It’s that time of year again. The time of year when the sun comes out, and everyone starts writing blog posts about their shiny new homes and their fabulous SPRING CLEANING technique that allowed them to get it done in twenty minutes with one hand tied behind their backs!!
Okay, well, maybe that’s an exaggeration…slightly…but for those of us with mental illness, self-fulfillment through laundry can seem like a lifetime away.
Having a disgusting habitat is one of the lesser discussed, but more common, side-effects of mental illness, especially parenting with mental illness. Cleaning in general, much less the manic phenomenon of Spring Cleaning, can feel like a monumentally impossible effort (unless you’re actually manic; then your home may be clean…for a day or two). When you have to constantly battle feelings of depression and anxiety on top of caring for the life of a helpless human creature (not helpless to make messes though…) cleaning gets de-prioritized.
But there comes a time when the bright lights of Spring do filter through your dusty blinds and reveal the couple hundred cousins your roachy roommate snuck into your decrepit home. And when that time comes, you may realize that the promise you made-that your mess would always be a mess and not a health-hazard may be broken. Which means it’s time to fight through whatever and get cleaning. If you’re in the boat I found myself in a couple weeks ago, here’s a step by step guide to get from this:
read on, my friends, read on…You too can have a BRAND NEW (looking) HOME in JUST MINUTES (whoops, autocorrect! Make that weeks…)
Spring Cleaning for the Mentally Ill
A step-by-step guide
This post contains sponsored links, which you can read more about here. All site sponsors are vetted for safety and appropriateness though our regular disclaimers still apply.
1. Send photos of your messy home to your Mother-In-Law until she flies all the way from Florida to help.
Or if not your MIL, then another family member or close, close, close friend with the means and motivation to drop everything to help you. The more conservative and cleanly the better. Make sure to be as passive aggressive and manipulative as possible! Don’t even think about taking the healthy route and just straight asking for help when you need it. If your family is anything like mine, asking for help when you need it will only result in mockery and insults. So passive-aggressive it up! Send those pics of your kids, you know: normal cute pictures that every family has, except in these, your kiddos will be sitting in piles of junk or with random stuff heaped behind them.
You can’t do this alone. Your mental illness is a beast and it helped you make this mess. It won’t help you clean, at least not permanently. So procuring an adept cleaning partner is absolutely necessary. And I’m tellin’ ya, from personal experience, passive aggressive photographs are the way to go. So come on, Mama, get clickin!
2. Throw out all your furniture
Just…get rid of it. There’s no use even trying to clean that soggy couch covered in coffee and milk stains that I’m guessing your guests assume are different types of stains (yeah right). It stinks. There’s weird crumbs and toy parts in the cracks. And it’s probably a cockroach palace and you don’t even know it.
If you don’t have a car, pay a junkie from Craigslist to haul it for $20! Do make sure you say in the ad that you won’t pay more than $20 bucks, otherwise he will try to get more out of you. “Oh, I had to come from Tacoma, I need some extra money for gas.” No. Just say in the ad where you are located, and that you aren’t paying extra if the person who volunteers comes from somewhere ridiculously far away. Don’t worry about sounding too aggressive. It’s twenty bucks! You’re guaranteed at least five respondents!
The key to this furniture dump is to do it on a Monday. Or at least a Sunday. Why? Monday is $1.79 day at Goodwill! That’s right, tons of stuff, including furniture, is going for $1.79 on Mondays at Goodwill. So you can replace your crummy old couch for someone else’s slightly-less-crummy old couch, hooray! If for some reason you don’t live near a Goodwill, you need to make plans to move, but in the mean time, try your local “Buy Nothing Group,” which is a “hyperlocal gift giving community on Facebook.” I linked you Facebook, to get you halfway there, but I can’t link you to the Buy Nothing Project because it’s hyperlocal. So you gotta find the one near you. Just search Buy Nothing Project and you’ll find it.
Maybe you can even wrangle your family member helper person into buying some bigger, beautiful piece of furniture to finally help your place look like a real home. (Get ready for an affiliate link; there’s a disclosure at the bottom of the page). Something like this Essential Home Emily Breakfast Nook. You really need a breakfast nook. Look at mine!
3. Get ready to freak out
Unless you’re one of the lucky crazies (I can say that because I am one too, mmkay?<3) who gets to stay with your wealthy parents or something, you’re probably living in a less-than-cleanly building to begin with. Which totally exacerbates the problem, because even if you swore-and even if you succeeded-to prioritize cleaning food waste on a daily basis, if the building has roaches, your apartment will have roaches. You can diminish the population with traps, sure, but roaches are resilient buggers. They are actually the creature which is most expected to survive Trump’s impending nuclear apocalypse! Well okay, that’s kind of a myth, but they can at least survive the explosion, and that says a lot.
Did you know that cockroaches don’t just love what us human folk consider to be food? They also love paper, and clothes, and dark, cluttered crannies. So even if you magically managed to pick up every single one of your toddler’s crumbs, you have still created the perfect habitat for roaches just by allowing clutter to accumulate. Yep, you have potentially exposed your kiddos and yourself to salmonella and nightmares just by being too depressed to clean.
