How to Clean Your House When You Feel Paralyzed by “The Mess”

There are some people who won’t even understand the title of this post. They don’t know what it’s like to wonder where to start when cleaning a messy house.

They’ve never been paralyzed by a mess. Overwhelmed doesn’t even really cover it.

They’ll think – “what does that even mean?!” (These people always have clean houses, and they can organize their junk drawer with their eyes closed. Or at least they could if they had a junk drawer. But they don’t. They don’t know what it’s like to be ashamed of your messy house.) They’ve never experienced a truly messy house. 

And there’s some people who will roll their eyes at the drama of it, and they’ll think “Just clean it up. Take the action, do the things.” These people are also likely to leave nasty comments about how this post is sort of stupid. (I won’t publish them.)

But then there’s other people – maybe you’re one of these people – who know what it’s like to stand in the middle of a messy room and feel absolutely paralyzed by the mess. (Me!! I AM ONE OF THESE PEOPLE!) These people will get what this post is about.

We are the people who wonder desperately “where to start cleaning my house?!”

You might even have a secret fear that your house looks like hoarders (you know, that TV show where food is molding under the couch and the neighbors are complaining?)

And I want to share some good solid advice with these people (you), on how to move forward with cleaning when you feel paralyzed by a mess.

Because I’ve been there, but – thank goodness – I’m not there anymore.

One thing that really helps me is making a plan – to stay focused! Check out this gorgeous home cleaning planner – with daily + weekly task lists, spring + fall cleaning checklists, and room by room cleaning checklists to make sure it all gets DONE – 

pages from cleaning planner

CLICK HERE TO GET THE HOME CLEANING PLANNER!

(THIS POST PROBABLY CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. OUR FULL DISCLOSURE POLICY IS REALLY BORING, BUT YOU CAN FIND IT HERE.)

Related: A Simple Solution to Clutter & Disorganization

When you want to clean up “the mess” in your house but don’t know where to start:

You know what I’m talking about when I say “the mess”.

It’s not like you had a clean house 6 hours ago, but a kid’s birthday party has turned your home into a danger zone. Little piles of melty ice-cream everywhere and paper cups behind the couch.

No, that kind of mess isn’t THAT hard to clean up. (If you have THAT kind of mess, you really just need this stuff.)  Although this advice will apply to how to clean a trashed house as well – any mess, little-people-parties included.

I’m talking about THE MESS. The big bad mess. When you have let the clutter and junk take over. There’s piles of laundry in the living room, you can’t see the kitchen counters, can’t remember the last time you cleaned out the fridge. You may or may not find a bag of potatoes – or what used to be potatoes – sitting at the back of the pantry.

If you take a moment to look around your home you might even feel shame and despair. But you also look around and feel that sinking feeling that says you won’t EVER be able to clean it up, because you just do NOT know where to start.

It’s hopeless.

THAT kind of mess.

This is the sort of paralyzing mess that for some reason, wants me to live in it. (I don’t. I work very hard to not allow my home to be messy. I am not a naturally tidy person, which is baffling because I LOVE it when my home is tidy, and I grew up in a tidy home. I don’t know where I developed the messy habits.)

I have learned that it is far easier to KEEP my home clean than to have to try cleaning a messy house once it gets to the paralyzing mess stage.

But,  if you are still there, paralyzed in your mess… well, I get it and I have the path to the light at the end of the tunnel for you.

My momma taught me this when I was an obviously overwhelmed-by-the-mess kid, and it’s worked ever since.

Related: How to Conquer Clutter When it’s Emotionally Difficult
Related: Tackling Clothing Clutter: Confessions of a Clothes Hoarder

First, two things to consider (to start cleaning a messy house):

If you are so overwhelmed that you don’t believe it’s possible to clean your house, you might need to ask for help and that’s ok, but then be willing to let the helper help. It’s really frustrating to have someone ask you to help them and then not be allowed to do anything. If you feel like you need to be in control, that’s something you’ll have to address.

The odd time when my home DOES return to this state of overwhelming mess (like- um – if I have a baby and forget how to do “life”) I ask for help when I need it.

