Thursday, July 30, 2009

Order, for the Eyes and the Mind

Some of the things that I learned late in life are just stunningly obvious to others. I worked hard all day to make the time pass at work so I could come home and - clean my apartment?

I'm not a great housekeeper, even now, but when I was really depressed, I was a pig. I was just too tired to do any housework, and too tired to care.

Depression is exhausting; don't let anyone tell you otherwise. My doctor said it was like going through life carrying an invisible 50 or 100-pound burden. I had no idea why it took so much effort to keep up with the slow edge of the rest of the world. It's a very tiring way to operate, and discouraging, as well.

Living in disarray is costly in several ways. It's decidedly uncheerful to live in a wreck of a house. You can't really relax; your eyes have nowhere to rest; there is always a reminder of what you haven't done, of what you have failed to do. It nags at you.

It costs you in time, as well, because you can't find the things you're looking for - you mislay bills and have to pay a late fee, you owe fines at the library, or you buy a second copy of a book you've mislaid.

The state of my apartment is a distant early warning system for the state of my mind. The worse it is, the more unfocused I am becoming, and the more frustrated, and the less rested.

When I came home from work tonight, I set the microwave timer for 30 minutes. I vacuumed and dusted the living room, moved the furniture to a slightly more pleasing arrangement, folded a load of laundry (and, in the time since the buzzer went off, have done two more loads.) The work itself isn't as important as the fact that I feel better. I feel less out-of-control.

In all those years of depression, I lived under a constant cloud of knowing something was wrong, knowing I had done something wrong, something I could neither identify nor correct. I hate that feeling. I seldom feel that way any more, but when I do, I try to address any loose threads, because it's so uncomfortable for me. Housekeeping is much more valuable to me now, because I know it affects the way I live my life - can make the difference between feeling harried or feeling at peace.

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