Saturday, April 28, 2012

Cleaning as Self Care

I met with my psychiatrist yesterday and we made a lot of changes in my medication. I'll write it up when I get them filled next week. I'm hoping it'll help my isolation and anti-social behavior. And anxiety. She also was willing to increase my nerve blocker so, hopefully, that'll lessen some of my pain. I really love working with her. And she makes me feel hopeful that we'll find a mix that works for me. Even if it takes time and some trial and error.

So, I took a deep breath and went to a food bank yesterday. I try to tell myself, the fact that I actually qualify for help, means I “deserve” it. Ugh, it's still something I doubt and question and beat myself up over. Anyway. I went and qualified for 75 pounds of food, four times a year.

Do you have any idea how much 75 pounds of food is!? They kept sending me back to get more! The selection is limited but I managed to get soups, chili, steak, beef, chicken, fish, cereal, applesauce (a lot of applesauce), etc. Also, the produce doesn't count towards your weight so I managed to scavenge some questionable pears, a bag of apples, a container of baby spinach, a few little squash, and (best of all) two bundles of asparagus that I plan to roast and devour. The bread is unweighed too and donated by Panera so I got a loaf of sourdough whole grain and pumperknickel. I also got snacks and desserts and canned fruit. I haven't had that much food at once in years. I'm hoping I can eat the fresh stuff before it goes bad. Which is why I was trying to stick with shelf stable stuff. As embarrassed as I am, it's going to be nice to not have to worry about food for awhile.

A really huge part of my self care is keeping my home clean. I'm the child of hoarders. My home was never clean. It was cluttered and filthy. I went to desperate lengths to keep people out and never admitted why. I lied and covered it up. It was the only thing I was ashamed of; the only thing I couldn't talk about. So I never learned to clean. I learned to hold on to everything and let filth collect. It's a hard habit to break. And one I never felt capable of dealing with until I moved to Alabama. Why? Because I got rid of everything. If I didn't fit in my Ford Focus? It didn't come with me.

But even without the clutter, I still struggle to clean. I still panic when friends come over and go into crazed mode, desperate to create perfection and spotlessness. While never, in a million years, expecting that of someone else. If one thing is out of place, I feel embarrassed and desperate to explain and excuse it. So worried and positive they'll think less of me; they'll realize my secret shame. While not giving a good god damn what anyone else's place looks like, Sigh, it's so ridiculous.

My point is, cleaning is a really weird and hard thing for me, both emotionally and physically so I try hard to work within that.

I've realized I need to stop trying to do things the “right” way. It's like I so desperately want to be normal that I can't even acknowledge that I need to do things in a different way. That it's acceptable and good to work within my limitations and needs. I work best in bursts. I get up, scrub the toilet, sit back down. A little while later I get up, wash some dishes, sit back down. Throw clothes in the washer, sit back down. Resting between action gives my energy and time to rebuild and allows my pain to lessen a bit.

Slowly I'll learn to clean as I go, not allowing the messiness and clutter to overtake me.

Slowly I'm creating a home I love. With silly cheap d├ęcor that makes me smile. Slowly I'll branch out from my bedroom, creating a full home and not just a single room that I cocoon myself in.

When I was little – and even a teen – all I wanted was to live in a clean home. I daydreamed and fantasized about it constantly. What it would be like to live somewhere I didn't have to hide or run from. I'd go to friend's houses and couldn't wrap my mind around people who cleaned regularly, who had organized homes that people could come in to unannounced. It was so foreign to me.

I think I've reached the point where I just need to work on creating habits. And on forgiving myself for something less an unattainable perfection. Right now, to anyone else, my home would be mostly clean but all I see are flaws, the things I need to fix and scrub and put away. But, frankly, my pain doesn't allow for perfection. And I need to accept that.

It took me 30 years to realize I deserved a nice home for myself. I didn't have to clean just because someone was coming over. I deserved to live in a clean, clutter-free home. I deserved to live somewhere beautiful, that didn't cause me shame or stress or fear. I deserved to live somewhere I could be proud of. I deserved to live somewhere that made me happy.

28 comments:

  1. ughhhhhhh. AGHHHHH. I never really understood all the anger towards you. But you have things like "get a tattoo" and "dye my hair lol colors" but are taking food from a food bank.

    No. Seriously. Fucking priorities. And if you want a job then stop fucking dying your hair pink and blue.

    Also you do know you shouldn't be donating plasma with all your meds right?

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    1. Um, because I'm not getting tattooed or pierced? Even if I want that, I'm not doing it. I wasn't aware that wanting something frivolous (and not getting it) made me undeserving of help. And I think spending $20 on my hair every three months is semi-acceptable.

      Also, I'm not looking for work because a) I'm not capable of holding down a full time job currently and b) if I'm not longer on disability, I no longer receive Medicare, and no longer receive the medical help and medication I need to function/stay alive.

      Well, the nurses and medical professionals who know my medical history seem to think differently so I can't help you there.

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    2. *sigh* I love how it is always anonymous assholes who like to judge from behind a computer.