Also, consider addressing the clutter and disorganization in your home – FOR GOOD. Sometimes just cleaning up isn’t enough.  

Addressing the clutter in my home took me a LONG way towards never feeling paralyzed by the mess anymore. But I didn’t know where to start, and I actually needed someone to TEACH me how to do it.

If your house is constantly buried in clutter and mess, check out The Organized Home Course by Hilary from Pulling Curls. It is created just for people like us, who need to be given  bite-sized tips & lessons on organization so we know where stuff is, save time & feel more peace at home. (Because we do ACTUALLY deserve to feel at peace in our homes!)

This is the perfect course for organizing a messy home if:

  • You always need hours of notice before having guests because you’re embarrassed about the state of your home.
  • You’re always worried you misplaced an important document or won’t be able to find things when you need them.
  • You’ve ever wondered why can’t YOU enjoy peaceful time on the couch or enjoying your family instead of always stressing out about the state of your home?

If you need someone to TEACH you how to address clutter and get organized, Hilary is your girl, and you can get 10% off the course here with the code MOP10. 

But even if you choose not to ask for help or deal with the clutter, you can clean up the mess.

And here’s how.

You pick up one thing. 

(Tune out the rest of the mess for now. You’re just dealing with one thing.)

Pick up one thing – the nearest thing to you – and ask yourself, “Where does this thing go?” 

Does it have a home in your home? Does it need to LEAVE your home (donation/garbage)?

Then put that thing where it goes. (If it needs to be donated, make a box for donating and call that it’s home for now.)

And pick up another thing. Find it’s home or give it a home or get it out of your home.

And repeat.

And repeat.

And repeat.

I swear this works. It’s tedious yes. But it’s not overwhelming. It’s one thing at a time… and one thing at a time, you can clean up the mess.

Related: Secrets for Keeping the House Clean With Small Kids

Related: 7 Tangible & Life-Changing Benefits of Decluttering

If you try to do this but get distracted or stuck or struggle with how to motivate yourself to clean a messy house:

Here’s where asking for help can be awesome – because there is an automatic built in job for the helper. (Plus having someone else involved can be really good cleaning motivation!)

Have someone (a patient someone) hand you one thing at a time and ask “where does this go?”

And repeat.

Having someone else there to keep you on track might be the only way to keep yourself going the first time you do this.

But you CAN do this 🙂

Once things are put properly in their homes (or out of your home) tackle the “dirt” – which you will inevitably find under “the mess” – with the most natural, safe, and cost effective household cleaners you can find. (For me that’s been Norwex  – this one tub of cleaner has lasted me for THREE YEARS and I have no qualms about getting it on my skin. They even have a system for washing windows and mirrors with ONLY water!)

More From Mommy on Purpose:

Where do you start when you’re drowning in CLUTTER?
Clean kitchen habits you can adopt today

HOW TO CLEAN YOUR MESSY HOUSE

 

ashamed of your messy house

cleaning up an overwhelming mess

 

393 thoughts on “How to Clean Your House When You Feel Paralyzed by “The Mess””

  1. I loved this article. I grew up in a very clean home and slowly living by myself i would get messier and messier. I’m good at throwing food away not leaving it on the table all night, but one thing i have pets and the pet hair gets very bad. My mom doesnt even like coming into my house lol which it might seem funny but it is really sad. You will get depressed and not feel motivated at all to clean. Then some of my excuses not to clean are I have to wait til payday to buy more cleaning products cause I will be out of it or something, or on my day off I didn’t sleep well and to tired. I will try this it’s some very good advice!!

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  2. I love you, Girl, you are for real! Not being able to see the counters, all of it, its my house. I can’t clean because there is so much on top of the dirt. My daughter won’t bring her new boyfriend; my son has only one friend he will allow to visit us here. I can’t get a good picture of my Christmas Tree because there is so much stuff everywhere.

    I was searching for how to deal with a dirty house, and I am so glad your blog popped up. The other results were basically “how to be a neat freak” or how horrible it is when other people have dirty houses.

