House Upheaval

I had someone on caseload once who was super wealthy. Life for them had always gone swimmingly. They were super attractive, had a beautiful family, a gorgeous home and meaningful friendships. How had they’d ended up on the books of the mental health team? The trigger for this had been house upheaval. Fairly minor in my books. They were having their hall decorated and couldn’t cope. In the scheme of things it seemed like a very first world problem. It was early on in my days as a mental health practitioner. I’ll be honest and say that I wasn’t particularly empathetic.

Fast forward a few years later. It’s dawned on me that the source of a person’s suffering is perhaps an insignificance. A seemingly trivial cause does not render it trivial. And the example that I’ve used now rings true. I’ve noticed for a long time that if my environment is cluttered and disordered it impacts on my head state. And vice versa, for there’s a cyclic relationship to this. I think that a lot of people realise this and perhaps it’s why movements like minimalism and decluttering are taking hold.

When Hot Stuff moved in properly at the end of last year all his stuff that didn’t fit in a skip came too. I felt for him as he made plenty of sacrifices. However my house doesn’t have sufficient storage even to accommodate the things that he hadn’t let go. For months we’ve been living with house upheaval. It causes rows, of a monumental Latino type. They would probably scare the neighbours on the other side of the party wall. Except they having similar ones of their own as they’re in the process of rejigging their home too!

Disagreements are largely around me moving stuff. Some things have got lost in the process because I forget where I’ve put them. Okay I admit that’s annoying. From my own perspective, I’ve refused to let tool storage creep. I’ve stood firm, insisting that some rooms remain clutter free. Hot Stuff doesn’t get it and my refusal to budge causes a bit more argy-bargy. What he doesn’t seem to realise is that I’ve also made compromises. I’ve ruthlessly shed more possessions and furniture from a house that I’d already decluttered. I’m down to one small chest of drawers and a single wardrobe for my own clothes. The sun room and dining room have largely been turned over to make space for all those tools. I’ve put in some photos to prove it.

We’re going to start major works on the house soon. This includes building in that much needed storage. And in the last couple of weeks I’ve managed to instill a bit more order into our home. I shed more of my own possessions including a desk that was past it. It’s now firewood and a big mosaic base! You might also spot some of its own drawers in a picture below. I’ve rejigged furniture upstairs. to accommodate two chests of drawers from Hot Stuff’s house that have been sitting in the dining room. As shown in the top picture, my rainbow bookcase has a new home in our second bedroom. Somehow in the process I’ve created a calmer environment that’s already having beneficial effects on my headspace. With clearance of clutter my mind is in a better place.

With all that’s going on in the world I’ve sometimes beat myself up because of the seemingly trivial nature of what’s been bothering me. After all we are safe and do not have to worry about our basic needs on a day to day basis. My troubles seem very first world but I come back to my original point. Maybe it is good to validate suffering however trivial it seems. For it is only then that healing can take place.

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  1. With us, it’s 31 years of accumulating too much stuff, things from my kids I’m still holding on, and yes, it wears my mental state down some days. Good luck with your plans.

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