Tidying Up.

27 Jan 2016

Oh, I have the soul of a minimalist, but the habits and outlook of a hoarder.

My house is cluttered; strewn and littered with papers, miscellanea, objects trouvé; I like to think it's the sign of a creative mind with many interests...

When I am well, this clutter amuses me, or at least does not bother me enough to do more than occasionally tidy up. Just sometimes I will decide that enough is enough and declutter using Marie Kondo's excellent methodology from her book 'The Life Changing Magic of Tidying' (I'll come back to that later).

When I'm ill however, then all this clutter is just one more reminder, or rather ten thousand individual reminders, of what a useless person I am. I am messy, untidy, cluttered and unclean. It's as if the disordered state of my home reflects the disorder and dysfunctionality of my mind and I desire nothing more than to make a clean sweep.

And this is where I have some hard won advice for you all.

Never, but never, declutter when you're depressed!

The reason for this is very simple and where I come back to Marie Kondo.

The basis of her philosophy is simple in the extreme. Only keep those items which bring you joy, or which you may not dispose of for legal or practical reasons. You may be sure that my tax records for the past seven years do not bring me joy, but I am required to keep them for that long.

It's easy to know if an item brings you joy: you look at it or touch it, and listen to your feelings.

When you're keeping things "just in case" then the emotion attached to those items is a sort of low grade anxiety. When you're keeping something because "It was a gift and I feel I can't get rid of it," then the feeling is one of nebulous guilt. Books you "ought" to have on your bookshelves ooze tension and that dress you bought in the sale because "it was a bargain," but which you've never worn, emits shame.

None of these items actually have a place in our lives or our homes and yes, they should go, so that we are left only with those possessions that bring us joy.

So why not do this when depressed? Surely it would make us feel better.

Because when we are depressed, even if we have the energy to declutter, we cannot feel our emotions accurately. We are often unable to distinguish the joy.

I have decluttered when well, and decluttered (twice) when ill. I have never missed one item I discarded when well. But I have made emotional (and financial) costly mistakes when decluttering while ill.

So live with the mess if you're ill at present. Wait until you're really well and you can feel properly again. And then look up Marie Kondo. You'll be glad you did.


A Moodscope member.

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