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    • Diane, <3 I hope you have a very very Merry Christmas, and don't let the stuff everywhere ruin it!

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  3. So this one piece of advice has helped me more than you know. Thank you!

    I grew up constantly being shamed for the messy state of my bedroom, so I always assumed I was inherently messy, like it was a personality flaw. My mom would sometimes hire someone to clean the house, including my room, so I never figured out how to deal with my belongings, and never knew where things were.

    Over the past three years, I’ve been working with my husband to “KonMari” our lives. What I’ve learned through the process is that I’m not inherently messy, but that I was never taught how to clean, then shamed for it, which didn’t help. Also, I was never encouraged to discard anything- even now, my mom tries to absorb much of what we’ve attempted to toss through the KonMari method, herself. I was taught not to waste, and to remember and honor gift givers by keeping the things they gave me. So I was carrying the emotional burdens of my family in my stuff for my entire childhood and early adulthood, so perpetually surrounded by clutter, and then shamed such that I thought was an inevitable part of who I am.

    Well into adulthood, my mom has reminded me of there being actual “vermin” in my room growing up. She accuses my dad of being the same way. The irony is, she has a harder time letting go of belongings than he does!

    Anyway. My point is that clearly I had a problem, but it wasn’t that I had a personality incapable of being tidy. I hardly recognize my closet now. I find it so beautiful to see everything treated with respect.

    I still get overwhelmed sometimes. Today I googled, “how to clean your house when overwhelmed”, and it’s brought me here again. So helpful!

    Thank you!

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  4. Thank you, this is super helpful, not just the tips but also the way you describe it. Feels much less shameful knowing we’re not alone and having sorted the house almost completely at one point, I’m sad I’m back here wanting to escape my lovely house so I don’t have to deal with it. Starting afresh today, thank you xx

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  5. Thank you for understanding, Carly. It helps to be reminded that I’m not alone and that messes can be tackled one thing a time, even when mess paralysis has set in. And thank you for understanding the emotional toll that can accompany your home being a mess.

    Depression is often the cause when I let my place get to be at post-cyclone levels. Then the mess and uncleanliness begin to feed into the depression, as in, my place is awful, so I must be, too, and I will never be capable of fixing it. This, of course, makes me more depressed. The cycle is exhausting, and I’m not even doing anything!

    Hiring an organizer can help, I agree. I’ve had some good professionals come in for an hour or so. Their help was a relief, because It helped break through the paralysis. The organizer’s presence and calm guidance made it possible for me to tackle the mess one thing at a time. The organizing session can provide momentum that can carry the process forward even after the organizer has left, because of the sense of accomplishment that come from starting the process. If The organizer will be coming back, it’s helpful when they give an “assignment.” Then you know exactly what to do and how much of it.

    Between your blog and the comments, I already feel better. Maybe I’ll put one thing away when I get home.

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  6. Thank you so much! I could just cry! It feels so good to just know someone else has gone through this. I appreciate your courage to share and I’m going to get started today. Baby steps 😊

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  7. I never had an issue with this until the past few years. I get overwhelmed because I can organize my own stuff, but I can’t declutter my BF’s belongings and we both have more stuff than room. I try to do a good big purge twice a year, but I can’t get him to go through ANYTHING. I’ve offered to help but stuff just piles up and I have literally spent whole weekends in bed watching TV “hiding” from the mess. When I do get the house clean & “somewhat” organized, it lasts about 5 minutes. I literally can’t keep up with him. It’s like having a daycare full of toddlers, but it’s just the two of us & our furry kids. I’m overwhelmed all the time.