      Heidi, you do not need to explain yourself to ANYONE. period. It is OK to want to have tattoos and color your hair. Poor, disabled people deserve to have splurge, self-care items too. It's not like you just wrote about all the street drugs or cigarettes, you just bought. It's not like you went out an bought an iPod or went to Paris. It is OK to want things and have goals. It is OK to take care of yourself. It is OK!!!!

      And as for you, my Anonymous friend,you, can kindly fuck off!

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    3. b) if I'm not longer on disability, I no longer receive Medicare, and no longer receive the medical help and medication I need to function/stay alive.

      This isn't true. You can work while receiving disability payments, and even if you work income crosses the level at which you stop receiving cash payments your medical care is still covered. So there's no bureaucratic bar to you seeking part-time or temporary work. You can learn more here. You can also use the Ticket To Work program for support finding work and still keep cash benefits and medical care and not have your case reviewed for as long as you're in the program.

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    4. Huh I didn't know that by signing up for food stamps I was agreeing to never fantasize about things I can't afford to buy. Go fuck yourself anon.

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    5. This is an unbeilievably classist and privileged statement.

      People who need government assistance also deserve fun things, like tattoos, funny colored hair etc.

      People *need* fun to survive. it is absolutely a requirement for survival.

      Here's an idea--before you judge people for being poor, get an actual idea of what it's like to be poor. go ahead. I'll be waiting.

      And some compassion wouldn't hurt either.

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    6. $20 every three months is $80 a year. What could you do with $80? 75 pounds of groceries if selected carefully sounds about right.

      The pain doc was right in turning you down for narcotics. If you have fibro (which can be exacerbated by hormone imbalance), opiates aren't the first line drug for treatment.

      As far as work you can do from home, what about phone sex operator? Or webcam model? You enjoy attention, and have no qualms about being open with your sexuality, you're at home anyway, so why not?

      Every to-do list you post makes no mention of finding a job. It's all about books, tattoos, hair color, and other frivolous stuff that the average teenager would place priority on.

      I realize I'm in the minority that tells you what you don't want to hear. It's time to grow up, try a little harder, and stop being a drain on society.

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    7. Wow.

      1) Yes, how dare I spend $7 a month on coloring my hair when I no longer spend anything on clothes, shoes, or makeup! That is completely unacceptable! Do please make a list for everyone of how they can purchase 75 pounds of food for $80. Keeping in mind that I actually qualified for the assistance without lying or deceiving anyone. Curious...do you also police the food purchased by and decisions made by the drains on society who receive food stamps? Just wondering.

      2) Everyone here gets turned down for opiates. Alabama is well known throughout the country for having an extremely severe pill laws. Doctors in other states have told me they would help me if I wasn't in Alabama because the laws are so strict. Also, I'm on nerve blockers, cardio, and physical therapy. And not all of my pain is based on fibromyalgia. I have a cracked spine, coccyx and lower back injuries, and bone spurs. And pain medication (given to me by pain specialists) in the past has vastly improved my quality of life and (GASP) enabled me to work.

      3) You do realize that I don't post every wish, hope, dream, and goal on here, right? That I have numerous To Do, Short Term, and Long Term Goal lists that only I see? That involve physical health, mental health, education, volunteerism, a job, a career, etc.

      4) Uh, I'm far from attractive/sexy enough to do webcam/porn work. And phone sex is something I have investigated, thank you. If I'm capable of finding a reputable company and working from home and not losing my Medicare, I'd be happy to do it. Oh, but I guess Medicare is part of me being a drain on society, yes? Yet, losing that would mean no drugs which would mean me becoming completely incapable of functioning in any way, shape, or form. And, inevitably, committing suicide. Sorry that that's a huge fucking concern for me!

      I am doing my best to grow the fuck up. I'm doing my best to get control of my life and find medical professionals who are helping me reach a point where I can, once again, be a strong, healthy, and functioning member of society. Which is all I fucking fantasize about being.

      Feel free to rip me apart. Feel free to repeat the things my fucked up brain screams at me on a daily basis while I struggle to stop loathing myself long enough to take small steps forward. But I'm doing the best I can. Even if the internet isn't privy to it.

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    8. I don't think you're very smart.

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  2. Hugs! I also had to learn to clean as an adult. The internet can be a great resource, but you have to look for moderate sites. The ones that have you cleaning for hours a day get pretty overwhelming. I finally got it down to 20 minutes a day and my house is not spotless bet good enough.

    You do deserve to be happy and fed and in a nice place.

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    1. I have to admit, I find it comforting knowing that I'm not the only one who grew up not knowing how to clean. And, yes! The internet is a salvation! I hard boiled eggs for the first time today and had to look up directions online! Damn those were moist and tasty eggs!

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  3. Have you seen Unfuck Your Habitat? http://unfuckyourhabitat.tumblr.com/
    They have a lot of tips for short burst cleanup projects.

    Cleaning in short bursts is the ONLY way that works for many many people, self included. You are not un-normal in this respect!

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    1. I've had a few people on Twitter suggest I check that out! I'm definitely going to!

      And thank you. It's really nice knowing that it's completely normal!

