Category Archives: PTSD

Going Down for the 3rd Time

I can’t do this.

No matter how much stuff I get rid of, there’s more. No matter how many books I get rid of (and I’ve been doing that for 13 years now, ‘eh?) there are still more.

It will never end.

I have (literally) gotten rid of 1,000s of items. And I’ve done it for years. I’m still drowning in stuff.

See? I can’t do this. It will never end.

The old storage unit still has stuff in it. I don’t have anywhere to put it. I don’t know what to do, donate boxes to Salvation Army tomorrow I guess. I have a bookcase in the old unit which came from S.A., I can donate it back. The library is taking books again. But that’s one piece of furniture, there’s at least 3. One of which has to come home (no room for it either). There’s about 25 boxes of books, maybe more still in the old unit. I have given away books every-single-day for the past 3 weeks. EVERY day. As few as 3 and as many as 3 boxes at once.

drowning

This isn’t quite as bad as figuring out I couldn’t beat the PTSD (or whatever it was, before I •knew* what it was) by just being stubborn and being willing to work at it, for 42 years to diagnosis, 50+ for most of the rest of it. So, the last piece, the very last piece is this stupid, neverending purge o’ crap, which believe it or not hurts on occasion, and is terrifying on occasion too. I do better and worse and I’ve kept going. I have been determined that I’d win — at least this battle.

But I think the abuser won instead? Can I just blow my brains out? (No gun.) You can bury me under a pile of books and papers and put on the headstone: she never actually accomplished anything and couldn’t finish anything, except her life. I really have no desire to commit suicide, but if suicide is the absence of pain, yes, that I DO want! How squishy does your brain have to be from beating it into the wall before you just give up?

Maybe the abuser was right after all? There just is something “not right” about me. I can’t do things.

Or maybe I’m just discouraged? I wonder why! And I suppose that tomorrow will be different. One of my largest life lessons was that I learned to “skate” when things are bad. Just let it go and don’t do anything permanent or dramatic: don’t break up a relationship, don’t hurt yourself, don’t drink & drive. Just find an emotional rabbit hole (for me that’s a book) and jump in, and hope you keep falling — at least until tomorrow. And tomorrow? Tomorrow you may find your life is completely different?

It usually is.

Let’s see, tomorrow starts in three hours. Can’t be here soon enough!

J

Note: Tomorrow, having come, isn’t perfect, but I’m not as overwhelmed as I was yesterday. Of course I didn’t sleep well, which never helps, but it is what it is.

Trying to Avoid Becoming a Clean-Freak Minimalist

I have a tendency, and have since I was a kid. I go from one extreme to the other, then find the happy medium. I’m trying to avoid that with transforming from being a hoarder.

book hoarder

I worked more on the cleaning plan today and “discovered” some new ideas: mostly, that the more often you use something, the more frequently it needs to be cleaned and/or maintained. Seems obvious, doesn’t it?

But because I’ve never seriously “let” myself think about cleaning up except as an intellectual exercise (It was dangerous. Remember the reason I became a hoarder wasn’t to keep things, complete collections, or perceived value — it was the safety I felt in the mess, and the panic I felt when my space was neat.) this is a newish concept.

Accordingly, floors need to be cleaned more than anything else. Even if you only walk through a space, like in a model home at a real estate development say, the floor gets used more often than anything else. So, they need cleaning more often. The other thing which needs to be dealt with every day is stuff, things you can pick up in your hand: food, books, papers, clothing, bedding, towels, etc. It’s stuff which makes up clutter. (The notion that clutter is made up of things we pick up and put down — was the last big AHA! I found.)

So, I modified my ideas about what has to be dealt with/how often. I’d figured the kitchen floor needed daily maintenance, but not other floors. I changed that.

Now I have a mental list of the areas in my home which need routine maintenance. Maybe not “deep cleaning” but maintenance seven days a week, or Monday – Friday. Some chores can be put off over the weekends, others can’t.

I swept from the entry to the hall this morning because of this. And then the stairs. [I kept finding more to do.] I swept the hearth, [twice]. I started to go into the kitchen, [but did the hall, again] — and made myself stop.

Then I cleaned the dustpan and the brushes (didn’t wax them, had done that last weekend) and the broom. [And started again, made myself stop.] Put everything away, twice.

See the flip side of the hoarding peeking out? Definitely one of the first times the idea that hoarding/OCD is a spectrum really became obvious in me. Intellectually, I’ve known this for a long time, but I always thought, “I’ll never have that problem!”

Sigh.

empty room

In my old age I  will need to monitor not only my stress levels (because of the PTSD) but keep myself from tipping over the edge from hoarder to OCD/minimalist/clean-freak.

Oh joy.

J

Flow or No

Whether it is because of the PTSD or otherwise, I tend to work in spurts or fits and starts. I keep thinking I should just be able to schedule something for a few hours, I can, but mostly don’t.

I need to accept that the abuse, panic attacks, and PTSD all make a regular schedule very difficult, if not impossible, as much as I’d like otherwise.

I need to stop fighting this and just accept it as the way I flow, period. I think when/if I can do that, the panic attacks or vestiges of them will lessen dramatically. It’s my belief that the panic is due largely to people being able to “see” what I’m doing or have done. I have a lot fewer problems, like nearly none, when I’m working for other people. This is only the stuff I do at home.
fits & starts2
Can I repeat, again, how much I really, absolutely hate the woman who abused me? It totally sucks to have your brain be your main enemy. It sucks more to view any finished project as something which will be attacked, belittled, or sneered at, whether it’s a clean kitchen counter or an art work. This just makes getting anything done a real challenge. [And I needed more of those, right?]

P.S. Reading this, I realized t’s wrong. I don’t hate her. I hate what she did to my brain. If it wasn’t that no matter how much work I do, this will be with me forever, I would have very few feelings about here at all.

