When you live with depression and anxiety tidiness is next to errr… well…, being tidy.
It’s well known among my friends that I have a need for things to be tidy and, I’m not that keen on germs either. I’ve been known to wash my pegs, clean up a meal while people are still eating and throw out perfectly good food (it had been in the fridge too long and was making a mess in there). So today while I’m sitting at home amid the mess created so we can have new carpet laid, I find myself completely unnerved.
I’d planned this day. The carpet layer was coming between 12 and 2. So yesterday meant emptying the office and anything that wasn’t required in the master bedroom. Those two rooms have been distributed around the rest of the house making it almost impossible to move. Then at 6am this morning before Mr Wonderful left for the office we were out of bed and hauling the queen size into the laundry.
I’d made a plan to leave the house until 12 so I wouldn’t be sitting here with all my junk exposed to my critical eye! So you can imagine my distress when at 11.00am I received “that” phone call to tell me there was a problem. There would be no carpet layer today. There’d been a problem on another job.
To say I lacked grace would be an understatement. I was cranky! I told the poor person on the phone they would have to come and move my furniture back for the night so I had somewhere to sleep. Then they would have to move it out again tomorrow when the carpet layer would be able to make it. I fumed inside my cool exterior, unwilling to let the people around me see my distress that, even in my own opinion was excessive.
Mr Wonderful received a distressed phone call. “I have to get the house back to the way it was” I lamented. “I can’t stand it like this for another day.” Then, in that soothing way of his, he took all the heat out of my spontaneously combusting emotions and told me everything would be okay. He agreed about the annoyance and the disruption but for him what was more frustrating was that I needed tidy more than I needed tolerance.
It was an aha moment for me. A moment of clarity amid the torment of untidiness. What made me more concerned for the state of my house than the feelings of some poor guy on the end of the phone delivering some bad news? What made me feel like punching him in the head when I really should have been able to accept (not necessarily without disappointment or frustration) a small but inconvenient delay?
It was the feeling that without my home in it’s constant state of tidy, my world was completely out of control. I’ve learned to be tidy. It provides me comfort and reassurance to know that everything is in it’s place. It allows me to go out and fight demons and dragons. I can come home to everything in it’s place. Safe.
I’d simply thought for all these years I was a tidy person who harboured a dramatic dislike of germs. I thought my tidiness was one of my better and more pleasing attributes. Who wouldn’t want a tidy person in their life? What could be bad about being tidy? It’s similar to puppies. Everyone likes puppies!
But, it appears that I could just be using tidiness. I don’t actually like it. I just want to have it because if I don’t, my world comes crashing in around me bringing the demons and dragons into my sacred space. The place where I want to feel safe. The place where I need control. The place where, when I look around I want to know that safety reigns and chaos is simply and annoyance.
Don’t get me wrong. I really do like tidy. I like it in me and around me. I’m never going to give it up for an alternate chaotic and unhelpful mess. But at least l can work on wanting it rather than needing it.
From Chace Crawford (Whoever that is?) Personally I’m obsessive-compulsive about the placement and cleanliness of my things.
Deb Shugg is an awarded businesswoman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety. To contact Deb click here.
Read more of Deb’s BLOGs about living with depression and anxiety click here.
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