned up an area that has been plaguing me for a few YEARS.  There was an Ikea desk filled to the brim with stuff. I hated that desk.  This week I ripped it apart, trashed the desk and put the stuff (books, toys, crayons, etc.) all over the floor.  Little by little in the last two days I am finding a home for all the stuff. Everything has to have a home in the house.  If there is no place to put something than something else has to leave.

 

All this to say, hang in there, you can do it.  Take your time.  We are crazy people and we clean in crazy ways. No judgements.

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Thank you for starting this thread, it sounds like me too. My apartment is a disaster right now.... And it makes me feel worse than I already do. I look around and my stress goes up immediately. Why can't I just do it? I can't even have anyone over and haven't in months.

I made a list yesterday of the things I really need to get done. It was two pages long. I looked at it, got overwhelmed, cried my eyes out and ended up doing nothing on the list. I've had a couple friends offer to help, but I can't... I'd be so embarrassed if anyone saw it all. I really don't know what to do.

Every day I get up and I'm like, today I'm going to get it going and do stuff! But I barely even start and end up online or watching Netflix to hide from it all. The replies here make me feel like I'm not the only one and that is at least comforting.

I have thought about making a list (because I am a list person) but I can't bear to do it because it would be too long and it would put my anxiety through the roof.  It would be so long I wouldn't even know which task to do first.  I have had friends offer to help too but really the thought of them touching my dirty clothes or dishes is too much.  They didn't make the mess, so they don't need to clean it up.  It's my mess, my responsibility.  I wish you luck, I think we can get through it eventually.  We just need to start, that is the hardest part.

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 I have had friends offer to help too but really the thought of them touching my dirty clothes or dishes is too much.  They didn't make the mess, so they don't need to clean it up.  It's my mess, my responsibility. 

 

I have an extremely difficult time having anyone clean my house.  Even when I lived in Central American and the cost was pennies. I leave the house and clean everything ahead of time and spend the whole day feeling guilty. This is one of the main reasons my home is cluttered.  Having a cleaning person forced me to put away the clutter so the cleaning person could clean.  Now it is only when guests come that cleaning frenzies occur.

 

I do have friends both 'normal' and crazy who pay someone to clean their house or apartment every few weeks.  Their bathrooms are spotless and there is no dust on the bookshelf. It is lovely.

 

Even though it is your mess, it is NOT your responsibility to do everything in life.  Someone has to change the oil on the car and implant a stent or fix a hard drive. Even if it is your heart and your computer and your car.  Maybe having a stranger clean your house would be easier than friends?

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I have thought about making a list (because I am a list person) but I can't bear to do it because it would be too long and it would put my anxiety through the roof.  It would be so long I wouldn't even know which task to do first.  I have had friends offer to help too but really the thought of them touching my dirty clothes or dishes is too much.  They didn't make the mess, so they don't need to clean it up.  It's my mess, my responsibility.  I wish you luck, I think we can get through it eventually.  We just need to start, that is the hardest part.

 

This is how I am with lists. Just the thought of making a list makes me so anxious. 

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Literally just had a friend text me pics of her office that she cleaned asking for my approval and I feel like it was such a trigger. I'm trying so hard not to bawl my eyes out right now because I feel like such a failure. All I can bring myself to do is lay in bed and cry right now. I feel ridiculous for even posting this but I didn't know where else to go.

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Literally just had a friend text me pics of her office that she cleaned asking for my approval and I feel like it was such a trigger. I'm trying so hard not to bawl my eyes out right now because I feel like such a failure. All I can bring myself to do is lay in bed and cry right now. I feel ridiculous for even posting this but I didn't know where else to go.

I am so sorry.  You are not alone. I went and go through all of this.

 

Just want to say something positive:

 

After YEARS of not letting anyone come into our house and doing all the cleaning myself with my husband which is very hard since we have a teenager, I just agreed to let a cleaning lady come in. Hubby had to promise that he will do all the interviewing, finding, arranging, paying, scheduling.

 

I swallowed my fear and walked thru that door. I do NOT have the time to clean. and I do NOT like to clean. So why do I have to clean? We just had a guest and the decluttering has begun. I am very excited about a future cleaning person. loveshower.gif

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Anyway, part of it was "Where the fuck do I start?" and also, I was sad and tired. I thought maybe if I cleaned I'd feel better. Only a little. 

 

[...]

 

it was like "if I clean one thing, I have to take 23 hours to clean ALL the things!" and it was overwhelming. 

 

 

Thank you all so much for your great advice.  I think part of my problem too (along with wondering where to start) is perfectionism where if I can't do it ALL PERFECTLY then I can't do any of it.  The advice about Clorox wipes is great, Emperor!  I know I just need to get started. 

 

Carly, my life is totally like this. I live on my own and I couldn't motivate myself to clean. It's horrible. Every day you look around and there's clutter... dirty dishes piling up... you can't remember the last time you cleaned the toilet... it makes me feel awful. There's so much to do! No way to know where to start! If you can't do it all and do it right, why bother?