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  4. When I was little – and even a teen – all I wanted was to live in a clean home. I daydreamed and fantasized about it constantly. What it would be like to live somewhere I didn't have to hide or run from. I'd go to friend's houses and couldn't wrap my mind around people who cleaned regularly, who had organized homes that people could come in to unannounced. It was so foreign to me.

    ^this was me, too. I didn't even twig that my parents were hoarders until several years after I left. There was always some bullshit justification for every bit of crap they held onto. When my father died last year, my brother filled ten dumpsters in the clearout.

    I didn't really learn cleaning until I was 18, which is the last year I lived there. I just decided one day that I was going to do it. It wasn't self-care to me, it was fighting the mess and beating the everloving shit out of it. Cleaning, to me, is violently protective.

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    1. Cleaning, to me, is violently protective.

      Oh my GOD, I LOVE this! <3

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    2. And thank you for the disability info! I didn't know that; it's hard to find consistent information. I'm still not able to work right now BUT that gives me hope that I'll actually be able to transition at my own pace when I am!

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    3. I do tax preparing, so I've seen a few clients who both claim disability and also work. I bet they change the rules on a regular basis :/ At least they have a clear incentive to help rather than penalise disabled people who want to work; it's all about the $$$.

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  5. So do you have to get all 75lbs at once? That is a LOT of food! Is it all canned, or how do you eat that much food before it all goes bad?

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    1. Unfortunately you do have to take it all at once. I know! I couldn't believe how much food that turned out to be! I tried to get mostly things that were either canned or had a long shelf life, like boxed pasta. It's going to definitely be a learning experience, trying to use up the fresh food quickly - especially because so much is already, technically, expired or close to it.

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    2. I would say try to cook the produce and freeze it. If you rub eggs with mineral oil they last for up to a year in a cool dry spot. You can make bread crumbs or croutons from bread, that shizz is made from stale bread any way.

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  6. Would you like to take a look at Stepping Out of Squalor? I find it very helpful.

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    1. Thank you! I'll definitely check it out!

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  7. I have some of the same trouble myself, mainly with clutter from my many art projects, then I had to go and get a dog and cat so I have to clean after them as well ha ha. I wish you well :)

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  8. Heidi I am 37 years old and I have never cleaned an oven in my life. I have no idea how. I barely know how to cook and didn't know how to do laundry until in my 20s. Mine is due to a Mom who babied me until my late 20s. I am seriously excited to have found Pinterest, I found all kinds of cleaning tips. I have back pain and Fibrous so I also clean in about 15 minute bursts only doing one room a day. It's frustrating but that's what I can do. You do what you can do, you rock!

    Sarah

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    1. I had to have a friend teach me how to do laundry when I was in my 20s! And I'm slowly teaching myself how to cook. I swear, the internet is my salvation!

      We BOTH rock!

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  9. I realise I am a little late to this party but had to post a comment. I have been struggling with things myself in the past few months (well if I'm honest, it's more like years) and one of the things I have done recently to try and get back on track is to start seeing a counsellor. She has been amazing and has made me realise so many things about myself so quickly. One thing that I had to pluck up the courage to tell her about was my complete lack of self care (including personal and my flat). I had tears in my eyes reading your post because I saw myself in almost everything you said. I havent had anyone come to my flat to visit me for 2.5 years because of the mess .. its horrendous and I hate it but I just cant seem to get myself bothered enough to do anything about it. My counsellor thinks that I am using my flat as a way of punishing myself somehow and of an excuse to not have men over (this is another sticking point for me). I really am interested to see how things move on with this as I hate being in such a state all the time.

    I am also the same as you with the small sharp shots of doing things .. I do the same and try to do 15/20 mins of stuf before having a break. FLYlady works wonders for me .. when I am in a good place and trying hard.

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    1. Oh my god, I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!!! <3 <3 <3

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  10. Ok, I'm a little late to this too, but here goes...

    1) Flylady.com. Her system is all about 15 minutes of cleaning at a time and there is NO GUILT (gasp). Start where you are and go from there. She says you didn't make a mess in a day and it won't go away in a day. I don't follow her religiously, but I have gotten some really great habits from her (like cleaning my bathroom every night in under 5 minutes and it is always company ready. I know, wow).

    2) PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do not let the anonymous asshole get you down about the food bank. If you qualified, without deception, then take what is offered without shame. Everyone needs helps sometimes and I hope they understand that when their time comes. I don't think coloring your hair disqualifies you for occasional help.

    3) I know nothing about the meds, but I hope you find the help you need to manage your pain. No one should hurt so much they cannot function. Ever.

    4) You do not need to justify yourself to ANYONE. EVER. Really, you are an amazing person and I would love to have half the courage you do. I know you don't always believe in yourself, but keep working with your therapist and someday you will. I can't imagine surviving all you've gone through and still being even minutely functioning. So, stay strong girl, you've got this. And know that for ever hater out there, there are at least two fans that love and accept you exactly the way you are right this moment. We just need to be more vocal than the haters. So, here is my voice...you ROCK and anyone who says different isn't worth listening to.

    5) that is all. :)

    Angela

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