Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Tonight, I am looking at piles of garbage as I write this post. My coffee table is filled with garbage like empty chip bags, about a dozen empty pop boggles, empty boxes and empty snack wrappers. My kitchen table is filled with garbage, piled about two foot high. My floor is filled with garbage like cans with rotting chip dips and boxes. And believe it or not, it’s getting better.
A couple of days ago, there was so much garbage in my sink and kitchen that it was unusable. But after a couple of days, the garbage is gone, the dishes have been washed, and I actually made supper tonight. Okay, a quick, simple bachelor supper, but supper, nonetheless. I don’t know how many people understand how surroundings can reflect the mental state of someone who suffers from depression. I live alone, with nobody to motivate me to clean. I’m not even talking about having her clean for me, but rather, just to say she wants me to clean for her. This, in and of itself, would be sufficient motivation for me to clean up, and if she was beside me as I cleaned, I’d be a cleaning monster.
Depression zaps your willpower. It starts small. You stop cooking for yourself because you can’t find the motivation to get off of your butt to actually put in effort for yourself. After all, there is only sixteen hours in a day, so how much time can you really spare when you have nothing in your life but movies? You’re aware that you’re being lazy and unmotivated, and try to kick yourself into making the effort, but before you know it, three in the morning is here and it’s time to go to bed anyway. Plus, you kick yourself for still being awake at three.
Having not eaten the day before doesn’t motivate you to cook the next day. The depression is still making everything feel too difficult, and now you have less energy anyway. So, you start looking for easier ways out, like food delivery, or heating something in the microwave although, you’ve been so depressed lately that you’ve run out of food you can nuke anyway. These come complete with containers that become garbage, or dirty dishes you used in the microwave. Now you have to find the motivation to throw away the containers, or wash the dishes, but who has the energy for that? Not me, that’s for sure.
I’ve been depressed for a very long time, but I’m a functional manic depressive. I still go out, maybe once a week or so, to get the mail which, fortunately, is right next to a grocery store (I have a separate mailbox service rather than getting it delivered to my home). So, I buy pop, and chips, and sugary snacks and everything I shouldn’t eat which throws off my body chemistry and contributes to the depression. Empty cans and food boxes join the empty delivery containers and life is, what, good, I guess. I spend too much money when I’m blue, so boxes of the junk I really don’t need pile up on the empty dining table which is large enough to work on them. Add the plastic packing materials and that’s just so much better.
At this point, I would be too embarrassed to even have somebody stop by to help. But there are some things that I can always find motivation to do. I do laundry regularly, and although I don’t shower routinely (I’m going on about five days now), I will shower before I go out. This keeps me clean and maintains the illusion that I’m functional to the outside world.
Depression can last for months (or even years), and this bout has lasted for, oh, six or seven weeks, I guess. As the garbage and filth pile up around me, it actually acts as a mood suppressor to keep me depressed and dysfunctional. But a few days ago, I finally had had enough. You might have noticed that I didn’t say that I have food delivery containers in the piles of garbage. That was where it began, just getting rid of the rotting remnants of delivered food. Having such garbage pile up for so long, it’s nearly impossible to clean it entirely and all at once. So just getting rid of those and starting with some other garbage took a day or two. For the past few days, I’ve been cleaning the garbage and dirty dishes, so now my kitchen, while not sparkling, is at least functional. Maybe tomorrow I’ll clean off my coffee table
If you ever see somebody’s house in such a state of disrepair, it’s all too easy to be critical. Remember, that person’s mental health may be in as bad shape as their home, so avoid making judgmental comments. Offer to help clean, but don’t be pushy about it because having you start cleaning, or even asking, can embarrass somebody enough so as to just make matters worse, but I have been blessed to have had friends stop over to help me clean in the past. But remember, sometimes just a hug is all we really need.