 

You said at the top that you've read the Unfuck Your Habitat blog. What about Fly Lady? I actually think it's an easier way to start, for all that UfYH is sarcastic and funny (and more my kind of thinking). Fly Lady starts with itty bitty baby steps. She gets exactly how we feel. A lot of her stuff is actually really good for our anxiety and depression too. The hardest part is giving ourselves permission to only do today's baby step.

 

One of the things I like is that she starts with very very short cleaning bursts. Sometimes with UfYH just thinking about cleaning for 20 minutes is itself overwhelming, you know? Fly Lady says first, start with something you can be proud of (shine your sink). Work through the steps and the first time you do any cleaning, she says start with 2 minutes. I can do 2 minutes. I always have 2 minutes, you know? Next time you get up to go to the bathroom, before you sit down again do the 2 minute thing.

 

I like lists. I get completely overwhelmed by lists. With Fly Lady you can copy out the list just for today and then you can cross things off - which sometimes is a reward itself, right? 

 

Anyway, I don't know if it helps... you're certainly not the only one though

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I've used a modified version of the Flylady method for years.  If I see a pile of stuff, I'll pick a couple things out and put them away.  Once things are picked up off a table, clean it with whatever is at hand and don't bother finding special cleaners or whatever.  Soap is soap in the bathroom so wiping a dirty bit of tile with the cloth you just used to clean your face works just as well as taking on the task in a massive "get the big guns" way.  My house is in no way super clean but things stay pretty decluttered and mostly clean ( I do have 4 pets and 2 teens).  Doing it a little bit as a time makes it less scary.  

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This is the story of my life. I used to have a picked up house for the most part. It seemed easier when my daughter was little because she didn't have a lot of stuff and wasn't trashing her room all the time. Between that and having to care for my husband, my house has really gone down hill over the years. Depression made it get really bad. There is a point where you kind of get used to the mess, say you are going to live and be happy regardless and then the overwhelming sensation of living in shit gets the best of you. 

 

I have been cleaning houses for 12 years and I set foot in a lot of nice places. Where everything is in its place and you can't even tell I have been there to clean. I envy that way of living so much. It's hard to leave a house like that and come home to my own house that is in disarray. 

 

Start with an end in mind, for example, if you are looking to clean up the kitchen try to visualize the last few steps of what it will take to get it really clean. Maybe the last step is sweeping and mopping the floor or shining the fixtures. Maybe the last step for you will be just putting the clutter away and deep cleaning isn't even on the list yet. Keep your goal in mind the whole time. If you feel like you can't accomplish that much because it is so overwhelming or you are having a bad day, then try to put away just 5 items. You don't even have to find a permanent home for the item as long as you get it in the room it belongs in. 

 

Five items in one room, maybe just 1 load of laundry, maybe turning over one load of laundry to the dryer also (which equals 2 loads washed at least) on top of the 5 items. Promise yourself that you will load up the dishwasher even if there are only a few items to be loaded (run it that night) so you can stay on top of the dishes. Don't let the dishes fill more than one side of the sink. If a dinner prep used a lot of dishes go ahead and load it up before it gets nasty.

 

Try to put away the 5 items in the same room. That way you can feel like you've not been lazy that day. It's a huge thing for someone with a messy house to find a home for their items laying out. 

 

Picking up 5 things a day means:

 

150 items a month

750 items a year

 

Now just double the 5 items to 10 and you get:

 

300 items a month

1500 items in a year

 

Take the work and break it down into something doable. Even just getting your night stand next to your bed cleaned off, if you can't clean it off then remove all the drinks that have accumulated. Do a tiny something each day. Some days are better than others and maybe you will get a hankering to do 10 items or just complete the room entirely. Set up boundaries that will make you uncomfortable if you cross them. For me, the right side of the sink filling up means it's time to do dishes. 

 

Hope this helps!

FoF

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I'm dealing with this today.  What I am doing is making a list of 3 things that are doable and reasonable.  Once I start on something (ie cleaning), I usually continue (because I am on a roll or something; it get me "in the mood" to clean) until I've actually gotten a lot more done than I expected.  Doesn't always work that way, but at least I've gotten those 3 things done.

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I told myself that I could do anything for five minutes and then if I didn't like it after five minutes, I could quit.  Just five minutes and then quit.

 

I really tested myself with that.  There were days upon months upon years where I didn't do those five minutes.

 

When I did, I felt a lot better.

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I use that strategy a lot, sys... for exercise too. If I truly hate it after 5 minutes, I can stop.

This taps in to "behavioral activiation" which is a psychological principle that explains how motivation usually comes after we start making efforts, not before. If we waited until we felt motivated, we wouldn't get much done.

But if we start, even though we don't FEEL like starting, often times that's enough to brake the inertia and start gaining momentum.

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