Mental illness sucks, doesn’t it? So, get ready to freak out. Because when you move that couch and whatever other furniture out of the way, you’re going to discover that the dark spot under there was not a stain; it was a roach orgy. And they are going to skitter away trying to find darkness again super fast, and crawl across your toes in the process and it’s going to be all horror and evil for a moment or two. I actually cried the first time I saw all the roaches that had accumulated under our futon.
That’s okay. Because Mother-In-Law is here! And she comes from Florida, where the roaches are the size of her palm, so these tiny critters are nothin. Together you can beat them with your brooms and swat them out of your life before bringing in a new couch and vowing to never use the space beneath it as a storage again.
4. Spring Cleaning isn’t just about furniture-Throw away your friends too!
It’s true! Your messy house is a manifestation of your messy psyche. I have read this countless times and I am inclined to believe it. If your home is a mess, then your mind is probably a mess too, which means your life is probably great! No, wait, your life is probably a mess.
Part of that life-mess is the people who you spend time with. Sometimes they are awesome, but sometimes they bring you down and screw things up and make it so much worse. Take this time to evaluate who is in your life (I’m getting a little serious here for a minute) and see if they bring you up, or down. I was once hanging out with some peoples, and one of them peoples dispensed some wisdom she learned from her mother. It was overly simplistic and even a little annoying, but it stuck with me, because it also kind of made sense.
When you have a difficult decision to make, consider both options. Which one feels lighter, and which one feels heavier?
Overly-simplistic and annoying, right? But it also kind of works, doesn’t it? You can apply this to the Spring cleaning of friends, too. Think about the person in question: Does spending time with them make you feel heavy, or light? Relationships, like problems, are complicated. That’s why I find this lil idiom annoying. Because it’s not always so clear-cut. But think about which one prevails. Is the feeling mostly heavy, or mostly light? If it’s heavy, dump the friend. I urge you not to ghost them, however, unless this is an abusive person. But if he or she isn’t abusive, then please at least have the decency to say goodbye. Otherwise you’re the dick.
5. Make sure the rest of your life starts falling apart
If you have PTSD, like I do, then you know that nothing can go too well for too long. If you’re doing something super positive like cleaning your home, then something else has to go wrong. It just has to.
If you’ve got my brand of luck, you don’t need to do anything to help that along. My Mother-In-Law showed up on for the Brico Home Emergency Cleaning mission equipped with a nasty cough and a nebulizer. About a week deep in the mission, my three year old and then my MIL were hospitalized for complications related to metapneumovirus, a virus which attacks the lungs. The same day my daughter was hospitalized, I had to see and hear my abuser speak in court, which set off nightmares for days. My husband and I would spend almost no time together, and despite my efforts to form some kind of reconciliatory bond, he would choose the road more oft traveled and not appreciate it, or me, at all.
My house got cleaned, but my life fell apart around it.
That’s the way we do things when we are mentally ill, ey!? Make sure nothing is too good! That would be too strange.
If you don’t have my abundant ill luck, you can create chaos by engaging in pointless screaming matches with other members of your household, or committing acts of arson.
6. Minimize your accomplishments
This is the big one. This is the one you absolutely must to do to successfully complete the task of Spring Cleaning for the Mentally Ill.
No matter how great of a job you do, no matter how lovely your house looks, no matter how impressed your friends and family are, or how happy your kids are, or how good you feel in your new environment, you absolutely must minimize your accomplishments.
Tell yourself that you could not have done it with your helper (probably true) and that the fact that you need help means you’re a lesser person (not true, but be sure to tell yourself it is).
Create a slideshow out of the “before” photos and constantly remind yourself how bad it was every time you start to feel good about how good it is now.
Focus on the things that are going wrong in your life instead of what you’ve just done-this is an especially FABULOUS way to minimize your accomplishments!
If you’re like me, you can go big and write + promote an entire blog post belittling yourself and your once-filthy-newly-clean home.
Or if you have a few cents to spare and want to be artistic about it, you could write yourself letters telling yourself how much you suck and mail them to yourself. Make sure to use lots of (here come some affiliate links) glitter and floral pattern rubber stamps!
You have to maintain the cleanliness though. In order to minimize your accomplishments, you have to have accomplishments to minimize. So do maintain the house while you batter yourself emotionally about its past state. It will be easier now that it’s clean and you have your new, sparser furniture. Pick up stuff when it gets messed up. Clean the dishes right away, or close to it. Teach your kiddos to pick up-actually make the effort and follow through this time! Throw stuff away. If you’re not using it, toss it.
If you slide back into the mess, no worries: Now you have a guide to help you clean it again 😉
What do you think? Is this the best Spring Cleaning guide ever? Leave a comment and let me
know what you think and how super quickly you’ll be getting started on it!
Shares are always supremely appreciated! Please take thirty seconds to share this on the social media platform(s) of your choosing.
If you’re looking to get some actual cleaning done, check out these tips instead.