I’m not sure how universal a thing this is, but one of the many aspects of my life affected by my mental illness is my home. This is something I’ve noticed over the past few years, and while it’s relatively subtle, it’s definitely there.
I spend the vast majority of my time at home (which makes this whole social distancing thing much easier), and almost all of that time is spent in my bedroom. I rarely use my living room anymore, and I haven’t sat at my dining room table for ages. The biggest appeal of the bedroom, besides the comfort factor, is that’s closest to the guinea pigs (the girls are in my bedroom, and the boys are in the ensuite bathroom).
The bedroom preference actually brings me back to a habit from earlier in my life. When I was living at home with my parents, and then when I was living in university residence, my bedroom was my only private space, so that was my retreat. The condo I’m in now was my first real adult home where my bedroom wasn’t the default hang-out spot.
In the kitchen, if something isn’t a staple item that I always have on hand, then most likely I’ll keep it on the kitchen counter rather than in a cupboard. If things aren’t right in front of me, I tend to forget that they exist, so throughout my home things are out in the open rather than tucked away. I spend a lot less time in the kitchen than I used to, because depression means I just don’t care enough to put a lot of time into meal prep. My baking cupboard still has staples from when I used to bake on a regular basis; the cheapskate side of me is a bit reluctant to toss nonperishable food products even though I never (or almost never) use them anymore.
Aside from that, though, I’ve always been a thrower-outer. I picked this up from my dad. I don’t like accumulating stuff, and I get great satisfaction from getting rid of stuff. Depression has taken that to another level, and I’ve gotten rid of the few sentimental items I had as well as assorted other things that reminded me of my old “normal” life.
Closet culling has been a bit of a work in progress, although it’s not that I have an excessive amount of clothes. I’ve held onto some things that don’t quite fit currently, knowing that my weight does fluctuate. I also have clothes that fit my old style, which was much more feminine and dressed up. At some point I’ll probably come to the conclusion that I’ll never again wear those old clothes from when I was well, but I’m not quite there yet, and there’s no space crunch to push me in that direction.
Cleaning isn’t something I’ve ever been a fan of. I’m neat and organized, but a little dirt doesn’t bother me too much. My tolerance for a little dirt has expanded to quite a bit of dirt. Most of that dirt is guinea pig-related; they (along with their bedding and hay) create a lot of dust, and they kick up hay and bedding and poop from their cages that ends up on the floor. I’ll clean eventually, but I care less than I used to, plus I don’t have to worry about anyone coming over and seeing the dirt, because I’m a hermit and no one comes to my home.
I’ve lived where I am now for 15 years, and while it’s always felt safe and comfortable, those qualities are more important now. If I didn’t have a safe, stable home base that would have a huge impact on my mental health. I know not everyone living with a mental illness has that available to them, so I’m very grateful that it’s something I do have. Having a comfortable home also works well with my desire for hermit living, and I”m glad to have a space that is mine and mine alone.
Is your living space impacted by your mental illness?
My newest book, Managing the Depression Puzzle, will be available soon. It takes a holistic, everything up to and including the kitchen sink look at how to put together the pieces of your unique depression puzzle.