She’s gone, her daughter is gone. The memories of what she did just make me feel sorrty: for her that she could be so nasty, her daughter and myself because she felt it necessary to emotionally attack two innocent little girls,, who grew to be wounded women because of it. It was just a waste.

Irritating & Human

I spaced an appointment today. I’ve been working hard at being organized, really organized the past week or two, and just blew it.

Which of course makes me mad — madder than when I was completely disorganized! The more I work at it, the madder I get when it doesn’t work. And it seems like I go through a period where try as I might, I screw up, over and over. I think it’s the broken egg/omelette problem.  This time at least, I’m determined NOT to throw my hands up in the air (figuratively) and give up.

chaos-to-order-image

So I “forgave” myself for the lapse. I have another appointment which I have an email out to reschedule. hopefully it can be. There’s a workshop I’d like to go to which creates a conflict.

In some ways being organized is MUCH easier, in others, it’s just work. Not the adult life I thought I’d have, but not feeling like I’m always in a state of chaos will be worthwhile, although scary. It was a major piece of my “camouflage.” I don’t think I need it any more. In fact, I think I need the low stress that not being chaotic will bring!

We’ll see.

J

 

Tertials?

One of the ideas in those problem-solving books I got the other day is to reorganize your calendar in tertials, instead of quarters. That is, 3 four-month long chunks, instead of 4 three-month chunks.

My current seasonal cleaning, etc. is divided into 4 awkward quarters: Feb-Apr: Spr, May-July: Sum, Aug-Oct: Fall and Nov-Jan: Win. That was what I came up with when it seemed that Jan-Mar, Apr -June, July-Sep, Oct-Dec just didn’t work. September is fall here, as is October. March isn’t winter, but early spring at the end and still winter at the beginning, etc. It was a compromise, it has always been.

Tertials? Let’s see? Nov – Feb: Winter Mar-June: Spring Summer, July-Oct: Fall? Nope.

January-April: Beginnings to transition

[or winter-last gasp of winter transition to first breath of spring]

(blizzards to melting snow)

*

May-August: transition to Middle

[or spring transition to beginning and mid-summer]

(ground thaw to the dog days of summer)

*

September-December: Middle to Ending

[or last-gasp of summer transition to fall then transition to the first of winter]

(hot, hot days to the crisp colorful whirling fall colors to icy winds and snow flurries)

*

The tertials aren’t ideal, but a lot closer. Things shift here, sometimes quickly and dramatically, mid-month, so there’s no way to divide seasonal or weather-related things if you use month chunks.

calendar-image

I could use weekly chunks and number them. This would be more accurate, but there are 52 of them and it’s not intuitive. It would also be hard to plan and probably complicated to implement I think?

I’ve been looking for simple, easy to use ideas, because I want to make this into a HABIT, it’s the only way I can consistently get the myriad chores done and not lean on the PTSD.

We’ll see!

J

Cleaning Techniques

I have a thing I call the 7 levels. One of these days I’ll finish getting that blog going, but in the meantime, I had to fix a scheduling problem with it. My original idea leaned too hard on the PTSD, so got dropped. The idea is to have a low-stress cleaning plan, which if you’re me is nearly impossible. Any schedule leans on the PTSD, nearly any cleaning plan or schema I’ve read, tried, or come up with has too at some point. Because of all that, it’s a long-running challenge:

How do you clean the house consistently without a recurring schedule or detailed plan?

It’s difficult, to say the least.

One thing I decided early on was no seasonal cleaning gluts, like spring cleaning. But the difference between traditional spring cleaning and other cleaning is that spring cleaning is deep cleaning and traditionally, in winter, you only do maintenance.

Further, some cleaning or maintenance chores are mandated by the season. Maintenance cleaning on the wood stove is hardly required midsummer and is absolutely a necessity midwinter, for example. Other chores like this include dealing with snow, vegetable or flower gardens. Another example: we do our own baking fall, winter and spring, but buy bread in summer.

So, how to make all of it work?  I have tried various things over the years. Most didn’t work, in fact none of them worked until I started making my own plans. And, until recently the 7 levels plan worked to cut the work up into chunks, but hasn’t dealt with the maintenance vs deep cleaning piece.

And I think I’ve finally licked that.

We’ll see! I sure hope this works, because I am tired of trying this and that with only partial success. I really, really want to get where I can just clean and not worry about it, which would be the ultimate low-stress cleaning plan and that’s my ultimate goal!

J

 

 

Why I Don’t Do “Konmari”

The big, obvious answer is that the “keep what brings you joy, get rid of the rest” idea didn’t fit my situation. The clutter kept me feeling safe, for decades.

If it works for you? Great! But easy answers didn’t work for me. Or even some very complicated ones. It isn’t now nor has it ever been about just getting rid of stuff.

Also, I can’t say yet that purging stuff brings me joy. The redecorated living room, which works, that brings me joy, but getting rid of the stuff does NOT. It brings me anxiety and fear. It brings me determination and steeling myself against my “old self,” but joy?

No.

broom-cartoon

I have tried many ideas for purging stuff and cleaning house. Until I dealt with a lot of the PTSD and figured out the function of the mess (see link) there was no way I could clean the house and KEEP it clean.

My hoarding was never about laziness or thinking things had value. And it was more complex than  I had dolls when I was a girl —  therefore dolls make me happy — so I have too many. (That last scenario seems to be what the “psych” side of “Hoarders” is like.)

I still have too much stuff and bad habits. But it’s getting better, and mostly staying that way. It ebbs and flows. I have no idea wtf is “normal” that way, so I decided a few months back that I wasn’t going to worry about it. As long as I’m not continually reconstructing the mess/barrier, I’m good.

Not your standard — oh well!

J