There’s a major side-effect of depression that all of those tra-la-la, aren’t-these-cute-cartoon-people, take-our-pill-and-get-happy-again antidepressant commercials don’t get into—something that, if you’ve never dealt with severe depression you might never know, something that can make recovery extremely hard—and that’s the deterioration of the living environment of the depressed person.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never been a neatnik. I was the kid who was constantly being told to “clean up this pigsty of a room”—but it was usually just from laziness (dropping dirty clothes on the floor instead of in a hamper, leaving books and papers and accessories lying about all over the room, etc.). However, when I started experiencing severe depressions in my early 20s (I have cyclical depression), this was when the reality of the effect on my environment really started to take its toll on me. Yet I always thought it was just because of me being who I am—i.e., just a “messy kid”—and that I was just lazy, disgusting, and hopeless (really great things to be feeling when battling depression, right?). It wasn’t until I saw this scene in the Season 7 episode “From Childhood’s Hour” of Criminal Minds that I finally realized that I couldn’t keep beating myself up for it:
As an adult, even though I live alone (maybe especially because I live alone), I’ve tried to make more of an effort to keep my house at least somewhat organized and clean—enough so that I wouldn’t be embarrassed if a friend decided to drop by unannounced. However, as I started cycling down into this last depressive cycle—so severe that for the first time in my life I had to go on a prescription AD due to self-annihilative thoughts—my ability to keep up with even simple housework tasks fell by the wayside.
It’s been about two years since I came off the AD prescription—mainly because I was starting to experience side-effects from it, meaning my body was rejecting it because I didn’t really need it anymore to balance out the chemicals in my brain—but since then, I’ve still been struggling with the apathy and mental/physical exhaustion that come with depression. And one of the main reasons for that is because of the squalor that I’ve been living in for the last four or so years.
All that to say, that 2015 is my year to take the final steps I need in order to put this bout of depression behind me. And a major step in that goal was to purchase a “real” (full-size) dishwasher. Even though I live in a house, it’s a rental, so I’ve been making-do with a countertop dishwasher for the past fourteen or fifteen years. It didn’t hold much, and for the past year or so, most of the dishes were coming out dirtier than they went in. That, combined with the lingering effects of the depression, is why my kitchen ended up looking like this:
It looks gross, I know. but everything was at least rinsed off and dry—no mold or creepy-crawlies, no stagnant, smelly water sitting in anything.
Because my parents are wonderful, overly generous people, I was able to purchase a full-size (portable) dishwasher for Christmas. I ordered it online while still visiting family over Christmas break and was so excited about it that I talked about it for over a week—and was completely bummed when I found out that delivery would be delayed by several days because of a backorder in the warehouse. But finally, Friday morning at 8:30 a.m., it arrived:
I’m sure that most of my family members thought it strange how excited I was to get it—especially my parents who, I’m sure, remember teenaged-me agreeing to doing the dishes by myself for a week as a punishment once (there were only four of us in my immediate family AND we had a dishwasher—but to me, it was a punishment because it was a chore I hated above just about everything else). However, I’ve known all along that being able to get my kitchen cleaned up and reorganized was going to go a long way in (a) getting me over the biggest hurdle toward full recovery from this almost-four-year-old depression and (b) helping me get back on the road to health by enabling me to start living a low-carb lifestyle again—because low-carbing is nearly impossible (for me, anyway) when I’m depressed and when I can’t cook my own food.
Now, this is just one side of the kitchen—there’s another half to be dealt with—but that’s mostly just getting it organized and cleaning the surfaces. And then . . . MORE COOKING AND MORE RECIPES!!!