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  8. I am an artist. I make reborn dolls for therapeutic reasons. I have so much paraphernalia from this art after going on disability for my Illness (Lupus) 4 years ago that the supplies bled everywhere. My husband is an old toy collector/seller and his collection is bleeding everywhere. My son and daughter in law say it’s not our mess so they aren’t cleaning it (they live with us, and yes, they cook and leave the stove a mess after. My husband works hard, daughter and son in law sleep all day and I’m up at 9 Am ready to go til I come downstairs and feel like the weight of the world is on just ME. I know I can do this Myself, I’m just so discouraged. -feeling helpless in PA

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  9. Would love if you started your own course, this really resonates with me how you describe it all, this mess is in my home, although not dirty I simply can’t keep it out, musical,creative arty-people find it extremely difficult to keep housework in order as we see it as ordinary and mundane, please help 😩

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  10. Good article. My family is going to give this a go! I have always been a stay at home mom and homeschooled our three daughters. My husband’s work moved him around state to state and we decided to keep our family together and go with him. We kept our home in KY and for six years lived all over the north eastern states accumulating more and more stuff. We moved back home to Ky four summers ago and I am still unpacking boxes. It will take some time to do it, but it’s worth it. Thank you.

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  11. I grew up in a house where you could eat off the floors. That’s all she did was scrub, and throw things out. We lived in barren walls, very minimalist, also very poor.. I married, worked full time, raised 3 sons plus had stepchildren all summer and holidays, yet managed to keep things under control.Then dIvorce, single parent, then remarriage. We shared with his mother and sister for 4 years as I was his moms caretaker. To escape, my husband and I would go antique/collectible mall shopping on weekends and started collecting. Fast forward, I went back to work, we worked lots and overtime, and when we bought our house, suddenly everyone needed a place to live. SOmetimes we had 10 people and animals. Problem is I was supposed to work fulltime and still be the cook and housekeeper. Finally we retired but worked part time jobs and volunteered. Housework on the back burner. I was burned out. Last Sept. we stopped working, as he had cancer and life was full of medical treatments, so things piled up.I just lost him a month ago, and I’m trying to “do it”. Offers to help but then when I’m ready, they all have busy lives too. I separate stuff but then it never gets taken out of the house. There’s 3 bags been in the van a year. Because I grew up poor, it’s hard to just get rid of stuff. Clothes are easy – they go to shelters, but stuff!! Plus now there’s a few things family wants as I trim down, that I figured after Im gone, but have decided not to wait, If they want it now, let then=m have it. At 71 I do not have the energy or desire to do a yard sale, plus with Covid now – not possible. I’m trying the one thing at a time. It does feel good to see a corner cleared out. My art studio is literally packed to the door as it became a storage room, and that hurts as I miss my art. But thank you for this article. I don’t feel so bad knowing I’m not the only one “paralyzed”.

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    • Your comments helped me. I have stuff that should have been given away years ago. Every room except the bathroom is cluttered. I keep saying I’m going to start but I don’t. I’m going to do the one thing at a time step but that takes too long. I’ve got too much stuff. I want my home cleaned out badly and it’s gonna take some time. I can do it. So glad I’m not the only one going through this

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    • I go through the panic cleanup when we are told, “we’re driving through and coming to visit you this weekend”….OMG. That’s what I’m dealing with now. I’m going to get some garbage bags, fill them and put them in the basement. I don’t know why I do this every time! I’m a clutterer and EACH time I panic clean, I say “I’ll never do this again”….I always do though. What is wrong with me???

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    • OMG! I feel like you are my doppelganger! Almost every detail of your life is like mine. I am recovering from shoulder surgery and am preparing to retire from my overtime job and take a part time job while collecting Social Security. Hoping in the mean time to downsize my collections and my house. I have been donating clothes and selling antiques that are just collecting dust and making things look cluttered. Hopefully by the time summer comes around I will be able to clean my house in 2 hours.

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    • I can talk to you relate when you saw that you grew up in a common household and your loving henry sy became rather but you don’t know happened with you it’s the same with me ever up in a home that is virtually clean my my mother standard and i mean to have a lot of things applied for everything i sent messenger hack but then she died and then everything became messy from there

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    • God bless you mam’. Im sorry for your loss and hope you get tht art studio going. Im trying to clean my recording studio and apt out i have the paralyzed disorder too. After my sons mom left me and moved out I drank Nd let things go to shit. 2 months later here i am thanks for this article one thinf at a time lets do this

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  12. Thank you. I needed this. Just the simple validation that I’m not alone. Really, thank you.

