Sunday, December 5, 2010

Simple Things

Recently I have been thinking a lot about the simple things in life. There are so many things that we cannot control. The weather. The economy. The actions of others. Sometimes we cannot even control ourselves.

But something I have been trying to do in recent times is trying to keep my house in order, both literally and figuratively. While there are no magic solutions, I am beginning to notice that the tidier my house is, and the better I take care of myself and my surroundings physically, the better I am mentally.

Keeping the floor clear, my books neatly on the shelf, my clothes hung in order. Keeping the dishes cleaned, dried, and put away. Having my clothes ironed, even those like t-shirts that could probably do without it. Somehow, these things seem to help.

Having things clean and organized is nice and relaxing somehow. But also, the process of doing this has something calming about it. I don’t think I’d like to spend all my time ironing or cleaning, but spending some time doing it regularly is therapeutic, and almost enjoyable.

Another thing I have been doing recently is cooking more. I am not a very good cook, but there is something nice about producing simple meals, and not simply purchasing everything ready to eat.

Writing lists is also something that I have found useful. Recently CID posted about how he tends to waste all his free time when he doesn’t plan or structure it, and I am the same way. So I’ve taken to writing to-do lists on a more regular basis, and they are very useful in getting things done. Beyond achieving the specific things on the list, they are also useful in giving purpose to my time.

Finally, although it may sound strange to write about this on a blog, I think I have been spending too much time on the internet that I could probably use in a more productive way. Obviously I haven’t stopped using the net, but I am now limiting my use a bit more, and have cut down on my aimless browsing that kills time and achieves nothing. I have been buying and reading the newspaper more often instead, and I tend to retain more of what I read in the paper than I do from browsing.

I'm managing day to day, which is good. I am not sure that I will ever beat this anxiety and depression, that it will ever really be out of my system. There are times when it has felt an integral part of me, and times when it felt like an intruder. Currently I think it is probably a part of me that will never go away.

For the moment, I think the best way to go is to take care of each day as it comes with the strength and resources that I have, and try to learn a little something each time.


  1. Hi TDR,
    I've only recently come across your blog. I hope you don't mind me commenting on it.
    These are all simple yet excellent suggestions. I know that a moderate percentage of my mood depends on my surroundings and I try to keep everything tidy without becoming obsessive, but it can be difficult when you share your space with someone else.
    I often lose the day on the internet or other debilitating nonsense. You've inspired me to add some structure to my day. The more insight I gain into this illness (I'm slowly acquiring it), the more I realize that it is indeed about the relatively few things one can control in one's life. I like your plan.

  2. I have another day off today, and I've accomplished very little. I gotta get things under control, as my apartment is a sty! Thanks for the inspiration.

  3. This was rather inspirational for me, I think because I don't do anything at all :S Thinking of time and doing supposedly mundane things and enjoying them makes me think it can be appealing and I should try it ^^ You're right, having a neat surrounding area can make you feel happy and relaxed ^^ Great read!

  4. I have found this to be true too. When I let things go in my apartment, I get overwhelmed by the messiness and depressed by it. The messier it gets, the more overwhelmed I become, and the more depressed I am. It gets to the point sometimes where it's in really bad shape and I feel helpless to fix it. But when I keep up with things, and at least keep it relatively neat and clean, I do feel better. Thanks for making a post about this issue.

  5. Another post I find myself nodding along with. So true that making a small effort to keep our surroundings, and our selves, organised helps with the overall mental health. Thanks again!

  6. I love to cook...but I hate to do the dishes so I have to find a balance. As for cleaning....well I basically do it every other Tuesday. No joke. I simply refuse to clean too often.

    It is great you are finding a way to function through the depression. Sometimes our routine is all we have. And Lists! I love lists and make one almost every day. So, I get what you mean about lists giving you purpose through out the day. It just helps you achieve more.

  7. You said nothing that I haven't found to be true in my own experience.

  8. Hey there. I know what you mean by the calming effect of doing the daily things. I've started to cook a little more and found it fun myself. I've also started to update my blog a little less because I try to do things offline a little more than online. I often want some more social contact, and I think this is a sign that I am recovering. I know I will have to live with my depression on and off, but I think I will survive even when a severe bout of my depression attacks me next time. Great post!

  9. Doing all those things - cleaning, ironing, cooking, etc. - they are all meditative - and that's why I do SOME of those things myself. I say SOME because I for some reason can not get myself to cook, etc. Thank god my husband cooks!

    I'm a HUGE List Writer!! :) :) I have a list that keeps tracks of my lists!!! :) My husband always jokes about it - saying that I should include "making lists" under "Interests" in the About Me section... :)

    I HAVE to make lists - it's calming for me to be organized and to see things down on paper - and because I forget things quite easily. Besides, it's nice to keep a running "to do" list - so whenever a thought pops into my mind I jot it down... then if I get bored I look at my "to do" list and see if anything inspires me!

    Keep up the good work!!! Sounds like we're on the same page in many ways!!


  10. I'm not one who loves to cook either, but there are certain foods that I love to cook. For example, biscuits, crackers, cornbreads, and soups. You might look into finding things that you too would enjoy cooking, because it's a most pleasant way to pass wintry nights while watching old and corny movies.

  11. How does the saying go, "Cleanliness is happiness"? Agreed with you here. Generally I'm an extremely lazy individual and its hard to get me motivated to clean, but once its done I definitely feel great afterwards. And doing simple things like surfing the net feels much better when you're in a clean house you've cleaned yourself, or after eating a meal you've prepared yourself. Makes it feel like you've earned the right to leisure activity.

    Just don't get all crazy with the bleach and toothbrushes though depressed reader. Once heard of a woman whose house was so sanitized she weakened her immune system. She was getting all these crazy diseases that normal people's immune systems just easily kill-off.

  12. Hi Miserable Liar, thanks for dropping by. It is amazing how much time we can squander on the internet or messing around with things that don't matter, isn't it? I still do, of course, but I am slowly getting better at it.

    Hey CID - I hope that your apartment has evolved to a less sty-like condition!

    Deadeyes, I'm not sure that you don't do anything - the art you've posted on your blog is pretty cool!

    Hi Jen, the simplest things can help a lot in keeping ourselves stable. It can be easy to lose track of that. But at the same time, we need to keep our eyes on the big picture too, and it has been great to read about your activism - keep it up!

    Hello Lil, glad to hear you could relate. Dealing with mental illness is a daily battle, small things like keeping things organized can really help.

    In The Pink, you are right about lists - they can be incredibly useful. Also, thanks again for writing your post about things you believe - it helped inspire my next post!

    Hi Snowbrush, there is something about cooking that is good for us on a few different levels. I don't tend to watch anything while doing it, but I do tend to listen to podcasts.

    Takashi, it is great you are spending less time online and more time out in the real world. The online world has its good points, no doubt, but at the end of the day there is no substitute for being with people in the real, physical world.

    Christine - I think "making lists" is a great hobby - and I agree with your husband, you should put it as an interest in your profile!

    Anonymous, I think the saying is "cleanliness is next to godliness" - and I think I am about as far from godliness as it is possible to be! And thank you for your concern, but I think the chances of my house ever being as sterile as the woman you mention are Buckley's (very slim) or none!

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