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6 Rooms That Showcase a Real (and Messy) Side of Depression

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As I currently type, there is a pile of clothes to my left, another to my right, a McDonald’s cup, two old coffee mugs on the window sill, and a third (yes, a third) pile of laundry in my line of sight in the bathroom. 

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This doesn’t count all the miscellaneous stuff (markers, books, sketches, crystals, you name it) on the left side of my bed, and all the hair products that sit on my bathroom counter. I need to vacuum, badly. I have trash in bags I’ve been meaning to take out since Christmas (at least there’s no food in there), and flowers that dried out months ago.

How did it get this bad? The answer is simple.

I’ve been sad as shit lately. 

More specifically, I’ve been depressed. Additionally, my executive dysfunction makes it really hard to stay on top of chores. I do my best, and I actually prefer to have a clean home, but my mental health and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) make it really hard to get it all tidy (and keep it that way). 

I was raised in a house where, at times, it did feel like your worth as a person was directly tied to how good you were able to tend to house and home. At a young age I was told I wouldn’t find a partner one day if I was so messy and that I would have a family to take care of one day, aka, do better. One time I was shamed in a passive comment where someone said, “You like living in a mess. I’m used to this from you by now,” and I felt gutted. 

Patriarchal tone aside, I was trying my best, why couldn’t they see that? Years later, I still struggle.

I decided to reach out to some of The Mighty’s Super Contributors to see if they related, and boy, did they. 

1. “I love to have my room and house clean but sometimes when I’m going through depression and in pain it’s really hard for me to find the energy to clean. Laundry is usually the worst for me and it sits in piles and in baskets all around my room. It’s rough because the mess in my room can make me feel even worse – like I’m a failure. I remind myself that how clean or dirty my house is doesn’t determine my worth as a person. It took me about a couple of months before I was able to clean all the mess and complete my laundry.” – Amelia B.

A messy bedroom with an unmade bed, hampers of clothes everywhere, and things on the floor.

2. “Most of my messes have loose categories, but the pile on my kitchen table tends to be a free for all. When I’m depressed, the mental effort needed to sort this is too much for me, so it just stays. I did probably clean it a month ago so it’s actually not at its worst.” – Heidi F.

A table with clutter on it. There's assorted letters and scrapbooking tools, two months, and old mail.

3. “I have lived with depression for as long as I can remember, which often impacts my energy and motivation. One particular instance after my best friend died left my room accumulated with clothing, books, papers, boxes, dishes – you name it – for over a year. I came home one day to clean and organized thanks to some family members who were trying to support me through it.” –Kellyann N.

A messy bedrom with clothes all over the floor and bed. There's a lot going on here. There's a poster on the wall, an da dress behidn some more clothes. Boxes of clutter as well are on the floor. The wall is blue. It's a very very messy room.

I remind myself that how clean or dirty my house is doesn’t determine my worth as a person.

4. “This is the current state of my kitchen. I’ve been trying to muster up the energy to clean it up for two weeks. I’ve invited friends over Saturday night so that I get that last minute stress to clean up because I’m so embarrassed about its current state…Any focus I have goes to trying to stay on top of my work with this personal stuff happening and there’s nothing left in me to do my chores. The laundry isn’t done, my bed isn’t made, the garbage and recycling haven’t been taken out, and clearly the kitchen is a mess.” – Ameera L.

A kitchen counter with a lot of toiletries, dirty dishes, and clutter all over it.

5. “This is my dining room table. On the days where I both remember to eat and actually convince myself to do so, I pull a dish out of the wreckage, wash it in a sink stacked high with dishes, and put it right back on the table when I’m done. On good days, I clear the table off, but both the mess and my depression can pile up quickly.” – Nera B.

A messy kitchen table with food, dishes, old jars, and more everywhere. There's a blue table cloth underneath.

6.This is the kitchen island, the spot where everything happens on a daily basis, when I am not curled up in bed. The dog food and medication are scattered with the human food, packages and mail lay un-open and unattended to. Unfinished art projects sit amidst clean dishes that have been drying for 3-4 days and dirty dishes piling up. The dishes may get cleaned every other day, if that, but the rest just stays. It’s cluttered but I don’t have the energy to deal with it.” – Mae


A messy kitchen counter with pots and pans and letters out.

All this to say, you aren’t alone.

Your worth isn’t tied to how clean your home, car, room, or bathroom is. Survival is hard, and sometimes it means that you make sure you’re directly taken care of and some dirty socks stay on the floor.


Lead image courtesy to mentioned contributor

Originally published: January 21, 2022
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