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    • Same here…that paralyzed feeling keeps us from taking the first step and then another. My parents and grandparents grew up during the depression, so they saved every piece of foil, wax paper, paper or plastic bag, box, and piece of scrap paper there was, so habits are tough to break I have mobility issues so it is even tougher, even painful to do. So as a gift my son is giving me 2-3 hrs. of help/week/paid, and am praying i can let go, donate items in my closet, and make it more simpler to clean up after myself. My best to y’all on our journey’s through ‘clutter’. God Bless!

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    • Mary, your truth is refreshing. I’m 38 with 3 kids and I feel like no matter how many days I declutter and devote to cleaning, it will never be enough- I will spend the rest of my life declutter if rather than enjoying my family. My mother was so obsessed with cleanliness we literally could have eaten off the floor, but my house is full of kids, and animals, and hopefully a lot less stress and yelling than what I endured as a kid. It’s just nice to know I’m not alone!

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  13. I don’t have time to read all the comments so may be repeating. You know what really irritates me about the neat freaks and not all are like this but have talked to people who just throw everything in the trash that they don’t want any longer. They are so self centered and OCD about not having any clutter that they don’t think about the people who could use the things they are getting rid of. It’s just so inconsiderate to trash things they could take to a resale store. They just want it gone right now.

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    • There are so many people who are too mentally ill or addicted that they cant get IDs and/or get to the places that help. They deoend on the trash dump sites for thier items.

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    • I really like your ideas but I have one question. The first item I picked up does have a home and I am willing to put it in its appropriated space, but that space has something else in it that needs to be relocated before the first item gets returned to its proper place. There is not one place that is not occupied by something else, so my question is, how do I follow through with step one when I can’t even see the floor? (And do this without making a bigger mess).

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    • I love that comment about discarders being impatient and selfish- it’s so true. A lot of my clutter is stuff that I’ve got for less fortunate friends and sometimes new people we meet. Everyone who knows me brings people to me when they need something, and I take requests too. Unfortunately, trying to scavenge up perfectly good thrift store discards for people in need has overwhelmed my beautiful home and it’s become downright “hoardy”!

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    • Thats not true. Some things are not worth donating. You dont donate trash and junk. People who keep their homes clean do so because:

      They dont have to make some soecial effort for visitors

      They dont need to do a quick hide if inexpected visitors show up

      When you come home from work, you can come to aclean, uncluttered place

      You try to be irganized so you know where things are

      You have a routine for cleaning so you have more time fir family and self

      Its a good example for your kids

      Its an enjoyable place for family and friends

      I have been on both sides of this fence and i like geeting up to a clean kitchen and bathroom in the mirning. I like i can sit in a clean sunroom for morning coffee and my plants are not competing for space with clothes, books, paper and toys.

      It took me a long time to actually let go of clutter i had packed away for more than ten years. I no longer have a seven bedroom house or husband or children but i had seven bedrooms worth of clutter stored in two bedrooms.

      Its hard to clean up and declutter. And the junk youre throwing out, chewed up barbie dolls, beer can collection, old year books, etc is not worth donating.

      Just because you dont want the frustration, and feeling of being alone and overwhelmed wiith clutter and mess, doesnt mean anyone is OCD. How about they just want a clean environment.

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    • Kathy,

      That attitude of throwing things out just to get it gone is very much OK. Yes, it’s great to save stuff for others and resale, if you have the time and the space and the ability to do so. Some people do, some don’t.

      The mindset you’re describing is more often than not a hindrance, not a help. It’s commonly found in hoarders, for example. It keeps you from getting rid of things because you’re saving them for Bobbie Sue or for a garage/yard sale. (I think I just paraphrased something from Flylady.)

      Please stop shaming people who, for whatever reason, don’t clean or keep things going like you want them to – if they’re getting the job done.

