Sunday, March 2, 2008

Some People Have Real Problems

About a month ago I got the idea that if my house were better organized then I could get a better grip on my thoughts, sort of like break the chaos in my living quarters and in turn break the chaos in my head too. I don't know. It sounded like a bright idea at the time. Jon thought I was crazy as usual, and perhaps I am a bit stir crazy from living a very sheltered life during these winter months, but I figured I had to try something before my mind broke permanently.

It all started with the office where I pulled old computer parts, winter gloves and hats, boxes of wedding memorabilia, unpaired shoes, and many other pieces of non-office paraphernalia out of the large walk-in closet. It was so much crap that after placing it all about the room I was left with only a small walkway leading out the door and it was all stuff I didn't have the slightest idea what to do with. It was blatantly obvious that this closet had become a catch all area. I ended up sorting through what I could, tossing what I thought would be safe, and shoving a few things back into the closet just so I could get to the computer as well as into the hallway. It was a shoddy job and I knew it, but I couldn't bare to face it anymore so after 5 hours of work/staring off into space it became the catch all closet yet again.

The next day I was overwhelmed by the feeling of having too much junk and clutter scattered about the entire house so I pulled all of the knickknacks from the shelves, took down artwork from the walls, pulled every decorative accessory I own out of storage, and laid it all out on the floor of the spare bedroom. The 9 foot by 11 foot floor was covered in photo frames, vases, and tealight holders, and the rest of the house looked as if we had just moved in. It was another idea that seemed ingenious at the time. I thought if I put it all out in front of me at once, organized it by item, I could divide it into piles of what I wanted to keep, what to give away, and what to throw away, but what actually ended up happening was a different story; I took one look at all of the junk, turned off the light, and closed the door.

A few days later I moved on to a coat closet where I found sidewalk salt, a broom and dust pan, food platters, and a variety of disposable picnic utensils--not a coat in sight. This time I actually put forth some effort and transformed the "coat closet" into a broom closet with shelves of cleaning supplies and other inedible household items. It was a success, but it was by far the smallest and least time consuming thing I dove into.

As the month progressed and my husband became more and more uneasy with the empty walls I gradually redecorated using what I had and in about three weeks time we both felt at home again, but the pile of clutter continued to sit in the spare bedroom until around 8:00 last night when I decided it was time to reclaim the space. Rather than throwing away most of it I ended up purchasing Rubbermaid tubs from Target and organizing it by purpose; wedding, vases, candles, things from Jon's childhood he just can't part with. Almost everything from the spare bedroom and the office finally has a place, or at least the beginnings of one.

This whole month long, very embarrassing episode had me wondering if maybe I've been living undiagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, so I decided to search the internets for some answers. (Actually, it went a little something like this: walk away from organizing, Google A.D.D., find article, begin writing post, walk away from post, heat up dinner, eat dinner, come back to article, run out to the store, begin rewriting post.) Anyway, this is an A.D.D. related article I found that describes me to a T, except for the three kids, of course:

Sara is quiet 40-year old woman with three kids. As a child she got average grades and was not a discipline problem. Her imagination was so vivid that she daydreamed a lot and had trouble focusing on the teacher, and she was harassed by her parents for being so far away and "in the clouds". Her entire life has been marked by disorganization and procrastination. Her IQ is 152 but she feels stupid. She loves her family but is overwhelmed by the daily routine. Sara has the rarest MBTI temperament: INFP. This temperament is associated with the best writers in history and is said to have the "soul of an artist". She naturally focuses on her inner world and is inspired by imagination. Unfortunately, this perfectly natural temperament trait has caused her to feel different from others and to be looked down upon. She has been unable to find her niche, and she suffers from anxiety and depression, both of which cause an inability to concentrate and mental fogginess. She is also a perfectionist, a trait associated with giftedness, which is one reason she cannot seem to get started on the many artistic projects she dreams up in her head. Her natural tendency to think divergently causes her to be disorganized and her house is always a mess. She has a strong tendency to blame herself and to try and meet everyone else's expectations, which is one reason she is so depressed. Her depression makes it even more difficult to accomplish anything, so a vicious downward cycle has left her feeling completely overwhelmed and worthless.

I would like to meet Sara. I think she and I could have a lot of half-intelligent, half-spacey conversations, but I don't want to still feel and act this way when I'm 40.

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