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    • Thanks for saying it! I feel the same as you do. Ataxophobia is a serious ailment not many people know about.
      Ataxaphobists need help from Psychiatrists just as much as drug users and those with drinking ailments. It’s like times belongings of mine were thrown out- then I needed it just a week later.

      Reply
  14. Thank you for this encouraging article! I grew up in a tidy home as well and am a very tidy person. I actually clean and organize people’s homes for a living! But over the last 2 years…having a teenager and a toddler….my house has reached the level of mess you are talking about! I have been feeling overwhelmed and ashamed of my own home! No matter what has been going on in my life I have always kept my home tidy even when I worked full time and was a single parent. I’m not sure how I got here and have been feeling completely paralyzed by the mess! Today I will begin to fix it and I will continue till it is back to the way it should be! It is a tedious task but your advice is spot on..one thing at a time till it is done! Thank you for the reminder 😁

    Do you have any advice for dealing with other people in your home not cleaning up after themselves? I believe a big part of how I got here is because I gave up after spending all my time cleaning and dealing with the never ending mess!

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    • I’m in the same boat. I’m tired of cleaning up after everyone else even though we mostly all help to clean up. Its just the little things that we never get to. We never get to washing windows, or wiping walls, baseboards. And when we do, the big things don’t get done like the dishes. We’re just out of steam, time, and space! Than we do something big, like camping, its 2-3 weeks later before the house is semi liveable again. Decluttering is 1/2 our problem, the other 1/2 is we homeschool (so much stuff!), hubby works from home and we don’t have a garage for sports gear, tools, seasonal. I’m just so full up, its not even funny. Cleaning would be a breeze if there was space for everything. Not to mention shelves in my pantry (a whole other story).

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    • Yes this is my issue too!! My husband literally just pushed all the clutter to a pile to clean off the counters. He doesn’t ever organize. I have 2 littles and they are constantly pulling stuff out. My stepson doesn’t know how to clean (good thing is he learned how to do his laundry because I finally refused to do it once he turned 12) and I am left to do everything myself. I am burnt out and can’t pick up after everyone anymore.

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  15. I just want to say thank you this post made me not feel so alone. I have PTSD and sometimes my house gets like this because I’m isolated. It never happens overnight. But then I’m overwhelmed by all the clutter which triggers me more and the cycle just get worse

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    • Well hello, girlfriend! I, too, have PTSD that involves severe anxiety and some depression. I would give anything to have a clean, orderly house but I’m overwhelmed with anxiety when I try. It all just seems too complicated. Even when it’s not.
      I wish you the absolute best in a peaceful home.
      Erica

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    • This. I feel this so much. I have several mental illnesses and I’m not blaming them for my laziness, but I am acknowledging that they contribute to the inability to just “do”. It’s like I’m telling myself to do it, but nothing (my body, my drive, etc.) is heeding the call. I too have PTSD and tend to self-isolate constantly (I feel better alone), but then I also tend to not do anything in that state, like I just sit and sit and sit. Then I get more depressed and sickly because everything is bigger and bigger mess. I was super tidy despite the mental illnesses my entire life until I started a medication several years ago that killed my energy and basically made me a walking vegetable.

      I do hope things have gotten better for you. It’s good to know there are others out there like me. I’m so ashamed by my grossness often with this issue and I feel like everyone would look down on me for letting my little boy live like this (I use whatever energy I have do have on caring for and keeping HIM clean).

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    • I forgot to add that I also have ptsd and suffer from the same kind of trigger cycle misery! Discarding is hugely linked to early life trauma for me, and I get so upset sometimes and give up.

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    • I 100% agree
      I needed this and you said it perfectly the way I needed to hear it so that I know I’m not alone. Every word was as if you read my mind. Thank you for making me feel not alone!

      Reply
  16. What happens when there’s so big a mess you can’t put things away because where they belong is cluttered too and there’s no room? And you have a husband unwilling to keep up with the new clean and chores?? He’s worse than a tidal wave and tornado combined! I clean the counter tops, and no lie, 2 days there are no counter tops again! How do they do that!!?? I just can’t keep up with him and I’m at my wit’s end……

    Reply
    • Dear Tori,

      If you have a messy man…chances are you will have to be the clean freak & walk through the battle field but you are not alone…many many men go not see ‘messy’ many have some degree of ADD or ADHD or whatever…but you like clean right…so do the job for yourself first though anyone in home will benefit from the place being clean. I just say simplify simplify simplify … to a status where there are no things to roam anywhere … undies socks shirts pants jammies Eady to pick up … do not leave anything on counters so they are ready for wipe down at any time…if this means having a wet cloth tied to your jeans belt fine…empty the place…this Covid. era has got everyone just about past the point of no return but we are not….people used to hardly go out long long ago…

      Hey there…my household situation is way way beyond fathoming anymore…both men, our son college student but cannot go lost jobs early Covid & had accident needs sutgery,
      husband had severe brain surgeries & ladder fall…geez where do I start…both are extremely messy…now as caregiver I just wore out…repairing home for a loan…cannot catch up with chaos I’m my mind …
      Every room is a pit…I am an extremely neat person but now buried under the mountain.
      ..Any suggestions on where to start….very little energy at the beginning or end of the day
      …with somebody telling me could do it…just so worn out…must have home appraisal for loan but I try to climb the mess with yardwork and house painting & just sit down at sundown & fall asleep briefly.
      It’s like I spy … Just need somebody telling me where to start … caregiving & house dumping & fixing house … Help

      Reply
    • If I didn’t know better, I would swear that you are in my head knowing exactly how I am feeling and thinking. I have 3 kids and a husband that will help from time to time, but not often enough to actually make a difference. I am so stressed out about the current state of my home that I actually have dreams about it. I am so ashamed of how my house looks, therefore we hardly ever have anyone over. My house hasn’t always been this way, but being 46 with 3 children that range from 3 to 12, I find my brain and memory completely sucks, and I am easily overwhelmed and distracted. I have extreme ADD when it comes to getting stuff done, which makes it even harder because I feel like all I do is chase my own tail. Plus, being indecisive isn’t helping either. I am at my wits end with no light at the end of the tunnel. My poor kids dont even invite their friends over because we are so embarrassed about the state of our home. I feel like a total failure as a mother and a woman.

      Reply
    • I have come to accept that I will not have help keeping my home tidy and clean. Since I feel upset when it is messy, I clean it for MYSELF, because it makes ME feel good. Others may not be bothered by the mess and don’t feel the need to pick up, I do. I try only touch things once before it goes where it belongs…helps keep the whole job smaller.

      Reply
    • My issue is that I pick up an item to put it back where it goes but the items don’t have a home. We are not disorganized, messy people. It’s just that sometimes things come into the home that just don’t have a place. with two small children I don’t have time to overhaul my organizational system to find a new home for everything.

      Reply
    • I do that to myself, I have cleaned a room and maybe something comes up that I need paperwork the next day, it’s like a tornado went through, and it’s horrible but I did it to myself. 😭🤦🏼‍♀️

      Reply
  17. What do I look under to find someone to help me in person. We are thinking of moving and I can’t fathom packing this disgusting house. I rather just leave and start new. As a responsible adult I know I can’t do that. Lol
    Any advice you can give would be wonderful.

    Reply
    • My husband and I got married and moved in to a 890 sq ft home back in 1999. He had lived at home and I lived alone in an apartment so it didn’t seem as though we would have trouble living in a small house. At the time we just wanted to own a piece of something, and it was in a decent part of town in a quiet neighborhood so I loved it.
      We ultimately lived there for 20 years almost to the day, but reflecting back now, we probably had outgrown the house by the 8th or 9th year. The last 12 years I felt the burden of my house being a cluttered mess… every.single.day. I was depressed and I felt like such a failure, a hoarder and much like the article talks about, found it impossible to clean. I was ashamed that I couldn’t have people over.
      A couple years ago, my mother-in-law had to be moved into a nursing home due to her health. My husband and his brother worked on cleaning out her house and painting, making needed improvements so they could get the house sold. It took them about 3 years…not that the house was big or full of stuff, but because of their work schedules.
      Thankfully it took that long though because it took me nearly 3 years to realize how the layout of her home was so much better than ours. We were just getting ready to put it on the market and the light bulb went off!! Never once in all the time they had been working on it did it occur to me to move, and her home wasn’t much bigger – less than 300 sq ft more. But after we decided, it was like clockwork. We made arrangements to buy the home by selling ours. Because the home was in the family we were able to move our stuff into the house and sell ours before having to deal with all the legal stuff. Once our house was empty we put on the market for a reasonable but firm price and it sold on the first day. We moved so fast we didn’t really take time to think about whether we COULD move, but I’ll tell you it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. My head became a lot clearer about what we wanted to bring with us, what was truly trash to be thrown out, and we even sold over $600 of items we no longer “needed.” It was funny moving in…the “clutter” in the old house that we knew we would still need
      fit perfectly in the new house almost every time!!
      It’s been a little over a year now, and I don’t regret the move one bit!! Our home is a home, it’s so relaxing, guests can come over and my stress level has dropped dramatically!!

      I hope this LONG story helps inspire you to take the leap…sometimes it’s not you, it’s the home that is the problem.

      Reply
    • I actually found a handyman that helped me tremendously. He was able to carry out a lot of the recycling and trash that had built up in my house. He helped me get organized, too. And he was really fast! Try do find someone like this.

      Reply
    • Charlie… Make separate boxes as you pack!!. Put the TAKE and DONATE boxes in the room beside you while you pack. Keep a BIG trash can in the house to throw away truly unusable things. If you cant decide on an item, sit it aside and come back around to it in a few minutes. I just did this when I moved and I could not believe the things that I had in my house that were there “just in case I need them” but I hadn’t needed them in years. I minimized before the move, and then did the same thing when I got where I was going. I started unpacking with a donate box beside me. I cleared a lot of things down the second time through as well. It felt so good to start with less. I have not missed one single thing I threw away or donated. In fact, I am ready to purge again and reduce. It is such a feeling of freedom when you are not surrounded by clutter.

      Reply
    • I’ve had that same feeling… Of wanting to just walk away from the house and start over. Then I thought, how can I be blessed with a new home if I can’t take care of the one I’m in? If I move and haven’t dealt with my depression that caused me to be in the place I’m in, I’ll clutter the new house. So I started small.. I would clean for 15 minutes and built from there. I now have days where I’m cleaning most of the day. My home is still a work in progress, however I take it one day, and one prayer at a time. I still have days when I’m depressed and don’t do anything. Then I remind myself of how good it feels to live in a clean home. So I push through and stay on the children about picking up after themselves. Cleaning has become my happy place. It’s also my guage… When I don’t clean I’m either tired…. Or I’m depressed. Keep pushing through, and start small. Give everything a home… Inside the house, through donation, or the trash. You can do this!

      Reply
    • I am in same positition….so we haven’t moved .. wanted to for 10 years now. But HOW!!!

      Reply
    • I’ve been looking into the same kinds of services, and I just searched “professional home organizer [my city]” and got at least 10 different companies right away

      Reply
  18. Last year my boyfriend moved in with me. My home was DISGUSTING and he cleaned it up. He allowed me to help some. It felt so nice to have a home I could have guests and not be mortified. He moved to Washington due to family issues. For the first few months I was able to keep it looking nice. Then something changed, I don’t know what it was my son and I just gave up during covid-19 quarantine. Now it’s back to disgusting. Thankfully not as bad as before, but still bad. I feel paralyzed!! Thank you for your article. Between yours and another one that made the suggestion of setting a timer for no more than 15 minutes at a time and when the timer goes off take a break, I think I can do it.

    Reply
  19. This article couldn’t have come at a better time. I finally decided to start to conquer the MESS but with the constant feeling of being overwhelmed best intentions haven’t worked. I suffer from major depression and can only stay in motion for maybe 15-20 minutes. Just reading this has brought tears to my eyes. Thanks so much for your article. I’m a single senior with no kids.

    Reply

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